January 18, 2019
Someone asks me this question almost every week in the Northern Hemisphere winter – how do I dress when I know it’s going to be warm when I get off the plane?
I do this often – I spend quite a bit of time in Florida! My system is to layer 3 tops (what I call the Triple Top Secret…), and then peel off layers when I’m on the ground in my warm destination.
My other trick is to leave room in my carry-on bag for my shoes and socks, and I carry my sandals with me – that’s a change I make right away! I also make certain that I can fit my cardigan and long-sleeved shirt in my carry-on, so that I can just wear a tee shirt, pants and sandals for the rest of my travel day. So far, this is working well…
I thought that I would build a wardrobe to show you how I often pack. The print shirt was where I started with this wardrobe – I sort of fell in love with it!
One of the key things to make this work if your destination is REALLY warm is to wear a cotton cardigan – they’re useful all year. For my current trip, I wore cashmere, because I knew that it was occasionally chilly here in Florida. You just have to look at your forecasts and plan appropriately!
Next step for me is to pack a legitimately summer outfit. It might not be what I wear the most, if the weather isn’t hot, but it gets me on the right track and in the right mood!
Next I pick 2 tops and 2 bottoms that go with everything else that I’ve packed so far…
And the last thing I usually include is a couple of dresses. I’m a firm believer that dresses don’t have to be dressy – I’ve been known to wear mine with my Keds! It takes a while to get used to that, but it can really add flexibility to your wardrobe, especially when traveling.
Of course, before I start folding and packing, I array everything on the bed, just to make sure that it all looks happy together, and that I haven’t forgotten anything critical! (yes, I once traveled with ONE pair of socks… much hand-washing was involved…)
This limited color palette is pretty versatile. If you felt that you needed or wanted more clothes, you could always include a solid navy top, navy capris, a red cardigan, a red and white striped tee shirt etc…
Of course, by the time you read this, I will be back in Chicago, wearing 3 layers of wool…
Taste of France says
When I was single, I would head to Africa for a February vacation. Nothing like equatorial sun to get rid of seasonal affective disorder. I didn’t want to lug around a big winter coat and snowboots (though when I lived in Kenya long, long ago, I actually did have a winter jacket, which got a workout mountain climbing). I rented a locker at the Amsterdam airport and shoved my winter things inside before boarding my flight to Kenya. It was perfect. And one time on the way back, I had a long layover and was able to change into winter clothes and go into Amsterdam for several hours before crossing the Atlantic.
Love Amsterdam for connections. Best tip I ever received for long haul flights (Nairobi, Cairo, etc.). Airline rule allows UP TO 24 hours stopover without charging point to point. This means (and I have done this several times) I can take an evening flight from California, arrive Amsterdam around 10am+1, utilize airport transfer, check into an airport hotel ( good Best Western) , transfer back to the airport to catch the train into the city for a day and evening of fun. Very easy return to hotel for a great nights sleep and transfer back to the airport for my 9AM +/- flight. It takes a little extra effort doing airline research to stay under the 24 hour rule, but worth it many times over. There’s a Sheraton hotel, almost connected to the Brussels airport… again breaks up the long haul flights.
Love all these wonderful travel tips everyone shares so generously.
I live in Florida. It is not always summer here. This morning we have temps in the 50s and 60s, depending on the location within our large state! Yes, it will get warmer through the day, but to this Floridian anything below 70 feels chilly! I would want a second pair of long pants.
Katrina B says
I second that! Living in Phoenix for 25 years has thinned my blood so much that I am uncomfortably cold at temperatures below 70, and wear a coat if it’s below 60.
Janice Collins Coyle says
We travel to Florida every March when it’s still a bit wintery here but not freezing. I wear warm socks with sneakers to travel and just take them off after landing. I have a very heavy warm cardi I take off along with my rain coat. I’m left with a summer outfit – cotton blouse- now with sleeves rolled up, pants and sneakers. Thanks to you, Janice, I know how to travel light so thank you! And, what a cute hat! How do you pack it?? Janice Collins Coyle, Washington DC
Nancy Brewer says
This was such a helpful post Janice, Thank you! I am getting ready to travel to Paris, Germany, Austria and Switzerland this fall (Sept) and am trying to get my travel wardrobe settled. I have to be prepared for rain and cold in the Alps, but also need cooler clothes for warmer days too. I really loved the idea of the three layers on the plane!
Travelling for the first time with just a carry on and personal item so I really need to make each piece work together and cover the bases for weather!
A post on this would be great!
Hi Nancy, I do that all the time. A real lifesaver for me has been silk long underwear. It’s super light and soft so you can wear it under anything, yet warm. They hand wash and dry quickly, so you can wear your shirt more times. I get them at Kim Allan Silk.com or LLBean. Make sure that cardigan is wool or cashmere so it will be really warm and then a nice wool coat. Same with hat, scarf, gloves – also wool or cashmere for more warmth to weight. Most versatile shoe has been a black leather Oxford. Mac Gregor makes socks that are not too thick, kind of dressy, yet are a wool blend.
