Travel Uniform

Picture this: You’re going on vacation to Italy. You want to relax and feel chic and timeless, a la Grace Kelly. These mix-and-match pieces would do the trick…(Of course, I’d also love to wear them in New York, too!)

1. Maxi dress. The perfect sexy dress for relaxing at the beach, then heading to dinner.
2. Eyelet dress. Fresh and sweet.
3. Cashmere cardigan. Because red looks amazing in photos.
4. Denim jacket. Nothing looks cuter than a sunkissed girl in a denim jacket.
5. Gold bangles.
6. Oversized straw tote.
7. Red bikini. (A cheaper one here.)
8. Sandals. I’ve spent months searching for summer sandals that are pretty and comfy. These, finally, are both. (And only $36!)
9. Negroni. A rich and bitter cocktail, best served in a little Italian fishing village.

What do you always pack for vacation? I’d love to hear any tips!

P.S. My friend Susan’s genius honeymoon tip.

(Post by Joanna; photo by John Cullen; graphic design by Rachel from Elephantine)

  1. Depending on where you are in the world and what time of year, a light scarf would be the ultimate accessory to these outfits!

  2. I absolutely love your blog and admire the compilation of ideas and resources from around the web! I created a link to this page on my blog post: beach fever at
    Thanks for the fun and interesting daily reads!
    – Stephanie

  3. Wow! This is such a great place to hang out and relax together with your special someone. Thanks for sharing this one. Happy weekend!
    preimplantation screening

  4. We’re going to Italy for a few weeks in September (and bring our soon-to-be two year old). I am actually compiling a list of things to bring right now!

    Something I always pack is a pair of stretch skinny jeans (I like my William Rast Sienna Jeggings), which are perfectly comfortable for long flights and usually don’t require washing as they hold their shape. And they are versatile. I always pack a few large lightweight scarves and one heavier shawl that I can use as a blanket.

    A few people have mentioned cross-body bags and I have to throw my recommendation into the ring. I have a couple of Tano bags that can be worn on the shoulder or cross-body, which is essential when you’re traveling or when you have a toddler.

    I try to wear the bulkier items on the flight–for this one I will probably wear my ankle boots and lightweight leather jacket so I don’t have to pack them.

    For this trip, I am going to pack items like a one-piece swimsuit and loungwear (like a lightweight chemise) that can double as layering pieces during the day.

    It’s super tough when you want to look stylish but also don’t want to over pack, you definitely have to strike a balance!

  5. Negronis were all I drank on my honeymoon. So yummy!!

  6. Absolutely love this list! The sandals are now on my list for summer. What a steal, perfect camel. And, love your other recs here. THanks!!

  7. I would always have
    a little white dress
    a little black dress
    a wrap dress
    basic tshirts in white, black and grey
    black and nude pumps
    a clutch
    an oversize bag
    a cocktail ring

    That is for any trip
    for beach I would add more summer and floral dresses/skirts. short. flip flop. Giant sunhat. sunglasses


  8. “Brokey from Wiskokey” = i love that!! i’ve never heard that expression:):) yay for michiganders, midwest is best! :)

  9. kelsey, i love that. and thanks to anonymous for the tip about folding clothes!!

  10. Thank you for posting this! I am headed to Italy in just 2 weeks for my honeymoon and am working on my packing list as I type. Love all the suggestions. I just bought 2 maxi dresses this week.

    xoxo, Kim

  11. Christine says...

    I keep coming back to look at this post….love all of the clothes and you’ve inspired me to up purchase a LWD (not eyelet, but a fraction of the anthro price) from Zara for my upcoming trip to southern ca. Will toss in some white jeans, jean shorts, a couple scarves and tops and I think I am good to go! Might stick with the margaritas though….:)

    Dreaming of an Italian vacation!

  12. Anonymous says...

    I love this list! You could really use for any warm summer vacation destination. In fact, I’m using it as my packing guide for my trip to San Diego. :)

  13. Love!

  14. Great picks! I would add a brightly printed scarf (to keep warm on the flight and use as a swimsuit coverup on the trip), a caftan (nothing more glamorous), a silk scarf to tie on my head a la Jackie O, and a massive pair of sunglasses.

    I run a travel styling company, Portavi, that helps people pack stylishly and comfortably for any trip they have coming up. Would love to work with you!

  15. I really love these items! The worst thing is having to think about what to wear on holiday

  16. I always pack in one color scheme, so I can mix and match the whole time. On a recent trip, I went with burnt orange and navy blue, and picking clothes each morning was very simple. Everything already went together!

