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For this edition of Local’s Approved Packing Lists, the team over at Get Your Travel On has put together this packing guide to help you decide what to pack for Seattle.
Jen, Tracy, Krista, Abby, and Kendra are a group of friends who have made a habit out of escaping together to their favorite cities whenever they can. They’re on a mission to inspire other BFFs to make memories by traveling, and they give readers the resources they need to plan memorable–and awesome–adventures.
They’ve got great advice because between them they’ve lived over 8 years in Seattle; the best travel tips are from locals! Use their clothing tips along with TFG’s Universal Packing Lists to create your own custom Seattle Packing List.
What to Wear in Seattle
Seattle is arguably the most popular destination in the Pacific Northwest and for good reason: it offers the perfect combination of the great outdoors and the busy city.
From famous coffee shops to hiking trails, you can enjoy the concrete jungle and woods all in the same day. As you plan what to pack for Seattle, follow these style tips.
Seattle Clothing Style
When you’re planning what to wear in Seattle, keep in mind that it’s a casual city. Looking around, you’ll notice that outdoor brands like The North Face are popular with the practical and nature-lovin’ Seattle folk.
However, the Pacific Northwest is home to a ton of creative people who enjoy putting their own spin on the term “dressy.” With so many independent boutiques, there’s a special mix of texture, grit, and vintage class, so don’t be afraid to get unique with your Seattle packing list.
While this city may not be as funky as Portland, you’re bound to see lots of plaid in fall and winter and Birkenstocks in spring and summer!
The weather also contributes to defining Seattle style, as well as what to pack for Seattle. We love to layer, which gives us ample opportunity to play with patterns and colors. Many Seattleites intentionally incorporate bright colors into their ensembles to contrast the gray skies.
Don’t be that person who, when choosing what to wear in Seattle, puts on shorts at the first sign of sun in March. It’s a trap! Summer won’t actually be here for several months. And when summer does arrive, it’s often fairly mild.
As Seattle weather is known to be fickle, always check the forecast a few days before your trip so you know what to expect and pack the right items.
Once you’ve researched the weather, you can focus on creating a capsule travel wardrobe, which should easily fit in a carryon suitcase with the help of packing cubes to compress your clothing.
The North Face Laney II Trench Raincoat
Seattle Travel Essentials
Definitely add your umbrella to your Seattle packing list; it really does rain a lot here. However, you can take that a step further and replace your umbrella with a hooded jacket for rainy days.
Most locals go this route anyways, as the rain often comes with wind, which can destroy even the best umbrella in seconds. This is especially true if you plan to spend a lot of time downtown, where tall buildings can create wind tunnels.
Take a look at these stylish and Insta-friendly travel raincoats for women!
V-Neck | Blouse | Tee | Sleeveless | Shirtdress | Dress | Skinny Jeans | Jeans | Coat | Raincoat | Blouse | Skirt | Flat | Oxford | Scarf | Bag
What to Pack for Seattle in Spring
There is nothing predictable about the weather in Seattle in springtime except the old adage, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” It can be 45°F and raining (“rain” here is usually more like “drizzle”, though we do get the occasional downpour) or 65°F and sunny, or anywhere in between…sometimes in the space of five minutes. This can make creating your Seattle packing list a little difficult.
In spite of potentially damp weather, spring is a glorious time to visit Seattle. Our overwhelmingly numerous trees (seriously, you’ve never seen so many in a city) burst into blossom and the streets and hills are lined with the fresh, bright green of new leaves and pink of cherry blossoms.
If you happen to be here in spring, check out the University of Washington campus for spectacular cherry blossom viewing. When choosing what to pack for Seattle, don’t forget your allergy medicine if you’re a sneeze factory in spring. Everything here is growing.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for spring travel:
- How to Pack for Trips with Mixed Weather
- How to Layer a Summer Dress for Spring
- Feminine Clothing for Spring
- Best Shoes for Traveling in Spring and Fall
Seattle Spring Packing List
Layers, layers, layers. Did we mention you should pack layers? Along with the unpredictable weather, you may be transitioning from strolling in warm sunshine, to shopping an air-conditioned store, to drinking a delicious cocktail on a patio when the sun is going down (though, to our credit, nearly every bar in Seattle with a patio also has heat lamps! SCORE!)
