January 19, 2022
Some of you are planning travel, even though you might still be keeping a low profile to avoid viruses… Lucky people!
A few quite long trips are being organized, and at least 1 trip that I know of is from the Southern Hemisphere (in 4 or 5 months, which will be autumn?) to Europe. How exciting, after being kept close to home for so long…
A color scheme that has been requested TWICE is this general idea – navy and beige as neutrals, and any shade of blue to accent. I picture it like this:
My dying breath might be spent telling everyone how important their travel outfit is! But it’s true; you’re going to spend hours and hours and HOURS wearing it, and it will be the first impression that you make when you arrive.
if you think that the French are rude, wait until you show up in a café for breakfast wearing pajamas bottoms…
In the absence of better information, I’m assuming that your departure weather will be quite cool, and of course I don’t think I’ve ever been on a really warm plane… So a cotton turtleneck and a warm scarf will make quite a bit of difference for the time traveling:
Now here’s the trick – most of us travel carrying some kind of tote bag – put a few things into that bag into which you can change at the airport! (you’re going to have to wait for luggage, and also to get through Immigration – you’ll have time to dash into a rest room for 5 minutes.)
Getting rid of the turtleneck and the cashmere scarf will make a ton of difference! Swap out your shoes and socks for a pair of sandals, and pull out your crossbody bag (because that’s where your passport and Euros are stashed… which reminds me – don’t EVER change money at the airport, or any place catering to tourists; you will be robbed in broad daylight!)
So before we’ve even really started to pack, we have 25% of our travel capsule wardrobe in hand – although if you don’t want to count the navy turtleneck, you needn’t. Unless you encounter really BAD weather, you probably won’t wear it until your trip home…
We have to start picking things to pack somewhere, so I’m starting with a small stack of tee shirts. You might prefer to begin with clothes in your 2nd neutral – there’s really no rule about this. Just remember that everything you choose needs to fit into your overall plan:
With these 3 tee shirts, you’ve got your navy “Core of 4” completed! And yes, I would wear a striped tee shirt with the dotted cardigan in a heartbeat. While packing generally means bringing with you a fair quantity of useful neutrals, you don’t have to be stone cold boring!
All of our heroines – without exception – have expressed a desire to pack a dress with them for a nice dinner or 2 – a beige one can be a nice break from rooms full of black! Another cardigan is essential, and beige pants in whatever length you like the most gives you a suit-like look:
This gets to past the halfway point of your wardrobe! It doesn’t quite seem possible…
Next, because our heroines are traveling to a warmer climate, I’m going to toss in a couple of garments in white. If you’re totally nervous about wearing white pants, you could easily substitute capris in navy, or a pair of shorts in 1 of your neutral colors, or a skirt…
And I finally decided to include another, more casual, dress. This dress could be worn with sleeves rolled or not, open over a tee shirt and pants worn as a duster, worn over a tee shirt; it has lots of possibilities!
At this point, you know that you’re getting near the end of your clothing choices. It makes a lot of sense to take a good look at your planning grid and see how things seem to work:
At this stage, I’ve decided that I’m not going to find a beige top that I really like (it might be too early in the season?), so I moved the classic white tee shirt up with the beige. Three pairs of pants and 2 dresses feels like enough bottoms for me, but if you want to grab a pair of shorts or another pair of cropped pants, now’s the time to do it!
But I’m opting for linen tops. Long-sleeved linen shirts saved my gourd on a trip to Paris that turned out to be a LOT warmer than I expected! I had planned to wear them under sweaters, but instead, I wore them untucked with the sleeves rolled up, over cropped pants. Linen packs really small, and adapts well to a wide range of temperatures. Plus it lasts forever; my 3 linen shirts are at least 10 years old, and still in excellent condition. Highly recommended!
Whew! Where does this leave us?
I think it’s pretty obvious that there are lots of ways to pull outfits from this wardrobe, but I’m going to look anyway! And I’m not ever including the dresses; while the beige dress is kind of a “stand alone” look, the indigo dress could easily be part of at least a handful of ensembles.
