A Month in the Balkans: Travel Wardrobe Debrief

We’re home! But if you follow me on Instagram you probably already know that. I’ve finished the laundry and packed my clean summer travel clothes away, and the rest of my summer clothes which were still hanging in my closet. So it’s time to pause the travel posts and do a bit of a debrief on my travel wardrobe. What worked, what didn’t; what I wished I’d packed, and what I should have left at home.

Happily in matching outfit colours in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Matchy-matchy couple in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I love a good debrief, don’t you? You can see what I packed below. Two pairs of jeans, two pairs of cropped pants, two sweaters, three short-sleeves tees, two long-sleeve tees, one 3/4-sleeve tee, three scarves, and my Uniqlo down vest. I also packed my good Moncler spring coat, my Gortex rain jacket, a pair of yoga pants, my Stan Smith sneakers, my running shoes, and a pair of flat sandals. I wore on the plane, not shown, my Paige high-rise skinny jeans, my new navy 3/4 sleeve tee from Talbots, my heavy pink zippered hoodie from Uniqlo, and my burgundy Paul Green loafers.

I was generally pleased with my choices this trip. I wore every single thing I packed, many items multiple times and in multiple combinations. Which is, of course, exactly what you want to be able to do with a smallish travel wardrobe.

My grey hoodie from Aritzia did yeoman service again this year; just like it did in Italy last year, and in England in 2017. This light sweater was invaluable on the trip, especially since most days we started out early when temperatures were cool, and were still walking in the heat later on. I wore it with both my black and white tees underneath, as well as the navy one. I wore it alone, with a scarf, under my down vest, and on several warm days tied around my shoulders.

My black quilted sweater from Lafayette 148 worked well too. I wore it to dinner a couple of nights with my black and white long-sleeve tee from Noujica and my black Rag and Bone cropped pants. I also wore it on a couple of cool mornings with the periwinkle 3/4-sleeve tee from Talbots. I’m so happy I went back to Talbots and bought those two 3/4-sleeve tees. The periwinkle added a much needed punch of colour under the black sweater, and looked really good under my down vest, I thought.

In the Julian Alps in Talbot's tee, Lafeyette 148 sweater, Stan Smith sneakers, Longchamp bag.
Driving through the Predil Pass in Italy and back to Slovenia

In fact, I was really happy with all the tops, tees, and sweaters I packed. The Vince tees washed up really well, are light, and dry quickly. The Talbots tees are a bit heavier, but once dry could be smoothed out with my hand, rolled, and looked pristine in the morning. I made good use of all the tops I packed. I didn’t overpack, as I sometimes have in the past. And I felt I had enough variety with respect to colour and style.

Evening on the beach in Trogir, Croatia. Rag and Bone Simone pants, Lafeyette 148 sweater, Stan Smith sneakers, Longchamp bag.
Dinner outfit in Trogir

Now let’s talk pants, shall we? I am sooo happy that I packed both pairs of Rag and Bone Simone pants. I almost didn’t bring my checked ones, but I’m glad I did. I wore them out for dinner with my long-sleeve burgundy tee, vest, and loafers, and with my navy 3/4-sleeve tee and my sandals. I wore them for city walking when I wanted to look a bit smarter, and get out of my jeans. In Zagreb, in Dubrovnik, and in Mostar I wore them with my black short-sleeve tee and my hoodie tied around my neck.

My black Simone pants I wore mostly with my black and white long-sleeve tee and my white sneakers. This outfit was really comfortable for walking around during the day, yet smart enough to wear to dinner. Plus I could wear my black sweater over it if the temperatures were cooler. Both pairs of these Simone pants are stretchy, really comfortable and don’t bag at the knees or butt after multiple wearings. I’d definitely classify them as great travel pieces.

