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Enjoy a stress-free packing experience by ensuring you have an everyday wardrobe that translates well into travel. Build a capsule wardrobe of quality, versatile, and classic clothing that can be used as the base for your packing list, This makes it easy to add destination specific items as needed.
Keep reading for a list of essentials to start building your classic travel wardrobe!
Create a Classic Travel Wardrobe
Written By: Niki Landry
Table Of Contents
I started the process of reimaging my wardrobe a couple of years ago. I wanted to pare down the bulk of my clothes and create a system that would help me to save money and be able to purchase higher quality items.
It has worked wonders for simplifying my life, and makes selecting outfits for everyday wear and travel really easy. I just follow a few (flexible) rules, and make smart purchases when I’m shopping.
Most of these selections are for casual trips with mild weather. If you are going somewhere with extreme cold weather or with specific activities in mind, then you will need to supplement your wardrobe with corresponding gear.
Some of these items may still work, and you can stick to the same principles when adding to your packing list.
Black Blazer | Trench Coat | Leather Coat | Utility Jacket
Let’s start from the outside and make your way in by first considering outerwear as you plan your travel wardrobe.
Coats and jackets need to be the most very versatile so it’s important to find something that you love to wear. Sometimes I look at my travel photos and realize that I’m wearing a coat in every photo.
Since they tend to be bulky, you want to narrow it down to one per trip. This means that they need to look good with every possible outfit, and coordinate well with all of your bottoms.
The classic styles every female traveler should own are:
I would probably also suggest a denim jacket if you are looking to add one more piece. Keep them neutral, and choose quality fabrics with a perfect fit – tailor if needed.
Skinny Jeans | Straight Leg | Denim Shorts | Black Leggings | Maxi Skirt | Neutral Skirt | Neutral Shorts
Comfort is key when it comes to selecting bottoms. I have no patience for waistbands that are too tight, have scratchy materials, or fabrics that loose their shape after a few hours of wear.
I want them to look good, but I also want them to be so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing pants.
The classic styles every female traveler should own are:
- dark wash skinny jeans
- straight leg denim
- neutral maxi dress
- casual skirt
- denim shorts
- black leggings
- cotton shorts
These are the staples that you will reach for every time you travel. I suggest keeping the length of your shorts modest, and opting for a pair of leggings in performance fabric.
Ballet Flat | Slip On | Sandal | Sneakers | Chelsea Boots | Flip Flop
It’s always best to limit your shoes to three pairs when you travel since they take up so much space in your baggage. Wear one pair and pack the other two in the bag. Packing cubes make the perfect shoe bags to protect your luggage from dirty shoes.
These classic pairs will keep you covered for a range of destinations. These options provide a shoe for causal, athletic, and dressed up outfits in your travel wardrobe:
Read these tips on how to choose the best shoes for travel!
Striped Shirt | VNeck Sweater | Quality Tees | Tunic | Button Down
Tops will vary depending on your preference and destination. The essential tops that should be in every woman’s travel wardrobe are:
These are the most versatile basics and you can always layer other tops with more personality and style. Quality tees in all of the neutral colors are a good idea, and I would get a long, short, and sleeveless version of each.
Read these tips on how to layer clothing!
Shirtdress | Shift | Tee Dress | Fit and Flare
Dresses are so great for travel. You get style, femininity, and simplicity all in one package. As usual I look for neutrals, but since they typically don’t have to be combined with any other clothing you can often select bolder colors.
General options that are easy to dress up or down for travel are:
PLEASE NOTE: The majority of the items in this article are of higher price points than we typically suggest. When you are buying less clothing it’s a good idea to look for well made, quality items, which generally come with a higher price tag. For wardrobe staples, I always look for the best I can afford. Take an inventory of you’re your existing travel wardrobe, and look to fill the gaps on your next shopping trip.
Need help creating a capsule wardrobe?
Savvy travelers know that a capsule wardrobe is the secret to traveling carry-on only. Pack Light Stylishly is our eBook that shows you exactly how to make a functional yet stylish capsule wardrobe for travel.
