The Essential Business Travel Wardrobe
When you’re traveling for work, the last thing you want to worry about when you get to your destination is your wardrobe. Here are seven steps to packing with ease.
By Donna Smith
If you travel frequently – especially if you prefer to carry on all your luggage – consider creating a go-to wardrobe capsule specifically for business travel. Just as with your everyday wardrobe, start by building in the basics.
Determine a color palette. Begin with the best neutral for you – black, navy, brown or gray.
Choose a two-piece suit in a wrinkle-resistant wool blend. Wool crepe is a nice option and can carry through most seasons. Depending on the length of your stay, add in a second pair of neutral pants or a coordinating skirt.
Add one white cotton blouse and one print or colored blouse.
A cardigan sweater is a great alternative to wearing your suit jacket a second day and provides a pulled-together, professional look – although admittedly one slightly more relaxed than with your jacket. If your meetings are formal each day and a jacket is required, pack a printed scarf to add to your jacket to change the look.
Prepare for unplanned group dinners by traveling in a pair of dark-wash trouser jeans. Combined with your white blouse and cardigan it gives you a smart, relaxed look for evenings. If you are traveling with co-workers, wear a third blouse instead of your favorite T-shirt and a second lightweight jacket or cardigan. This will allow for comfort and a professional appearance.
Assume you will be walking more than you want and wear a low-heel leather pump with a rubber sole for a little added “cush.” And pack a second pair of low-heeled shoes – if for no other reason than to give your feet a break. Feet tend to tire of wearing the same shoe multiple days in a row, so give them a break by changing it up a bit. If you have a second pair of comfortable shoes that have a bit of flash, they will help change up the appearance of your basic outfit and give the impression you traveled with a larger wardrobe.
Keep a makeup bag packed and ready to go for last-minute trips. I keep a toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, deodorant, small mascara and facial cleanser in mine. That way all I have to do the morning of my departure is throw in my everyday makeup. One great way to build a travel kit is to use those free gifts and samples you get during the big makeup days at the major department stores. I’ve collected a myriad of face creams, lipsticks, eye shadows and perfumes. I never use them at home, but they work very well for travel! The only sample I don’t use on the road is foundation. Trying out a brand new foundation on the road could leave your skin looking unnatural – or it may wear off after 30 minutes.
Helpful tips for frequent travelers
If you wear eyeglasses, travel with a copy of your latest prescription in case you lose or break your glasses on the road.
Fold clothes together to avoid sharp creases. Place the cardigan on top of the jacket before you fold, and overlap your pants and skirts so that each folds on top of the other with a cushion so they are less likely to crease. For delicate items, use the plastic bags from your dry cleaner to protect the creases.
Line the inside of your suitcase with the plastic bags from your dry cleaner to prevent moisture from getting to your clothes. It could be raining when you land!
For a touch of home, pack a scented sachet in your suitcase. It keeps your clothes smelling fresh and can be placed on or next to your bed at night instead of a candle to help you relax from a long day.
Always have arm shields and a pack or two of Shout wipes in your suitcase in case your trip gets extended and that blouse needs a second, unexpected wear.
Donna Smith is editor of Style Stories. For a free subscription to Style Stories, click here.
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