I can’t say enough about this Uniqlo down vest. I love this thing, love the colour, the shape, the weight (super light), and how it finishes a pretty basic outfit of jeans, sneakers, and a tee shirt. I wore it on days when one might assume it would be too hot. In fact I wore it most days when we were in the car driving, which was a lot. I love the darned thing so much I may have to order myself another one in a different colour. It is, in my opinion, a perfect piece, and an integral part of my travel wardrobe.

On the ferry in Montenegro. Wearing my travel wardrobe staple my Uniqlo down vest.
Shades of blue and burgundy in Montenegro.

My Frame boot-cut jeans, however, were another story. They are NOT the perfect travel piece. I wore them twice. Mostly because my other jeans were dirty, and because I was determined to wear everything I packed. First of all they are bulky to pack and they don’t have enough stretch to be good travel pants. When you’ve been sitting in them in the car for hours, they look like you’ve been sitting in them in the car for hours. Ha. They bag out, are then hard to keep up, and need to be washed to bring back their shape. Good thing I packed a belt. All this when I really need them to be able to look good and go a few more days without washing.

Thank goodness, at the last minute, I decided to wear my Paige high-rise skinny jeans on the plane. Usually air-travel pants, the ones I have to wear for 24 hours, sit in, eat in, sleep in … you know…. don’t get worn for the rest of the trip. Usually I wear stretchy leggings on the trip over and pack them away until the trip home. But I felt a little leery about my decision to swap out my Paige skinny jeans for my Frame book-cut ones. My gut told me I was making a mistake.

So I decided to wear the Paige jeans on the plane. And they looked so good when we landed, I wore them the next day, and the one after that. Washed them and wore them again and again, over and over, for the whole trip. I love my Frame jeans. I love how they fit and how they look. But for travel, the lighter weight, stretchier Paige jeans are way better.

Now, let’s answer the questions I posed at the beginning of the post.

What worked? Pretty much everything I packed. With special praise for my Rag and Bone pants, my Paige skinny jeans, and my Uniqlo vest. I’m really glad I packed my burgundy loafers. They were comfortable for walking around cities, and super easy and comfortable for plane travel. And I should mention my Longchamp travel bag. I love this bag; even Hubby commented that it looked good. It’s super light, easy to clean, carries just enough for walking around all day, and looks slim and chic. At least I think it does.

What didn’t work? My Frame boot-cut jeans. I should have left them at home. Next time I will. I thought I’d get more wear from my Moncler coat. Especially in cities, when I wanted a smarter coat than my Gortex jacket. Still, I did wear it both days in Ljubljana and was glad I had it for the rain one day, and the cool evening the next. And I wish I’d packed one more long-sleeve tee in a fall colour. Just because.

I was pretty happy with my packing for this trip. I’m getting better at this each year, I think. It’s not as easy as it might seem. Despite all the great travel packing advice out there, I still have to pack for the trip that WE will actually be doing. So no evening looks, no heels or party dresses. I knew we wouldn’t be going dancing or to the theatre. Not this trip, anyway. We don’t spend a lot of time on the beach, although we did go swimming in the Adriatic when we were in Trogir. So I knew I wouldn’t need a beach tote, or a straw hat, or any caftans. And like everyone who travels, I had to work with what I had in my closet, adding one or two pieces as needed.

A good travel wardrobe for me is one that meets the needs of the activities we’ll be doing. Obviously. But which still feels like me. And is pretty close to what I’d wear at home, without actually being what I’d wear at home. That’s because at home I have so much more to choose from in my closet. I have all my bulky sweaters and blazers and boots that would be a nightmare to pack, and all my favourite pieces that I won’t risk ruining by packing them for a month long trip.

Walking around Zagreb look. Uniqlo doen vest, Talbot's long-sleeve tee, Paige high-rise skinny jeans, Holt Renfrew scarf, Paul Green loafers.
Feeling a bit more fall-ish today. By the way, my feet aren’t size 12, even though they look it here. 🙂

Yep, I was pleased with my travel wardrobe for our four weeks in the Balkans. But by the time we reached Zagreb for the last four days of the trip, I was totally tired of all of it. Maybe that was a testament to how efficiently I’d planned my wardrobe. Everything had been worn… and worn and worn. Maybe it was because Hubby and I were just totally tired. Period. And maybe I was just longing for fall, and my fall wardrobe.

