Revamping My Travel Wardrobe – Part I

After nine months of travel, and living out of a suitcase at times, I developed a very solid idea of what worked and what didn’t with the clothes I had packed, along with a better idea what I liked and what I didn’t like.

I still like mostly everything I started out with but a pair of shoes wore out, some pieces were awkward to wear and pack, or turned out to be unnecessary, some were difficult to maintain, and other pieces of clothing made me feel frumpy and uncomfortable. It didn’t help either that I gained some weight over the nine months we were on the road (I blame the gelato). Except for one pair of pants everything I took still fits but some items became a little tighter and less comfortable than they were when we started out.

I thought carefully the past couple of months about what I didn’t want to carry along any more, and about replacing those items with ones that I think (hope) will be more practical, fashionable, comfortable and easier to maintain when we’re on the road and afterwards.

These are all the tops and sweaters that will be remaining behind. The denim tunic, the white cotton tunic and the black & white print shirt were difficult to maintain and required ironing after coming out of the suitcase or being washed, so ended up getting worn very little or not at all. The navy & cream striped sweater was just too bulky and heavy and took up too much room in the suitcase for something I didn’t wear very often. The black v-neck printed t-shirt is cute but a bit too low-cut – the first time I wore it in Japan my grandson asked me about my cleavage! I like the idea of the navy & cream striped shirt, but found too often that I had to make myself wear it. The black item in front is a long lightweight cardigan. It looks nice and fits well but was impractical for travel (and another item that took too much maintenance).

The navy blue and gray pairs of the L.L. Bean Perfect Fit pants are going into storage, not because they don’t fit but primarily because I always felt so frumpy whenever I wore them. I think I must have something against traditional navy blue, although I love indigo and denim blues, and I have an unhappy history with gray pants or skirts (high school uniform) and always found myself feeling uncomfortable every time I had them on, which was usually with a black top, a combination Brett was not fond of and found depressing.

I love the denim knit jacket but probably wore it less than five times, and it’s another item that just takes up too much room in the suitcase. The vest and black jacket pack down to nothing, but I rarely wore them; in fact, I don’t think I wore the black jacket even once.

I never wore the skirt or the black t-shirt; the cotton pants are way too tight now; I love the lightweight gray shirt but it’s another high-maintenance item; and I have no idea why I took along my pareo as I didn’t even pack a bathing suit.

I am not going to throw away anything, and the above items will go into storage for the time being. I did get rid of the black pair of Skechers I started out with – the memory foam soles had no more memory, the inside fabric was ripped and worn out, and the shoes had stretched out to the point my feet were sliding around in them making them extremely uncomfortable to wear. They went into the trash before we left Japan, but the blue pair is hanging in there, although they’re not very comfortable anymore for any kind of distance walking. The two pairs of sandals I pack got/get lots of wear, but I think I wore the pair of clogs I took along all of three times, so they will be staying behind as well.

I did a bit of online shopping in Japan and after we got to Portland, and bought some new items (all on sale, some with deep discounts) that I like and am excited about wearing. I am very pleased with everything I purchased, and as hoped for they are more practical, fashionable, comfortable and easy to maintain. I’ll post about those items next week.

13 thoughts on “Revamping My Travel Wardrobe – Part I

  1. Wow Laura! Birds of a feather! I have the same problem with navy blue. The navy blue items in my closet stay there. Don’t know what it is; maybe that 1st school uniform; which was followed by a gray model, and I don’t wear much gray either.


    1. I really thought it was going to be a great neutral while we were traveling, but I practically had to beat myself up to wear it. Just don’t like it! I have other blue items but they’re in the indigo range and I was fine with them. And I think I’ve finally learned my lesson with gray – never again!


  2. What! You came to Australia in summer and didn’t pack any swimmers?

    That aside, I’ve read this as a lesson. I get not wanting to look frumpy. I won’t wear brown as it was my school uniform. Anything that needs ironing – out. White – out. Not good for me as I will always spill some tea on it. I did take a white sequinned top to London and wore it a bit when we went out for dinner and high tea and the like. But the sequins hide any spots.

    I try to pack lightish but my downfall is shoes. I want different types for different looks.

    Looking forward to your post on what’s in.


    1. I threw out my two suits when when we left Hawaii and haven’t replaced them yet. I probably could have found a lovely one in Australia. Brett brought along his suit though.

      The resistance to a school uniform color seems to be more than just a random thing. We had to wear gray or black skirts – I had 14(!) different ones when I left and couldn’t wait to get rid of them. But, I thought the gray pants would be a good neutral this time but I disliked wearing them more than I imagined.

