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Building a Travel Wardrobe

building your travel wardrobe

Dress by Encircled, Shoes by Toms, Hat and Jacket Secondhand

I am ready to admit that I don’t have any fashion sense to speak of. When I started dressing myself, I mostly wore band t-shirts and sundresses with flowery headbands and cardigans. But as I’ve grown older and traveled more with real-life adults, I’ve developed my own travel wardrobe to take on every trip. I’ll never be one of those girls that packs multiple outfits for every day, as I still am a light packer, but I have a few tips to share with my fellow female travelers.

Choose solid colors.

Finding which colors suit you best is a long process, but I have a few favorites depending on the season. During the spring and summer, my wardrobe consists of mint, peach, and blue tones. During the winter, it’s gray, black, maroon, and deep blue. Getting rid of some of those graphic t-shirts that I loved so much means that I can wear them with more outfits. I do have a few, however, including my Airportag t-shirt that is soft and actually goes with a lot, especially my dark jeans.

Find pieces that can be worn multiple ways.

The more ways you can wear a piece, the less you need to pack. Over the last few years, I’ve worked for Her Packing List, which has introduced me to dozens of packing hacks. One such is how to wear items more than one way. For example, a large scarf can be worn as a shawl, sarong, and more. A skirt can be worn with multiple tops. This is why I love my products from Encircled. I can create many different looks from their Chrysalis Cardi and Revolve Dress.

building your travel wardrobe

Shirt by Airportag, Scarf by Speakeasy, Jacket by Forever 21, Jeans by Madewell, Sunglasses by Toms

Pack according to activities.

I now know myself well enough to know what types of outfits are appropriate for me, especially during press trips where I want to look professional. If I’ll be spending lots of time on a bus, I pack comfortable jeans, but if it’s a more active trip, I’ll throw in yoga pants. I also try to change clothes before dinner, so an extra top or two is good for that purpose. I use packing cubes for both backpacks and suitcases and organize by tops, bottoms, and undergarments.

Use accessories to change your look.

When you wear mostly basics, like solid colored tops and bottoms, it’s the accessories that really make a difference. I could wear the same black top and black jeans every day, but by switching up my jacket, jewelry, shoes, and bags, it looks like a brand new outfit. I love my secondhand denim jacket picked up from a store in London and my faux leather Forever 21 motorcycle jacket. Statement necklaces also help with my outfits.

building your travel wardrobe

Scarf by Encircled, Hoodie by ExOfficio, Leggings by Pins to Kill, Shoes by Toms

Invest in quality over price.

If you had to ask me how many pairs of cheap black flats and Old Navy jeans I’d bought in the last few years, I wouldn’t be able to count. But I recently decided to invest in better goods that are ideally made in America and will last longer. This includes my Tieks flats and two pairs of Madewell jeans, which have a warranty. And I’ve gone through three pairs of leggings this year with only my Pins to Kill pair remaining.

My Picks for Must-Have Travel Clothing

  • 1-2 pairs of jeans, one denim and one black, from a quality brand like Madewell
  • 1-2 scarves of varying patterns like mine from Speakeasy Travel Supply
  • 1+ pair of high-quality leggings or yoga pants
  • 1-2 solid colored blouses
  • 3 basic t-shirts in solid colors
  • 2 jackets that can be worn multiple ways like denim or motorcycle styles
  • 3-5 pieces of statement jewelry like El Camino bracelets
  • 2 bags of different sizes
  • 3 pairs of shoes, usually one pair of athletic shoes, one pair of dressy shoes, and one extra

So when it comes time to pack for your next trip, I hope you’ll find it easier to both feel comfortable and fashionable without bringing your entire closet. It is possible to pack light and look good!

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