My Winter Travel Wardrobe | Deconstructed

As you know, my husband and I went to Amsterdam earlier this month. You probably also remember how stressed out I was leading up to our trip about what to pack, specifically with regard to finding a coat that was warm enough. In the end, I was warm enough most of the time, but I definitely could have been more comfortable. And of course (as usual), I ended up packing WAY too much stuff, so I thought I’d do this exercise, mostly for my benefit, but perhaps you’ll find it helpful as well?

My travel heros

1 AG Stevie ankle jeans | I wore these one day and they were perfect. Very comfortable for walking, getting in an out of the canal bus, visiting museums, etc.

2 Febreze fabric spray (travel size!) | This came in handy not only for freshening up my cashmere sweaters, but also because we had smokers next to us – in a non-smoking hotel. And they weren’t only smoking tobacco…

3 HELMUT leggings | I wore these on the plane going and all day in Amsterdam; they were amazing, warm, and looked good after a full day of travel (after a few rolls with the lint roller)

4 Dansko mary jane clogs | I wore these every day but one and they were absolutely perfect. I didn’t worry about slipping on snow/ice, and they’re perfect for rain. With my wool socks, they were just as warm as boots.

5 Jas M.B. wings traveler | I carried this everyday, rain or shine. It is THE PERFECT travel bag (I used it in Rome last year also). I would have also liked to have used my Jerome Dreyfuss momo bag, but definitely not in the rain. My jas bag is very weathered and handles rain well…

6 Inhabit Cashmere | I wore Inhabit cashmere under my coat every day we were there. Specifically, I wore this cashmere turtleneck both ways on the plane and once in the city; it is a workhorse!

7 Virginia Johnson wool scarf | (mine is an older print) This is always indispensable for the plane (I bring it with me everytime I fly). I had to use it to supplement the two blankets I was also using…

8 Caudalie beauty elixir | This stuff is genius. I’m going to write another post on my travel beauty essentials, but I couldn’t leave this out. I started using it when we were traveling and a few days into it I noticed that my skin is much “brighter” and smoother. And it provided a nice cooling mist on the plane. Seriously, I cannot live without this stuff now. Which is sad, because it’s really expensive :(

9 Kindle paperwhite | This was a birthday present from my husband to replace my old 1st generation kindle. I couldn’t live without it…I can read in bed without having a light on, and it was perfect on the plane when I didn’t want the overhead light shining down on me (which was always)

What I also brought

AG legging jeans – wore these on the plane home, and by the time we made it back to the US, they were really loose in the legs/knees and felt a little strange. They weren’t very lose in the waist/hips, but the knees were crazy lose. They were SO comfortable on the plane, but I wished they’d looked a little better than they did during our 4 hour layover in Houston…
J Brand straight-leg jeans (black) – I wore these one day, to walk around the city A LOT, and visit museums. They weren’t bad, but these (as with all J Brand jeans) are snug in my thighs, which cause them to fall a bit around my hips/butt. They’re VERY uncomfortable walking up and down stairs, and I have to adjust the rise when I sit.
Beija-Flor jeans – These are great for anything, they have started to sag a bit in the knees though. But they’re super-comfortable for walking/sitting/etc.

I brought more leggings and didn’t wear them at all because I thought it was too cold, generally, for leggings, other than my thicker HELMUT leggings; it was easier, and I preferred to wear jeans most of the time, so I didn’t have to worry about covering my butt. And, I hated wearing socks under my leggings, I did have some short (no show) socks, but they still bunched a little under them. Generally also, I can’t get pants NOT to bunch under my boots. Which is why I only wore my boots once. I did also bring my UGG moccasins to wear in the hotel (we spent a lot of time enjoying the club lounge with free drinks and snacks ;)), and was very happy I did.

Generally, I just wore Hanes men’s v-neck tees under my sweaters with my coat. I layered them over my Park Vogel/Vogel10 built-in-bra camis – they’re way more comfortable than a bra, warmer too. Of course I brought lots more tops & tees, but didn’t end up wearing any of them. It was cold enough (for me) to have to wear sweaters under my coat, but not cold enough to layer them over long-sleeve tees, so they were not needed. Also, it was quite warm inside restaurants, stores, etc. so the less you can get away with under your coat, the better.

My Brooks Brothers camel hair hat was nearly useless. I wore it anyway, but it wasn’t enough to keep my ears warm in Amsterdam. I wore my VKOO cashmere loop scarf every day and sometimes draped it over my head and that worked out better than my hat! My leather gloves kept my fingers warm mostly, but every five minutes I was taking them off so I could use my phone to snap a picture. Which is why I’m now convinced that I need a pair of “smartphone” gloves so I don’t have to take them off to get directions/take pictures. More in my list of “What I Wish I’d Brought”..

As far as bags were concerned, I carried my Jas M.B. bag in Amsterdam and on the plane along with my BAGGU canvas duck bag. I brought this to carry in the rain if I needed to, but I didn’t, so I ended up using it only to carry random stuff on the plane. It’s great in general, and holds a lot, but was REALLY heavy and hard to carry with just the thin shoulder strap or the handles; I had to keep putting it down to rest my shoulder.

