Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, finding comfortable clothes that look and feel great that pack well can be challenging. Hollywood stylist Erin Walsh states, "While it's important to retain your sense of style while traveling, that doesn't mean you pack your whole closet." When you choose clothing designed with your specific travel needs in mind, you can pack light with minimal stress, yet look great for any occasion.
Leisure and On-the-Road Travel Wear
When selecting clothes for leisure travel or to wear when you are en route to your destination, it's important to choose comfortable clothes that are easy to move in, yet still look stylish. While it might be tempting to 'hit the road' or go sightseeing in oversized sweats, this isn't the best choice. Dr. Ngozi Etufugh, the Manhattan-based fashion blogger behind ihenaewu.com, states, "It's always best to avoid looking sloppy and unkempt. You do not know who you will meet and still want to make a good impression regardless. You should arrive at your destination looking chic and comfortable."
Warm Up Suit
Dr. Etufugh states, "One of my-go to ensembles for travel is a matching Roberto Cavalli warm up suit in a leopard print embellished with lace and gold details. The entire ensemble consists of a camisole, jacket with hood and pants with a drawstring closure. This layered look functions for many changes in temperatures, the bold pattern hides any dirt well and the fabric allows for comfort as well as being wrinkle free." While this exact outfit isn't currently available, there are options with similar benefits that are ideally suited for travel.
- Beyond Yoga Separates: Yoga wear from Beyond Yoga is perfect to wear on the road. The collection includes a number of attractive separates perfect for layering. For example, the stylish Easy Rider Origami Cardigan and the Zip Through Hoodie Yoga Jacket can both be paired with coordinating tank tops, long sleeve shirts and several styles of yoga pants. Each stylish piece is super-comfortable and made from stretchy fabric that won't wrinkle. Individual pieces are priced between $40 and $150 and come in sizes XS through XL.
- Serengeti Microsuede Pants Set: If you like the idea of buying a two-piece set, this set is a great option for travel and provides you with a way to adapt Dr. Etufugh's suggestion to your own style. The set comes in four colors including black, forest, rust and saddle. It is available in sizes small through 3X. Ladies sizes are priced around $60 and plus sizes cost around $70 for the set.
Cowl Neck Top With Leggings
Another of Dr. Etufugh's favorite travel outfits is "a cashmere top consisting of two tones of gray with matching leggings." She describes, "The top has a large cowl neck that can double as a hood and the sleeves are loose enough to roll up or down in respect to the prevailing temperature. It has a belt and is just the right length to double as a dress alone or a top for the leggings. In a nutshell, this item provides styling versatility and the color deflects dirt." It's not hard to find items that recreate this look.
- Alice+Olivia Draped Cowl-Neck Knit Top: This beautiful wool/cashmere blend cowl neck top has a loose, flowing silhouette for maximum comfort during travel, even if you are on the road or in the air for hours. It's longer on the sides than in the front, a feature that makes it perfectly suited to pair with leggings to recreate the look suggested by Dr. Etufugh. Available from Neiman Marcus in sizes extra-small through large, this versatile top retails for $220. It comes in stone, a perfect neutral shade for any color leggings.
- Travelsmith Original Fit Leggings: If you want leggings especially designed for travel, you can't go wrong with these. Travelsmith specializes in apparel for travelers, so these leggings are designed to look and feel great on the go. They are made of a Supplex® nylon/Lycra® blend fabric, which is especially designed to be "slimming, moisture-wicking and shape-retaining." Available in standard and petite sizes small through extra-large, these black leggings cost $49. Boomerinas.com lists Travelsmith as one of the best sites for women's travel wear items that won't wrinkle.
Scarf and Cardigan
Walsh points out, "Planes or trains can be pretty cold so it's important to travel with your 'go-to's' to make for a comfortable travel experience." She shares, "I never travel anywhere without a lightweight scarf and a lightweight cardigan both in neutral colors (so they match everything!)".
- Travelsmith Open Front Space-Dye Cardigan: This acrylic/nylon blend 3/4-sleeve cardigan is especially designed to hide wrinkles, so it is a perfect choice to keep in your backpack or a small suitcase so you'll have it handy any time you start to feel a chill. It is "styled with tapered ribs" in varying neutral tones of white, black and gray "that create a graceful drape." Available in sizes small through extra-large, this cardigan is priced at $109. It will coordinate well with the black and gray SHOLDIT scarves, providing a great way for you to put Walsh's suggestion to good use.
