Packing for a trip can be seriously stressful. After all, whether you’re going away for a week or a month, it can be so difficult to decide which pieces you’re going to need and how to make them last for the entire duration.
That’s where travel fashion staples come in.
Much like wardrobe staples, these are the wondrous pieces that you can mix and match to create multiple looks on one trip. They are as versatile as they are timeless, and can be easily updated according to the latest trends with fresh fabrics, colours and details.
In fact, you can wear them for seasons to come and they will never lose their style appeal. (In other words, get them in your suitcase pronto!)
Travel Fashion Staples You Can Mix and Match
So here’s the deal: the following travel fashion staples should be the first things in your suitcase for every trip you go on. Then, all you need to do is fill in the blanks to create some fresh holiday looks.
1. The Basic White T-Shirt
This piece is perfect for pairing with practically any outfit colour palette. It can stand alone on a particularly warm sunny day with denim and flats, or a long-sleeved variety can be layered underneath a cover-up in cooler temperatures.
Because it’s soft, you can even wear a white tee to travel in with equally-as-comfy-bottoms. Either way, the versatility of a basic white t-shirt is endless!
2. The Comfy Walking Shoes
One of our must-have travel fashion staples is a shoe that you can wear for long days of walking, hiking and exploring a new city that’s especially hilly.
Enter: the comfy trainers or walking shoes.
While a trusty pair of flip flops or sliders will do the job for the more relaxed summer holidayer, some comfy walking sandals are an absolute must if you plan on doing any sightseeing or longer walks during your trip.
With a contoured footbed featuring plenty of cushioning, a hardy rubber outsole and a huge range of colourways on offer, we think these Teva Tirra Sandals (*) are a no-brainer.
On the other hand, if you’re planning a winter holiday or staycation, you’ll need to invest in a reliable pair of sturdy walking boots. For lightweight, all-weather boots with good grip and a flexible sole, we suggest a pair of these Lightwave Futurelight Boots.
3. The Relaxed Fit Jeans or Shorts
Blue denim is a perfect clothing partner for your classic white tee.
We always find that a pair of relaxed-fit Mom Jeans or equivalent shorts (*) work best when you’re on the move or sitting down experiencing the local cuisine. They don’t cling and allow movement, which is ideal for when you’re on the go.
Plus, did we mention that they look seriously stylish when you wear them high-waisted and tuck your top into them? Add a belt to cinch your waist even further for effortless cool.
4. The Multi-Compartment Backpack
Every gal needs a trusty backpack whether she’s heading to a different destination via a plane, train, bus or car. This is one of the travel fashion staples that needs to be secure enough to hold all of your belongings but also coordinate with your travel outfits.
Personally, we like the neutral options, such as black, white, nude, grey, beige or even navy (*). Sure, a plain backpack will go with more pieces. However, we can’t resist a good print, like this fun Leopard Spot Realm Backpack from Vans.
Even if you opt for dressed-down, solid-coloured clothing, you can easily inject some personality into your look with this fun patterned accessory. It just goes to show: even if you have a plain front, you can still have a party on your back, people.
5. The Rain Jacket
A functional rain jacket is another one of our essential travel fashion staples. You just never know when there might be an unexpected downpour – especially if you plan to go on a UK staycation.
We prefer a neutral, high-quality wind and rain jacket 2-in-1 combo that offers optimal protection against the elements when you’re hiking or exploring, like this Inlux Triclimate Jacket (*) from North Face.
Although these types of jackets seem expensive, it’s worth investing so that you can keep dry and warm when the weather isn’t on your side.
6. The Smart Jacket
Next up, a smart jacket like an elegant black blazer (*) or faux leather jacket like this Topshop Biker Jacket (*) can come in handy for trips where you plan to go OUT out on an evening, whether it’s for dinner or to experience the local clubbing scene.
If it’s the heart of summer, you can always swap a black jacket for an oversized white shirt or denim jacket (*). Similarly, if it’s freezing cold in a certain city, you might want to take your warmest, woolliest Teddy Coat (*).
