I am an over 50 woman, and I love to travel. I actually started this site because I love to think about travel, packing and especially packing efficiently. But, when I look online, it’s hard to find good guides for travel clothes for women over 50. Finding style tips for mature women can be hard, especially when the internet seems to be flooded with content marketed towards twenty-somethings.
Just because you’re not twenty and don’t want to wear short shorts and crop tops doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice style while you’re traveling. Our travel capsule concepts apply to all women. However, this post, in particular, is meant to address US, Women Over 50 who want to travel with style. We want to dress in a classic style and have a travel capsule wardrobe that will be appropriate for all our activities. Let’s get to it.
What is a travel capsule?
First things first, if you are new to She Packs Lite, you may need to learn about the travel capsule wardrobe, as it is fundamental to how we pack.
To put it simply, a travel capsule wardrobe is one in which you pack a curated selection of pieces for your trip. The collection has a color scheme, often neutral colors, and all the pieces mix and match to provide lots options for all the activities on your trip.
5-4-3-2-1 Travel Capsule Method
One of the keys to perfecting a travel wardrobe when you use our 5-4-3-2-1 method is to make sure that all of your pieces serve multiple functions. Wearing the same items in different ways is a perfect way to create a variety of looks without having to pack individual outfits for each day. To read more about travel capsule wardrobes, check out our post on how to pack a travel capsule here.
Within this method, you pack:
- 5 tops
- 4 bottoms
- 3 pairs of shoes, 3 dresses
- 2 bags, 2 hats, 2 necklaces
- 1 jacket, 1 cover-up, 1 pair of sunglasses, 1 swimsuit
You’ll notice that the first three categories of items are pretty basic. However, you can mix these items up and choose things like skirts instead of pants. You’ll also want to take the weather at your destination into consideration when choosing these items. If it’s going to be warm, you may opt for more lightweight dresses, which will not only keep you cool while you’re exploring your fabulous city but will also take up less room in your suitcase. In colder weather, jeans are a good choice of travel pants because you can most likely wear them with every outfit you pack. You should also have a tank top or two for a base layer.
PRO TIP: Start with quality items and wardrobe pieces from your own closet. You can supplement with less expensive items to fill in the gaps, but you want the basics of your capsule to be good quality and to fit well.
After you have your basics covered you can start to mix up your outfits and accessorize more with the smaller items you pack. Scarves, jewelry, and hats can really change up an outfit and they’re a great way to let your style shine through when you’re wearing clothes that are plainer.
PRO TIP: Two pieces jumpsuits or skirt/shirt combos in your color scheme are GREAT additions to your travel wardrobe. You can use them to mix and match into different color combos and have that many more looks to choose from!
Travel Clothes for Women Over 50: Some of Our Favorites
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Mix and Match is the key! Basic tops can be the core of every capsule wardrobe and you want to be able to layer. A nice shirt and a lightweight sweater can serve you in so many situations. From a cut perspective, I stay away from bodycon, but at the same time do like a cut that is not too boxy. Ruching can also go a long way to hide lumps and bumps! I personally like v neck tees for my wardrobe, but find the cut that suits you best.
Again, you want to be able to mix and match all your tops and bottoms to create different looks. You want to find comfortable pants that are also stylish.
Comfort is your main goal here. For long days of walking you will want supportive shoes that will handle the terrain of your destination. And if you have a fancier event, oftentimes a nice pair of sandals will serve you well. It is a rare trip where I bring heels these days.
Travel Clothes for Women over 50: Important things to consider
Pick items that serve a purpose
5-4-3-2-1 packing works for formal trips as well as casual. Consider the weather where you are going and what activities you will do. For example, if you are going to Lisbon for a week of sightseeing and dining out, your choices of tops and bottoms will be entirely different than if you are heading to the mountains for a casual week of hiking,
Choose a color scheme
One of the most important things you can do to make your travel capsule wardrobe successful is to stick to one color scheme throughout the course of your packing. Pack things that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits, so choosing items that are within the same color scheme will ensure that all of your items work together, not just as specific outfits. Picking neutral colors makes this super easy. Of course, if you have a favorite piece that is brightly colored or patterned, you can always work that into your travel capsule as well. Matching a vibrant top with a pair of pants is much easier when your pants are all neutral or solid colors. Trying to create outfit combinations with multiple prints or colors is where it can get tricky.
Make sure your shoes are multipurpose
Shoes are a major consideration when packing travel clothes for women over 50. First of all, comfort is queen! We always suggest bringing a comfortable pair of walking shoes wherever you go, because more than likely, you’ll be doing a lot of walking. A cute pair of street sneakers can be supportive and comfortable, but they can also be worn with different outfits.
Next, never pack more than three pairs of shoes! If you’re panicking and thinking “That’s not enough!”, don’t worry. If you’re being mindful while choosing your shoes, three pairs are all that you need, no matter how long your trip is.
These Astral Women’s Brewess sneakers are also day hiking shoes and they were AWESOME on my trip to Portugal. I was able to use for cute outfits and day hikes without issue.