Learn more about Pack Light Stylishly here!
What are your tips on how to build a classic travel wardrobe? Share them below!
For more ideas on creating the perfect vacation wardrobe, please read:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Women Over 40 (Part 1)
- Pack Light Stylishly with these Vacation Wardrobe Tips
- Stylishly Chic Minimalist Travel Wardrobe
- 4 Functional and Fashionable packing Lists for Any Trip
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Author Bio:Niki is an interior designer and artist from Louisiana. In addition to her design work, she writes for local and online publications sharing her experiences and passion for travel. Niki is currently adding stamps to her passport while building her design practice, Niki Landry Designs.
I lost 75 pounds and since I’m starting from scratch I wanted to use this to create a basic wardrobe. I’m a grandmother and a Pastor. I prefer classic feminine styles. Since it’s summer. I don’t see a need for the jackets just yet. Please advise.
Hi Toni, the secret to packing light without surrendering your style is to use an efficient travel wardrobe. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a capsule wardrobe – a snippet of the clothing in your closet featuring items that are interchangeable and can be mixed and matched to create various outfits. To help you get started, here are a few things to think about:
1. Focus on the Basics and choose classic clothing styles that easily mix and match with other pieces. Versatility is key!
2. Stick to clothing that has multiple uses and that can be worn casually or dressed up when needed. A plain top can be worn casually with jeans to sightsee during the day and then can be spruced up with a skirt and accessories at night.
3. Choose one color story (or color palette) where half of your colors are neutral so that it’s easier to mix and match your clothes. Once you’ve chosen 1-3 complementary neutral colors, add corresponding brights, pastels, and/or prints, depending on your style.
4. Consider the life cycle of a clothing item you use at home. Even inexpensive items can last years if you only wear them occasionally. However, when you travel, your clothing works extra hard due to constant use, environment, and varying washing methods.
5. For a capsule to work effectively, it’s essential that the clothing fits you well and is not too loose or tight. Your pant length should be hemmed and not sag at the bottoms, and your sleeves should fall at your wrist. This is also the secret to feeling good about yourself.
For travel clothing, we have a range of articles on the blog for each of these categories:
✈ Sweaters and Jackets: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/travel-jackets/
✈ Pants: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/travel-pants/
✈ Shirts and Tops: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/category/fashion/travel-clothing-for-women/travel-tops/
✈ Dresses: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/travel-dresses/
And most of all, the biggest lesson Alex, TFG’s Editor-in-Chief, learned through her travel wardrobe journey is that if you like your clothes and they make you feel good about yourself, then you’ve created the perfect travel wardrobe unique for you and will always have something to wear, guaranteed!
Learn more about the art of creating a capsule wardrobe and master how to combine your clothes into versatile outfits with our exclusive Pack Light Stylishy Ebook: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/pack-light-ebook/
I would also highly recommend that you join our TFG facebook group and post any questions you have there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelfashiongirls/ It’s a fabulous community of helpful female travelers that love to share their travel advice and recommendations.
Hope this helps. Happy travels!
I would love to see a video of what your clothes look like when you’re *unpacking* at your destination. Packing cubes are a nice idea but I am guessing the clothes are pretty wrinkled after being crammed into cubes. Personally I don’t want to spend precious vacation time ironing or washing and hanging items to get wrinkles out.
Hi Mandy, one of our favorite ways to avoid wrinkles is to use the bundle wrapping method inside the packing cube! Also choosing wrinkle-resistant fabrics is very important. ?
You can find more tips here: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/how-to-pack-clothes-without-wrinkles/
I’d suggest adding pair of quality slacks to wear with the black blazer. Mature women might prefer a black pair of nice slacks to skinny jeans,legging, shorts or even dresses. Slacks can be dressed up or down as needed and worn everywhere year round.
Great idea Amy 🙂 Thanks!
You are right Amy low, I agree with you.the black blazer is perfect in a summer season
Great tips! Thanks!
Great tips! I always overpack!