2 questions: is anybody else planning travel in the next few months, and do you want to see accessories for this wardrobe?
p.s. Three years ago, I wrote about traveling from cool to warm weather for a relatively short trip! It isn’t a crazy thing to think about, when winter really begins to set it…
Nice! I would swap a dress for a skirt for even more possibilities.
Southern Hemisphere dweller here – would love to be heading to Europe after being ‘locked in’ for more than two years! Great wardrobe, but I’d leave the turtleneck out, and replace with a tank as I couldn’t justify bringing it purely as a travel item. Also it’s not that cold in May/June unless NZ or Tasmania!
Judy Sparks says
This is the first time I,ve commented on your wonderful blog! I read every post avidly, and love today’s travel outfits in navy . They are perfect. I live in U K and am shortly travelling to Florida for three weeks ( fingers crossed ) so will be doing your outfits the other way round! I would say, though, that shorts in Europe are really only for beach holidays ,and NOT city ones ! Unless you are a teenager that is, and we are not are we? Thank you for all your hard work. Best wishes from Judy Sparks .
I love this 4×4 concept and these colors are great. I am planing two trips to Europe this year (England in the Spring, France in the Fall) and will give your system a try. I only travel “carry on” but I think all these pieces will fit. My travel color basic is always black so I’ll do some modifications to your color scheme. Thanks ?
Julie Nelson says
Love your travel wardrobe ideas! Would love to see a cold to tropical, week trip wardrobe idea post.
I swear I’m tempted to go back over all TVF posts and compile my personal collection of Janice-isms. Those would be advice that stands the test of time or witty observations about what to wear. This one I’m saving:
“if you think that the French are rude, wait until you show up in a café for breakfast wearing pajamas bottoms…”
I would wear the striped navy with polka dots- absolutely! In fact, I have done so.
One thing I absolutely wish for is the elusive 2 piece dress in a pretty print that serves as the basis of a travel wardrobe. From there, I’d select tops to go with the skirt, and bottoms to go with the top. It would be amazing if the “dress” could be dressed up or worn casually. I’m dreaming, of course!
Yes to accessories for this capsule. ???
Great minds are thinking alike here – just this week I started playing with compiling a VF “go bag” – all the key concepts (& some favorite examples) in one handy printout. And then I realized that they might actually not all fit into a single full BOOK… Gotta think about this some more because my paranoid brain really prefers to have really valuable things on paper as well as online, and VF definitely falls into the really valuable category!
A very long time ago, I bought four-piece ensembles. My first (and favorite! one) was a Stirling Cooper navy skirt & blazer, plus a navy print skirt and matching blouse. I added a few pieces, and had a capsule wardrobe before I ever knew what that was. (Casual Corner and Talbot’s also had four-piece ensembles; I bought these as college graduation gifts for my younger female relatives.)
Remember when you could find matching blouses and skirts? Those were SO useful….
I sewed a two-piece dress for myself years ago. It was in the mid-80’s, inspired by something worn by Princess Diana, if memory serves me correctly. It was made for daywear and I even had a friend make a matching quilted cummerbund which really made it look like a dress. The pieces worked with other tops and bottoms and I wore it to all sorts of events. It’s a super useful concept.
Beth T says
Those were the days when shops really thought about mix and match collections. Shopping was easy. These days you might see a top or a skirt in one shop but nothing to go with it.
I have this quote pasted in my diary from a few years ago:
and dress accordingly.”
– Janice Riggs
This wardrobe has started me dreaming … and YES to accessories please!
Beth T says
I love your practical packing instructions. Personally, my beige is grey or taupe and I had thought when I first saw this post that I would need another accent colour for variety. However, you’ve proved that that’s not necessary because blue has a multitude of shades and intensity. Accessories are important and perhaps, that’s where one could introduce a hint of other accents eg a navy scarf with colourful florals or butterflies.
On a separate note, I have to thank you for introducing me to fleece lined trousers. I wear mine every Wednesday when I volunteer with a local conservation and environment group. My legs are warm and the waterproof material keeps me dry if we have a shower.
*sigh* no travel plans in the next few months. We can dream though- please show us your accessory picks!
