5 Ways to Trim your Travel Wardrobe

Last Updated on August 17, 2017 by Christine Kaaloa

5 fashion items to trim your travel wardrobe
5 secret items to trim your travel wardrobe

Traveling to multiple countries? Changing climates? Looking for ways to put your luggage on a diet?

I’m a big fan of packing light and smart. Versatile and convertible fashion accessories can go a long way, when you’re on the road and the constant go.

It was a last minute trip and I had two days to prepare before flying out. I was visiting three to four countries and had to pack for both, winter and spring-summer climates. I was going to travel for close to a month and in some cases I’d spend no more than a night or two in one city. My luggage had to fight the battle of the bulge to make skirting around easy and quick. I had to scale back to purposeful packing.

5  fashion items to trim your travel wardrobe:

When traveling a range of climates, layering is the first and foremost approach to take.

The main clothes to pick should be able to cross the median of all those climates. For example, if going into peak winter conditions, I avoid big bulky sweaters, if I know I can’t use them for summer or spring environments. Instead, I find outfits that mediate between the weather changes.

Secondly, I opt for light-weight accessory items that can be easily added or removed. Most of the fashion items below are deceptively simple in concept and often overlooked, but their convertible uses in travel, stretch a long way.

1.  The convertible dress-skirt

Best Uses: Skirt, Dress

I used to be strictly a convertible cargo pants-type of person, until I realized I could go from fall to summer in just one outfit. Yes, the nun’s skirt that you might use to cover and warm you in conservative settings transforms into a silky dress to cool you down in the summer heat. With this piece, I can visit conservative temples during the day and go girlish at night.

For winter use, just don the skirt and add a pair of stockings or leggings underneath.

convertible dress skirt
Photo credit: LoveStonedVintage at Etsy

2.   Yoga pants

Best Travel Uses: Outdoor and sports activities, pants, pajama bottoms

Yoga pants are right up there with convertible cargo pants for me.  I don’t only use them for gym workouts and yoga, but they’re deceptively useful and can worn as pajamas, casual wear and for workouts and trekking in forests. Depending on color, cut and style, they even occasionally pass for evening wear.

Better yet, if you’re in a hurry or wake up late for a train, you can roll out of bed in them and just go.

Tip: If you get a thin cotton pair, they’ll dry within a day. A thicker spandex fabric could take longer to dry and will add more weight and bulk to your pack.

yoga pants by hyde
Photo Credit: Hyde Yoga Pants

3.   The Pashmina Scarf

Best Travel Uses: Scarf , shawl, blanket, towel

If there’s one fashion accessory that’s the Swiss Army knife for ladies travel wear, it’s the pashmina scarf.

It’s extremely versatile and fabulous for any occasion and climate. Mine is almost two feet wide, so it covers a large range of uses from a shawl to dress you up for dinner or to drape over you in the train, when it’s cold. I’ve used it as a head dressing for temples, to protect myself from dust and pollution, to keep warm during winter,… I’ve even used it as a light blanket and backup towel.

The possibilities are endless and constantly evolving. Check out Wendy’s Lookbook, on ways you can use your pashmina to enhance your fashion.


4.   Fleece lined tights

Best Travel Uses: Thermal underwear, pajama bottoms, workout pants, leggings

When my long-time yoga pants finally tore in Korea, I went from having three bottoms to two. After noticing how women and school girls in Korea brave the brutal cold in mere stockings, I went to the store and discovered those are actually fleece-lined tights. I was instantly converted.

These tights have a thin layer of fleece inside so they block the wind and cold, to keep you warm during winter. They’re thin enough to wear under skinny jeans, but thick enough to wear as leggings, under an over-sized shirt or dress. They too, make great pajama bottoms, that allow you to roll out of bed into your day clothes if you’re in a hurry. Best of all, they take little space in your luggage and wash and dry quickly.

They can come in full length, ankle highs and stirrups.  Here’s a review of more tights.

fleece lined tights
Photo Source: HarrietCarter.com


5.   Leg warmers

Best Travel Uses: thermal extenders

It doesn’t matter, whether I’m traveling through 90 degree heat or subzero cold, arm and leg warmers have saved me several times over.  Great for star gazing in the Indian desert at night or sitting for hours in an airplane, with A.C. on high. The beauty of arm or leg warmers is that when sudden climate changes hit, like going from an Indian hot summer to a plane with the A.C. on high, you only need pull this from your bag and Voila! No need to change outfits to stay warm. They’re a welcome substitute to a light jacket in cold climates or as thermal underwear.

Great for layering, they adjust for any climate, can be balled up and packed in a purse and they can easily slip on and off in a hurry.

