Travelin’ Pants and Other Wearables (Women’s Edition)

Thank goodness women no longer have to wear a dress, hat AND corsage when we travel (I bet the poor women are all wearing girdles too!).

Clothing is a highly personal area, even when it comes to travel. We all have our own taste, style and set of likes and dislikes when it comes to what we like to wear.

I have four criteria for the clothes I wear for traveling:

  1. They must be comfortable (for me).
  2. They must be easy to pack and maintain.
  3. They must be (somewhat) stylish, and adaptable to any situation.
  4. They must be made from natural fibers (other than outerwear)

I hate tight clothes. I tortured myself with tight clothing when I was younger, but now I want things loose, or clothes that move with me. The thought of wearing a pair of jeans these days just about does me in, not because I don’t like them or the way they look, but because they are invariably going to be tight somewhere on me. Same for tight t-shirts, dresses and other pieces of clothing. I also greatly dislike polyester, nylon or any other non-natural material except for maybe a small amount of Lycra for stretch, or a nylon outer coat or jacket). I like my clothes to breathe.

My favorite traveling pants for warmer weather these days are J. Jill’s Easy Linen Cropped Pants (I wear them every day here in Hawai’i). For cool weather travels I love L.L. Bean’s Perfect Fit Pants (90% cotton – 10% Lycra) – they’re comfortable like yoga pants, but look a bit more upscale. Both of these pants can be worn casually, but add a nice sweater and scarf to the Perfect Fit Pants or a tunic and shawl to the linen cropped pants and I’m ready for dinner at a nice restaurant or some other dressier occasion. Neither type of pants, when rolled, takes up much room in a suitcase.

My favorite everyday and travel pants for warm weather: J. Jill’s Easy Linen Cropped Pants. They come in a variety of different colors.

Linen is a perfect travel fabric. It’s  expected to wrinkle. I never have to worry about anything linen being ironed, or how it looks coming out of a suitcase because after only a few minutes of wear it softens up and gets wrinkled anyway. Wash it, dry it, even line dry it, and it’s ready to go. And, linen breathes – it stays comfortable no matter how hot it gets.

L.L. Bean’s Perfect Fit pants come in an assortment of colors, but I stick to black, navy blue and dark gray.

Same for most cotton knits – they don’t wrinkle, almost always come out of a suitcase looking great, and require minimal care when I’m on the road. I could wash most linen and knit items out by hand if I had to, but thankfully I’ve always been able to locate a washing machine, or reasonably-priced laundry service.

I do have other cotton pants, but they’re not as easy to maintain and wrinkle easily, so I don’t often wear them when I travel.

This is my favorite travel sweater (I have it in a medium blue). It is lightweight, but warm and comfortable, and can be dressed up or down.

For cooler weather or winter travel I typically pack a couple of sweaters (pullover and cardigan), maybe a nice sweatshirt (no logos), some long-sleeve knit tops, and a couple of jackets. In the summer my tops are a few cotton t-shirts, a dressy linen tunic or two, a couple of casual linen tops and a lightweight jacket. I don’t have one now, but would also pack a longer dress or skirt if I found one I liked. I have a black quilted parka that I’m technically supposed to be able to repack into one of its pockets, but I’ve never been able to accomplish that task. Still, it squeezes down pretty small, and comes out unwrinkled and ready to wear, and is quite warm (I also have a sleeveless vest in the same material). With my cool-weather clothes I try to keep to a somewhat unified color scheme, which is black, white/cream, and shades of blue, including denim. It makes it easy to pull things together and accessorize with a scarf or such. My warm weather clothing tends to be more colorful, but it takes up less space and most pieces can do double duty (i.e go together with more than one other thing). I’m not much of a jewelry person but I do accessorize with scarves when I need to kick things up a bit.

My favorite summer t-shirt, from J. Jill. It comes in a variety of colors, and is extremely easy to maintain. The longer length is flattering as well.