      Before this grand adventure we were carry-on only when we traveled. But, I knew for something this big that wasn’t going to work. I’d like to carry more shoes, but they really are difficult to pack. I will be going without a pair of dress shoes this next time, but if I ABSOLUTELY have to have them will buy a pair in England.


      1. I think about buying shoes but then I worry about finding a pair and the poor Aussie dollar. They do take up too much room in the case though!!!


  3. Just curious–how old is your grandson and what did he say about your cleavage? Also, why was the black, lightweight sweater not a good choice? I would think it would be good. I do not wear navy blue and I have no history with navy. I would think with all the things you do not want to carry, a carryon would be a good choice. You can still carry more shoes if you don’t carry clothes you do not like or wear.


    1. Our grandson is eight, and the first time I wore the shirt he wanted to know what that “crack” was on my chest, and if the two places on the side of the crack were where milk came from (he knew his mom nursed his little sister). I was so surprised – they were intelligent questions, but if an eight-year old was noticing my cleavage, what were others possibly thinking? I actually like the top, but will save it for when we’re not traveling!

      The black sweater was a long one, almost down to my knees, and the knit is quite lightweight. It’s a lovely sweater, but it wrinkles very easily and I really didn’t have the time to make sure it was pressed before I went out. Also, it needed to be dried flat or dry cleaned, and I never had the room to dry it flat, and did not want to pay for dry-cleaning. It’s a lovely sweater, but it really is not suitable for spending any amount of time in a suitcase.

      I have replaced the stuff I am not taking along with new items so will still need be carrying my big rolling duffel. We will be going to England at the end of August when it will still be warm when we arrive. By the time we leave at the end of November it will be quite chilly though and we’ll be heading back to cold weather in the U.S. I don’t mind taking a few things in a carry-on when we’re only going to be gone for a few days, but for three months with changing and changeable weather I want and need a bit more of a wardrobe. My husband and I each travel with one big checked bag and a carry-on. We carry a change of clothes and a set of pajamas in the carry-on so if our big bag gets lost we will have something to wear and sleep in, and we also carry our computers, medication, and other necessary items in the carry-ons as well (which doesn’t leave much room for clothes).


  4. I am learning what works and what does not when travelling. If it takes too much maintenance or it’s not a favourite, I’m donating it. Navy pants are not my favourite. They just seem frumpy.


    1. That’s what I discovered – navy blue made me feel frumpy. Now indigo blue . . . that I love, and it feels so much fresher.


  5. So interesting re: navy and how many people don’t like it. Whenever it circles back as a trend, I get enthused, but like you, I find it languishing in my closet. I tend to have black as my most common base and default to that or my jeans. I do like navy as a stripe on a white tee, but otherwise, it’s not my favorite. I guess I’m not alone. 🙂

    Look forward to seeing what makes the cut. And to your trip to England. My DD lives in Southampton and I see pics regularly of her travels around the UK. I visited a few years back and really want to go back.


    1. I’m quite surprised too about others’ feeling the same about navy blue – I thought it was just me as I see it frequently in catalogs and stores (although it’s often named something else these days – maybe that’s the secret). Black is my base color too, but it goes well with everything in the indigo spectrum where indigo actually clashes with navy!

      I’m just posting the new stuff next week – most of what I took before will continue to travel. I am having to replace summer pants though – J Jill no longer carries my favorite linen cropped pants, and the ones I have are wearing out – sob!

      The closer it gets, the more and more excited we are getting about our visit to England!


  6. Also not a navy fan. Or brown. Black is my go-to neutral, even if it’s a little warmer in the heat. I bought a pair of decent quality black ballet flats that I take if traveling when I don’t think sandals will be appropriate as footwear with a skirt or dress. Thin soles so can’t walk far in them, but they don’t take up much space. And they can double for slippers when walking down to the hotel desk, etc.


    1. I’ve never liked brown, even when my hair was brown! I think the closest I ever got was a pair of linen pants that were more of a light mocha color. With my hair gray now black is my favorite neutral as lots of colors I used to be able to wear don’t look all that great. Colors in the indigo blue spectrum are my second favorite. Another color I really don’t care for is red other than a deep cranberry color. Red is OK for an accent, like eyeglass frames or shoes, but otherwise I don’t think I look very good in it.

      I thought about ballet flats, but I have VERY high arches and need more support than what they offer. Even a few minutes in them and my feet hurt.


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