A few minutes searching online will tell you how many travel clothing lines have “the perfect travel clothing for women” for you. Do these clothes live up to the hype? Is it worth investing in clothes just for your travel?
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Is it worth spending the money on travel clothes?
This depends on how much you travel and where. If you only fly to visit family and friends, probably not. If you have a bucket list full of distant, exotic lands, most definitely. And if you’re looking to one-bag travel, for business or personal, clothing designed for travel will be useful.
Travel-friendly clothing is usually lightweight, wrinkle-free, and easy to wash in a hotel sink. These items should supplement your regular wardrobe; no need to make up an entirely new capsule wardrobe.
My Facebook feed is full of ads for “the one item EVERY traveler needs” and, unfortunately, I’ve tried too many of them. I can tell you that many of these items aren’t the elixir they’re promised to be. Much of the clothing just didn’t convert all that well and wouldn’t fool anyone into thinking they’re anything but a long piece of fabric. I’ve tried one with snaps that popped open in the airport (yikes!) or several with ‘wrinkle proof’ fabric that held every crease.
But there are a few exceptions- items I love and pack on every trip. What makes these items ‘must-pack’?
Each item must be:
- lightweight, easy care, and (really) wrinkle free
- a match to other items in my bag
- extra points if it’s a versatile multi-use item
Basically a piece of minimalist travel clothing. So instead of focusing on the fails, I give you:
The best travel clothing for women: our favorite travel clothing
Our capsule travel wardrobe, outlined in a Capsule Travel Wardrobe for Women over 50, consists of 2 tops, 2 bottoms, 1 sweater or jacket, and one extra white or black shirt. To this add a few pieces of color. Shop your closet first! You may very well have pieces that are perfect for travel. I’ve invested in some nice travel clothing, but always pack some items already in my closet.
Merino wool: the perfect travel clothing fabric
Any minimalist travel wardrobe includes merino wool. This wool is soft, odor-resistant, and light as a feather. Pack two of these tees and you’re good to go! I love my merino wool items so much that I’ve added an Icebreaker zipped jacket, Smartwool socks and several pieces from Wool&, a Portland, OR based company!
Check the fabric weight/density – GSM (grams per square meter). The Wool& Rowena swing dress is 160 GSM which means it’s lightweight but dense enough not to be see through. Some merino wool tees may be as little as 130 GSM.
The Wool& line of merino wool clothing offers dresses, tops, and leggings that are well worth the investment. The items are well made, wonderfully versatile, and a dream to travel with!
I took their 100 day dress challenge with the Rowena swing dress and my merino wool dress looks as good today as it did at day 100! I was so impressed with their product that I have become an affiliate. (That means I earn a small commission on any sales made through the TravelingTulls website, at no expense to you!)
Price – $128 and up USD
Convertible Clothing for Travel
I’m a sucker for convertible clothing. Love having an item in my bag that I can rely on to serve multiple purposes. The best of these I’ve found are from the Diane Kroe travel clothing line. These pieces are lightweight, colorful (or not!), and really do work in more than one way. Perfect for women over 50.
Kroe Insider Tip: all of these pieces are presented on the website in basic colors. Scroll down to Limited Edition to find unique prints that are available for a limited time.
Carry-On Cozy and Wanderlust by Diane Kroe
The Carry-On Cozy is perhaps my favorite Diane Kroe style. It’s a lightweight piece that can be worn as a scarf, a jacket, poncho, skirt, or dress/cover-up. I haven’t tried the skirt YET but love the poncho, sweater, cover-up, and scarf options. Four uses for one item is good enough for me!
I have the carry-on cozy in the limited edition print shown above and love how it goes with every color in my travel palette!
Unlike some other manufacturers, Diane Kroe uses a strip of snaps for adjusting how this item is worn. This feature feels more secure to me than one or two larger snaps. I’ve never had a fail using these small, but closely spaced snaps. (The strip does show in some styles, but doesn’t detract from the look.)
Price – $71 USD, Weight – 7 oz.
A similar, but slightly different piece, Diane Kroe’s Wanderlust is another option for convertible and comfortable travel clothing.
This minimalist clothing item has sleeves and an invisible zipper that allows it to transform from a scarf, long jacket to a cute top.
I took it on a holiday trip to see family and wore it almost everyday. No one noticed!
Price – ~$96 USD, Weight – 7 oz.
Butterfly (or Mariposa) Wrap
Every packing list should include one of these magical pieces! The butterfly is made in the lightest chiffon so only adds 2 ounces to your luggage and won’t ever wrinkle! Wear it as a pretty scarf, a beach coverup, or fashion it into a stylish blouse!
The Mariposa wrap is similar but longer. It’s a lovely duster by day and lightweight jacket over a black dress for an evening out.
NOTE: items from Diane Kroe are made to order. This is great if you’d like to specify a length for your tights or pants, but does mean the items are not returnable unless there is a defect.
Travel tops worth buying
Most of the tops you’ll want to bring on your travels are already in your closet. You can fit several bright sleeveless blouses, or polo tops into your suitcase without adding substantially to the weight. Again, consider an investment in merino wool clothing if you need to purchase something for your trip.