I’ve really dropped the ball lately though when it comes to finding comfortable shoes. The shoes I took to Japan in March were cute and fit well, but were extremely uncomfortable for walking more than a short distance (Brett had the same complaint about his shoes). So, before undertaking any future travels I am going to have to do some research and find something different. The criteria for shoes will be the same as for clothing: they must be comfortable, especially for walking long distances; they must be easy to care for; they must be somewhat stylish and adaptable to different situations; and other than sneakers they must be leather (because it breathes). It’s going to be a challenge though because I have “difficult” feet. Even after foot surgery to remove my bunions, my feet are still wide, I have high arches, and little to no padding on the balls of my feet. I also like shoes I can kick off easily, as we don’t wear shoes inside our home, even if that’s just a hotel room.

Mephisto’s Helen sandals are expensive, but they are very comfortable for walking, and last a long time (a previous pair lasted me over five years), so I’m pretty sure I’m going to invest in a pair. They come in a huge array of colors.

One thing I try to avoid are items of clothing that are for travel only, or primarily marketed for travel. First, those items tend to cost more, but I want to own clothes that I would be happy to wear any where even when I’m not traveling. My current cool weather travel clothing doesn’t get worn here on Kaua’i (for obvious reasons), but every piece I have is something that I would be more than happy to wear every day.

Next year’s BIG Mystery Adventure™ is going to require us to carry more clothes than usual, mainly because we will be transitioning seasons. Much of my current Hawai’i wardrobe is nearing the end of its lifespan (almost everything is more than four years old, and has been worn constantly), so next year I’ll be working on replacing things with items that I can take along on our journey. I’m in good shape with cool/cold weather items though, so hopefully in the end my clothing expenses won’t add up too much.

That’s pretty much what goes in my suitcase other than my underwear, socks and sleepwear, which I won’t detail here ☺️. I’d love to hear from you what you like to wear whenever you travel!


10 thoughts on “Travelin’ Pants and Other Wearables (Women’s Edition)

  1. My packing highly depends on destination. For my Oregon coast adventures, I have clothes at our vacation house. They are: jeans, yoga pants, sweatshirts & workout clothes. Everything is extremely casual, as you’d expect for the coast. For trips to Hawaii, I typically keep it simple. bathing suits, and dresses during the day. Nicer dresses for the evening. For work travel, weather dependent, I have dressier jeans, wedges or flats, and a sweater/blouse combo. I have a very basic work “uniform”. For the hardest packing destination (but, the most fun, as it’s furthest from my comfort zone) it would be Las Vegas. I have a special section of my closet just for LV dresses. Probably 3-4 that I’ve collected over the last 10 years. All still work (a bit snug now, but at my standard weight), & are lovely, but definitely a bit “showier” than anything I’d wear for a date night out here in San Francisco.

    Really like your travel sweater! Is it also J Jill, or another brand?


    1. My clothes are pretty much determined by destination as well, but I try to keep things pretty basic so that they work no matter where I’m at. I wore the L.L. Bean pants for work for years, with a nice sweater and scarf and dressier shoes (which of course means it works occasion in Portland), but kept it more casual for around the house, errands, getaways, etc. The best of both worlds. I love it here that I don’t need to “dress up” for date nights – the linen pants and a shirt are as dressy as I need to get.

      The travel sweater is from J. Jill. Mine is cotton, and a lovely medium blue, but after posting the picture I wouldn’t mind having it in black as well. My issue is that with gray hair, I need to have some color up near my face or I get washed out.


  2. I use similar criteria for my travel clothes, plus they must be lightweight, and I can layer them as needed. I also pack a few active wear pieces to get my exercises in. They’re dry-fit materials, very light and dry fast.


    1. I’m big into layering as well, as well as clothes that can be used in several different ways or with other pieces. I love active-wear as well – some pieces can be worn for every day, but are still warm, light and stay dry.