Hello! I think Janice should be offered a book deal so she can compile all of her advice in one volume to share with the world :) Love this collection and YES to accessories for this group!
Linda Toffolo says
Oh Janice, this post has made me so happy and hopeful! We have a 5 week trip planned for the Canary Islands at the end of February. We have had 4 European vacations cancelled because of Covid since 2020 and are so hoping this adventure will actually work out. I must pack carefully because I plan to do some shopping and will use your clever template to avoid over packing. Love your travel outfit and quick change airport advice. Thanks so much for lifting my travel spirits today❤️
I like the overall wardrobe, and I loved the beige dress, but really,,, a size large is a SIZE 8!
Hubby and I will travel from Canada to Tennessee in late March for a ten-day family visit. We are very excited and I will be using everything I’ve learned from Janice as I plan my travel wardrobe. Today’s post is a perfect example of what I’ll need.
As always, your accessory posts bring your travel wardrobes to life so “yes please!” to you doing a follow-up on today’s wardrobe.
I echo the comments above on you condensing your travel and wardrobe wisdom and witticisms.
Great capsule wardrobe. Unfortunately I have no travel plans but good ideas for “just wearing” when leaving the house! Have you ever given thought about how the navies may not match…one being too blue and the other being two black-blue?? I have white hair after being a blonde and I love navy and anything blue. Oh….have you considered Chico’s linen shirts? Love the Lands’ End striped tunic!
Lois Breedlove says
Maybe a road trip through the southwest to Santa Fe? I had it planned, and then COVID spiked again….
I probably won’t include a dress. A skirt instead. (My last road trip was the AlCan to Anchorage — 8 weeks and I never even wore the skirt. But just in case.) But the rest of this would pack just fine.
At least I can dream. I even called up the route on the map again….
We have about a week road trip through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming planned…. this particular wardrobe wouldn’t be the best fit for that trip BUT I am (I think) re-tooling my wardrobe, and it was great to note that I have almost all these items in one form or another, so apparently at least I’ve got a start on a “new” core wardrobe to further build upon. Sometimes different navies bother me – as someone mentioned above – other times I’m ok. I remember one of Janice’s posts where she pointed out men wear different navies together all the time, so why should women be so put off about it?????
I live in Idaho! It may stay cold for awhile in our mountain west, so good insulated boots are a must! I love pretty puffy vests over warm turtlenecks. Even in Boise (the largest city in those 3 states,) our style is a dressier version of our outdoor wear. Especially in winter. A pair of nicer knit pull on pants tucked into knee high boots, a plain tunic or sweater with a wow piece of jewelry or a scarf will get you through dinner in a nice restaurant. Or a knit dress, tights & boots with accessories. If you’re sticking to ski resorts, pretty sweaters, warm pants & boots (with a tread) get you around. Your ski base layers can do double duty under a crew neck off the slopes and accessories can take everything up or down in terms of dressy/ casual. Warm beanies pack easily. Check the weather because sometimes we don’t get spring for awhile. And May can be cold to almost warm…think layers. Summers here can be blazingly hot with cardigans needed for “meat locker” conditions caused by air conditioning and for mountain venues.
Our trip would be first of July! Gotta wait for those northern mountain passes to be open! My mother was originally from Idaho, so the foray into Wyoming will be new to us, other portions of the trip we’ve done a few times! It’s just so beautiful crossing over the passes.
Chris in Indy says
ak, Idaho is on my wish list this year. The American West has always been really good to this Hoosier – I love it and dream of when I can return! We have good luck going in late summer/early fall when the passes are still open but the crowds have thinned, especially at the National Parks. Like you said, casual clothes elevated with some jewelry or a scarf has gotten me into everywhere I want to be! I do love cruising past travelers waiting for their checked baggage at the airport with Janice’s 4×4 in my carry-on….. my guilty pleasure!!
Love thinking about travel wardrobes again! We have a small group tour of Ireland planned for June. This wardrobe is very similar to what I would bring, but I would swap the beige for a light gray because of my “winter” coloring.
