Building a Business Travel Wardrobe: Shoes and Bags

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.

You guys didn’t think I was going to forget about bags and shoes, did you?

When shopping for a business travel capsule wardrobe, some of the hardest working pieces are your shoes and purse. During travel, you will be taking your shoes off and putting them back on, walking through miles of airport concourses, and then having to look polished during your actual work. Your bag will have to hold your laptop, files, and normal purse stuff, get stuffed into overhead bins or under plane seats, and still look professional. Is it any wonder that I get the most questions about shoes and purses for travel?

What to look for with shoes:

  • Comfort. I know I say this every time, but it is especially important that your shoes are comfortable. I never travel in heels, because I know that I will have to be on my feet so much. Try adding gel insoles for additional comfort. This sounds like a no-brainer, but please don’t wear shoes for the first time during travel.
  • Easy to take off/put on. Make sure that you can quickly and gracefully slide your shoes off and back on for airport security. I have seen people with shoes or boots that buckle or lace up, which definitely takes longer.
  • Neutral color. Colored flats are one of the great joys in my life, but I had several pairs of black shoes before I branched out.  I strongly recommend that you start with cute, comfortable shoes that coordinate with your suit first. They don’t have to be the same color–for example, if your suit is taupe, you can wear black or brown shoes. If your suit is gray, I recommend black shoes.

What to look for in a travel purse:

  • Size. Make sure it will hold everything you need for work and for your flight.
  • Pockets. A divided interior is very helpful, and small pockets on the inside will help corral items such as keys and cell phone that could otherwise get lost. Exterior pockets are great for holding your boarding pass.
  • Comfortable straps. Too-narrow straps will hurt your shoulder, so look for straps that are at least an inch wide. I also like double straps.
  • Looks. It goes without saying, make sure your purse is durable enough for travel and professional enough for the office.

Great travel shoes are available in a variety of price ranges and locations, so shop around for the right pair. Here are a few of my favorites.

These Bruno Magli flats are gorgeous, professional, and, well, pricey. But wow! Love them.

Geox is an Italian brand that designs shoes specifically for travel. These Sheila wedges are lovely, and would work with pants or a skirt.

DSW has a bazillion pairs of shoes online and in their stores. These Rocket Dogs brown suede flats look comfortable, professional, and adorable.

Travel purses are a little harder to find, but department stores and eBags are great resources. Wherever you end up buying from, make sure you know their return policies. Sometimes what looks like a great travel purse can not even last one trip. Once I had different purses break  three trips in a row!

I did a review on Lo and Sons purses last week, so you guys know how great these bags are. Perfect first business travel bag.

Ebags has tons of purses that would work well for travel, but this is the first time I’ve seen this green Samsonite laptop tote. It’s adorable, and very well priced.


  1. Thanks. I am also a big fan of Tumi luggage and bags and have a pair of 2 in Prada heels that I practically live in while on the road. It is all “gear” and worth every penny.

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