If you read this blog at all regularly, you’ll know that Hubby and I are off soon for a fall trip. Four weeks in the Balkans, and we’re excited. We did all the researching, reading, discussing, asking for advice, choosing and planning an itinerary, and booking everything way back in the spring. And in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing the fun stuff. Planning and organizing my fall travel wardrobe.

My travel wardrobe for 4 weeks in the Balkans.
Four weeks in the Balkans. The final cut. Minus the tee, jeans, loafers, and hoodie that I will wear on the plane.

I always start planning a travel wardrobe by reviewing what I packed for similar trips in the past. Trying to remember what worked and what didn’t. Taking notes as I go. Last year we spent three weeks in Italy at almost the same time. Late September to mid-late October. So I started with my Italy packing list from last year, looked at photos taken during the trip, and took notes. Then I made a preliminary packing list. I organized everything around a few key pieces. My black Lafayette 148 zippered sweater, my burgundy down vest, jeans, and my Rag and Bone cropped pants. Then I added tops and shoes. Scarves. Trying to make sure that every piece can do triple duty.

Planning notes for four weeks in the Balkans. What to pack.
My planing process in black and white… and pink.

One thing I learned from last year’s trip is not to get bent out of shape about dinner outfits. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to realize that the “dinner/evening outfits” I bring often do not get worn. I pack a pair of pants, or a jacket, and not very comfortable shoes just for wearing in the evening, and then end up in my jeans and sneakers anyway. Why do I do this?

In 2015 I took white cropped pants and black patent Stuart Weitzman loafers to France. I intended to wear them with a black silk tank and my black Helmut Lang blazer. I wore that outfit once the whole trip. Our friends from Saskatoon who were in Paris for one night were joining us for dinner. They were tired from their flight, and jetlagged, so we decided to meet for drinks at the flat Hubby and I were renting, and then stroll around the Marais, looking for a casual place to eat. Everyone else was in jeans. I felt like a dork in my white pants. And my feet hurt. What had I been thinking?

My patent loafers are comfortable for standing at parties, getting in and out of the car and walking a short distance to a restaurant, but strolling for blocks and blocks on a warm night… not so much. So what did I pack last year for Italy? My black loafers and my white jeans. And how many times did I wear them? Once. But I have finally learned my lesson, people. If I won’t wear it during the day, I’m not packing it. No more special pieces for evening. We never ever eat in the kind of restaurants that would require anything but smart street wear; and never ever attend “functions” that require us to dress up. We just don’t do that kind of trip.

My travel wardrobe for four weeks in the Balkans.
My final, revised packing list. The pink highlighted pieces are what I will wear on the plane.

So, for four weeks in the Balkans, what am I packing? That’s my final list above. Ironically my Balkan travel wardrobe consists of several fewer pieces than I packed for three weeks in Italy. After I made my preliminary list, I tried on all the outfits I thought I might wear. Monday was “trying on day.” As usual, I’m not worried about being fashion forward. I just want to look pulled together and be comfortable.

I liked a lot of the combinations from my preliminary list. Especially the new burgundy long-sleeve tee with my burgundy ultra-light down vest from Uniqlo. I substituted my Frame high-rise boot-cut jeans for one of the pairs of skinny jeans. I like the boot-cut jeans with my burgundy Paul Green loafers, and my down vest. These loafers have been put through the schlepping-all-over-Ottawa-shopping test, so they won’t be saved just for going to dinner. I jettisoned my faithful ALC black and white striped, long-sleeve tee. I am sick to death of it. Ditto my white jeans.

If I wouldn’t wear white jeans here at this time of year, what makes me think I’d wear them in Zagreb or Ljubljana? It’s nothing to do with the white after Labour Day rule. Just that all of a sudden when fall weather hits, some things seem too… well… summery. I decided to take the advice proffered by a reader last year, to dress in fall colours, but light weight fabrics. As Liz said when I chatted with her at Nordstrom the other day, “dress for the season.” Even if the weather is warm, it’s still fall. So I’m packing my fall colours, blacks and burgundies, with some pops of colour. And several short sleeve tees if the weather is warm. So fall-ish without the heavy turtlenecks or chunky knits.

Travel wardrobe. Burgundy tee from Talbots. Uniqlo down vest. Frame le mini boot high-rise jeans, Paul Green loafers.
Talbots burgundy crew neck tee, Uniqlo down vest, Frame high-rise bootcut jeans, Paul Green loafers.

I’m packing my light Artizia hoodie that I wore all over Italy last year. And my black quilted Lafayette 148 zippered sweater which also did yeoman service in Italy. I’m packing both my checked navy and white, and my black Rag and Bone Simone pants. They are comfortable, easy to pull on, don’t bag at the knees, and look good with loafers, sneakers, or sandals. I’m packing both my Vince tees (white and black) and a long-sleeve black and white tee from Nouijca in Montreal.

