Travelite classic tips: Clothing for women

[Travelite classic tips are updates to my published articles available at the archive pages.]


Clothing is probably the toughest for anyone who wants to learn how to travelite. The two biggest tips to packing the right clothings, is to color coordinate, and to layer for a versatile look.

Coordinating Colors

Remember the old “Garanimals” children’s clothing where you matched tags to match your outfits? Make sure every single item you take matches with each other. This means you’ll probably have to stick with neutrals–tans, greys, blacks, with some white or accent colors thrown in.


You can change your look with just a tie, a scarf or vest. Chico’s, a chain of US women’s clothing stores, says you have a month’s wardrobe with nine items of clothing, which they do with the following combination:

  1. Blazer
  2. Vest
  3. Short-sleeve shirt
  4. Long-sleeve shirt
  5. Tank top
  6. Long pants
  7. Broomstick or full skirt
  8. Shorts
  9. Long-sleeve buttoned overshirt

They used to have a hand-out showing the 30 layering schemes, but I was recently contacted by a Chico’s rep, who told me that they no longer provide this.

It’s been 10 years since I published this list, and styles do slowly change. Here is my updated wardrobe suggestion for a typical transition-season packing list:

  • A 3-in-1 zip-out jacket with a removable fleece liner that can be worn separately. A hood on the external shell is helpful for bad weather.
  • Reversible vest
  • 2 short-sleeve nicer T-shirts
  • Long-sleeve buttoned shirt with sleeves you can roll up
  • A sleeveless or cap shirt, or a camisole
  • Long pants. Optionally, travel/camping pants that convert into shorts by zipping off the leggings
  • A below-the-knee A-line skirt
  • 3 pairs of very thin sock liners
  • 3 bras
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • In cooler weather, consider taking a scarf or a larger pashmina (which you can snuggle with on the plane)

Update: If you take a pair of convertible pants with you, I don’t think you need to bring a pair of shorts. If you feel strongly, bring two pairs of these pants so you can hang one to dry while you wear the second pair. I also think you can do do away with an overshirt, since you will have more than enough variety between the three other shirts. Just make sure your long-sleeve shirt uses buttons so you can wear it open over your T-shirt.

I also no longer recommend tank tops, as these are considered too casual. Depending on where you travel, some cultures frown on women wearing tank tops, as well. Either go with a fitted camisole (there are many with built-in bra or shelf), or go with a sleeveless shirt. These are a bit more modest than a tank top.

You’ll also see that I recommend an A-line skirt instead of the outdated broomstick or full skirt. I recommend that you get the skirt to match one of the tops so you can coordinate an outfit for a nicer night out.

If you have a bit of a budget, go with convertible items. Companies like Columbia Sportswear and Lands End sell jackets with inner fleece jackets you can wear separately.

On travel day, for example, a bra, a pair of underwear, a pair of socks, your camisole, the long-sleeve shirt, your vest, long pants, and your jacket, leaving you with the 2 T-shirts, the second pair of pants, skirt, and the rest of your underwear, and that’s all you need to pack in your bag. Amazing!


Most people suggest that you pack four days’ worth of undergarments with you. I usually also try to include one jog bra in the bunch, although those planning on going to the beach may want to count a bikini bathing suit as one set of underwear. Socks tend to be tough to dry–again, visit your neighborhood athletic shoe store and purchase socks made of Coolmax. These are more expensive, but drip dry very quickly. Many of them are double-layered, to discourage blisters as well.

Underwire bras and airport security screenings

You hear horror stories of women travelers being pulled aside because the underwire in their bras cause the metal detectors to go off. While I’ve never had that problem, consider wearing an unwired bra on your travel day. There are many sports bras with good support and which don’t use any metal at all.

“Disposable” Clothing

Save your holey socks and dingy underwear for your trip, and throw them away as you go! You’ll have less washing to do. Same goes for old T-shirts, and even SHOES! If you are a regular jogger, save your older running shoes (which are still good for walking). You can throw them away at your trip and not have to carry them home (donate them at the city’s Goodwill or church if your conscience bothers you). Also, if you’re going on a shopping trip and you’re planning on stocking up your wardrobe, take only those old clothes you plan to throw away. As you buy new clothing, you can wear them and have less to pack.


  1. I do this! I am thrilled to see others also do it. It is a great tip! My friends make fun of me but it clears out my closet of old clothes, leaves extra room in my luggage and keeps me from having to do laundry.

  2. Tritium emits BETA, not alpha. And while beta is also blocked by the walls of the vial containing the tritium, the glass walls then emit secondary radiation (bremsstrahlung x-rays). The end result is that radiation from those little tritium keychain lights available on ebay are quite easily detected even through their glass walls and thick plastic cases.

  3. Scottevests are invaluable for carryon-only travelers, enabling to wear things instead of carrying them – helps with weight limits, too.

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