Have you ever done a post on the travel garments not featured here, the necessities like socks , undies, sleep and loungewear? Would love to see how you manage these.
I went from winter flurries in Tokyo to hot humid Singapore. I had a T-shirt and sweater with scarf on top and a navy midi length skirt with knee high socks and shoes. I had packed sandals in my personal bag and wore them with the T-shirt and skirt when we landed. In Japan I borrowed a winter coat from my friend so did not need to pack it.
I find my Uniqlo light down jacket invaluable when flying from cold to warm. It compresses into its small drawstring bag which can go in a hold or carry on bag.
Their vests are also wonderful, if you’re a quilted vest kind of person. They pack like a sheet of paper, but they’re quit warm. Thanks for reminding me…
Another vote for the stuffable down jacket! When coming or going in winter, b/t Montréal and FL, I also pack a thin merino cami for under a tee and a pair of Smartwool socks.That’s enough to move between cab and airport. Whole other ballgame if you are coming from hot into a stay in our very cold winter. A woman arriving for a week long conference asked me if she “really needed” winter boots and ignored my “yes” reply. She tried to get along in a pair of smooth-soled, unlined ankle boots, useless. Fell, broke her leg.
Oh, I used to get that ALL THE TIME when we would host work conferences here in Chicago. The idea that gloves and boots are just something that we were wearing as a fashion statement was widely-believed. Until they got here…
Hélène G. says
What a clever post, once more !
Really the best way to have everything necessary to each temperature, and not too much (my problem), with “élégance” – perhaps the most difficult.
Thank you so much, Janice, and congratulations from Metz (France) !
Thank you for another useful post, Janice. I’m not sure if you’ve ever done this, but could you comment on your experience with/the quality of clothing that is posted here in the examples? Specifically, I am interested to know about Uniqlo, which I had never seen prior to reading your blog. That trench is darling. I would also like to see a post about how to not pack too much, which is usually my problem. I have anxiety about not having the right clothes when I arrive at my destination. Most often, this is in another country where I can expect the weather to be different than at home.
An opinion from someone else: Uniqlo is often called “the Japanese Gap”, which may provide a sense of what this is, along with the price point. The quality is “okay”, but this is not investment clothing. It will stand up to everyday wear for a time and some pieces are better-made than others. If your anxiety is about weather, read the forecast and pack a “secretly warmer” item such as a merino wool cami or pair of silk long-johns. It often feels colder in damp, rainy locales (London, for example) than the temperature reading suggests.
Thank you so much for the Uniqlo assessment, Duchesse. We have had a good bit of rain this winter in Tennessee, so I agree with you about it feeling colder. I will look at the silk long underwear. And my anxiety goes both ways about weather, whether expected to be colder or hotter. Thank heavens we can check on-line for this, but being there is another story!
Great outfits with lots of variety! Love those Tuscany sandals (and the price is right)! I would skip the dressy sandal and just take the keds and Tuscany sandal to save space. We will be on the Florida gulf coast and Houston this winter so this post is very helpful!
No Fear of Fashion says
I think this is a very clever approach. My problem is usually my shoes in hot weather. I cannot stand any shoes on my feet, nor slippers in summer. I tend to get blisters all the time. And… I often have chunky, platform sneakers to go with stuff which are heavy and bulky. This is just the start of my particular problems with packing and going away. I hardly travel haha. Fortunately I am not much of a world traveller. Mostly European city trips of three days, the odd week. Or a weekend trips somewhere in England. New York and Canada (Vancouver) have been the longest and farthest trips I ever took.
Some very thoughtful and competitive airports have a coat check service for winter travellers. Drop your parka off, pick it up when you return.
This is a subject close to my heart, and just right for this time of year. I wear dresses almost exclusively – rarely wear pants. So, what I do is wear a loose sleeveless dress of a mid- weight linen over tights and a long sleeved knit silk top- with a cashmere sweater over that. I have an LLBean down jacket that folds into its own pocket. I take a silk scarf/shawl that covers my head and shoulders for warmth but is quite nice as a shawl on cool evenings in tropical climates. This is all about the textiles – Silk is remarkably warm considering how light it is. And midweight linen, though cool in the heat, is also quite warm in the cold. And cashmere packs wonderfully but is very warm.
The colors/proportions/ and shapes of the various pieces are a bit tricky. They make all the difference between looking like a Bag Lady or interestingly Boho Chic.
i know this is a late comment. I’ve got a 7 day cruise coming up and came back to review this thought process a few times. While we won’t be cramped for space, per se, it will certainly help matters to to have efficient packing.