Seattle ladies like to keep it casual, so your packing list should match. Start with jeans and fashionable sneakers and add a floral or geometric patterned flowy top. A cardigan is always a good idea, too. Besides being an essential layer, it can add a great pop of color to your outfit!
Download our free guide on what to pack for mixed weather travel!
Skirts in springtime are a go, but bring a pair of tights just in case. Packing closed-toe shoes is a good idea since the occasional drizzle can get mud on your toes. Unpleasant.
We almost hate to say it, but if you are planning to go someplace like the theater, the opera, or the symphony, Seattleites don’t always dress up. You may find yourself between Socks And Sandals Guy and a lady in a cocktail dress.
When deciding what to pack for Seattle for a night out, save room in your bag by packing a pair of dressy ballet flats and maybe a nice jacket to go with your nice jeans.
Your best accessory for what to wear in Seattle in spring is a bright or patterned scarf. You can use it to keep your neck warm, add a pop of color, wrap around your head during an unexpected bout of precipitation, or even use it as a blanket, should you find yourself at one of Seattle’s many parks for an impromptu picnic or sun break.
Blouse | Longsleeve | Sleeveless | Tee | Dress | Shirtdress | Jeans | Skinny Jeans | Sweater | Raincoat | Blouse | Skirt | Sandals | Flats | Hat | Bag
What to Pack for Seattle in Summer
There is nothing more fantastic than when summer finally hits in Seattle. Sidewalk cafes and local parks burst with energy as sheltered skin eagerly drinks up the sunshine. The best part is that while other parts of the country are cooking in excessive heat with sometimes unbearable humidity, Seattle is entirely comfortable with temperatures that are perfectly warm with just the right amount of humidity.
However, be aware that you may experience different weather depending on when you visit. Locals always joke that summer really starts here on July 5th, as the weather for the annual fireworks and barbeque fest that is Independence Day can be hit or miss.
In general, you can count on warm temperatures and beautiful sunny days if you visit in late July, August, or early September. June and early July will also inevitably have some gorgeous days, but good luck predicting when they will be.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for summer travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
- Versatile Beach Dresses for Summer
- Lightweight Jackets for Easy Layers
- Beach Sandals for Hot Weather Vacations
Seattle Summer Packing List
You’ll fit right in sauntering through the farmers market in a flowy sundress or skirt and flat strappy sandals. Add a few pairs of short shorts to your Seattle packing list to show off your legs and pair them with some loose layered tank tops for contrast. You may need a light cardigan in the evening.
Seattle is very walkable and best enjoyed on foot, so bring either sneakers or comfortable flat oxfords that look good with ankle socks and bare legs. Take along one pair of jeans just in case. For accessories, don’t forget your favorite pair of sassy sunglasses. These are the days when they come out of hibernation and should be worn triumphantly.
Here are comfortable walking sandals that are stylish, too!
Another versatile item that doesn’t take up much room is a light silk scarf that can be worn in your hair, act as a belt, or be worn around your neck, depending on the rest of your ensemble.
If you visit in the early part of the season, add a jacket with a hood and maybe another cardigan. You can usually get away with layering and still stay warm and dry if bad weather hits.
Find out why we love these lightweight jackets for summer travel!
V-Neck | Sweater | Shirt | Tee | Shirtdress | Dress | Jeans | Skinny Jeans | Jacket | Raincoat | Sweater | Skirt | Oxford | Boots | Scarf | Bag
What to Pack for Seattle in Fall
We all adore fall in Seattle. Velvety, vibrant, crunchy, yummy fall! The most cozy and romantic of all of the seasons, consider yourself lucky to visit in the autumn. It is a delight.
September feels like an extension to the glorious Seattle summer, with temperatures often reaching the high 70’s and even blessing us with the occasional (miraculous) day in the low 80’s.
October is when things slowly start to transition back to “typical” rainy Seattle weather, leaving us somewhere around 60°F, for the most part.
