7 Essential Items for Your Travel Wardrobe Over 60
These picks will maximize your outfit combinations—and space in your suitcase.
Packing for a trip or vacation is exciting, but often simultaneously overwhelming. You have to strike a balance between having enough outfit options without overpacking, while also ensuring you're prepared for anything the weather has in store. That's where a travel capsule wardrobe comes into play: It covers all the bases and maximizes outfit combinations, without upping the number of items you need. According to Holly Chayes, personal style coach and consultant at WhoWearsWho, this is especially important if you're over 60 or otherwise "of an age when chaotic travel is no longer fun."
"The golden years are the time to live your best life, which includes visits to family, adventure weekends, and world travel. Bucket list trips are something to savor, but not if you've packed the wrong items—stylish pieces that aren't comfortable, comfortable pieces that aren't stylish, or both," Elizabeth Kosich, certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling, tells Best Life. "Packing the perfect suitcase is an art form that takes time, thought, and curating to master. A trip of a lifetime can be either memorable or misery, so do the proper planning to curate a fail-proof travel capsule that keeps you chic and sensible at once."
Chayes also notes that this can be tailored to your specific trip—whether you're jet-setting for business or pleasure–but it will consistently help you "travel light."
"A well-done travel capsule wardrobe is space and energy efficient without restricting your personal style–it means you can travel light, be prepared for anything, and look fabulous the whole time," she explains.
This all sounds well and good, but you may now be wondering how exactly to achieve this sense of packing peace. Thankfully, stylists have you covered. Read on for the seven essential items you need for your travel capsule wardrobe over 60.
7 Items for a Travel Capsule Wardrobe Over 60
1. Fashionable sneakers
One of the trickier items to pack—at any age—is shoes. Especially if you have different events to attend with ranging levels of formality, before you know it, you may have five pairs laid out to take with you. Unless you're willing to check your bag for the sake of your footwear, this plan likely isn't going to work for you. So, especially when you're over 60 and comfort is key, stylists recommend going with a pair or two that can transition from one occasion to another.
"Footwear is perhaps the most important element when building a travel capsule. Travel shoes must be comfortable, durable, and attractive at once, which can sometimes be a tall order," Kosich says. "Consider a smart fashion sneaker that elevates your look and leave your gym shoes at home."
She specifically recommends going with leather, suede, or a "subtle tone-on-tone design," which can be dressed up or down.
"For a stronger style statement, try platform styles or swap out standard laces for ones in a pop of color," she says. "Make sure your fashion sneakers are gently worn before your trip so your feet properly mold to the shoe and comfort is guaranteed."
Hailey Rizzo, style expert and owner of the fashion and beauty blog Feeling Good as Hail, recommends wearing your sneakers on the plane and adding a pair of sandals to your bag.
"Keep them neutral (black, white, grey, beige) so you don't have to worry about planning your outfits around your shoes," she says.
2. A lightweight shirt or wrap
When it comes to traditional capsule wardrobes, button-down shirts are essential—and you're favorite is a great addition to your travel version.
"Layers are a must no matter where you're traveling," Rizzo says. "Pack a lightweight button-down for the days when you need a touch of coverage."
Kosich also recommends a cashmere wrap, which can "perform double-duty as a scarf by day and elegant evening wrap by night." It's worth the investment, she notes, especially if you get one in a "serviceable neutral" or your "power accent color."
"Don't forget to pack it in your carry-on to use as a pillow or blanket in-flight. You will be so thankful you have it time and time again," Kosich says.
3. A jacket for when it gets cooler
A button-down or wrap will sustain you if you're vacationing somewhere tropical, but for those trips where you need something a bit heavier, stylists have a few recommendations.
If you need a jacket, they recommend wearing it on the plane, again maximizing space in your suitcase.
Rizzo suggests a "shirt jacket," otherwise known as a "shacket," while petite style coach Angela Foster says you can also go for a lightweight denim jacket in white or blue.
If you're looking for something more traditional, consider a trench coat. "Part fashion, part function, the classic trench coat ticks all the boxes—style, utility, and color," Kosich says. "Buy one that's waterproof for all-season versatility and keep it simple when it comes to pockets, buttons, and belts so it's easy to pack and remains trend-proof over time. Look for camel for warm undertones, stone for cool undertones, or olive for neutral pigmentation."
Trench coats can also be particularly flattering depending on your body type. "If you're thick in the middle, tie the belt just under your bust to simulate a waist and flattering shape," Kosich says.
4. High-tech and/or neutral tops
Also on Kosich's list of travel capsule wardrobe must-haves over 60 are what she calls "high-tech separates."
"The advancements in fabric technology over the past 20 years have been astounding, which includes technical fabrics that are moisture-wicking, heat-retaining, or, conversely, body temperature-cooling—all of which are handy after 60," she explains. "For this reason, they make great travel pieces, so consider separates like long-sleeved tops, turtlenecks, tights, and light jackets that work well for layering. They're lightweight and fold-up teeny-tiny, making them easy to pack in a carry-all day bag so that you always feel prepared."
Separates are also on Rizzo's list, specifically tops in neutral colors. If you don't have any performance fabrics in your wardrobe, basic tees and tank tops are a reliable option.
"They can be paired with various bottoms and layered for different looks and weather," Rizzo says. "Choose tones like black, white, grey, or beige for the most versatile options. If you want a bit of color, choose earth tones like terracotta and olive green, which can make great alternative neutrals."
5. A wrap dress
Another essential is a wrap dress, which is flattering over 60 and appropriate for a range of occasions.
"The ultimate miracle-worker, wrap dresses are flattering, versatile, comfortable, and great to layer. Find one in a pretty accent print that mixes and matches well with your other core basics, or keep it neutral and pair with an accent jacket that brings some drama," Kosich says.
If you're traveling somewhere chillier, layering is useful here—Kosich recommends grabbing one of your high-tech tops to go underneath. But regardless of where you're headed, she says your wrap dress should be "in a jersey knit that's lightweight, breathable, wrinkle-free, and has stretch."
Not into the wrap style? Foster says you can also reach for a maxi dress. "It can be dressed down and worn as a swimsuit cover-up on the beach—or dressed up and worn to dinner," she explains.
6. Comfortable bottoms
While you might be compelled to reach for a few pairs of jeans when traveling, they can be bulky, meaning you'll want to switch it up a bit.
"I recommend packing jeans but only one pair that you love because they can be a bit heavy," Rizzo says. "For something a bit more elevated, pack a silk skirt, which is perfect for exploring as well as a nice dinner."
On the plane, Rizzo suggests wearing leggings or sweatpants that can double as pajamas when you get to your hotel. In addition, she suggests lightweight linen pants and comfy shorts if you're visiting somewhere warm.
Depending on your travel agenda, you might be able to get away with wearing one bottom and only packing two more!
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7. Simple jewelry
We can't forget about accessories, but when traveling, you need to be selective. Rizzo notes that packing certain jewelry ensures you have options to go with everything—without having to pack multiple, bulky statement pieces.
"Keep it simple with waterproof gold jewelry such as earrings, rings, and a necklace that you can wear the entire trip," she says. "This is the best way to accessorize your outfit without taking up any space in your bag."