Minimalist Travel Wardrobe, Conference Edit

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Preparing a conference paper at the last minute is stressful enough, without having to worry about planning a wardrobe 16 days in advance. Here’s how I did it.

First, the numbers.

4 shirts
1 tank
1 blazer

1 pair of jeans
2 trousers

1 leather jacket
1 large scarf

1 pair of flats
1 pair of sneakers
1 pairs of sandals

I always travel with one small carry-on and one purse–that’s it.

I never check luggage because of the extra time and cost entailed in traveling, as well as the risk of loss.

Given my small suitcase size, every item must earn its place, and should ideally work in several outfits. An exception to this rule is if you have a special event during your trip. Since the purpose of my trip was to attend a conference, I didn’t plan on wearing my presentation outfit–blazer, slim black trousers, and collarless white shirt–outside of the conference.

However, I did compromise on footwear. As you can see in the photo, just one pair of shoes takes up nearly one quarter of my carry-on, so I need to be very selective when choosing footwear. For this trip, I knew that I would be walking at least 10-15k steps daily, and would need footwear that didn’t leave me crippled by the evening. Consequently, I brought along my Tieks, which proved to be both comfortable and versatile. I was able to wear them on travel days, as well as during the conference. Had I worn heels, I wouldn’t have been able to walk more than a few hundred meters over the entire day.

The destination’s climate was warm, with temperatures ranging from 28-34C during the day, and 18-20C at night. Days were intensely sunny, and I preferred to cover up, wearing the black tank either under the splice top, or under the linen blazer. Evenings were windy and cool, and my travel scarf, wrapped like a pashmina, kept me warm.

My colour palette consisted of dark neutrals, with the exception of two white tops. For tops, I gravitate toward extremely light or dark colours, or patterns, because they don’t show sweat as easily as coloured fabrics do. That might seem hopelessly practical, but it’s a concern when you’re on your feet all day, every day, lugging around a larger purse, computer, and water bottle. Since my tops were made of silk, I was able to wear them more than once without having to launder them. For bottoms, blue denim and black trousers were perfect for both indoor and outdoor environments.

Outside of the conference, I spent time meeting up with friends and acquaintances, and walking around the city. People dressed casually, but conservatively, and this was reflected in my own travel wardrobe.

I didn’t keep track of what I wore each day, but I remember getting the most wear out of my Equipment floral silk shirt, which worked equally well tucked in to the airy culottes, or left flowing over the slim boyfriend jeans.

The leather jacket and cashmere travel wrap were indispensable for the airport and flight, and for the cool evenings. I also took them with me to cafes where the air-conditioning was unbearable. I don’t tend to run cold, especially in the summer, but when there’s more than a 5C difference between indoors and outdoors, it’s useful to bring along warmer clothing, as your body is forced to adjust to rapid temperature fluctuations.

Not pictured are my undergarments, workout clothes, workout shoes, beauty products, or electronics, which were equally distributed between my purse and suitcase.

What would you have done differently?


    1. That would have been ideal, but the silk top pictured here (Vince) is pretty voluminous. You’d want a really slim fit blouse under a slim blazer, and unfortunately for me, the Lanai blazer is quite narrow in the sleeves and shoulders. I’ve never actually found a slim fit silk shirt that worked for me, have you? Equipment’s Signature Slim has always been too tight in my shoulder/biceps, even before I began lifting.

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