If you’re off on an outdoorsy adventure – an African safari or a trek through the National Parks – include a button down shirt with roll-up sleeves in your packing. These shirts are great for sun and insect protection. (In the evening you can wear these shirts open as a simple jacket.) Magellan’s Travel, Travelsmith, and REI carry many options, including several advertised as insect repellant clothing. But if you have a shirt in your wardrobe already, consider treating it with a Permethrin spray to achieve the same insect repelling quality. Before our outdoorsy travels, we spray everything – shirts, pants, buffs!
Travel pants & skirts worth the investment
Travel Pants by Athleta
My latest favorite. Classic lines, zippered pockets, and easy care make these pants ideal for travel. I have two pairs of the Venice pants in black. The cut of these pants allows you to dress them up or down depending on what else you’re wearing. I pack one pair of black Venice pants, wear another, and I’m good for a whole week! A real minimalist travel clothing winner!
Price – $79 USD (look for coupons!)
Athleta carries other items – sweaters, tops – that will fit into your travel capsule wardrobe. If luggage weight and bulk is not an issue, I’ll bring along a Pranayama wrap that’s super cozy. A favorite at home too!
Travel Tights by Diane Kroe
And one more winner from Diane Kroe. These tights can be worn as a body suit, but if you’re like me, you’ll wear them mainly as skirted tights. Finally a tight option for older women! I wear the body suit option if I’m wearing a lightweight tunic top. In this case, the travel tights take the place of a camisole.
Cute and versatile for all, but definitely add to your list if you’re looking for travel clothing for women over 60!
Fold up the bottom of these tights and you have a cute pair of capris! So versatile and flattering that I’ve got
two three pairs! One black, one navy, and one in a jaguar print!
Price – $71 USD Weight ~ 14 oz.
Betabrand Travel Yoga Skort (shown at top)
I love this skort and take it on every European adventure. Fits well, has pockets, and works for visits to sacred spaces as well as hikes. The straight line style is classic quite flattering. Wear it with a tee for touring, or dress it up for a formal night. It’s a workhorse!
The skort has undershorts for modesty and lots of zipped pockets!
Caveat: a bit heavy but worth the weight for me!
Price – $88 USD, Weight ~ 15 oz.
Dressy Sweatpants by Encircled
Lightweight comfortable pants that look more refined than your average sweatpants. These are great for travel days. There’s a zipper pocket on the back waistband for extra security.
These pants are a bit expensive but I had mine for years so they last! Wore those for a nice dinner at Bryce Canyon lodge (photo above), and wore them again as pajama bottoms while camping!
Price – $148 USD Weight ~ 12 oz.
Toppers: sweaters & jackets designed for travel
Thinking of ‘travel jackets’ probably brings to mind those multi-pocket vests seen on every travel catalog. Consider those vests if you’re a photographer or videographer wanting to have all your gear handy, but be aware that this type of vest may mark you as a tourist.
Fortunately, many brands have recognized the dilemma and have created jackets and vests with most of the pockets hidden. Some of these have a few unobtrusive zipped pockets and others have dozens of interior pockets (make sure to always put items in the same place, or you might have trouble finding them again!) These are our favorites for travel. Why? Security and carry-on capacity! For these reasons you might consider purchasing a jacket or travel vest with hidden pockets.
Scottevest hoodies and jackets
Scottevest specializes in jackets, vests and fleeces with pockets everywhere! Both Dave and I bring one of these fleeces or jacket on every trip. Not only is it added security but a great way to stretch your ‘one bag’ allocation. Most everything you’d put in your personal item will fit in the jacket!
Best thing about the Scottevest line is that they fit into our everyday wardrobe at home. The hidden pockets add almost no bulk, so no one suspects it’s a travel jacket.
Price – List price $100 (look for sales), Weight ~ 24 oz. (1 lb, 8 oz)
More great finds for travel wardrobe essentials!
I love finding items that, though not convertible, can be used in more than one way when I’m traveling. Quick drying shorts can work as exercise wear as well as touring clothes. Men’s swim shorts are great for going from the gym to the pool. But luckily for us women, several clothing lines have introduced similar items for women.
Coolibar focuses on sun protective clothing. They offer wraps to be used as swim cover-ups, that’ll look lovely as an evening wrap. I bought swim capris when we were heading out on a rafting trip, but use them all the time in the gym, and poolside.
Though not marketed as a travel clothing line, the Lands End swim tops are fabulous for every adventure. Lightweight, quick drying and comfortable. I wear the Breton stripe version on travel days, and sometimes pack one of their high neck swim tops to use as a sleeveless blouse. The high neck sleeveless is great sun protection for that delicate chest area – important for all, but essential for the older traveler.
Price – from $40 USD, Weight ~ 6 oz.
ModLi is another line that features modest swim wear for women. Their swim tops are lovely and will easily function as a top when you’re traveling. You might find some board shorts that you can use for workout wear too!
Price – from $36 USD
Other reliable clothing lines for travel – Chico’s Travelers, Eileen Fischer.
Check out our Capsule Travel Wardrobe for Women Over 50
Do you have any go-to pieces for travel? Do you save these or do you wear them at home?