Only there is no time to be disappointed about the coming winter; we’re all too busy ogling at the richest red leaves we’ve ever seen. Well, at least since last year. The brilliant, turning leaves are almost surprising against the old familiar friend that is the gray Seattle sky.
October especially tends to be THE perfect cinematic companion to this city. Expect deliciously moody mornings as light raindrops accompany you on your walk to the coffee shop.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for autumn travel:
- How to Pack for Trips with Mixed Weather
- How to Layer Clothes
- Use a Summer Dress to Pack Light in Fall
- Best Shoes for Traveling in Spring and Fall
Seattle Fall Packing List
If you’re planning a Seattle packing list for a trip in September, consult the “summer” tips above, then add a sweater and light coat.
If you’re visiting the city in October or November, here’s the plan for what to wear in Seattle: Think button-down, long-sleeve plaid shirts with skinny jeans. Bring your new fall boots–preferably leather riding boots with a rounded toe and little-to-no heel. Wear them with your skinnies or colorful, opaque tights.
Throw on a vest for layering over long shirts, a playful wool coat, and scarves for layering. You’re going for a mix of edgy and feminine.
Shirt | Sweater | T-Shirt | Sweater | Dress | Shirtdress | Jeans | Skinny Jeans | Jackets | Coat | Knit | Skirt | Boots 1 | Boots 2 | Beanie | Bag
What to Pack for Seattle in Winter
Winter is also known as the months where the numerous coffee shops and the occasional sunbreak give us locals the strength to make it to spring. Be prepared for wet, dark days and the occasional snow (though it’s rare). The best way to dress in the winter months is to add more layers!
December and January are when Seattle sees the majority of its rain. There’s also this “not really rain, more of a mist” precipitation you will encounter. An umbrella is never a bad idea, but you’ll be happier with a waterproof jacket with a hood that can easily fit over layered clothes.
The rain-mist monster will find a way to terrorize even the most weatherproof hair and makeup, so carry some essential touch-up products in your bag (a comb, pressed powder, and lip gloss).
Side note: Red lipstick can help a pale Seattle complexion. Ya know, the Snow White look. Add a tube to your Seattle packing list!
Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Winter
- How to Pack for Cold Weather
- How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather
- The Best Travel Shoes for Winter
Seattle Winter Packing List
Start with black wool tights under a casual shift dress with a belt, add a cardigan, and pair with boots. This creates a warm, layered, comfortable outfit, perfect for conquering Seattle’s hilly neighborhoods.
Striped shirts or other geometric patterned tops with dark denim will add that rocker edge you’ll want to channel as you’re crossing the street in a sudden downpour.
Find out how to turn any one of your dresses into versatile dresses!
Bring two pairs of shoes, both waterproof. One pair of flat-ish biker-esque boots for everyday wear and one pair of heeled ankle boots to kick it up a notch at a fancy meal or for cocktails. To save room in your suitcase, wear your bulkier boots on the plane and pack the other pair.
Accessories like a lightweight patterned scarf and touchscreen gloves leave you looking sharp while keeping exposed skin areas to a minimum when you’re out walking the city.
Find out what the best women’s waterproof leather boots!
Add to your Seattle packing list a good-sized crossbody bag that’s easy to carry. When you venture into shops and restaurants, you’ll want to peel those accessory layers away and having a sizeable bag allows them all to fit inside, lowering the likelihood of them being accidentally left behind.
Now a favor we ask of you, the visitor: Please help to cheer up our constant gray sky backdrop with pops of brightly-colored items.
For your Seattle packing list, bright blouses, sweaters, even a neon belt will make us smile and help us momentarily forget how many overcast days we have left before summer!
For more Local’s Approved travel tips, check out Travel Fashion Girl’s destination packing lists.
If the clothing you chose when you planned what to pack for Seattle doesn’t quite work out, you can easily update your Seattle packing list with a little shopping.
You can’t go wrong with H&M and Forever 21, both located downtown. Also, check out the Nordstrom Rack on Fifth and Pine and hit up the flagship Nordstrom across the street. It’s a Seattle institution!
If you find yourself in Belltown, perhaps while walking to the Space Needle, the Endless Knot on First and Bell is not too expensive and is worth checking out. Other noteworthy stores include Show Pony in the Fremont neighborhood, as well as Horseshoe and Velouria in Ballard, even if it means renting a car to get there. These stores will also help you decide what to wear in Seattle for future visits.
