Putting the Travel Wardrobe Back Together, Part I (Cool/Cold Weather)

My cool/cold weather coats and tops have been waiting patiently to be useful again.

One of the great things I have loved about our apartment is the second closet in the bedroom where Brett and I have been able to store our cold weather travel clothing. We’ve kept a light burning in the closet 24/7 since we been here – the small amount of heat retards the growth of mildew – and keep the doors open during the day so that fresh air can circulate.

We still had a bit of a problem last summer with mold growing on some shoes, and Brett had to toss the pair of boots he traveled with last time. Only a small amount of mold grew on one pair of my shoes, and it was easily brushed off and hasn’t returned. The mold did cause some musty odors to arise however and almost everything will have to be washed probably more than once or dried cleaned to remove any lingering odors.

I have only needed to add very few things for our upcoming round of travel. I’ve already bought leggings and new sneakers, and will get new Perfect Fit pants and denim leggings (the old ones were too big) at the beginning of next year. I plan to buy a turtleneck tunic from J Jill and a pair of Duckfeet Chelsea boots, but that’s all that’s needed to update. I will need a hat for fall in Scotland and winter in Japan, but plan to find something stylish while we’re in Edinburgh.

My current packing list is below, although probably a couple of things may change before we depart. It seems like a lot – it is a lot! – but it’s perfect for full-time travel and long stays. I never got tired of any of it last time around because I had enough that I wasn’t wearing the same four or five outfits over and over and over again. More importantly, having all of this kept me from buying anything else during our travels except for the black gloves (Italy), the pashmina and cashmere scarves (India and Scotland), and the beautiful long wool jacket in India. Not counting accessories (gloves, scarves, shoes) and pajamas my cold weather wardrobe consists of 35 pieces.

Here’s what’s going into the suitcase:

  • Plum quilted car coat
  • Black rain jacket
  • Short black lightweight (but very warm) quilted jacket
  • Short lime green lightweight (but very warm) quilted vest
  • Knit denim wrap jacket
  • Black leather gloves
  • 3 scarves (1 bamboo fiber, 1 pashmina, 1 cashmere)
  • 9 tops/tunics in black or shades of indigo (includes knits, sweatshirts, and a chambray tunic)
  • 8 pairs of leggings: 4 black, 3 charcoal gray, and 1 dark olive (half are back-ups)
  • 2 pairs Perfect Fit Pants, 1 black and 1 dark olive
  • 1 pair denim leggings
  • 2 sweaters (long black cardigan, grey turtleneck)
  • Black boucle knit sweater poncho
  • 6 long-sleeve knit tops for layering and seasonal transition (includes the new turtleneck tunic)
  • Long Indian wool jacket (my dress-up outfit LOL)
  • 2 pair cold weather pajamas
  • 5 pairs shoes: 2 pair short boots, black Chelsea & blue suede; red slip-on walking shoes; 2 pair slip on sneakers (black & navy)
  • 1 pair Italian wool clogs (house slippers)

Will this all fit into my suitcase and leave room for warm weather clothing? Yes!

Because we are leaving in spring, all of the coats and jackets will be vacuumed sealed in space bags and go into the bottom of the suitcase. Most of the other pieces can be rolled and take up very little space. Space is also increased with one outfit worn on travel days, and a pair of pajamas and another outfit in my carryon (more so in cold weather than hot). Also, Brett carries less clothes than I do, and he always puts a few of my things into his suitcase.

The weight of everything will be another matter, but between the two of us we somehow always managed to keep our luggage below the necessary weight limits and I am confident we will manage once again. We have vowed though not to use discount airlines if at all possible because of their near-impossible weight limits.


8 thoughts on “Putting the Travel Wardrobe Back Together, Part I (Cool/Cold Weather)

  1. Oh this is a great post and one I will save for future use!.

    On my recent trip to Virginia, NYC and Greece, I was lucky it was very temperate. I couldn’t have done it any later in the season. I had had a larger checked bag packed (literally on the day of departure, had been working on and editing my list FOR WEEKS) when I realized it may be too large to check on the smaller airline we were taking between Naxos and mainland Greece. Because I had worked so hard on that list, I was able to edit even more and take the next smaller bag. Turns out I could have checked the larger one, but I was sure happy to have the smaller one when hiking up a cobblestone hill to a hotel! Lesson learned.

