The Travel (or any!) Wardrobe

Even though I won’t be traveling soon, many of you will be and have asked for tips. So today, I’m sharing all my favorite packing tips or, for that matter, buying a wardrobe that works for you.

Try on all outfits before packing to ensure you bring complete looks. Include quality pieces that don’t readily wrinkle and go with each other, allowing mixing and matching.

Don’t forget accessories! Squinting in the sun is never a good look, so wear your sunglasses. Linear earrings flatter a round face. A crossbody bag worn in the front on your hip is an excellent option for travel and hands-free shopping. Belts complete your look and bring the proportions into balance, even if you wear them over your jacket or top.

Three different styles of shoes will likely be enough. If your trip will include lots of sightseeing, walking, and shopping, take your most comfortable shoes. If you will be going to plays and out to dinner often, take a pretty pair of flats or heels if you enjoy wearing them.

Mr. Mickey uses the same tips for building a wardrobe or packing for a trip.

We were on our way to a Saturday afternoon lunch date at The Peppermill in Abingdon, VA, when we took these photos for you.

Don’t forget your socks!

Nothing I’m wearing in these photos is new; in fact, the jacket is at least eight years old. (A similar jacket/blazer is here.) You will find similar items at Banana Republic, Gap, Dillards, and Nordstrom.

Neutral colors and classic silhouettes present endless versatility. Black, white, or neutral shades go with everything and each other. Simple, classic shapes without embellishment will serve you well.

What I pack depends on the climate and what my visit will entail. Check the weather five days before leaving and continue to check until the day you depart for the trip. The weather may cause you to change your choices. For example, grab a trench coat for your carry-on if a summer week is turning to rain. Cotton or linen pieces will be cooler for warmer or humid weather. Cashmere, wool, and denim will be better in winter weather.

A seasonless, timeless wardrobe with seasonal pieces layered on is most versatile. The tee I wear in these photos is tissue-thin, smooth cotton, perfect for a first layer under a cardigan or v-neck sweater. The jacket is light enough to wear over a cami in warmer weather.

Recent posts are summarized here. I purchased all the products I show since I no longer accept gifts or products to review. However, referral links on this site may allow me to earn a small commission without cost to you.

  1. Great timing, Susan. I have a trip booked for next month. I’ve followed your advice for about 5 years and at last ( after a few mistakes) have the perfect fit and style of jeans and trousers , mixed with comfortable, simple tops. So simple to dress for any outing though as I live in rainy Britain it’s still old jeggings , fleece and wellington boots for walking. There’s a lot of mud in rural England.
    Good to see you’re both looking so well and enjoying your weekend.

  2. Always love Mr, Mickey’s sock modeling photos.. We travel fairly often these days and I am still having trouble with overpacking. I can’t quite get the hang of “enough” because I pack “what if” clothes. Do you have any suggestions for getting over that tendency to overpack? I can’t be the only one.

    1. Limit yourself to complete outfits that include items that can be mixed, matched, or layered for additional combinations in case you need them. Things that you can wash in the sink and dry overnight are also excellent items to include.

  3. Susan, You have never looked more beautiful than you do now. I admire your sense of style, but also your positive and thoughtful approach to life. Your classic beauty and style is timeless.

  4. i have followed you for years, Susan. You have influenced me to only invest in basics with just a few trendy pieces. it has worked well because most items never go out of style. Thank you !! And thanks to Mr Mickey too!

  5. I have followed your advice and style for several years and am finally getting a versatile curated wardrobe. I’m retired. My spring/summer look is based on white pants (jeans, cotton, dressier) and mostly solid tops in bright pinks, blues, greens. For fall I add cranberry and wintergreen, switch out black pants for white. The holidays have a splash of red tops and casual blazers or blazer sweaters in those colors. I can pack for a week in a carryon.

    Well, we are going on a 19 day safari this winter (summer there) and among the guidelines are : no black or navy blue because they attract tse tse flies. No whites or brights because they do not blend into the terrain and scare off the animals. Suggested colors are khakis, tans, olive tones, very neutral. So not me! Since these items will not remain in my wardrobe, I decided to shop the summer sales at big box stores and so far have found 4 pair of pants that will work. I’ve also found a few neutral tank tops and camis and a couple of sun blocking “bush shirts” to wear over them. Oh, and we have 4 “dressy” nights that don’t have to follow the color rules and a 40 pound weight limit!

    Even when having to invent a new wardrobe, I’m using your mix and match principles. Then it will go to charity at the end of the trip!

    So good to see you and Mr. Mickey enjoying the beautiful VA, TN, NC area. We have a home near Asheville.

  6. I didn’t realize that about linear earrings! Good to know! Love the looks & your crossbody is divine!
    Thank you as always for sharing your knowledge with us!

  7. Love your travel tips. I always figure 3 tops + 3 bottoms = 9 outfits. Scarves & jewelry for color & dimension. Wear the biggest, heaviest shoes & coat or jacket on the plane. Good quality never fails, rarely wears out. As a New England Yankee, the thought was, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I probably already have the very thing I think I need!!!