Our first day in Zagreb we met Dottoressa (who you all know from her comments on the blog) for coffee. She was wearing jeans, lovely tan suede ankle boots, and a gorgeous, buttery soft, leather jacket. Oh my. I was struck with the worst case of outfit envy I’ve had in a while. Wahhhh! I wanted my fall clothes!

Can one be homesick for one’s closet, do you think?

Next post I’ll continue with the trip narrative, and I’ll tell you all about our visit with Dottoressa as well. But I may have to have a chat about fall jackets before too long. I have made a couple of fall closet goals that I’m trying hard to meet. Sigh… one is always striving, striving to be the best fashionista one can be. Ha.

Now, how about you my friends? Have you had any noteworthy travel wardrobe successes lately? Any major fails? We’d love to know.

If you’re interested in my favourite travel pieces, I’ve included the links below. Just know they are affiliate links, except for the Uniqlo one, and if you buy something I may earn a small commission.

Longchamp travel bag. Paige High Rise Skinny jeans. Paul Green loafers (mine were special issue for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale but I really love these similar ones.) Rag and Bone Simone pants. Talbots long-sleeve tee. Talbots 3/4 sleeve tee. Uniqlo down vest.

Linking up with Catherine at #IWillWearWhatILike and Patti at Visible Monday


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30 thoughts on “A Month in the Balkans: Travel Wardrobe Debrief”

  1. It was great to meet you both! Thank you for the compliments,but:
    1. It was easy,I was here all the time,having my closet and knowing the weather forecast for the next day (not having to think a month in advance)
    2. Ladies,Sue looked very good,as ever,we were dressed very similar-I adore her red loafers in real life!-it was simply that I was “new” and she was with her clothes every day. But,I know the feeling,especially when I’m going out to some posh dinner or other on travel: I usually take a dress and tights,but there have to be some compromise on shoes,coat,jewellery……or when I was in Vienna,forecast was wrong,everyone (well,a couple of stylish ladies actually) was wearing white jeans and I was in my ankle boots and jeans…
    I’m better and better with packing (and I learned a lot from travel wardrobe posts),last time I have wear everything I’ve packed. and I didn’t overpack

    1. I love your self-correction, Dottoressa. “everyone (well, a couple of stylish ladies, actually) — I think we often do that “everyone” is better dressed, and then if we really stop and look we realize that “everyone” is really the outfit or two that our eye is drawn to. And when we’re travelling and we see those “stylish ladies” we think of how we could look more like that if only we had our home wardrobe all in our suitcase 😉
      Sue, I think you did remarkably well with your packing. You look so good in all of these photos. And thanks to you, I really crave a pair of red loafers. . . 😉

    2. I know… but you looked so chic and fall-ish that morning at the coffee shop, and I regretted wearing my light tee shirt and light hoodie the minute we left the apartment. Funny how the light grey colour of that hoodie seemed fine in warm sunny weather, but then all of a sudden it all felt wrong and I longed for richer colours and cashmere. Ha. I am currently looking for a dress to wear with opaque tights and ankle boots in the fall. Great dresses are not easy to find.

  2. Welcome home…there really is no place on earth as wonderful as home even after seeing so many gorgeous spots. At least that is how appreciative I always feel when returning after a long trip! Your wardrobe choices were smart, practical and very flattering…I am a black and white wardrobe traveller but always add a touch of colour (which varies depending on the time of year and my mood!) A down vest is always a useful piece to have and mine gets used on each trip…next planned trip for us is to Greenland, Iceland and Ireland so it will certainly be a useful piece once again. Thank you for posting an overview of what worked for you and what didn’t…loved it!

