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Clothing: Selecting Your Clothes | How to Pack | Women's Wardrobe


Women's Wardrobe

Wardrobe Pieces

Due to repeated requests I have created the following illustrated basic wardrobe list for women with the two-week mix-and-match list. For my examples I am using navy as the basic color, with a secondary color of cream. Other basic colors that work well include black, tan, burgundy and olive, among others. The secondary color can be any contrasting color that does not clash (black and white, olive and tan, burgundy and cream, etc.). In addition, women have the advantage of being able to use accessories. In my example I use a cream and navy scarf. A scarf is versatile: It can also be worn in many different ways, including covering your head when entering a religious place of worship, tying your hair, wearing around your neck like a bandana or a number of other various styles. You might consider taking along a wooden bead necklace or pin (leave your valuable jewelry at home, including your big shiny wedding ring) to create different looks as well. In addition to the basic pieces below, don't forget to consider belts and shoes. This information is available in the regular Clothing Tips section of my FAQ.

One dark casual blazer

A loose jacket, button-down sweater, cardigan, or other outer garment can also work as an integral part of your wardrobe. Careful: Some items like wind breakers can look thrown on, and while fine for bad weather, would not work with your wardrobe look. Dry clean blazers are OK but look for casual unstructured ones that can be washed.

One lightweight light-colored long-sleeve shirt

Long-sleeve shirt

Should be wrinkle-free (polyester blends or various microfiber fabrics) and drip dry quickly. Avoid a very feminine blouse: A plain shirt will be more versatile since it can be worn as outer wear over your T-shirts.

One neutral-colored vest


Multi-pocketed photographer's or fisherman's vest, or a slim, trim, embroidered matter what your style, be careful that your vest doesn't hang below your blazer. The pockets should have Velcro patches, snaps, buttons or zippers to keep items from falling out. Do NOT keep your valuables and money on outside pockets as these can be lifted easily. If you buy a vest with no pocket, consider getting some sewn into the liner.

One scarf in color scheme


A large scarf can do so much! Some scarf and tie stores even provide you with brochures showing all of the various ways a scarf can be worn; if you see one of those, get one. If your scarf is large enough, you can even fold it into a halter top! Be warned: Some cultures frown on halter tops. However it will work if you wear it under your blazer and you dont' show off your bare shoulders.

One white or light-colored ladies' cut T-shirt top

White T-shirt

Take two T-shirts, because these will lie against your skin and need to be washed more frequently. Avoid regular T-shirts (and unless you are very young person, avoid T-shirts with slogans) and opt for the slightly tailored women's T-shirts available from most catalogs. If you are willing to pay a little more, T-shirts made of Coolmax and other moisture-wicking fabrics are especially good for hot climates.

One colored ladies' cut T-shirt top

Colored T-shirt

This T-shirt can be slightly different in cut or style, but the main idea is to get one in a color other than white or off-white. You can choose the same color as that of your primary color, but if you want contrast use your secondary color.

One dark pair of pants/slacks


Your pants should be made of lightweight fabric if you are traveling in the summer. They should also be of easy-care fabric to allow you to periodically wash it in your sink. Avoid materials that require ironing or dry cleaning. A great fabric to look for is Tencel. Part-cotton, this lightweight fabric often does not need ironing.

One neutral-colored pair skort


The "skort" is a pair of shorts cut wide to look like a skirt. I prefer wearing a skort to shorts because it is more versatile and allows me to look neat.

One dark skirt


A plain skirt that covers the knees, and matches the primary color of your wardrobe will go far.

Next: Making the Most of Your Wardrobe.

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