  17. Anonymous says...

    I love the idea of this, gets me every time. I dream of a capsule wardrobe, the ideal uniform magazines talk about. Traveling is when I get to try it out. We go every year for a couple months to France. I’ve learned a little. I pick one color everything has to either be or go with; just one. Never new shoes or flip flops. The best neutral is that mocha/mushroom/greige color for France, and white.

    I wish I had the perfect outfits for nursing in the summer heat in non-nursing France.

    And the best tip of all: just leave space and buy what you need there. You know you want to, and the memories back home are so lovely.

    (And that Joan Didion link someone noted is for ‘two skirts and two leotards’. No pants? And LEOTARDS? No way, no how!)

  18. Beautiful! I’m using your friend’s packing tip for my upcoming two week trip to Europe! We’re going to the Olympics for three days, so I’m basing my wardrobe on red/white/blue pieces that coordinate with brown and red shoes. I’ll look patriotic in London, and then will do blue/white and red/white in the other cities, with a couple of gray pieces thrown in for a little extra variety/flexibility. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Great picks! I also always bring lots of magazines so I’ll have things to read on the plane. :)

  20. Ah I could totally picture wearing all of that on a European getaway!

  21. Anonymous says...

    I’m a flight attendant and I always roll all my clothes, you can fit tons more. Also I try to only pack two pairs of shoes for a 4 day or less trip- cute all day sandals that slide down the side of my suitcase and a pair of tenny’s for working out.

  22. Yes, I’m going to Sardegna, Italy next week!!! I’ve packed new leather sandals, red shorts, a striped dress (a short one though) and white tops…

  23. Shoes/sandals that are up for some walking, pants I can cuff and wear over and over again. A dress for a night out and tops that can breathe as i explore a new place.

  24. Anonymous says...

    i love each one of these pieces. They are great on their own or mixed and matched. Fabulous, Joanna!

  25. what a great list! :D I have to disagree about the popped color…maybe it’s still going strong in NY and you can pull it off… but I just feel like it makes a classic jean jacket too tacky!

  26. I just came across your blog and I adore it! I am leaving to study abroad it Italy with my boyfriend in the fall, so I loved your posts about Italy and Greece (we are heading to Greece over Thanksgiving break while abroad). Thanks for the beautiful pictures and inspiration!

  27. As much as I love your blog–and I do! I really do!–I don’t often leave comments as you have a gazillion and I think “Oh for Pete’s Sake, leave the poor girl alone” but I really need to thank you today. I am Brokey from Wiskokey (do you know that phrase fellow Michigander?) and yet all of my sandals are falling apart. I just ordered those exactly-what-I-was-looking-for sandals (except in black) from Topshop. For nada. Worse, now I know that they have a new French site! AAARRGH! :)

  28. I would also recommend a cross-body bag! These are great because you can keep them close to you and you don’t have to worry about them slipping off your shoulder like a regular bag. Plus, they would be great for taking on the plane!

  29. I honeymooned in Italy last summer, and I definitely agonized over what to wear. I ended up bringing breezy, gauzy shirts, full cotton skirts, leather sandals, ballet flats, a cross-body bag, and a curling iron for gussying up my ponytail. It was crazy hot during our trip, so staying cool was my number one goal. Unfortunately, as a southerner who grew up with air conditioning, the lack thereof in Italy was brutal. If I ever go back, it will not be during summer!

  30. So cute! Love it all — especially that dress. I’ve been preparing for packing for my NY trip, and this is super helpful!

    Here’s how I’ve been handling summertime fashion!


  31. How does one pack a cocktail? ;)

  32. Oh man Joanna. I wish I could beam these picks directly into my suitcase and fly away right now!

    I like to bring a scarf to be used for naps, chilly days, for modesty if you go to a temple etc. And I like to bring a body oil because I think it’s more effective than lotion and I can use it everywhere, even my hair.

  33. had my first negroni on my buenos aires honeymoon last night! they are dangerously delicious :)

  34. Leslie says...

    Great post, Joanna!

    I like to bring a small cross-body bag for when I’m out walking, sight-seeing, shopping, etc. And a chic clutch to dress up my evening clothes, which are usually my daytime outfits just slightly reworked

    Also: fun jewelry, scarves, small perfume, and a pair of flip flops usually come in handy.

    Overall I find that sunkissed skin and being relaxed go a LONG way to making me look my best :)

  35. So funny! I’m packing tonight for my trip to Italy and have almost these exact things in my suitcase :)

  36. Is it too late?

  37. Love love love the maxi dress. I’ve feared horizontal stripes, but the length might have a slimming effect. Great picks!