  3. I think you did a marvelous job of packing for this trip. You looked smart, relaxed and comfortable for this kind of trip–one that clearly included a fair amount of car travel. Returned earlier this month from a couple of weeks in Europe, eight days of which were on a small ship, but also included time in Paris and a train ride to Switzerland. I took 12 items/all fit in a carry-on. Temps were wide-ranging (4c to 24c/40f-74f) and included rain and significant wind on a number of days. For the most part my choices were good, but I probably would not have taken even this much except for the fact that on the ship I knew I would see the same people every day (not family or friends). Probably gave a little more thought than necessary about repeat wearing. My tactic was to used variety of different colored scarves to change things up with my mostly black and white clothing. Would be interested in hearing how you/others approach this kind of situation.

    Have an upcoming trip to UK/Scotland in January–warmer clothing (lightweight layers, like merino), but fewer items going with me; solo for half the days and traveling by train with a Scottish friend the rest of the time.

    1. On this trip I had basically two outfits I could wear to a nicer restaurant. Not fancy… just a bit smarter than jeans. Not sure what I’d have packed if I knew we’d be seeing the same people several nights in a row. And since we never do cruises or group trips, I’m no help at all. Maybe someone else out there can weigh in.

  4. Loved following your travels. I’ve got the Rag and Bones pants on my list to purchase, it’s so hard to find really good pieces for travel. Would you ming sharing your husband’s travel wardrobe? I normally have to pack for us both and would appreciate your recommendation/review of his choices too.

    1. Those Rag and Bone pants were great for travel. I just counted and I wore the checked ones to dinner 5 times, and all day walking around 3 different cities. And I had worn them a few times before we left home. So I can safely say they wear really well without bagging. I did feel the last day that they were bagging at the knees a bit, though.
      My husband’s packing is super easy. He hates to bring too many clothes! In fact he hates to have too many clothes period. So I pack for him two pairs of pants, one for day time and another for wearing out to dinner. I bought both at “adventure-wear” stores like Mountain Equipment. They wear super well and are easy to clean. The ones for day will dry overnight if washed by hand. Three short-sleeve tee shirts. I refurbish these “trip shirts” every couple of years. One quick-dry long-sleeve tee which we bought for travel to Costa Rica for hiking and such. Really easy to hand wash and hang overnight to dry. I pack for him one dressier shirt with a collar and a good black zippered sweater/jacket that I bought for this purpose in 2015. He’s been wearing it on trips ever since. He wears a light zippered fleece on the plane and uses it for cooler mornings etc. I gave up trying to “smarten him up” for trips. Like me he wants to wear what he wears at home. Plus if there’s now extra space for my stuff in his bag… all the better.:)

  5. I have enjoyed following along with your travels and it has obviously been a wonderful trip. I think you did a splendid job with your packing and you look good in all your choices. I think it’s wise to pack for the travel you are actually going to do rather than imagine you will be doing something where fancy clothing is required. When I have had to pack to include fancy clothing for a wedding etc it’s always a pain, so much better to be realistic and travel with comfortable but good looking clothing. Thank you for this follow up post of what worked as there was very little that didn’t.

    1. I will say that sometimes I felt a bit tired of my hoodie and jeans, but only towards the end of the trip. But that grey hoodie will now be retired I think. It’s starting to look a little worn.

  6. You looked great in the photos. I think your clothes choices were very astute. When I was reading about the your issue with the jeans it reminded me of a similar issue I had with a pair of jeans when traveling. The jeans were perfectly comfortable on a daily basis at home but I asked more from them when travelling with limited clothing choices.