Leg warmers:

I prefer 30″ Ballet Ribbed Legwarmers (around $25-30) over the chunky and cheaper ones, you’ll find off in clothing stores or on streets. Ballerinas have used them for ages to keep their legs warmed up. They’re cuddly soft, cling mid-thigh and mine has lasted me for over 20 years.  I pack it with me for all occasions, from waiting in the doctor’s office to traveling.

Arm warmers:

Thin arm warmers can slide under nicely fitted jackets. But chunkier one will provide a warm barrier against winter chill. They can run anywhere from $8 to 40.

Advice: For thin arm warmers, buy a pair of long stockings and cut the toes off.

ballet leg warmers, arm warmers


How do you trim your travel wardrobe? 

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Packing Tips


  • I loved your packing tips. Will use some in my next travel.

  • These all packing tips are good for any girl who want to go any where. because these all tips are only for girls. I must say you have to share something for boys/males.

  • I can vouch for #1: The convertible dress-skirt. I know it makes me look fabulous.

    Wait, did I say that out loud?

  • For guys, black pumps – or plimsolls. Comfortable during the day, and smart enough to wear to somewhere a bit fancy if needs be. Plus they take up little space in backpacks.

    Girls have a LOT more options, though 😉

    • @Tom: Love the plimsol idea. But I’m wondering if all that time in Korea made you proficient in hiking in pumps. 😉 Just saw some compact flats for the ladies (and gents) who get tired of walking in their party heels. It’s compact enough to store in your purse. It’d be awesome for guys …if only it came in larger sizes.

  • Great travel wardrobe tips! I love the idea of yoga pants for people always on the go! I wish I had known about those fleece lined tights before I went to the mountains in Switzerland about 2 years ago. I would have tolerated the cold much, much better!

  • I’m going to have to invest in some yoga pants. Also, I was thinking about a summer dress, but then again, I might have a hard time getting into those temples, uh?

    OMG, I love Wendy’s Lookbook. I wish she filmed more.

  • I loved traveling with my convertible skirt/dress this year! Also, I love my yoga pants (I kind of prefer them to regular leggings because I feel better wearing them with short tops as well as longer ones and dresses).

  • whats amazing to me is the amount of thought that goes into selecting what to wear.

    somehow, when i travel, i wind up bringing a bag full of clothes, but, there wasn’t really any thought involved with the selection. i just bring what i wear. warm stuff if i’m going somewhere cold, and hawaii stuff if i’m going somewhere warm. same stuff most of the time, so, where’s the need for thought? –yes, i wear aloha shirts anywhere.
    or, maybe i’ve got it wrong, and there isn’t really as much as thought as is represented in this post, maybe women are genetically able to cognate complex fabric arrangements, due to their primaeval role in keeping babies alive in frigid caves? Males, not caring if the babies lived, or, caring, but so completely trusting their women to fulfill certain duties that we guys simply didn’t evolve with the fabric arrangement gene?

    • @Dennis: I can see how women put a lot into choosing a wardrobe in general. =) And an aloha shirt is convertible.

      Some women really don’t mind carrying a huge suitcase full of clothes and if you’re staying at a nice hotel with only one destination, that totally works. When you’re toting your stuff through many countries, up and down stairs, through small doorways and racing to make your long-distance bus, which happens to be a lot further than you think,… you reflect whether you really needed all that you thought. =P Or at least I do. =)

      • now, like noticing the light is on in the room, i see the difference; caring what you look like. i can’t say i’m not vane about my appearance, i guess i just think i look wonderful without much thought or effort. Women on the other hand actually have these elaborate, even, at times, sophisticated ‘fabric arrangements,’ to think of. So, how can you retain the highest amount of appearance variables with the least amount of fabric in the bag; i get it! now imagine this; same selection of two shirts and two things on the bottom for one month? two, so you have something to wear while washing the other every once in a while. save you a lot of time…and, since you are traveling so much, none of the new people you meet will know you are wearing the same thing every day! unless, you show them the photos….your blog might look like you took all the photos on the same day unless you changed shirts….

  • Calling a pashmina scarf the Swiss army knife of travel wear is so spot on! Couldn’t agree more that it is a travel essential! I’ve never thought about bringing along leg warmers though… what a great idea for keeping your legs warm when changing clothes isn’t an option. I also always bring along a light cardigan. If I know I’m going to be out all day, I can wear it during the day over a strapy dress or top for a conservative look and remove it, fold it, and easily place it in my bag at night. Great tips!

  • Leggings! One pair of black leggings can pretty much do the job of yoga pants, fleece tights and leg warmers.

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