Traveling and what to pack.
The perennial question that is dependent on the seasons, the climate of where we are visiting, what we will be doing and what we feel most comfortable wearing. So, not a simple question to answer when it comes to what will earn the privilege of taking precious space in our luggage.
I am happy to report, or maybe share with myself, that this trip, I wore nearly everything I had packed, and thus didn’t overpack, but admittedly, there were a couple of items (two pairs of shoes to be precise) that took up valuable real estate that were never worn. Argh!
With that said, in today’s post, just as I did when I returned from my trip to Paris and England in spring 2022, I would like to share with you what I learned sartorially while traveling to England (both the city of London and the northern countryside) during October just a couple of weeks ago.
While weather will never be predictable, it can be anticipated if we know a region of the country well, and we certainly can purchase well items that fit us in the most flattering way as well as make us feel our best. When we take stock of these two variables that we can put in our favor to the best of our ability, it really comes down to knowing the necessities and knowing where to find quality pieces of these items so they will last with each trip we make, so that we do not have to replace them again and again. And that is what I hope to help you with today!
So let’s take a look at what I learned this go-round during my trip to England during the first two weeks of October of this year.
What Worked Well
My reliable and versatile Crossbody Bag
I want to begin with this item because it was just this particular item I did not have on my last trip and desperately realized I needed. As I shared following my trip, I sought high and low for the navy leather crossbody bag Nancy Carroll dons in BritBox’s new series Murder in Provence inspired by M.L. Longworth’s Provençal murder mystery series, and when I found it – from Bleu de Chauffe, their Pastis handbag in navy – I have been using it ever since. From everyday errands here in Bend to slinging it over my far shoulder and across my body while I am traveling through the airport or London or Barnard Castle to antique. It worked WONDERFULLY!
Interiorly, there is a zipped inner pocket, as well as two other areas, so you can have securely zipped away some items that you don’t want to move around, as well as safely put the regularly used, larger items in the other pouches. The strap fastener on the front keeps the crossbody very manual and believe it or not quite secure, just make sure to close it and not let it flap open. It is lightweight and just the right size for a phone and small wallet as well as keys, cards and receipts, as well as your lip balm and tint.
If you need a bit larger in this similar style, Bleu de Chauffe has those as well, and if you want something more structured, they have them too. Be sure to check out all of their crossbody bags here.
Just enough coats/outerwear: Two Trenches, two different lengths
As the temperatures in London and the countryside, even the North (although the South was receiving quite a bit of heat for this time of year), are very moderate and don’t fluctuate much as we are used to here in the states, especially Bend, I knew I only needed a light coat, but one that could withstand rain that might fall randomly throughout my wanderings about the city or small towns.
I packed my short trench coat from Ralph Lauren (unfortunately, no longer available), and wore my long trench coat from Burberry during the flight to save space in my luggage. During my time in the city, the only coat I wore was my long (just below the knee) trench, and in the countryside, I solely wore my short trench when shopping or running errands such as going to the grocery store. (When I visited the Lake District, as I will share further down in the post, I did have a proper rain coat with a hood.)
I prefer a short trench coat that has a belt as it gives my outfit structure, while also good proportion, so I do not opt for the cropped trench coats without a belt, although they are very popular at the moment. Also, be willing to invest, it will pay off as you will be able to wear it for years. Shabby construction will reveal itself in short order especially if you are wearing it and moving about as one does while traveling.
I have shopped below both lengths (with the classic belt) from brands available currently. The short options were difficult to find as they seem to be out of trend, but this is a classic design and if you see something that works for you, scoop it up as it is flattering. I have had my Burberry since 2017 and the quality is topnotch as we might expect. They also do repairs and touch ups for the lifetime you own the coat.