You may want to consider wearing compression legwear while traveling. According to Medline Plus, wearing this type of legwear can "improve blood flow in your legs," something that is particularly important for people who travel long distances. That's because, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some studies indicate that people who experience "prolonged cramped sitting during long-distance travel" may have an elevated risk of experiencing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) a short time after travel is completed.
Sightseeing also puts a strain on your legs. Medline Plus explains, "Compression stockings gently squeeze your legs to move blood up your legs. This helps prevent leg swelling and, to a lesser extent, blood clots."
- Swiftwick Aspire 12: Designed for cycling, Swiftwick's Aspire socks in a knee-high length (12) are ideally suited for travelers who want to enjoy the benefits of compression legwear. They cost just over $40 per pair and come in white, black, pink and several bright shades, each of which will coordinate well with casual wear and can also look great with dressy slacks in a similar color. Reviewers report that these socks feel natural, help prevent leg cramps and have great wicking features. The U.S. Men's Hockey Team wore Swiftwick socks in the 2014 Olympics.
- Rejuva Collection: If you're looking for fashionable compression legwear ideally suited for travel, the Rejuva Collection is a great option to consider. The brand includes stylish ladies' knee highs, tights, pantyhose, and thigh highs in both mild and moderate compression levels. There are styles to include every preference, from sheer to opaque and patterns to solid colors. The sheer items are nice enough to wear with business or dressy attire and the other items look great showing but also work well beneath other clothes. Prices range from around $30 for socks to around $70 for leggings. SmallBizTrends.com points out that the company's founder actually suffered a blood clot on a flight when she was just 21 and praises this brand for its integrating a trendy, fashionable look with powerful compression capabilities.
- C3fit: This company's collection of compression legwear is another good option to consider. You won't find sheer items or pantyhose here, but C3 does carry long and 3/4 length tights, as well as compression sleeves for your lower legs. Their socks range from short ankle socks to knee highs, including some with built in arch support. They look great on their own with casual wear, and can also be worn under clothes. Prices range from just under $20 for short socks to around $160 for full leggings. Shape magazine praises this brand for its "graduated compression, vibrant designs, and fabric that shields you from ultraviolet rays."
If your leisure travel includes upscale evening outings, such as dinners at nice restaurants or tickets to the ballet or opera, you will also want to take along some packable cocktail dresses.
Comfort is key when selecting shoes for sightseeing and travel days.
- For leisure travel and sightseeing, Walsh recommends ballet flats. She states, "A great pair of ballet flats are not only stylish, but also comfortable enough to walk in all day." According to the Travel Fashion Girl blog, Hush Puppies Chaste Ballet Flats are among the most comfortable ballet flats for travel.
- Dr. Etufugh suggests "a wedge sandal or shoe." She explains, "This style complements a wide range of leg shapes and ages, elongates the leg, is comfortable for walking long distances and gives good height for many looks." As far as comfortable wedges for travel, one of Travel Fashion Girl's favorites is the bernie mev. Lulia Wedge slip-on.
What to Pack for Business Travel
Walsh advises, "When traveling for business, it's important to look polished and put together." It can be challenging to find professional apparel that travels well, but there are options available. Choose classic styles and select fabrics wisely. Dr. Etufugh advises, "Outfits consisting of a blend of natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk and cashmere allow for comfort, fluctuations in temperatures and are generally wrinkle-free."
Knit separates are a great choice for travelers, as selecting pieces made to go together can help you put together a fairly extensive wardrobe with just a few pieces. This makes things a little easier on your wallet, and helps keep you from having to pack too many items.
- Chico's Travelers Collection: Designed specifically to meet the needs of customers who need chic, elegant apparel that travels well, Chico's Travelers collection is a great option for business travelers. It features easy-care knit items designed to coordinate with each other seamlessly and includes everything from jackets, skirts and trousers, to more relaxed options like wrap dresses, flowing jackets, dusters, tanks and more. Items are available in Chico's sizes 00 to 4.5, which translate into 0 to 22 in standard sizes. The collection is recommended by visitors on the Fodor's Travel Tips & Trip Ideas Forum.