  38. A cute pair of black or gold flip flops are always a must for me when I go on vacation over the summer. They’re easy to dress up or down, are perfect for transitioning from the beach to a restaurant, and are perfect for when it rains!

  39. leggings and moccasins. i need some comfort from home to shuffle along in.

  40. I always pick a colour palette and then you can mix and match everything!

  41. Man I need a maxi dress! Love that swim suit too :) I just did a post about maxi dresses! Check out the ones I love.

  42. I love this post because I am, in fact, heading to Italy! :) GREAT suggestions!

  43. Anonymous says...

    Love the cardigan but I don’t see the red one on the J Crew web site?

  44. When my husband and I travel, we don’t pack separately. Instead, we pack for half of the trip in each of the two suitcases we take. That way if the airline loses one of our suitcases, we still have plenty to wear while on vacation.

  45. this is wondrous because i AM traveling to italy next week!

    and now a post for greece and london, too? [they are the next stops.]

  46. Ack…we’re going to Italy next summer, cannot wait!

  47. Thanks! Such inspiring simplicity. My husband and I are headed to D.C. for labor day weekend and I want to pack minimally while still looking awesome. This is perfect!

  48. we just got back from a week in Positano and I definitely think these pieces are perfect to pack for a vacation in Italy! :)

  49. Yes, that photo is from Dubrovnik! My hubby & I did our honeymoon in Croatia and Slovenia. It was wonderful!

  50. Anonymous says...

    Your photo is of Croatia!

  51. I always bring a Pashmina. They serve so many purposes! I’ve used them around my neck when it’s cold, around my head when it’s windy, over my shoulders in case it gets chilly, sat on it at the beach… seriously, those things are lifesavers!

  52. I was just in Italy for my babymoon and my suitcase was full of similar items. It’s amazing how easy it was to mix and match. I wore my mustard colored cardigan a lot as well as my jean jacket. I also packed a leather jacket and some bright colored flats for the cooler evenings. Right now is the perfect time to go!

    Ciao Ciao!

  53. White jeans, check! Diva sunglasses? Check! Nail polish remover towelettes… should get some! Dreamy holiday in Italy? Starting tomorrow! Yay! :)

  54. I travel with an old Mercedes Van from the 70ies, he’s named Benno. I love to play package tetris before driving south.
    I never forget to take cotton swabs with me. I’m addicted to them. And shoes, a lot of shoes.
    (I don’t wear shoes on a trip. I love to walk barfoot, but they are so beautiful and sweet and I love to play luggage tetris, you know….)

  55. this post was so helpful! thank you JO


  56. LOVE that simple striped maxi dress. So chic and breezy.

  57. No matter what I bring I always make sure that it fits into a carry on suitcase…nothing worse than overpacking for a vacation.

  58. Sarah H. says...

    I LOVE all of these items!!!! I wish I had the budget to buy them all. :) Gorgeous, classic pieces. I always pack my favorite jeans to dress up or down and a pashmina. (For scarf, wrap, even skirt. Thanks for the travel inspiration this week, now if only I was planning a vacation soon…

  59. That picture looks suspiciously like the Amalfi Coast…love it!

    I’m all over maxi dresses at the moment. Love the bag, too.

  60. I am going to Italy and am packing this week!! Thanks, Jo.

  61. I’m always intrigued by what other people pack for vacations! I always seem to pack optimistically for sun, even if I’ve checked the forecast and rain is predicted… this is definitely not the smartest way of packing. I love the idea of sticking to some kind of colour scheme!

  62. This list is too perfect- right now I’m nannying abroad in China and about to fly to Hong Kong for a few days. Thanks so much, Joanna xo

  63. white jeans are a great idea! and nail polish remover towelettes — these are brilliant ideas.

  64. this is perfect, because I actually am going to Italy in about six weeks!!

    I always pack a lot of accessories, because they can spice up the same clothes. I also always travel with a scarf, especially when I go to Europe, because they can cover your head and shoulders if you go somewhere religious. (This came in handy when I was in the blue mosque in Istanbul, Turkey two years ago).

  65. a shawl or pashmina is a great idea, annie. women always looks so chic wrapped up in them!

  66. Oh yeah, regarding what I ALWAYS pack for travel…

    Some comfortable “non-American” shoes. By now I have a fair amount of these, but I usually buy a new pair when I travel. I look for black, or brown… something as comfortable as a sneaker which doesn’t scream “American!” Really, most urban shoes which are comfortable enough will work. I also love my Bensimon sneakers (which I learned about here!) but they’re not comfortable for long-distance walking.

