As discussed in my earlier post, planning a travel wardrobe has proven to be a challenging task. With so few clothes (I only have one 44 liter backpack), I felt that everything needed to be perfect, and that rigid requirement made for frustrating shopping.
- Wrinkle free (or a least reduced wrinkle)
- Performance material
- Machine wash/dry
- Dark color
- Not bulky (rolls up tight)
- Looks chic
The reason wardrobe selection caused so much consternation is that I subscribe to the Deion Sanders philosophy of ‘Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.', so my quest for perfect clothing continued literally until the last week before the trip began. Eventually, I did find all the right pieces, and knowing how interested I was in reading travel blogs on this subject, I've detailed my entire wardrobe below.
Before I do, a little background on my approach. No shocker, I settled on a palette of dark solids (mainly black and gray) with a pop of color from a patterned scarf. Then, trying to strike a balance between my requirements and cost, I searched in both mainstream stores such as Athleta, Target and J Crew, as well as travel clothing specialists like REI and Travelsmith. Some items were more expensive and some were not- but I was most concerned about a 'price per wear' calculation, such that even costly pieces would work out to pennies per wear by the end of the trip. With that in mind, I feel I have built a smart, functional and reasonably priced travel wardrobe. We shall soon see how it pans out.
I should clarify that we are focused on Europe first, so my clothes are geared towards a cooler climate rather than tropical. When we get ready to move on to SE Asia, I expect I will need to swap out my jeans for another pair of shorts.
I also want to acknowledge that I am only packing enough clothing to last a week. Yes, we will be doing laundry frequently, but I also have a manageable backpack that only weighs 10 kg (22 pounds) and won't kill me walking to and from train stations or waiting to clear immigration.
I started with my favorite article of clothing. I know these will be a hit as I've found myself digging them out of the plastic tote of travel clothes I'm supposed to be saving for the trip. These pants are the perfect combination of comfort and cool good looks. The fabric is light and quick drying, but loose enough that I'm not worried about overexposure around my bottom. I'll wear these on long flights, out for morning coffee or just lounging around.
Yes, these are expensive, but with my curves, skinny jeans that have just the right amount of coverage and stretch to slim and flatter are worth the price. These AG (Adriano Goldschmeid) jeans will be my every day go-to’s. Originally, I picked up a pair of Prana Halle pants as my everyday bottoms, but I found that while they were super comfortable, I didn’t feel particularly put together. These skinnys are city-ready and the black color can be dressed up or down (plus hide dirt).
Leggings are a must-have on any female traveler wardrobe list. From long train journeys to exercising to flitting around town (with my CYA tunic, thank you), I expect my leggings to get a work out (pun intended). This pair, from Lululemon are expensive, but the heavy duty fit and frequent use should get the price per wear down to pennies by the end of the trip.
I must admit, this is the one item that I'm not 100% confident will be a winner. Yes, the material is high performance, but the fit is, well, very fitted and I tend to gravitate towards a standard cotton walking short. I chose material over style in this case and will see how they work once summer begins.
I knew I wanted a chambray tunic and originally, I selected this henley popover by Athleta, but the slits up the sides had a bit too much side gut exposure. I was really bummed out until I found this tunic at J Jill, which is not store I normally shop, but a cursory online search for a chambray tunic pulled up this little number. The Tencel fabric provides easy maintenance and the CYA length is perfect without being a potato sack. I expect this top to be a wardrobe workhorse with both my skinny jeans and leggings.
RIBBED SLIM TEE BY ANTHROPOLOGIE
A long sleeve tee for layering is standard, but this one also provides great stretch and looks good on its own. My shirt is actually black and white striped (which is sold out), but this black version is pretty close.
VINTAGE TEE BY J CREW
I have been wearing these t-shirts from J Crew for years, and knew I couldn't live without them on the road. Great quality means they look better with age. This black v-neck and another in white are tidily rolled up in my pack.
I was attracted to this shirt due to its color, but have come to love that its high performance material dries in a flash. Being slightly longer, I can also get away with pairing it with leggings.
Another versatile piece, I will wear this for working out, but also as a dressy layer with a cardigan and necklace. I love that this tank is extra long and heavy duty enough for everyday wear.
I LOVE these tanks and have been wearing them for years. The ribbing provides enough coverage for any (ahem) problem tummy areas while still being slim and sleek enough for layering.
A little black dress is a travel must and this dress lives up to its indispensable title. 3/4 sleeves and knee length provide enough coverage for touring churches and museums while the lightweight material is cool enough to wear on warm summer days.
I struggled with my warm layering as I wanted a true fleece, but found the bulk to be too much for my pack. I've been wearing this layer nonstop as it not only provides warmth, but is surprisingly sleek and fun to wear. I'll wear it on its own as a top, or as a layer under my rain jacket or puffer vest during chilly weather.
Another one of my favorites! This piece is lightweight and rolls up into a tiny ball which makes for easy packing, but is also super warm and cozy. I expect to wear this nearly every day.
I searched high and low for a jacket and selected this one for several reasons. First, it is extremely practical, being both water and wind proof, plus insulated with a detachable hood. Mostly, however, I love the good looks (mine is a dark slate gray) with the slim cut and feminine shape. Bring on the elements!
Another long time favorite introduced to me by Perry's brother Mason (shout out to Raymond Burr), I wouldn't dream of going anywhere in anything but Bombas. I'm super picky about my socks and these offer fit and comfort like no other out there. Blisters? Fuggedaboutit.
Yet another favorite, I'm supposed to be saving these for the road, but have been wearing them nonstop since I brought them home. I was attracted to how light they are and that they pack flat, but have also found them to be exceptionally comfortable even after a full day of walking.
I came across these flats in a travel blog and bookmarked it as a maybe. However, after assessing my wardrobe, I decided a slightly dressy footwear option was needed.
GIZEH SANDAL BY BIRKENSTOCK
This was a last minute purchase. After searching for the perfect walking sandals that were comfortable, durable and cute, I had given up all hope until my college girlfriends weekend in Austin. Thank you Susan and Tara! I'm a sucker for a t-strap and love the neutral metallic color.
Apologies for the 3D images of my underwear! Hopefully this isn’t TMI, but I’m a diehard Natori bra and Hanky Panky underwear kinda gal and didn’t intend to deviate from my current underpinnings ‘system’ for this trip. However, after watching Perry order and try out many different travel underwear brands, I wondered if I should put more thought into it. He mentioned a travel packing article lauding Patagonia’s underwear, so off I went to REI. Normally, I detest bikini underwear as it never stays where it should (there I go again with the TMI), but I was astounded at not only how comfortable the Patagonia Barely style was, but that it didn’t creep into places it shouldn’t. I was sold and then saw they were also quick dry, further solidifying them as the perfect travel underwear. Sure, I’ve got a few Hanky Panky’s in my pack, but expect the Patagonia Barely to serve as my every day go-to undies.
A large scarf is a travel workhorse! It performs multiple duties from dressing up an outfit to serving as a cover up at the beach, to funky odor blocker (usually on planes and trains, ugh) to, of course, providing warmth! I had a similar one, also from Desigual, that I purchased while living overseas and I wore it to tatters, so when I saw this version in the Houston aiport (random, I know), I knew it was the cherry on top of my travel wardrobe sundae. Since I packed mostly solid colors, this colorful number will perk up boring black outfits.
Whew, after all that, here is a final count of my items by category.
In my next blog post: What I Packed: Part II (Toiletries, Electronics and Miscellaneous)
Thoughts on this subject? Feel free to comment below and offer up your travel wardrobe must haves!