Dr. Etufugh states, "A good suit makes you look professional and polished." Walsh advises, "A great blazer is something that can easily translate from an office look to a dinner look." According to Dr. Etufugh, "A well-tailored skirt suit is a must, as in most industries women are still expected to wear skirts." Choose among some of the latest trends in women's business suits or go with formal dress suit options for women if you are attending an upscale occasion like an awards ceremony or evening banquet, being sure to select fabrics that pack easily.
- Zara: Dr. Etufugh recommends Zara as a good resource for purchasing women's suits that work well for travel. You'll need to purchase blazers, skirts and pants separately - which allows you to get the best fit and customize your suit a bit - but you will be able to select pieces designed to be worn together as a suit. Zara's blazers range from $100 to $200, and skirts that coordinate with them range from $50 to $100. Trousers are also available for $60 to $130. Sizes range from extra-small to extra-large.
Walsh suggests, "A crisp white shirt goes with everything and can be easily accessorized to your personal style - look for one that's wrinkle resistant so your look stays polished." Smart Women On the Go recommends choosing lightweight (but not sheer) shirts designed with a tailored style, structured collar and hem that is rounded.
- Brooks Brothers: At Brooks Brothers, you'll find a nice collection of no-iron dress shirts for women, with options ranging from sleeveless to long-sleeve. They come in white and a variety of other muted solid colors and a few striped and checked styles. Prices range from around $90 to about $150 and shirts come in sizes 0 to 16. The shirts are recommended as a great choice for business travel on YouQueen.com.
- Foxcroft: This is another great resource for finding women's dress shirts that do not require ironing. Their collection includes more color and pattern options than Brooks Brothers. They have standard white, black and muted shades, but they also have a variety of bright and jewel tone colors. They have traditional stripes and small patterns, as well as bolder selections. Prices range from just under $60 to around $10 for ladies sizes four through 18. Plus and petite sizes are also available. A review on the une femme d'un certain age blog praises this brand as having "very light and soft" fabric and a true-to-size fit.
Dr. Etufugh states, "Pumps are a must for business wear. They make you look and feel more powerful." She recommends selecting "a pump in nude or black with a thick heel for walking and standing for long periods." Cole Haan pumps are among the most comfortable work shoes for women.
General Travel Wardrobe Tips
- Select versatile items: Dr. Etufugh advises, "Choose items that can have multiple style options." Walsh recommends, "Pack your most versatile items that can be mixed and matched, like a great pair of jeans that can be worn for a casual day of sight-seeing and easily transformed into a nighttime look. I would stay away from statement pieces because it might limit the versatility."
- Pack light: Walsh advises, "Over-packing is a mistake I think almost every woman has been guilty of a time or two, so plan your outfits in advance and aim to bring only one or two pairs of shoes that will work with everything." She adds, "I like anything lightweight, so even if I don't end up wearing it, it didn't take up too much space to start with."
- Be consistent: Dr. Etufugh suggests, "Choose clothing from one designer that you like for a cohesive look in the same color palette."
- Consider the climate: Dr. Etufugh advises, "Check the weather so you are prepared with the appropriate choices. Map out each ensemble for the corresponding event so you are prepared."
- Make flattering choices: Dr. Etufugh states, "Wear clothes that complement your figure. Remember - if you look good you will feel much happier traveling." Color can play a role in this. She advises, "If you have to wear dark colors to avoid dirt, at least add a pop of color to give the illusion of freshness."
- Be mindful of airport security: If you will be flying, choose items that won't cause delays at security. For example, Dr. Etufugh reminds, "Shoes should slide off easily for security checks and sitting down for long periods of time."
Be a Well-Dressed Traveler
Use these ideas and suggestions when you put together your travel wardrobe and you're sure to end up with a great selection of items that look great and transport easily. Just make sure that your suitcase is packed properly, keeping in mind special considerations if you are packing for air travel.
Note: The author received review samples of the Bloom yoga apparel and compression legwear items discussed in this article. The recommendations provided here are her own.