I recently purchased sweaters and with matching shawls/scarves in a cotton/silk blend from J.Jill which I will probably bring on the trip. They are very lightweight but the silk gives them some warmth. The shawls have slits for the arms so they don’t slip off but they are so lightweight that they can be worn as scarves with very little bulk. I hope they are long wearing and up to the rigors of travel…time will tell.
I LOVE the Longchamp tote for traveling. It’s lightweight but pretty much indestructible, and it has a zipper closure, unlike some totes. For added security in an area where there were pickpockets, I punched a hole in one of the end tabs so I could fasten the zipper end to the tab with a black twist tie. My tote has the longer handles like Janet shows in this wardrobe, so it doesn’t fold up into the tiny square that the shorter handled totes do, but it lies flat in my luggage if I’m not using it. I carry my wallet, etc., in a small crocheted SAK bag, and just throw that in the tote.
In answer to a previous question about matching navy blues, I try to buy both bottoms and tops from the same vendor in the same color name. That way, there’s a good chance they will match.
Pamela W Meyer says
Please, please, do the accessories! Maybe some fun, bright and other more subtle? I love to adjust to the day’s feelings and activities!
Yes to travel this year! I love this 4X4 though I’d probably swap out one top in favor of a pair of jeans. Definitely do the accessories—-shoes are critical to travel!
At this point Europe travel is just a dream but I love to dream. I want to put in a plug for those Munro sandals. They have been my second pair of shoes for several trips now and I can walk miles in them with no discomfort. The straps are elastic and the footbed is cork. They come in many color ways but I have this exact pair plus a back pair. Yes to accessories!
Love this palette. I too wear grey instead of the beige and would switch out the skirt for a dress. I like a long sleeve tee in place of a turtleneck to act as a chilly evening top or even a second layer if necessary. The polka dot sweater , or a sweater with a pattern may help me overcome the boredom that can creep on when keeping a small wardrobe. Thanks
Beth T says
The furthest I shall be going this year will be the North of England and Scotland to see relatives for the first time since 2019. However, I must remember that temperatures can be up to 10C cooler in the north than where I live and it can be a lot better two. I have been known to.pack for every eventuality and wear less than half.
Reading these guidelines is invaluable as are the comments from fellow VF readers who are the best arbiters of their local style. Some of the thorough and detailed comments made me realise that questions like “What to pack?” or “What to wear?” are rarely covered in travel advice. However, it is really important, particularly if you are going somewhere new or visiting at a different time of year. Thank goodness we seek out such wonderful advice from fellow readers of TVF so that we can fit in rather than stand out as a ‘tourist’.
We’re still in the process for making vacation plans for this year but I did wear a wardrobe last June for a trip to Maine. I also mimicked the wardrobe with the cooler and warmer looks with the weather in Maine that time of year is in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. The idea for the mix and match with shorts and capris were perfect for that time of year and I packed less items than my boyfriend did. He couldn’t believe it! This simplistic styling is perfect for all kind of weather.
Great post and comments!
Another tip for airport travel: pack an entire outfit in your carry on bag, including undergarments. We had a man speak at church one time who traveled to a foreign country and his suitcase was lost! He was wise enough to have a second complete outfit in his backpack. For two weeks!- He would come back to his hotel room at the end of a sweaty day, wash out his current outfit in the sink and hang up to dry. The previous day’s outfit would be dry and he would wear it in the morning. For two weeks, he alternated wearing and washing the two outfits he had. I think his luggage finally showed up the day before he left!
That happened to a mother and daughter on a European river cruise . Their luggage was accidentally routed to South America instead ! It took half of the cruise for their luggage to catch up with them,and they had not prepared for that contingency !
It also happened to my hubby and me, trying to get to St. Kitts in the Caribbean , but we had to spend the night on New Year’s Eve in St.Martin due to plane mechanical problems . Our dinner was a glass of wine and peanuts from the bar, as well as a granola bar that we were carrying along — all foods were a part of an expensive reserved holiday function ! So I have learned to pack a nightie and fresh underwear and a clean top in my underseat luggage . And a snack !!