Either way, every travelling fashionista needs a dressier jacket option — and do not underestimate its ability to elevate any casual outfit.
7. The Fancy Shoe
If you’re all set with a dressy cover-up as part of your travel fashion staples, then you’re also going to need a dressy shoe. Naturally.
Let’s face it, trainers don’t exactly scream smart-casual chic for a night out on the town – right? Instead, try some patterned boots like these ASOS Square Toe Sock Boots in Natural Snake (*) to liven up any Autumn/Winter outfit or opt for some metallic strappy sandals (*) for Spring/Summer.
Then there’s the whole matter of the heel height – do you go high heel, low heel or mid-heel? We tend to go for block heels because we always end up walking everywhere when we’re travelling to save money. But whatever works for you, hun.
8. The Nicer Dress or Top
So you’ve got your nicer shoes and jacket packed. Now all you need is a fancier dress or top and you’re good to go for any evening or fancier occasions.
When dressing for warmer evenings, strappy tops or dresses like this Midi Satin Slip (*) will be your friend. (Just don’t forget your jacket if you think it might get chilly later!)
Alternatively, drop the cover-up and show off that tan with this Cotton Mini Shirt Dress (*) — all you need to do is match it up with a cute bag, strappy shoes and some simple accessories.
For the colder months, nothing can beat a good knitted jumper dress like this beige beauty from H&M (*). Simply team with some tights, your favourite chunky heeled boots and a leather jacket for a look that’s as snugly as it is glamorous.
9. The Lightweight Leggings
One of our fave travel fashion staples for the actual travelling part is lightweight leggings. Needless to say, they work especially well for long plane journeys or overnight train rides.
These Adidas Classics Three Stripes (*) never fail us. Even so, you may prefer jeggings or even jogging bottoms, such as these simple M&S High Waisted Jeggings or these ultra-cosy New Look Cuffed Joggers (*).
Just make sure that whatever you pick is comfy and practical for long periods of sitting and you’re laughing.
10. The Neutral Cover-Up
Another suitcase must-have come rain or shine is a neutral cover-up for when it’s a little chilly, such as an oversized hoodie, chunky knit or a thin cardigan for brisk evenings in a warmer climate (*).
If you’re heading to a colder climate, this everyday piece can be layered up with winter woollies to help you feel cosy while looking fashionable for those wandering days.
You can also wear it with leggings and trainers for those lazy travel days. Either way, the neutral cover-up is a surefire winner. Wouldn’t you agree?
11. The Cute Crossbody Bag
Wearing a heavy backpack all the time on your trip is just not going to be feasible. Especially during those long days out and about where you need to take minimal belongings, or the nights on the town when you want to wear something a little more sophisticated.
Know what we’re saying?
Instead, be sure to pack a cute crossbody bag (*) that you can take from day to night in a fashion heartbeat. Pro tip: we usually opt for black or white depending on the season so that it complements our outfit colour palette.
12. The Classic Sunglasses
Another of our must-have travel fashion staples to protect your peepers against summer or winter sun is some classic-shaped sunglasses. We’re talking about aviator, wayfarer-inspired or cat-eye frames (*) that make you look like the bad*** you are.
Choose an ageless design that suits your face shape to take everywhere that you go. It also helps if the hue is never-changing, like black, tan, silver or gold (*).
If you wear glasses on a daily basis, you’re going to need to include those on your packing list too. Do you have multiple pairs? No problem – just pick the style that will go with the maximum amount of outfits like these fabulous Moschino black frames (*).
13. The Strong Hair Tie
The holy mother of travel fashion staples for women is the strong hair tie. Ideally, it’s neutral in nature, unwavering and can endure multiple plane rides, travel days and weather changes.
The invisibobble (*) is particularly handy as it’s waterproof, crystal clear and can be used repeatedly. You can also wear it on your wrist as a quirky fashion accessory when you don’t need it in your hair. Fact.