To my amazement, I’m packing three new tees from Talbots. I say amazement because I never shop at Talbots. Not usually. But a couple of weeks ago when I scoured the Rideau Centre looking for long-sleeve tees or light sweaters to wear under jackets and for travel, Talbots was the only place that had anything to satisfy my needs. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Vince tees. But these heavier tees were a find.

So I bought the long-sleeve, crew neck burgundy one, above, and this week went back and purchased two more. A soft, almost periwinkle blue and a navy, both 3/4 sleeve with a boat neck. Talbots’ tees are well made, a good weight, and are NOT skin tight. I’m wearing a medium, which surprised me. I’ve been wearing a large, and even an extra large in some brands, for years. What do women our age do who want to wear decent tee shirts, that fit them? Well, go to Talbots, I guess.

Travel wardrobe. Talbots bateau-neck tee, Lafayette 148 sweater, Rag and Bone Simone pant, Asics running shoes.
Talbots periwinkle blue tee, Lafayette 148 sweater, Rag and Bone Simone pant, Asics running shoes.

Now a word about the trip hair cut. If you’ve been reading this blog… or know me at all… you’ll know I am hair obsessed. My trip hair cut with Carmen, scheduled for a few days before we are to leave, was booked months ago. Then Carmen e-mailed me on Monday morning that she’d been in a cycling accident and wouldn’t be able to do hair for a week at least. She has a broken hand, a possible concussion, and all kinds of soft tissue damage (I’m thinking of road rash as I write this… ouch.) She’s having trouble even walking, let alone being able to stand and wield a pair of scissors. I’m proud to say that my first thought was, “Oh my god. Poor Carmen.”

But, of course, my second thought was, “Oh, s**t. What will I do about my hair?” I know! How shallow is that? Anyway. It all worked out. I booked in with the girl who cuts Carmen’s hair. And… and… I snagged her last available appointment before we leave. Phew.

I really love the colour Angie gave me. And I like the cut too. But… the proportions are quite a bit different from my usual cut. It’s shorter on the sides, and longer on top. It will take a few days for me to get used to styling it so it doesn’t look like a toupée. Seriously. In one of my pictures my hair looks very much like that of a former male colleague of mine who wore a curly hair piece. I still remember the incredulity of some of my students when they deigned to inform me that Mr. So-And-So wore a rug. I mean, how was I to know? I just thought he had an unusual hairline. Ha.

So four weeks in the Balkans. Our plan is to spend some of that time in Slovenia. Then head south into Croatia, down the coast, spending a few days at each of several spots. We plan a day trip into Montenegro, before we head into Bosnia-Herzegovina for a couple of days. Then it’s back to Croatia, turning north and inland, eventually ending up in Zagreb for a few days. I’m excited that, when we get to Zagreb, we will be meeting up with Dottoressa who many of you know from her comments on this blog.

Travel wardrobe. Burgundy tee from Talbots. Uniqlo down vest. Frame le mini boot high-rise jeans, Paul Green loafers.
Can you tell I’m excited?

Yep. We are ready. Our plans are all finalized: tickets, cars, accommodation all booked. My travel wardrobe has been washed, pressed, folded, rolled, and is ready to pack. Half-filled suitcases and carry-on bags cover our living room floor.

We are pumped, people. Boy, are we pumped. Hubby in particular. He gets so excited. In the lead up to one trip when we weren’t scheduled to leave for the airport until late afternoon, Hubby called and asked our drive to take us to the airport three hours early just to put us out of our misery. Well, to put him out of his misery, actually. I’m lucky that I was ready early that day. Ha.

Two more sleeps to go. But seriously, who can sleep?

I hope you won’t mind that my posting schedule for the next month will be erratic. In fact it’s been pretty erratic since we left for Quebec in August. I apologize for that. But as Hemingway said: “In order to write about life, first you must live it.” And sometimes living gets in the way of blogging. But, you know you can count on me to update you when I get the chance, don’t you? In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram here. I’ll be posting daily. Not all the good stuff, though.

I’ll save the best bits for the blog. When we can settle down with a cup tea and have a good old natter. 🙂


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From the archives


Books To Survive Winter. Maybe

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45 thoughts on “My Fall Travel Wardrobe”

  1. Hello and bon voyage from Switzerland, where we are gawking at the landscape and eating too much cheese while on our own big trip of 2019. Hope you have a safe and splendid trip. I look forward to reading about it when you return.

      1. You sound like abit,of a snob to be honest.
        Talbots is still pricey for many. You act like it is,a real come down for you.
        Take aloo, around at those who,don’t have your privledge.