If you’re traveling in the summer months, you’ll probably also want to pack a pair of flip-flops or sandals. These aren’t great for walking, but for beach days or nights out, they’ll work great. Fashionable sandals also work great for those dressier occasions when you don’t want to wear heels. High heels look great in the moment, but they’re not comfortable, so when you’re making shoe choices, really consider what shoes you’re going to be comfortable in and which ones you can wear with multiple outfits. So if you have a formal night or special event planned for your trip but you don’t want to take up one of your pairs of shoes with a pair of high heels that you’ll only wear once, a nice pair of sandals is the way to go.
Pack clothes that make you feel good
One of the best things about maturing into your style as you get older is that you can start taking comfort into account. We’ve all squeezed into a pair of skinny jeans that were two sizes too small when we were younger, and you probably don’t have any desire to do that anymore. As you get older and start to look for the best travel clothes for women over 50, you want to dress for your body type. You definitely want to take that into account when you’re packing for your vacations. It’s tempting to buy new clothes for a trip so you can look stylish while you’re abroad, but keep in mind that if you want to pack light, these are things that you’re going to have to wear multiple times, so you should be comfortable wearing them. And importantly, you want to feel good in them!
This is especially true for travel days. If you’re headed somewhere international, you probably have a few long flights ahead of you. Being comfortable on the plane is the best way to make sure your vacation is off to a good start. If you’re not on a business trip or flying first class, yoga pants are some of the best travel clothes because they’re comfortable and they’ll keep you warm when the airplane air conditioning kicks in.
Long Flight Ahead? Check out our favorite pants for long flights.
Choose outerwear that can be worn with multiple outfits
Outerwear can be some of the bulkiest clothing that you’ll have to pack, so that’s why we have limited outwear choices to 1 in our travel capsule wardrobe method. On long trips, even in the summer, you should have at least one jacket to keep you warm if the weather turns bad or you get caught in the rain. It’s no fun to be in a foreign country without a raincoat or jacket. If it’s you don’t expect cold weather where you’re going, a leather jacket is a nice choice that can be matched with a lot of different outfits.
For winter travel, your coat or jacket will probably be a lot larger than it would be in the summer. If you find that you don’t have any room in your suitcase for a large winter coat, you can always wear your coat on the plane to avoid having to pack it in a small bag. Especially in the winter, you should choose a coat that goes with all of your outfits. It’s unlikely that with all of the other bulky items you’re going to pack that you’ll have room for a second warm coat.
Think about the time of year that you’re traveling
The time of year and the weather in your destination will have a large impact on the clothes you pack, so it’s important to do a little bit of research ahead of time. The good news is that summer vacations and cruises are a lot easier to pack for, simply because your clothes for those climates are inherently smaller than winter clothes. Cruise fashion mostly consists of swimsuits and dresses, so those trips don’t require as much planning.
However, if you’re traveling to a country that has volatile weather in the spring or fall, that’s important to know while you’re packing. A quick Google search will usually tell you what kind of weather you can expect at your destination.
Pick wrinkle-resistant fabrics and other good travel fabrics
When you’re packing light, you likely use a packing method like the rolling method or packing cubes. These can be great space savers, but they can also lead to wrinkly clothing. An easy way to avoid this is to pack wrinkle-resistant clothes. This is pretty easy in the summer because we tend to pack lightweight clothes anyway, but during other times of the year, it takes a little more planning.
A lot of wrinkle-resistant clothes are also very flattering because they tend to be flowier. If you struggle with finding clothes that make you feel confident, opt for a looser-fitting top or pants. This also goes for dresses in the summer, flowy wrinkle-free fabrics will keep you cool and they’re a great way to show off your style without having to pack too many separate items. If you like incorporating different colors into your daily looks, pick a bright or patterned dress for your next trip to help mix up your outfits while keeping your packing list light.
But, for example, if it’s cold where you’re traveling and you pack a lot of very thin shirts because they look good even if they don’t keep you warm, you’re not making the best use of your limited space. Instead, a merino wool base layer will keep you from freezing while you’re walking around the city and it will be comfortable and stylish at the same time. Think of what you would wear at home if you weren’t traveling. If it is not something you would choose to wear at home, even if it is “travel clothes”, don’t bring it. You want to be comfortable and feel good on your trip. Try to keep your packing list confined to things you would normally wear.
FAQ: Travel Clothes for Women over 50
Still have questions about what you should pack in your travel capsule if you’re over 50? We have some tips to help you keep your wardrobe and your travel outfits both comfortable and stylish while you’re traveling abroad.
What should you not wear over 50?
If you’ve been looking around online for some style tips as a mature woman, you may have seen articles telling you what not to wear. We don’t really like these kinds of blog posts because we think you should wear what makes you comfortable, not what someone else thinks you should wear. If you feel confident wearing something, don’t let the internet tell you that it’s “too young” for you.
How can I look trendy at 50?
A big part of looking trendy when you’re 50 or older is starting with a good set of basics. We mentioned this in our guide to packing the ultimate travel capsule, but it’s true for real life as well. Some good basics to have are a stylish pair of jeans or black pants and a few solid-colored shirts. You can accessorize your outfits with different pairs of shoes, jewelry, and outerwear. Keep up with fashion trends if you want, but you can never go wrong with a classic style.
What style should a 50-year-old woman wear?
Again, classic styles are always a great way to go when you’re searching for a more mature style, especially while traveling. It is possible to achieve both comfort and style over 50! You can make the classic items in your wardrobe more suited to comfort if you want, that won’t make them any less stylish.