Inspired by a question from long-time reader Jen in Pittsburgh (hi!), I went down a (fun) rabbit hole of searching for the perfect easy-but-chic outfits for travel. She was asking what to pack for Barcelona in late winter, and while that seems a little specific, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the packing list I was pulling together would actually apply to many destinations and seasons. (And it inspired this outfit I recently covered, too!)
What To Pack For A Trip To Europe: My Outfit Approach
The goal when I’m traveling to Europe is always to look chic and cool, to be comfy, and to look decidedly NOT like a standout tourist. And unless I’m heading to the beaches and islands or the very northern parts, I’m probably gonna bring a similar wardrobe to a variety of locales. For my style, that includes versatile pieces that layer well, can be easily dressed up or down, and have a classic, slightly sporty vibe.
While browsing some favorite sites for pieces to include in an actual list, I kept running across inspiring outfits. It hit me that this is probably a great way to approach packing lists from now on. Start with some solid style inspiration and then break down the pieces that you either already own or need to add to your collection to complete the looks. So, here’s the inspiration I started with!
My takeaways from my travel inspiration board were this:
- classic structured jackets to layer
- easy pants that still look polished
- comfy but stylish shoes
- a versatile button down (wear it buttoned up or halfway unbuttoned)
- timeless accessories to top it all off
Of course, it’s hard not to try to solve all the world’s packing list problems every time I come out with one of these articles, but the key is to find those main problem-solving pieces and then you can fill in with your favorite additional items…like a favorite black tee or your everyday gold necklace and earrings.
Chic & Easy Outfit Inspo For Your Next European Vacation
I feel most successful with my outfits for travel when I don’t try to bring the trendy pieces I own. Those are fun to try out each season, but usually they’re more difficult to style and not as versatile.
I like that these pieces are all pretty classic. I feel confident they’d take me through many years and that they feel chic but not fussy (that’s always my goal.)
One thing I would add to this list is a gorgeous scarf or wrap. My fav is a lightweight cashmere poncho-style I can wear mostly as a scarf but with the option to wear as a wrap if needed. This is another gorgeous option here.
These Everlane dream pants are fabulous and would be so easy to pack. They are substantial and won’t wrinkle but are still super-comfy. They are versatile and just one of those forever pieces….Plus, they have pockets! TTS. Wearing a S.
J.Crew makes some of our team’s favorite cashmere and it often goes on sale. These sweaters are light but warm pieces perfect for packing. TTS. Perhaps size up if you know you’ll layer underneath.
I love a classic pinstripe mixed with black pants and shoes, and the trench coat would be the perfect topper over this Everlane button-up. Classic but not boring!
Another team fav in the cashmere category, Nordstrom’s cashmere turtleneck is a closet staple. Soft and lightweight, but also warm, it’s great for layering. Shana likes to wear these silk camis underneath as a layering option.
I have the shorts version of these easy pants from last summer, and the fabric and fit are perfection. TTS and a comfy, but structured elastic waistband that doesn’t bend or fold over. I can’t wait to try these, and I’m hoping they’ll continue to offer more colors.
I adore the belt over the layering jacket in the collage above. This one is similar, and again, classic! You could belt the pinstriped top, too. Being shorter waisted I sometimes have trouble with this accessory, but it looks so great I want to keep attempting it. I think sticking with a bit thinner belt (ie. not any thicker than this one I’ve linked) can be helpful in making it a success.
Shana has blogged about the Everlane Day Glove flats for years as her favorite go-to flat she could walk all day in.
I’ve had these Everlane Chelsea boots for a couple of weeks now, and they are so great. The gum sole is a fantastic detail, making the shoes look lighter, and it’s cushiony, too. The fit, height and overall look of these is what I’ve been searching for forever. TTS and a really lovely shoe. (Also in my forever closet.)
I’m not someone that goes anywhere without jeans, but sometimes black jeans can be more versatile than blue denim. I adore these Re/Done Stovepipe jeans and have linked a style in comfort stretch vs my rigid denim, thinking that would be comfier for travel. (I had to go up one size.)
Madewell’s oversized shopper is structured and chic — not too giant but big enough to carry what you need everyday. The shape and the front phone/mask pocket are what have me ordering it to try. Madewell bags are the best and so well-made. I’d also probably bring a cute classic crossbody (love the option for interchangeable straps). The tote is also available at Nordstrom.
I have and adore this Emerson Fry wool jacket because it’s warm and stylish, but the poncho/wide + short sleeve style makes it perfect over bulky sweaters or other jackets. I love a layered look but sleeve widths don’t always allow for that. This does! But, right now it’s a bit low in stock. It comes in a gray, too, here or this chic puffer style or this option also caught my eye.
There are few jackets more classic, stylish, or versatile than the trench coat. Find a classic one you love and it will also become a forever closet piece. This one from J.Crew Factory gets good reviews, is a really timeless style, and is a reasonable price, too. It’s been tricky to find any well-stocked trench coats right now. If money is no object, then you simply can’t beat the Burberry Kensington trench, especially to dance around in on a European vacation, but if you can find this Lauren Ralph Lauren option in your size, it’s a stunningly close alternative.
A gorgeous pair of sunglasses really tops off a look and I love these from Quay at Nordstrom. I like the brown tortoise to compliment the tones in the belt and trench.
Please dear world of travelers, can we move away from the running-shoe-worn-with-everything phase? I believe in being diplomatic in what I cover here and we never want to say “you must do this or you mustn’t do that”, but honestly one thing that stands out so much when traveling is seeing workout shoes worn with everything. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but…a classic tennis style sneaker, an Adidas Superstar, a Tretorn (like these), an Air Force 1, a P448, a Golden Goose…are all going to look way less touristy-American and way more fashion-forward than the literal sneakers you workout in. Sorry sorry…rant over but haha gosh it’s a passion-project of mine 😂
**Indicates meets our requirements for sustainability.
Do you have any favorite pieces that would fit along these lines? I’d love to hear about them. I’m looking forward to continuing to style up the black Dream pants, Chelsea boots and hopefully give you a review on the Madewell bag. And let me know if there are other destinations you would like to see this adjusted for! Happy, happy travels friends. This gal cannot wait to get back out there!
Would love for you to say hi over on my Instagram @laurajansenstyle where there are mostly odes to snacks, OOTDs and everyday mom life stuff in Portland, Oregon. xoxo
Oh, hey, Pinners! Thanks for sharing 🙂