  8. Thank you for your recent post.I’ve been working on a ‘capsule ‘ wardrobe for travel and have to definitely confirm your comment about comfortable shoes. I love to travel in Europe, but with those cobble stones, I have to be sure to have comfortable stable shoes! I have also found some tops that don’t wrinkle and that I can wash by hand. And the best thing about packing light is that there is less to unpack!!!

  9. I like dark indigo jeans for winter, those are nice not to big a flare.Once on holiday in Spain there was a spate of youngsters on mopeds on the
    lookout for women wearing their small bag on the shoulder and they were slowly driving past those ladies and whipping their bag off shoulder and speeding off.. So it’s best to wear it like you Susan and slightly to front . That’s a cute snake print bag , look fab against blac
    In a resort I always wear a cross body bag difficult for thieves to nick your bag . Only last week my nieces husband was walking along busy area and yobs on
    moped snatch the phone out of his hand and sped off! He eventually got through to network of phone he had and cancelled all his data,
    I know this post isn’t about undies, bra’s or mammogram, but Susan I had the results of my biopsies and it is a primary cancer and small but picked up on
    the good old mammogram as I certainly can’t feel it.So thank goodness for them. I will have a lumpectomy, probably some lymph gland removed and the a
    Course of radiotherapy and a maybe of taking tablets for 5 yrs , I don’t mind taking tablets .The time scale of all this at the end of radiotherapy iit will
    be coming to end some time in Feb and Spring time will be around the corner. Thank you for your wise words and emphasis on importance of mammogram.
    Gee Wiz Mr Mickey those socks are cheerful .
    Take care both
    Regards from Pamela Wales UK

  10. You look fantastic Susan. I hope to be able to fnd some jeans exactly like yours! Love the whole look. And of course there should be a special mention for Mr Mickey’s great socks!

  11. Thank you for kind words , I have taken inspiration from your journey as you have talked about it with grace and dignity .
    I can’t wait for Springtime then it’s onwards and upwards.
    Take care,
    Pamela Wales UK

  12. Hello Susan, thanks once again for your posts. I love the accent bag, the animal print just sets off your outfit. Even at 80, I can learn … and am starting to build a wardrobe – which amazingly I had an OK one to begin with. We just returned from Quebec and my red and navy boiled wool jackets were a staple … these were purchased many years ago and have served me well Dressed up or dressed down depending on the pin I wore. I have a little chetah crossbody bag, similar to the one you are showing … but now I will be on the lookout for a zebra type addition and a nice conservative type black wool jacket.
    Sincerely, Georgieanne Ross

  13. Love the outfits. They’re timeless. Your look is so me. I love Mr Mickeys socks.
    Thank you for the tips.

  14. Timely! I was just dithering over what to wear for Covid vax then dinner. An interesting style challenge. But I opened your email, and as usual, there was the answer: dark wash slim (not skinny) jeans, a white shell, and a lightweight black cardigan. (It’s 80 degrees here today. Ughh.) I’m wearing this with saddle tan (cognac) cross-body bag and 2″ block heel slingbacks. Thank you again … and again and again. You are an inspiration. And you look beautiful!

  15. Heureuse de vous voir de retour !
    Votre prince charmant est toujours magnifique …
    J’ai un peu honte de vous donner ma technique pour faire ma valise . J’ai beaucoup voyagé pour visiter les sites archéologiques , les musées , les monuments., les paysages .
    Ce qui m’intéresse aujourd’hui c’est rencontrer les gens , m’imprégner de leur mode de vie….
    J’apporte le minimum ….et je me plais à faire du shopping sur place .Je rentre avec une valise pleine …
    Cela peut parfois être cocasse et improbable….
    Pour moi cela fait partie du plaisir de voyager …
    Tous mes vœux de santé et de bonheur vous accompagnent
    Célia de Provence

  16. Great tips, I always try every thing on and plan outfits. You took look wonderful as always!
    I have a question about the bras you mentioned in your last post. Will they lay smoothly over a very short waisted petite person. I was wondering about them rolling up
    Thank you

    1. I bought the shoes at Dillard’s where they are sold out now. The brand name is Free People and they are the Jules Leather Ankle Wrap Hardware Cap Toe Pumps. I found them at Nordstrom here.

  17. I love your promotion of a “seasonless , timeless wardrobe “. It seems so obviously appropriate and becoming at this age. There’s a shop in Blowing Rock that sells a line of ridiculously expensive boho garments that look like shapeless compilations of old rags. I have no idea who’s buying them, but it certainly won’t be me! Thanks for your good advice!

  18. As always, your look and advice are spot on! I finally ordered and received my first Shapeez Ultimate Pretty bra from your recommendation. I wore it yesterday underneath a dress that needed me to wear shapewear; it was everything you said it would be! Very comfortable, even in hot Southwest Florida! I will order an additional one, and I wish I had done so the first time I read about them in your blog. I have a question: Where did you get the tee shirt you are wearing in this post? I’ve been looking for a tissue-thin tee and looked back through your posts to find the information without success. Thanks for always being my most trusted fashion guide!

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.