Instagram and Pinterest are filled with beautiful travel pictures of gorgeous young women in flowing gowns that coordinate with the scenery. We all want to look like these women, but the reality of travel, for us ..um, more mature women, is not as glamorous as these images portray. Travel involves a lot of walking… and dust… and sun. And how do you climb a mountain in a full length gown? Let alone pack light with sundresses in every color? Those sleeveless dresses and high heels just aren’t practical, especially as travel clothing for women over 50. But no worries! You can find travel clothes that allow you to pack light, feel comfortable, and look stylish!
As frequent travelers, I have created two basic capsule travel wardrobes, one for cold weather and one for warm, and adjust those when I plan my trip. I use an app for my packing lists and have the capsule wardrobe items as basics. But you can just make a list of the clothes you will use in your capsule, or keep them in a spreadsheet. Whatever works for you!
A capsule wardrobe is defined as collection of basic items that mix and match and don’t go out of style.
Choose the basics for your capsule travel wardrobe
Begin with what you have. There is no need to go out and buy items if you have the makings of a good travel wardrobe already. You are looking for clothing that travels well – lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and items you would happily reach for at home.
If you don’t already have items in your closet that will work for your trip, there are many options for clothing for your capsule wardrobe. In addition to the tried and true big travel clothing companies – Travelsmith, Magellans, etc., many clothing lines cater to women in their 50s and 60s. They usually offer flattering clothes that travel well.
Simple is best – make your clothing the least interesting thing about you.
Choose a neutral color for your base: Black works for most cities, whites for the tropics. But choose navy or tan if it’s more flattering for you. Still neutral!
Pick 2 bottoms (pants, skirt) and 2 tops – in this neutral color. Make sure these items are comfortable and classic.
Add a topper – a lightweight sweater or jacket in the neutral or a coordinating neutral
Add a dress or shorts, depending on your destination.
Add one white (or black) shirt: Bring one additional solid top, a tee if the trip is casual, or a button down for dressing up. The classic button down goes well with everything, and can even be worn open as a jacket. I pack either a black merino tee or an Eddie Bauer wrinkle-resistant button down shirt.
I took a camel DKNY cashmere cozy on our South African trip. It was perfect on the long flight, serving as sweater and blanket in one. I reached for it again in the cool evenings on safari and in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town wore it to dress up for dinners out.
Pay attention to the lengths that work for your body. Unless blessed by the genetics, most women in their fifties and sixties will want a bit more coverage in their wardrobe. Tights, and short skirts may not flatter as they once did. But pair those tights with a long tunic and you’re good to go! (Or combine the two in one of my favorite travel items – the travel tights by Diane Kroe – tights with a skirt attached!) I find capris or cropped pants flatter my legs and I choose tops with sleeves to protect from the sun.
Accessorize your capsule travel wardrobe by adding color and style
Have fun – choose a few colorful pieces to jazz up your outfits. A silky blouse, a colorful scarf, or a bright skirt – lightweight pieces that add some spice to your outfits. You can find great inspiration from bloggers like TheVivienneFiles who design their capsules around one color or one scarf.
Use an app like Stylebook or Cladwell to visualize how your wardrobe picks work together. Don’t pack anything that doesn’t go with two or more pieces. (see Pack Lighter with Stylebook)
Find a brand that fits you well and is designed with travel in mind – wrinkle resistant, convertible clothing can give you lots of options. The following brands carry stylish travel clothing for older women:
Chico’s Travelers Collection has wrinkle free options that look great coming straight out of the suitcase. Many dressy options, too! I always include a few items from Chico’s in my packing list.
Diane Kroe specializes in travel-friendly clothing and has some of the best travel clothes for women. Most are multi-functional – converting from scarves to cardigans, skirted tights to bodysuits. Diane Kroe’s line includes stylish clothing for plus size women as well.
J. Jill has many classic styles that work well for traveling.
Eileen Fisher‘s styles are timeless. The luxe merino stretch line would seem to be the perfect travel solution. (I haven’t had the opportunity to try this line, but have had great success with lightweight, odor resistant merino wool.)
I love my dressy sweatpants from Encircled. They’re slouchy and soft, great for travel days, but look refined enough for an evening out with a jacket or pretty scarf. These pants can be worn as capris too!
Visit REI to see lots of options for active travel – Patagonia, Prana, Exofficio.
Perfect travel clothing for women over 50 is comfortable and makes you feel good
It’s most important that you pack only things that are comfortable to wear and make you happy. Don’t include a ‘travel friendly’ option that you’d never reach for at home.
This basic capsule travel wardrobe will serve you well from Paris to the Grand Canyon. But if there’s room in your luggage, allow yourself a favorite item or two. A bright colored dress or graphic tee will be a nice change from the basic wardrobe.
And as always -make sure to pack a hat for skin protection!
Finally enjoy those Instagram fashion shoots, but draw inspiration from some of the other creative bloggers out there – travelingblackwidow, susanafter60, and greenwithrenvy always look great AND comfortable.
scarves by Hermes, scarf in featured photo by Klaradar
For more suggestions read Traveling Clothing for Women, Easy to Pack Favorites
Are there clothing essentials you reach for when packing? Please share your travel tips in the comments!
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