    I did get tired of my clothes though. Or more precisely, my tops. One, I didn’t wear because it wrinkled so easily. Another was more dressy – sleeveless with a high neck. I wore it twice in NYC to dinners and once in VA to dinner as well. So that won’t go again, although the stretch black “cigarette” style slacks I wore with it were used MULTIPLE times and are keepers for sure! My shirts were all patterned though, so I need to bring more solids.

    I made notes (literally, on my phone) about stylish and multiple use options I saw other women wearing that I will incorporate into future trips. A pair of lightweight capris in white or tan with lots of pockets and that zip off for shorts. Comfy trekking sandals in a stylish neutral (my beloved Keens are blue and yellow ha ha), skorts made by golf wear manufacturers – my bestie has some and they are very cute, dry quickly and go with everything. I love how much I learned!


    1. What to pack and how much to take along really is a learning experience, and I learned A LOT the last time around. I started out with w-a-y too much, and did things like take several sweaters, for example, or colors I didn’t like, but learned the sweaters were just too bulky and took up too much room (for something I didn’t wear all that much); and I wore those colors only once or twice because I found I disliked them so much. The two sweaters I’ll take this next time are the ones I wore the most before and they work with lots of different things, and I”m sticking to my black, grey, and indigo color scheme. I also worried the last time about carrying too many pairs of shoes, so downsized to two pairs and then quickly wore them out for all the walking we did. So, more pairs of shoes/sandals will go along this time.

      The biggest thing I learned was to only pack items that “spark joy,” things that I love to wear, that are comfortable, and are easy to care for. I think about those things every time I open our storage closet, and have been able to get rid of several things over the time we’ve been here, realizing that I rarely wore some pieces or that some were not all that comfortable or required too much care. I think (hope) I’ve hit the sweet spot this time for long term/full time travel! It is a learning experience!


  2. That is a great list and one that I might steal some ideas from. A couple of questions – what sort of toiletries and personal care items do you take, and are they full size or travel size? And your comment about not using discount airlines made me wonder if you use reward points at all for booking your plane reservations? (other than the gift cards from doing Swag Bucks) Or have you posted about that and I missed it?


    1. I’m going to have a post up later about toiletries and personal care items, but I will say now that Brett and I are minimalist when we travel because most of the stuff we need can be found overseas.

      We don’t save or use reward points because we use so many different airlines and 1) it’s hard to keep track of miles; and 2) we don’t want to be tied to one airline – we want the best price and the best flight schedule. We get reward points on our credit card that could be used for flights, but prefer getting cash back for other expenses.


  3. We traveled around France for 3 1/2 weeks in early Summer several years ago. I researched every list I could find and still had things I did not wear. I have better lists now because I review every item I take on every trip and drop off the things that did not get worn. Shoes are always an issue, how many to take? I have my toiletries in the right sizes for the length of the trip I am taking. But I wonder how you manage on long trips.


    1. Before we left in 2018 I did a LOT of research on what to pack, and most of what I saw were article on “how to pack everything you need for a year of travel in a backpack.” NO WAY! So, I probably overpacked, but like you I reviewed everything and got rid of what didn’t work and added things that were more practical. My biggest mistake was not taking enough shoes – I worried about weight and space – but I quickly wore out the shoes I did bring and had to spend some time in uncomfortable shoes until I could get them replaced. So, more shoes will go along this time.

      I will be writing a post about toiletries in the not to distant future!


      1. I’m glad you’ll be doing a post on toiletries because that’s one of those things that’s tough, especially when traveling overseas. I tend to bring too many because I don’t know if I’ll be able to find the same items wherever I’m going.


      2. The post will be up later this week. We are real minimalists, and found it was much easier to shop locally for products we need rather than carry big bottles (or even little ones) along. There are couple of things that were difficult to find (curl cream for me, and cold medication) but otherwise we’ve been able to find everything we needed wherever we landed.


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