Tip: Worried about theft, add items like a money belt or Secret Bra Pocket to your packing list for Seattle.
Thank you Jen, Tracy, Krista, Abby, and Kendra for your awesome advice on what to pack for Seattle! Don’t forget to check out their blog and Seattle Travel Guide for everything you need to know about their hometown.
What are your tips on what to wear in Seattle? Share in the comments!
For more tips on travel packing lists, please read:
- What to Wear in Chicago
- What to Wear in London
- What to Wear in Buenos Aires
- What to Wear in Singapore
Suggested Travel Resources:
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These are timeless fashion tips.
I highly recommend waterproof cute shoes like Blondo boots or Keene lace ups. I get compliments on my sueded shoes and they hold up well with a sudden rain.
A few things of note since this article was published:
* Seattle has evolved and (for the most part) transportation has improved for visitors (light rail is a years-in-progress thing, but makes it much easier to get to/from the main airport & eventually the smaller Everett airport which sometimes has cheaper flights & can be convenient if you are headed north of Seattle). SO… When I head to the airport I love my colorful capris w/ a zip side pocket for my transit card so I don’t worry about losing it or needing it right away.
* When I commuted downtown from 30 minutes north of town by bus & I wore a Girl on the Go Eddie Baurer waterproof trench w/ a removable insulated layer in winter, and colorful trench coats on lighter days. In the dark/damp winters I received compliments for wearing bright colors/scarves.
* If you must carry an umbrella (i.e. when you also have a briefcase or something bulky you can’t put under your trench) get one with wind resistant baffles because *yes* it can get windy. Seattle & outlaying areas have lots of water/lakes, hills, etc.
* If you are visiting, there are a lot of options for outings so explore a bit to find what you’d like. You can rent bikes, kayaks, SUP, etc. in many places. If that’s not appealing, there are daily Seaplane rides (weather dependent) to Victoria BC (Canada) for a day trip, short stay.
Great tips, thanks!
Seattle is so all about hiking and outdoor gear right now- such a weird phase! Though maybe we will always wear north face.
I hate how I can’t wear nice shoes here. Seattle wrecks nice shoes so fast.
Good to know, thanks Jesse!
My 3 friends and I also take trips together, starting when we turned 60, and celebrating each birthday. We have been to Phoenix, Savannah, Destin. and now we are headed to Seattle so I found your suggestions very helpful. Thanks!
Happy to help Sara!
Hey Travel Fashion Girl! I’m Sydney from Endless Knot in Seattle. We just launched an online boutique and this post is bringing quite a bit of traffic to our site! Thank you!
If you are interested in updating your Seattle travel guide, please let me know. I would love to work on a collaboration with you.
I think a heavier winter boot like Zdar boots might eb an option their cool in the spring to as they are made of wool and water resistant to .. I personally love mine. zdarusa.com
Thanks for the tip Zoe!
Packing, Seattle-style! 🙂
I just moved to Seattle because of my parent’s jobs, and I wanted to blend in when I start school soon. Thanks for the informative article! 🙂
Glad we could help Crystal! Thanks for reading!
Hi! I will be traveling to Seattle for a week this winter. I would like to pack my Superga canvas shoes since they go with every outfits ( I will bring my rain boots of course) but should I? Thank you!
Canvas may not be the right material with how wet it is there, I’d suggest something leather! Or at least water resistant. Have fun!
Love the pictures it really helps. I grew up in Wisconsin now I live in Florida (for the last 25 yrs) As for the comments about rain, Seattle is dry-from my stand point- take a look at average rain falls in FL we may be called the sunshine state but it rains daily. I’ll pack my Florida winter cloths and be visiting in August.
What great places to live 🙂 Being prepared for the rain is always a must!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your fashion tips! You’ve inspired me to write my own post about what to wear when traveling to the northwest
Thanks for sharing! Cheers!
Hey Kristen 🙂 I’m glad you’ve found the site useful and inspirational!