Know the type? Have one? Good – get it in your day bag (or on your wrist) fast. You won’t regret it.
14. The Sassy Swimwear
Planning a full week of lounging in the sun abroad or just an afternoon of sipping cocktails at a spa? Either way, swimwear is up there with the original travel fashion staples.
It’s important that you have some seriously sassy swimwear that makes you feel like you could conquer the world, whether that’s a fun triangle bikini for a week in the Mediterranean or a classic one-piece for your spa weekend (*).
If you’re not sure what type of swimwear is best for your body shape, check out our handy guide to help you pick out your ideal fit.
15. The Protective Face Mask
It might feel like the world is slowly starting to return to normal, but it’s worth remembering that rules surrounding mask-wearing vary wildly depending on where in the world you’re travelling to.
Play it safe and make sure to carry a breathable face covering with you at all times, especially if you plan to use planes or public transport.
Patterned fabric masks (*) may be the most visually appealing option. However, a good stock of disposable face masks is your best bet if you want to minimise your chance of picking up any unwanted germs on the go.
At just £9.99, this Amazon pack of 100 (*) allows you to simply throw away any used masks at the end of the day — without breaking your budget.
Extra Travel Fashion Staples for Winter
If you’re travelling in the winter, you’ll need to make some room in your suitcase for a few extra staples.
Being outside in the cold for long periods can actually cause you to get ill. So, as tempting as it is to pack that extra pair of shoes you might wear (but probably won’t), it’s far more important to use the space to fit in some extra layers.
With that in mind, here are some key travel fashion staples to keep you toasty in the colder months.
16. The Trusty Thermals
The first rule of staying warm in winter is layering up, so what better place to start than with a high-quality set of thermals?
Luckily there are more than enough options on the market to keep you wrapped up from head to toe – from thermal vests to insulated pants! For the perfect bottom layer, we recommend pairing up some thermal leggings (*) with a long sleeve base layer like this one from Decathlon.
Oh, and don’t forget to add some Sumptuously Soft Thermal Socks (*) to your bag. Trust us, your feet will thank you later.
17. The Woolly Accessories
When it comes to adding the finishing touches your winter holiday outfits, it’s a good idea to invest some fail-safe woolly accessories.
For starters, pair this Grey Cable Knit Faux Fur Bobble Hat with a scarf like this one from New Look (*). And if you’re not really a hat person, why not try some cute ear muffs or a chunky knitted headband like this ASOS one (*)?
We recommend opting for a full hat, scarf and gloves set to stay feeling cosy and chic all day long. Remember – it’s easy to de-layer later in the day if you get too warm and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Extra Travel Fashion Staples for Summer
On the other hand, it should come as no surprise that when packing for a warm weather getaway you’ll need a whole different set of travel fashion staples on standby.
Here’s everything you need to up your beach game this summer.
18. The Sun Hat or Cap
Unless increasing your risk of suffering from sunstroke is on your itinerary, it’s wise to incorporate a sun hat or cap into your roster of summer holiday travel fashion staples.
Love them or hate them, hats make it easier for you to see while also providing an easy way to keep your face and scalp from burning (painful showers, be gone). Seems like a no-brainer to us.
19. The Breathable Flip Flops
Not only are they easy to slip on and off as needed, but they will also keep your feet nice and cool when walking about on the beach.
Plus, as an extra added bonus, they’re handily small and lightweight enough to slip into even the fullest of cases. We call that a win-win.
Shuffling Between Your Travel Fashion Staples
It’s important to invest in travel fashion staples whether you’re new to this whole travelling thing or still left scratching your head and staring at your wardrobe every time that you’re about to go away.
After all, in addition to helping to create in-the-moment looks that make fellow fashionistas green with envy, you can keep on wearing these pieces for many years (and trips) to come.
What are your favourite travel fashion staples? Do you own all of our suggestions?
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.