        1. Wow. That’s a bit harsh, Dot. I didn’t shop at Talbots for years because I didn’t like their clothes. I guess if admitting I was wrong and that I’m giving them another try is snobby than I’ll live with that. Ha.

  2. New tees are lovely,esp. blue one,as well as your new haircut. List approved ;-),you can do “spica” coffee …and all beneath that
    The combinations will depend of weather,I wear white jeans sometimes during the fall,but it must be a perfect sunny day,so you are right about your decision. I assume you’ll pack bodies (as in lingerie)or camis,for layering
    Have a nice and safe trip and see you soon

  3. How exciting! I think you will be Johnny-on-the-money in that lot, and comfortable as well. I nearly said: comfortable to boot. (tee hee).
    Enjoy every second. I shall be on the sofa, keeping an eye out.

  4. have a wonderful trip. i think youve nailed it with your travel wardrobe and will borrow it unashamedly when we go to europe in may.

  5. Happy holidays and will be following you on Instagram! Loving your choices, you look comfortable and stylish. Of course, as one who resides in the tropics I am thinking ‘will you be warm enough?’ and then remind myself, Sue is a weather seasoned Canuck.

    1. Thanks, Claire. I have packed lots of layers, so warmth won’t be a problem. Hopefully Croatia won’t be hit with a sudden period of 30+ temps. Then I might be in trouble.

  6. Wishing you a fabulous trip, it sounds very exciting! I wish I was organized as you. I pack the night before or the morning of a trip. My husband is so use to my last minute planning and often makes funny comments like, so you’re all packed!! I just laugh and say, “don’t you worry I’ll be ready”. He’s definitely the planner! I will be looking for your Instagram posts so I can travel along. Safe travels my friend!

    1. Thanks, Ann. Stu is more a planner than I am. Except for wardrobe concerns. I hate to be forced to wear what I don’t like so I don’t take any chances anymore.

  7. I especially love the burgundy t-shirt on you, and the gilet (which you’ve worn in other posts). Here in the UK it was a fashion thing to wear white jeans out of summer months, but I think that’s over now. As someone who carefully carried a dress, smart sandals, a clutch bag and a smart black evening top all round Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Singapore, and then carefully carried them home again unworn I laughed at your ‘special’ going out outfit. I was so determined to get some wear out of mine that I wore the smart black evening top over walking shorts and trainers for dinner at the Hilton in Bangkok!!! Must have looked ridiculous but I was happy.
    I too will keep a note of your outfit planning for any future trips. Hope you have a fabulous holiday and look forward to your updates.

    1. I love that vest/gilet. And I was so pleased that the tee is the exact shade to work with it! Last year I wore my more dressy (admittedly not very dressy) outfit for dinner once on the Amalfi Coast. One year we travelled to New Zealand via a resort on the Cook Islands. I thought resort = dressy and bought for that trip a silky top with spaghetti straps that I wore once and never again.

  8. All interesting , helpful advice Sue & I totally agree about the evening stuff . We enjoy eating with the ordinary locals like us , different ages & lifestyle – not the upper slice of older resident or tourist giving a certain restricted view of the life there . Right , off my soapbox . I’m looking forward to a wave from Dottoressa again , give her my regards .
    My Valencia trip turned into a very different spell of time spent in our local hospital . I’m very grateful to be brought back to the ‘land of the living’ by our beleaguered but still wonderful NHS & so glad it happened here in my familiar environment rather than having to use my sparse Spanish . Back home now , well & happy , but just a little sad at putting away the the one or two new items I found which will not see the light of day until poss next April now . So how shallow is that ! I’m worse than you . Apparently Valencia is wonderful & the apartment I chose is first rate , I’m going to have to tell my sisters to not be quite as smug 😁

    1. I’ve ordered that book for my Kindle, Wendy. Thanks. The plane ride will be much more interesting now. Hope you are better soon. Scotland should help. xo

  9. You look amazing in burgundy! And I like the new hair – it’s fun and edgy. Have a great trip – I bet it’s going to be beautiful. Please say hi to Dottoressa for me. She’s such a wonderful person in this blogging community.

  10. I’m so excited for you! This sounds exactly like our Balkans trip for 4 weeks this past May, but in reverse order. Your wardrobe seems spot on. Dress was quite casual, even in the capital cities. If you like seafood, you’ll be in heaven. Some of the best I’ve ever had, and so reasonably priced. Try the cuttlefish (like calamari) right away — I hope you’ll love them as much as I did. The fresh trout is ubiquitous, and delicious! If you’re in Mostar, the Hindin Han restaurant beside the river was a real find (try the steak and the cold seafood platter appetizer). In Ljubljana (and elsewhere), don’t miss the spinach and puff pastry burek. My husband didn’t try it until our last two days, and was kicking himself for the missed opportunities! I can’t wait to hear about your trip.