Thank you so much for this!! I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life and I don’t have a clue how to dress for actual weather. I’m moving to Oregon in the Fall for school and this article has definitely lowered my “oh my god what i am going to wear” stress. Thank you!!
Glad you found the article useful Megane 🙂 Have an amazing time and good luck with your wardrobe!
I’m so happy I found this website and this article! I’ll be moving to Seattle maybe by the end of this year (my husband got a job there) and I was wondering how is the weather. I’ve never been in Seattle. I live in Chicago, before that I lived in LA but I’m from Venezuela. I was concerned with the weather in Seattle but after living in Chicago.. it seems like an Amazing weather all year :p ! 🙂 Thanks for all of the tips. I love the idea that I now have in my mind. No heels yay !
Hey Valentina 🙂 I am so glad you like the article and have found the website useful! From a little research I have heard that Seattle tends to have fairly warm dry summers and cool and wet winters. For a bit more info on moving abroad check out our 10 step guide, which has loads of great tips 🙂 http://bit.ly/24kjiOT
Have a wonderful time!
Definitely should have read this before packing! I’m moving to Bellevue (10 miles away) from Louisiana for the next year and a half with work at camp then permanently (hopefully) and this is GREATLY appreciated!!! Most of the things I packed definitely fit in, except my Sunday spring/summer wedges. But o have a lot of cold weather clothes (fleeces) packed. Any suggestions for a mainly outdoor job?
Hey Carrie 🙂 I’m glad you like the article! While slightly different, the article on adventure travel has some great tips on outdoor clothing. Take a look and see if it suits your needs http://bit.ly/1NPoHvn
For a mainly outdoor job, REI is your friend. A Seattle institution, they have a wide variety of outdoor-friendly, yet stylish clothing, shoes, and accessories. Plus, they are a co-op with great service, which is pretty cool, too.
As a local, I agree with all of these tips! Usually people get it wrong when making Washington packing lists, but this one was spot on 🙂
(Also, we pick out tourists by who’s carrying an umbrella.)
Thanks Amanda! It was written by locals so I’m glad they got it spot on 🙂
Hii my sister is celbrating her Bday this week. I heard that the weather is unpredictable lately. What outfit should they follow for this week?
Is this for Seattle? The best thing would be to check the weather forecast on weather.com – and plan to layer you clothes as needed. Here are some tips on traveling to destinations with unpredictable weather: http://goo.gl/FAkTzq
Hi! I am going to Seattle the first two weeks of March, but I’m going to work at an office. Can you help me with the Seattle’s Business Casual Dress Code?
Hey Claudia 🙂 We have some different articles on business travel essentials that could help with this http://bit.ly/1XT2HS8
As a 6’3″ male, I’ve decided I wouldn’t look very good in the leggings and may find some of the boots to be a challenge. That being said, I’m taking my wife there for the first time during what seems to be the worst possible time of year (next weekend). Though some of these clothing tips may require a little adjustment for me, it may help in communicating with my wife what she needs to pack without being extremely obvious and removing all mystery. There seem to be some good points about the umbrellas. Layered stripey things, boots, some sort of hood, and gloves… I think I can work with that.
Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment! I hope your wife finds the tips useful and is able to “translate” the ideas into something she’d find useful for your trip. I hope you have a great time! 🙂
I live in Seattle too. It’s a total myth that you’ll be out of place with an umbrella. You’ll see them every time it rains. The thing about umbrellas though, they’re cumbersome. Much easier to have a hood and not tie up your hands. 🙂
Great tip Leigh!
My husband and I are going to be in Seattle from October 30 to November 6. He will be on business, for the most part, and I will be the tourist. I presume I should go with the “Winter” attire?!?
Thank you for the tips!
The only way to know for sure is to check weather.com before you go 🙂
This is very helpful. I will be visiting Seattle this October. Yay!
Happy to help!
I’m looking into visiting Seattle in the next couple of months, so I was excited to find this post with all of the seasons listed! I’m glad those living in Seattle are casual but also appreciate an artsy vibe. I have lots of accessories and clothes that will fit that mentality!
