Building a Business Travel Wardrobe

Building a Business Travel Wardrobe is a new series here on Road Warriorette. The focus will be on the key pieces a woman needs to build a wardrobe that is ideal for travel. Based on the “capsule” wardrobe model, each week will feature an item that is professional, stylish, and that travels well.

I have shared stories from my first business trip about my issues with light packing. That first trip I brought four separate outfits, all of which required different shoes. I could barely lift my bag, much less put it into the overhead bin. And honestly, there is no need for that.  It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a pair of pants or skirt twice on a trip!

It took me a while to build up my travel wardrobe, especially because I didn’t do it deliberately. I would just buy a dress here, a top there, a pair of pants randomly on sale….. Once I started looking at my travel wardrobe as a cohesive unit, shopping, packing, and getting dressed every morning started getting a lot easier. The first piece of advice I give new business travelers is to pack clothing that matches, and this concept is the basis of the “capsule” wardrobe. I have always been enamored of the capsule wardrobe, since I read Sherry Maysonave’s book Casual Power in college. But until I started traveling for work,  I never actually needed to put it into place.

A capsule wardrobe is built of a collection of timeless pieces inspired by a single neutral color that can be worn together interchangeably. The neutral color can be brown, black, gray, navy, taupe, or something else that works for you. After acquiring the base items – pants, skirt, suit jacket if needed – in your chosen neutral, add coordinating tops, two pairs of shoes, appropriate accessories, and voila! Capsule business travel wardrobe. Of course, once you have your basic wardrobe you can add items to expand your options.

This new series is going to take you through the process of selecting each of the main building blocks for an efficient, easy-to-pack travel wardrobe. When shopping for each item, look for the following characteristics:

Fit. Make sure everything you plan to travel in fits you incredibly well. If something is a bit too tight, or rubs the wrong way, or the snap is broken, you will notice it far more during an 18-hour travel day than during a normal workday.

Comfort. Not only should everything fit perfectly, it should be comfortable to wear. I have a pair of gray pin strip slacks that I love that fit me perfectly, but because they don’t have any stretch in them they just aren’t comfortable to travel in. If you are going to be sitting in a plane for four hours, what you’re wearing must be comfortable.

Color. Obviously, if you’re building a wardrobe everything needs to coordinate. Figure out which neutral is most flattering for you, and then design it around that color. Make sure that any top or accessory you purchase goes well with your chosen neutral.

Building a business travel wardrobe can be work, but once you have all your pieces packing will be a breeze! It’s a relief to know that anything you take on a trip will match, and you will be free to focus on other important things, like getting through security without forgetting your laptop…..



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