    1. Hope you enjoyed your Balkan adventure… that will bode well for ours. We are going to Mostar so I will look for that restaurant. Thanks for the suggestions.

  11. The Balkans sound fascinating. Those Frame jeans are perfect, and along with the skinny gilet are now on my shopping list.
    We just got back from a two week trip to New York, Montreal and Quebec City, with carry on luggage only. We utilised the laundry in our Airbnb but I had taken one ‘special dress’ and high heels because we were meeting friends in a posh NYC eaterie. They had to cancel that, and we met for brunch instead, so on the last night in Montreal I got overdressed for dinner, because like ‘Jenny’ above, I was determined to have worn everything in my suitcase at least once. Montreal is quite a city, isn’t it? I fell a bit in love and can’t wait to re-visit.

  12. Those Talbots tees are great. I have a navy and an ivory, both long sleeved. (With your reminder now, I’m thinking I’ll order a couple of accent colours.) They wear like iron and they’re a nice weight. In the really cold weather, I switch to a merino wool version (which they don’t have) but most of the year these cotton ones are great.
    I guess you don’t plan on swimming in the Adriatic Sea but if you possibly can, it’s the clearest most beautiful swimming that I’ve ever seen in all the world.
    Have a great trip.

  13. Beautiful colours and fabrics to make the perfect travel wardrobe for your destination and the season…all will be great looking and serviceable in terms of versatility. I use a very similar colour palette when travelling during autumn…black, burgundy, cream are ideal choices to fit all occasions you will come across; you’ll look well put together and lovely! Make special memories in wonderful places…safe and happy travels! Cheers, Alayne

  14. Have a wonderful trip Sue and I look forward to reading all about it on your return. You are so organized with your packing and it looks as if you nailed it with your chosen pieces. Very wise not to take anything too fancy for eating. We always find we end up somewhere fairly casual and so fancy clothes are not required.

  15. Have a wonderful trip! I look forward to reading all about it, but the Hemingway quote is so true… enjoy living every moment and worry about sharing them with us later.

    I found the same thing as you when we traveled Europe in May. I packed a dressier outfit for evenings, but would have done just as well without it. I wore it once, but I could just as easily have worn any of the more casual clothes in my suitcase.

  16. I recently bought a pair of high-waisted burgundy denim jeggings at Talbots and now I’m thinking I really should go back for the burgundy tee….wish the 3/4 sleeve version came in burgundy. With a black vest or cardigan, it would be perfect for our trip. And then I can wear with black pants and dark wash denim.
    So agree about the dressing for dinner. Even though in my mind it would be lovely to dine in a European restaurant in a fabulous, chic outfit, when the time comes to leave for the restaurant I am usually tired and just want comfort. So no skirts, no dresses, no special shoes for me this time. A simple outfit of jeans, black top and a nice scarf or funky necklace will do the trick.
    Your itinerary sounds fabulous, can’t wait for the trip report posts!!! (no pressure)

  17. Have a great trip Sue. Do you use a “carry on” suitcase?
    We are heading to London and Belgium tomorrow …again I feel I overpacked.
    Thanks for sharing your travel book. It was interesting to see how you organize your clothes.

    1. Stu and I both use small roller bags that could be carry on if we wanted, but we check them. I take my “weekender” bag (that fits on my roller bag) as my carry on and Stu takes a knapsack as his. That will double for hiking etc. We’re pretty compact when you consider that we bring a gel heat pack with a belt for Stu’s back, a small electric heating pad (ditto), a small collapsible cooler to carry picnic stuff in the car, a small bag of cutlery (forks and knives for picnic purposes, and two i-pads. Reading that I wonder there’s any room for my clothes! Ha.
      Have a great time on your trip, Robin.

  18. Have a wonderful, wonderful trip. Your travel plans seem perfect.

    I so admire your courage in packing light. I had great ambitions to do so on my upcoming three-week trip to France while you’re in the Balkans, but it combines a couple of weeks of hiking, biking, touring, and then a fancy week in Paris. I caved. I’m taking the fancy shoes. 😉

    Bon voyage, you two!

    1. Thanks, Ann. When you are in Paris you should check out Linda Wright’s shop. I follow her on IG. She owns Crimson Cashmere on rue Marbeuf, and her stuff looks wonderful. I’d love to visit her shop. Seems like she would be right up your street… or rue. Ha.

  19. I so enjoy your travel experiences. I can hardly wait to view these places through your eyes. Safe and wonderful and well deserved travels!

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