Reader Question: What to Wear When Traveling

I recently received an email from someone asking me what to wear on international business trips.  Here was her question:

“I wanted to see if you had any pointers for what to wear for international business trips.  Mostly i’m wondering what I should wear while traveling – we have about an 18 hour trip, plus a layover in london, so comfort is important, but I dont want to look disheveled when we get to the other end. We’re not going to a meeting straight off the plane, but still! Also, any tips for packing lightly but still being ‘business appropriate’? I want to fit everything in my carry on, but what happens to my blazers when i stuff them in there?? ”

This is a great question and one I think everyone can benefit from. Everyone travels at some point, right?  Every time I go into an airport I am a bit horrified by the outfits I see people wearing. Sweat pants and PJ’s are for wearing at home, not in public where people with eyes can see you.  Yes, when you are traveling you want to be comfortable.  Traveling can be exhausting and unless you are lucky enough to be in first class, uncomfortable.  I truly believe you can look pulled together and be comfortable.   Chico’s Travelers to the rescue!  Kidding.

Personally, I like to wear jeans with a bit of stretch, my bulkiest heel I am taking with me, an over-sized top, and a scarf.   I do think it gets a little trickier when you have to travel for work; you definitely don’t want to look disheveled around colleagues and jeans may be a bit too casual for work travel.  Here is what I would wear:

I love the Minnie pant and it is on my list for spring.  It is stretchy like a legging, but looks a lot more like a pant.  I will say with some professions, like banking, this pant may be too casual.  You can always exchange it for a wide leg pant.  

Minnie pant in stretch twill

Since it is winter time and planes are usually freezing, I would recommend a light sweater.  I love this striped Old Navy one.  This Splendid top would be a great option, too.  As would a wrinkle-free button down.

Top it with a classic black blazer and you won’t be embarrased in front of anyone you work with.  Blazers can become wrinkled in your suitcase, so I tend to wear mine on the plane, remove it when I am on, and place it in the overhead bin.  I have even worn my winter coat on top of my blazer and removed both at the beginning of the flight.

large product image

Even though I like to travel in heels, most people don’t.  I think this flat with hidden wedge is great compromise.  I have put these on several clients who rave about its comfort.

Cece leather ballet flats

Since this outfit is all black and white, I would add some color through a scarf.  I travel with a scarf no matter the time of year; it can always double as a blanket on the inevitably cold airplane.

Kelly Wearstler 

I would bring a big tote in a bright color as my bag.  You can always put a smaller purse inside to use on your trip.


Traveling for work is not the time to try out the latest trend or your new AH-mazing heels.  The easiest thing to do is to pick a color pallet and stick with it. This prevents over packing and assures getting dressed in the morning  will be easy.  Here I have chosen to do black and white as the base and add color as I go.  You can always do navy and cream, grey and white, or camel and cream and add color through accessories.  Picking a darker fabric will help hide any dirt or spills.

For a 5 day business trip in this color pallet, I would add a pencil skirt in black pencil skirt, a wide leg pant in black,  a nude heel, one top in a fun print, two button downs (one white and one bold color or stripe), two more slim sweaters, and a silk top in color I feel great in.  No one is going to notice that you are wearing your pants, blazer, and skirt over and over again.  If there will be down time, I would throw in a pair of dark straight leg jeans.   I would also keep accessories to a minimum.  A great gold cuff and a pair of studs are enough to add a bit of interest while still being business appropriate.  The key is to keep in simple.  You don’t need 5 million things when traveling, especially for work.

Any other suggestions?

1 Comment

Filed under Client Cravings

One response to “Reader Question: What to Wear When Traveling

  1. I love your idea of traveling with a large tote and then slipping your smaller bag to carry when you get there. I utilized some of these suggestions on my trip to Chicago last weekend and breezed through airline security in my Cece ballet flats! Great ideas, Sydney (I ALWAYS bring a large scarf to use as a blanky, too!).

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