What I WISHED I brought:

J Crew trapper hat | $27 at J Crew with WISHLIST code for 30% off
Add Down puffer coat | $508 at Shopbop
Portolano studded tech gloves | $95 at Saks
Longchamp Le Pliage Large Shoulder Tote | $145 at Saks

In the end, I should have just brought my HELMUT leggings and AG Stevie jeans and alternated between them. I didn’t need any of the long sleeve tops, or even as many sweaters. Now I know. Someday I’ll get this travel wardrobe stuff figured out…

What do you think? Do you have travel wardrobes? Do you always over-pack? or chronically under-pack?

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  1. Mamavalveeta03 says

    What a helpful and informative post! I always, always, ALWAYS overpack! And I never seem to learn. So, I’ll be trudging through O’Hare with my wheeled suitcase, my giant tote (full of books, magazines, water and snacks) and my giant handbag, filled with all kinds of stuff no one ever really needs to carry in their bag! Of course, I could vow to learn my lesson and maybe when I go visit my daughter in Chicago in January, I’ll have this down to a science, thanks to you, Grechen! 😉

  2. Shannon says

    Thank you for sharing! I always seem to overpack, and it’s hard to pack when your going to a cold city. Loved all your tips. I have quite a few Vkoo and Inhabit sweaters, and as a matter of fact, have that same Inhabit one, but in the crew neck! Would love to have those Helmut leggings too. I need a pair. Can’t wait to read about your beauty items! I’m obsessed with stuff like that! Thanks again for sharing, very useful info :)

    • says

      the helmut leggings are great, i could have worn them more than i did, i would have been warm enough with that long inhabit sweater…
      i’m obsessed with beauty stuff too – it’s a problem 😉
      i hope to get the post up later this week!

  3. Mamavalveeta03 says

    Would love to see your beauty products post. So, the helmut leggings have some “substance” to them? I’m looking for a pair that will hold me in, but not look shiny. UGH. That’s the WORST! (Since I’m tall, 5’10”, I bought some from the Long Tall Sally website because they sounded like they had some oomph. Well, you should have seen my 14 yr. old daughter laugh hysterically when I held them up. They came up to my BOOBS! I kid you not. I think my husband, who’s 6’4″ could have worn them EASILY! They’re going on ebay, if anyone is 7 feet tall and interested….. 😉

    • says

      Yes, they’re definitely “substantial” and NO shine at all. That’s why I chose the helmut leggings over Vince…they’re really great, and I think they’ll last quite a while. They seem well made at least…

  4. Susan says

    Great post, Grechen! I loved this one, because dressing for winter travel is SO much more challenging than for any other season. I especially loved the reminder to bring Febreeze and a lint roller!

    I have a couple of options that have worked for me in winter travel (even around the US for work, but also internationally):

    Let’s start with the handbag, of course!
    I must bring a Linea Pelle Dylan Medium Tote – my workhorse bag akin to your Jas M.B., does great in all weather, perfect on the plane and traveling around city or country.

    And on top….
    James Perse tee layered with Inhabit cardigan and any cotton/linen scarf (think Love Quotes with a pattern) – shedding and adding layers as needed to get the temperature right, looking good in any combination. With 2 of each of these, and I’m good for a 5-day trip! If there’s going to be something ‘dressier’ at night or for work I might also bring a fitted black blazer to swap for the cardigan. Those always take it from ‘comfy’ to ‘smart’ in an instant.

    Then on bottom…
    Colored jeans – I love Joe’s Jeans Skinny Visionaire or Sanctuary Charmer for a midrise that look modern and not too tight (you and I wear the same size, I think). I always bring 2 different colors, sometimes throw in a stretch corduroy version instead of colored denim…and then mix and match as desired with the tees, cardis and scarves.

    Shoes are so personal, aren’t they?
    You love clogs, I love sneakers and mid-heeled booties. So I always bring a pair of Simple sneaks. Typically in grey or silver, along with some SmartWool socks. And then if we’re going out for dinner or won’t be doing a lot of walking, I’ll switch to boots. I have been packing a pair of Clark’s Indigo tied boots lately and they are always comfy. But my new Cole Haan zipper booties look and feel great, too.

    I’m so glad you posted this. I made me feel better about my ‘uniform’ for winter travel, because it works!

    Happy holiday traveling to everyone.

    • says

      thanks for sharing your list susan! i love it!!
      i love sneakers, but i took my converse to san francisco and wasn’t really impressed. they weren’t awful, but they weren’t that comfortable either. i’d like to try superga, they look like a more “substantial” and stylish alternative…maybe more comfortable?

      and i love smartwool socks! i just wish they made them in a no-show style, i have a pair that are mid-calf, and i wore them, but they fell down under my boots, and didn’t look good under my leggings. they are warm though!

      one thing i do also need is a lighter weight scarf. i did have a love quotes one, but i think i might have gotten rid of it because i never wore it! now i see that they can come in quite handy for cool but not cold situations. and i like your idea of bringing a black blazer to swap out with cardigans sometimes. i tend to just pack sweaters & cardigans because they’re so easy…and don’t think about how much a black blazer can take an outfit up a notch (or two!).

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