    I usually travel to Europe off-season (much cheaper, I can go for longer) so jackets and coats are in order. Again, I go for something urban/not clearly American. I love brown and now own 5 brown coats/jackets and most of these fit the bill.

    Otherwise I just have a wardrobe of simple mix and match basics – on my recent trip to Amsterdam, I lived in long v-neck (“boyfriend” cardigans over smooth white tanks, skinny jeans/skinny jean-styled corduroys, and a scarf.

  67. That would be the best packed suitcase ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  68. I love these! I think navy, red and white are classic, chic colors perfect for mixing and matching.

    I always make sure I bring a pair of my favorite jeans, even if we go somewhere very warm. Sometimes it gets cooler than expected and I just want something fitted and comfortable.

    I also like to bring lots of accessories! They take up less space in my bag, but add more variety so I can get away with bringing fewer clothes.

  69. Annie says...

    Herewith my travel tips: always, always travel long distances in black trousers, always, always wear comfy footwear you can run in when flying (yes, but you never know…) and always, always take a pashmina/light shawl. You can wrap up, snuggle up, use as a pillow, be respectable and respectful when need be and much better than those blankets you get on a plane. Plus: take a small bag that fits inside a big bag to use as a day-to-day handbag.

  70. I’m loving this travel week!

    I love that straw tote. Those seem to go in and out of popular fashion, but are somewhat of a classic. My mother has a nice one I’ve been wanting to steal (er, her to give me.)

    Where is the first photo from? (By the way, I’ve long been curious where your images (other than vacation and family photos) come from… a stock image source where you pay for access?) It’s beautiful

  71. This is SO cute. I recently read this article in Refinery29, where the reporter puts together different outfits inspired on the same straw summer hat. I thought it was very useful/brilliant idea to apply when brainstorming looks for an upcoming trip. I personally love Panama hats! I would also add a jeans short, white skinny jeans, a white/light blue boyfriend shirt and a gorgeous pareo that u can use as a dress or top. XOXO

  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. I like to pack a warm hoody (usually a zip-up one) for the plane and any unusually cold days just in case. It always comes in handy for me even when I am going somewhere warm. I always seem to be cold! Also comfy pants for the plane are a must.

    Recently I discovered nail polish remover towelettes. I find that especially if it’s a trip that’s over a week, my fingernails become yucky so I like to re-do them and these are easy to pack and allow me to do my nails much more easily. I also bring along a light, shimmery shade of nail polish so I’m not fussing trying to get a dark color to be just right.

    I also like to leave a lot of room in my carry-on for any duty-free purchases :) I usually end up buying perfume and chocolate whenever I travel internationally.

    I love your suggestions, Joanna… makes me really want to go on a trip now! And I think I want to buy a jean jacket… I had one for years but don’t own it anymore. It seems like jean jackets never truly go out of style.

  74. Do you have the link to the red bikini pictured above? The current link goes to another swimsuit that isn’t quite as cute as the one shown :)

  75. I always pack with my Eagle Creek packing cubes. No matter where I am going or the length of the trip, they make organizing so much easier!!

  76. just bought a similar black maxi dress from target last night! (in the maternity section! and i’m totally not preggers.. but seriously sometimes the prego stuff is cute too and not extra huge in the tummy section… i think i’ll keep it a secret to the BF that i’m wearing a maternity dress… it will probably freak him out)


  77. What a lovely suitcase1 I always pack a nice hat. I never wear it, but I take it with me everywhere!

  78. Anonymous says...

    hihi… americans are always recognizible no matter what you wear… it’s because of your loud voices. no offense though, i like it!

  79. Oh the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been there on my honey moon! You will love it!
    Be sure to take a nice scarf with you (for your head, shoulders, after a bath in the sea…)
    And large Diva-sunglasses :)
    And you have to try a Limoncello! It’s very sweet and very lemon and it’s made right there from this region.

  80. bright coloured shorts and a white T. You always look good in a white T after a bit of sun.

  81. A trench coat! Looks great with everything and will keep you dry should you run into any surprise rains.

    Cuffed jeans…although those are pretty much a must for every day of my life.

    Ballet flats. Cute. Chic. Comfy.

    A scarf. To be used on the head, over the shoulders and around the neck as needed.

  82. I bought those sandals before I went to SXSW this year for work, and they have been the best purchase of my summer so far.