    1. Well put… we do ask more from clothing when we travel. At home I can throw the jeans in the wash… on the road I have to wait for a few days, or a week. We try to book an extra day twice during a month long trip for general lazing around and doing laundry. And we try to find accommodation with laundry facilities. We were lucky on this trip to have washing machines in three of our accommodations, and one landlady who offered to do our laundry. This was in contrast to Italy last year where we had a real problem getting laundry done. Even one place where we’d specifically asked about laundry facilities, they turned out not to be available.

  7. I’m glad you all have a great time and your wardrobe mostly worked for you 🙂

    As for me, I’m gradually working out what I need and what I don’t need when I pack… It’s only taken 50+ years 😛

  8. You have delivered invaluable information here. What really counts in travel clothes are details like ease of washing, speed of drying, how much dirt shoes, whether knees bag, etc. These things are impossible to discern in the store; they are learned only through experience.
    As for the Moncler coat, a couple of cool or bad-weather days would have changed everything and made you utterly miserable without it.

  9. I loved the photos of your holiday. You looked very chic in your well-planned travel wardrobe. Thank you for the follow up. It’s nice to dress casual, but still feel ‘put-together. I always pack way to much, usually worried about dressing for the weather. Probably, because we lived in Toronto and travelled frequently to NS to visit for many years. Now living in Halifax so it’s the opposite. Good purse choice too!

    1. Thanks, Susan. Coats and footwear are the most problematic for me when I travel from one environment (city) to another (rural, hiking, walking etc.) Sometimes there is just nothing you can ado but pack for both and bring more stuff.

  10. Example of me finally packing sensibly where I used every item at least once was a week long stay in Sydney mid winter this year.

    I packed three crewneck tees, one long sleeve skivvy, two knit turtlenecks, one knit V-neck jumper, two pair of jeans, one pair of winter slacks, one winter weight jacket, one pair of dress shoes and one pair of ankle boots.

    My old bones appreciated hauling less weight !

  11. Great post Sue! Thanks to all your tips, I pretty much wore everything I took this time … and no regrets! Also I managed a “carry on” size case for the first time, for more than a weeks travel. ( still not sure I can achieve this for 3 weeks, but I’m going to try!) I loved, just having a small case and a Longchamp bag. Especially on the train journeys. Also, re packing and organising using packing cubes is so easy.
    Your choices all looked really chic and neat. Very you! I hope you can easily find a replacement for your grey hoodie … I’ve looked and looked and not found one that ticks all the boxes as yours does.
    So glad your Balkan trip was so successful… you certainly found some beautiful places to visit. I loved “travelling along” Great to see D. too .
    Have a good weekend and enjoy your carrots!

    1. That comment had me scratching my head, Rosie. Carrots? I’d forgotten that I posted a shot on IG of Stu’s carrot harvest. We will be eating carrots often… for a long time. And may develop an orange tinge to our skin. Ha.
      Re: packing. I did not have good luck with packing cubes. I tried them a couple of years ago. Still use them to keep a change of clothing tidy in our carry-on tote bags, though.

  12. A capsule wardrobe is my idea of a nightmare, but honestly you seem to have thought this through so well that it all made sense. I do recall when my husband and I spent a month touring around New Zealand in a camper van and that forced me to create a capsule wardrobe too. Two of everything somehow seems to be enough when you’re on the move, as long as you can wash ’em often! Love that last shot of you and those size 12 (not) feet – you look so very happy x

    1. Thanks, Anna. Hubby was taking outfit shots of me for the whole trip so I could see what I actually wore each day instead of trying to remember. He’s not used to wielding the iphone camera. For the first half of the trip my feet looked teeny.. then the shots got really good. Then he over corrected and we have the “big foot” shot. 🙂

  13. My daughter and I went to the coast of Croatia in September and enjoyed great temperatures in the high 20s. While we had packed our summer clothing, we experienced severe dress envy in Dubrovnik, Korcula and Split. More great dress/sandal looks every day. I had one cotton sleeveless dress, my daughter had three, packed really with dinners in mind, but found we wore them more than expected. A scarf or denim jacket or cardigan was seldom necessary.

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