Love this! I am a chronic overpacked but I am intent on packing light for our next time. Love your 4 x4 system- so intentional. I have ordered some of these pieces to build out my navy travel capsule wardrobe as I am getting tired of my standby black – especially for a hot climate. I have issues with turtlenecks so I would swap out a different long-sleeved tee shirt and rely on the scarf to keep my neck warm. I have found a longer knit skort great to pack as it doubles as shorts, activity-wise, but looks a bit more polished. I would substitute apple green or taupe for the beige, maybe a hot pink cotton knit dress as I have cooler colouring. Would love to see accessories- you find some great ones! I am partial to silver – loafers, sandals and crossbody (Lo & Sons have a good one) as metallics goes with everything and makes it easy to dress things up if needed. Great tip re packing an outfit in your carry on bag. We have been caught a few times and you realize that it doesn’t take much to get you happily through a few days while you luggage arrives. This is also a good argument for packing light and taking all carry-on. (I am convincing myself!!).
No travel plans for this year, which means I love your posts even more as they allow me to plan vicariously! Yes, please, to accessories.
What I like about today’s colours are that I could easily switch out the beige for grey (which looks better me on me). And then
We have an (insured, refundable) trip planned to England and Scotland at the beginning of May. I’d love to see accessories for this wardrobe because the travel capsule I have planned is themed around navy, saturated rose pink, and yellow-green. I bought a beautiful wool blend pink coat from Express at the start of the season and it should still be cold enough to wear it in Edinburgh since it’s only a little heavier than blazer weight…
Karen Juergens says
I am currently in hawaii for 2 weeks. We canceled our last trip here due to Covid. I religiously follow your blog. The recent post with white and beige pants makes me nervous. We are here with young grandkids and they spill all over me daily. Also, it only takes one drop of salsa, blood or coffee to ruin them for a day or more. I brought lots of dark cotton pants instead. Love the lands end knit pants for travel! Dresses in hawaii are great! If you bring too many clothes or buy lots of souvenirs you can mail a box home-everyone seems to do that here.
Yes to accessories — I love this capsule— and yes – cruising to Alaska in May on Princess and again with Holland America in September. Both ends of the Alaska season. It can be cold and wet although May can have very hot sunny weather occasionally. The cool cloudy weather is best for glacier viewing. I’m so looking forward to it.
I’m ready to get out and push the boat if I have to!
I avoid navy on cruises- too close to crew uniforms but normally it’s my favourite neutral in spring and summer.
For my birthday a few weeks ago we had booked a lovely weekend in a neighboring county with wonderful shops to explore and fine dining in old historic restaurants, but —— Omicron and a forecast of a high of 19 degrees Fahrenheit put a kebosh on those plans ! We have rebooked in April over my husband’s birthday instead . Omicron is peaking here in the eastern US , many employees are ill everywhere — you even need to make an appointment to do any banking , due to a lack of staff . In our retirement community many of the maintenance crew members are out sick , so it has been requested by the administration here to keep our requests to emergencies only, for now . I miss eating out and running out exploring the world and all of its enticements , but I also prefer to not becoming ill !
Meanwhile, I am enjoying seeing your packing posts again – we can all still dream! For this one, I would sub in a warm colored top for one of the blue pieces — I am so easily bored by just one color — my personal quirk !
Love this capsule Janice, and I really like the dress choice! It is really different and could easily be dressed up, but looks so comfy that it would work casually as well.
No travel plans here yet, other than to see friends and family within our province. But I can always dream!
Linda P says
Hi Janice and Everyone! I really like this color combo for traveling (or even a versatile summer capsule). I have paired blue and beige/tan and it turned out I had more outfits than I thought. I might throw in a pink in the bottom row just for a little contrast.
I echo the Stain Magnetism of white, esp with little (grand)/kids. In the summer I am brave enough to wear white above the waist. That’s it.
I must ask…how does one pack linen and avoid wrinkles-?
It is great to hear about ‘weather fashions’ from the U.S. and all over the world. I am going to save this post in my kindle for future reference. The only ‘trip’ we have planned is driving a U-Haul from SF to Philadelphia, where daughter and her Be!ovedest are relocating. And what would be the 4×4 capsule for that ??!