  3. Great topic. When I was still working, I bought some black Eileen Fisher basics and those are the pants and tank tops I live in when I travel. They don’t wrinkle, they roll and flatten easily in my suitcase, and the silk tops can be hand washed and will dry overnight in a hotel. I also love cotton, so I usually have a few pops of colors that way, and of course scarves and jewelry.

    It’s a pricey brand, but we swear by Patagonia. I love their yoga pants (years old) and we have their down sweaters, nano jackets and vests (great travel pieces for layering and they DO zip into their own pockets!) and they replace and/or repair anything you send them at no charge or a nominal fee. Their warranty can’t be beat. Both my daughters have had raincoats replaced…one at no charge under warranty (it had a flaking lining several years in) and the other wasn’t the right length coat once she actually arrived in the British rainy climate (where rain blows sideways daily ha!). She returned it to a Boston store on her first US business trip and they overnighted a replacement to her hotel when they didn’t have the one she wanted in stock.

    Like you, I have several pieces by J Jill that I love, and their little linen tanks are comfy, wash well and they’re cool in hot climates. I have also had good luck with the new T by Talbots line, but only on some pieces, so unless you can get free shipping, that’s probably a tough one in Hawaii.

    And my aging feet have issues, too. I wore a pair of those Mephisto Helen sandals to death. ❤️ I now have mostly Think! sandals and a pair of Naot shoes that are super comfy and have a wide toe box. I also wear Keen hiking boots, plus a pair of Paul Green shoes that are literally at least 10 years old. Again, not inexpensive, but what a great investment. My DH loves Keen in all styles…walking shoes, boots, etc.

    Can’t wait to see where you go on your big adventure!


    1. Oh my, I love Eileen Fisher – just wish I could afford more of it. I have several of the J.Jill linen tanks too – bought them on sale after we got here. I’m going to check out the T by Talbots line as well. What I love about all these brands is that they provide classic, yet not frumpy, designs, and their clothes last – the quality is superb.

      I wore Keens pretty much all the time back in Portland, but they’re “too much” shoe for here. I’ve seen a few pair of clogs recently that look very stylish and comfortable, so may check those out as well for traveling. But, I’m definitely investing in another pair of the Mephisto sandals.


  4. For traveling, I swear by black hiking or trail pants. It’s kind of hard to describe, but they are full-length, lightweight (usually mostly nylon or polyester) pants made by outdoor wear companies such as Columbia, North Face, and REI. They can be pricey (usually $50-$85), but I look for them on clearance at REI and elsewhere. They usually have plenty of useful pockets, dry quickly, don’t wrinkle (or wrinkles shake out), are very lightweight, and can be suitable for dressing up when paired with a nice top. Here’s one example, from Columbia:

    I wish I could wear linen, but I sweat a lot so usually the clothing ends up stained and rumpled and I look like a mess

    Like you, I have trouble finding good shoes for travel, since I have wide, flat feet. Have you seen the detailed recommendations by Sarah Murdoch in her “Adventures with Sarah” blog? She is a travel writer for Rick Steves and has excellent tips for travel clothing, shoes, and packing. Her 2017 top shoe picks can be found here: Even better, she has a separate list of shoes for “problem” feet:

    Eager to eventually hear where you are going on your big mystery adventure!


    1. Ooooh, Quesiot1, thanks for sharing that blog link!

      And, Laura, those are the Naots I have (the Matai). They have lasted a long time and you can also buy replacement footbeds when they get worn down.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. THANK YOU for the links (not just for the shoes, but for the blog as well). I had not thought about checking out Sketchers – there’s one black pair I saw that might work. I need a lot of padding and a wide toe bed, so those might work. I used to wear Earth Shoes back when I was a waitress – they worked well for me because they took the pressure off the balls of my feet (I didn’t have any padding back then either).

      Brett wants to get a couple of pairs of trail pants – he has jeans (they don’t bother him), and with trail pants a decent pair or two of chinos (for dressier occasions) he will be set.

      We are making so many lists these days!

      Liked by 1 person

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