Hope you have fun 🙂
For those of you who want to avoid appearing as an obvious tourist, I strongly suggest you ditch the umbrellas. As someone who has lived in Seattle for the last twelve years, I can confirm it is extremely rare to see a local using, much les owning, one. The article mentioned wind tends to ruin umbrellas. I personally disagree. Seattle is not exceptionally windy. However, our rain tends to be more of a light, floating drizzle, heavier than mist. Because of this, an umbrella is essentially rendered useless for keeping you dry. As counterproductive as it sounds, a hood will do a far better job in saving your hair than an umbrella because it provides a better barrier from the moisture. For particularly wet days, buns are a safe choice.
As for shoes, the authors suggested flats for nights out. They are absolutely correct. As stated, this is a casual city (much to my dismay). Heels are generally left for formal occasions only (eg: weddings). Not to mention, if your trip is confined exclusively to the city, it is a city of hills. Heels and hills will have you begging for mercy. Wear flats.
Finally, if you have not yet planned the dates for your trip to our beautiful city, I strongly recommend coming between July and mid-October. Our rainy season is over, and we generally have clear skies, sunny, warm-but-not-hot days, and breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound.
I agree with these comments. We are planning a trip soon,and for sure now will get a hood type rain jacket. Haven’t been yet in the summer, but actually love the weather, rain or shine, in Seattle..compared to hot and humid deep south weather, Seattle is a breath of fresh air..and the coffee..oh that wonderful coffee !
Have a great trip!
I’m headed to Seattle for the first time at the end of February. Being from Canada, I tend to think of winter as November – March ish, so I’m wondering which guideline might be the most appropriate for two weeks from now in Seattle?
I’d probably stick to Winter until April.
Awesome! My husband just informed me that he is taking me to Seattle for my birthday next weekend. He decided to tell me tonight so I could go crazy on Pinterest/internets trying to figure out how/what to pack. Ha!
I’m glad I found this blog!
Glad to have you as a new reader! Have a great trip 🙂
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m moving to Seattle in two weeks to start a new job, and have been living and working in the Chicago area my whole life. I know Seattle is casual, but I needed to know details- I’m looking at my wardrobe right now (all business casual, suits, etc,) and know that I will stick out like a sore thumb at work. Thanks so much for the all the tips, including the ones on weather- heading out to do some serious shopping now…. 🙂
Have a great time! Remember, you can always shop upon arrival after you’ve seen what the locals are wearing. Good luck 🙂
Great info! Thanks!
Glad you like it!
This is EXACTLY what I was looking for and is so helpful! I’m heading to Seattle from Kansas City the end of this week. Hope the rain lays off….
glad you found it helpful!
Exactly what I was looking for! I now know what to pack for my trip in November. Thanks so much!
That’s great, thanks! Also check out the Facebook feedback received this weekend for more tips 🙂
Ill be in Wellpinit (near Spokane) for 2 months. Can I follow these tips, or is the weather completely different?
I’ll ask on the TFG Facebook page. Thanks for reading!
I will be visiting Seattle for the first time this coming Mid November!
Thanks for the tips…
Glad you found the tips helpful – have a great trip!
Spokane area is on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. It is MUCH colder than Seattle and, in the winter, is usually covered with snow. Google the average temps in that area and definitely bring boots and a down jacket.
thanks for the tips!
This was very helpful! I’m going to Seattle for the first time this weekend and I’m lost on what to pack & wear. Thanks a bunch! =)
That’s great to hear! have a great trip!
Thanks for the advice! This website was exactly what I was looking for. I will be visiting Seattle in early December.
Glad you like it 🙂 Hope it helps make your trip planning much easier!
This was absolutely perfect! Thanks! I’m from Oklahoma and I’m headed to Seattle with a photography class next week. I’ve been paranoid on what to pack. Looks like I’ve also got some places to visit for fashion while I’m there as well. 🙂
Glad you’ve found this helpful. Thanks!
Woohoo! Come visit us here in Seattle everyone! 🙂
The one thing I would take issue with is the recommendation to shop Forever 21 or H& M to fill in any gaps. As travelers, I think we have an extra responsibility to think wholistically and globally. These bargain fast fashion businesses are built on the backs of child slave labor. Our choices matter.
Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate your passion and hope that others will be inspired by it as well!