J.Crew Short Trench (two colors available), on sale
Burberry’s Heritage style, Kensington (three colors available)
Lauren Ralph Lauren Stand Collar Trench Coat (currently on sale at Nordstrom)
Oh my goodness, I LOVED these shoes on this trip and am so grateful I added them to my wardrobe just recently. They felt so comfortable, I didn’t know I had shoes on, except I did because I could move and walk anywhere with ease. And the best part, or another awesome part, about these shoes, like all of Rothy’s shoes, you can wash them. Just a traditional wash in the washer, and then dry them. I air dry mine, but you can put them in the dryer.
I purchased the blonde hue (off-white) as I am intentionally straying away from white as it is too stark for my wardrobe, and it smartens up a mid-range of outfit with the ability to work well with my color palette and skin tone. These shoes are not wide nor bulky, and as someone who has narrow feet and high arches, they are streamlined, but have good sturdy soles without looking bulky, letting me lace the shoes up as I need to make my foot feel super comfortable.
I walked all over London in these, all over the town of Barnard Castle in Durham and not once was there discomfort.
Shop the Lace Up Sneaker here (multiple colors available)
As it was autumn, and even though the days might have been in the upper fifties or low 60s, I still wore a sweater dress, often a v-neck, but still a sweater dress. Long-sleeves and midi-length. This made for easy decision-making (one piece of clothing!), and each of my dresses being in neutral tones – navy and ivory, I could easily wear a couple different options for shoes – boots or heels, even flats – ballet or sneaker, as well my coats and scarves.
These dresses were ones I have purchased over the years (see this post and this post, as well as this A Cuppa Moments), but so long as you purchase styles that are flattering on you, in a neutral hue, you will be able to wear them and be in style for years to come. Sweater dresses are en trend at the moment, but I purchased most of my dresses well before this season. They are a timeless item for fall and winter.
The key I have found is to choose a flattering neckline as likely you are choosing a solid color, so it is your visage and your silhouette that is seen and spotlighted. I like my turtlenecks, my v-necks with collars and boat-necks, and have had great success with Reiss as well as The Outnet. I especially prefer ones with an unfitted bodice, so you can look fitted from the waist down, but then provide some movement in the top, similar to the Freya style from Reiss below or their Reiss style below, off-shoulder image.
Freya Knitted long-sleeve midi-dress (black also available)
SHOP MORE SWEATER DRESSES BELOW:
Striped collared, button-up shirt
I recently purchased this striped oversized shirt from Banana Republic and also had my eye on the one you see below from Sézane. I ended up wearing this BR often while in the countryside, with a pair of jeans and my short trench along with my sneakers. Making sure to always have my umbrella with me, it was a complementary color with my trench as the collar popped out, and if I ever took my trench off, it would look nice as well. The key was comfort and something that could be easily packed without being damaged.
Sézane’s Tomboy Shirt, in stripes (more colors)
SHOP MORE STRIPE Shirts Below:
French Hair Pin
Many TOP Tier Members will remember my search for the best French hair pin last year as shared in the monthly Ponderings . . . post, and after having found one I loved (I used use three large bobby pins, which was not simple – finding three of them before I would lose one, but easy to do in a pinch). When I finally found Machete’s blonde tortoise French hair pin, I purchased two as they blend in well with my hair color, but ire also somewhat visible. I have been using them ever since, nearly every day, as I also sleep with my French hair pin as well as use it when I attend yoga class to keep my hair off my neck, but not kink it unnecessary if I want to just blow out my hair in the morning (when used while sleeping) or use dry shampoo following keeping it a hair cap whilst I shower. These pins are 6″ long and sturdy, and so long as you know how to twist your hair and place it, it will be secure all day (and night). (If you tune in this Saturday to the new cooking show episode, I show in real time how quickly and easily you can put your hair up in this exact hair pin.)
Having a hair pin such as this, enabled me to easily put my hair up if it began to rain or while I was on the plane, I wanted to sleep. Then I could quickly take it down, brush out and have my style back, sometimes with the help of some dry shampoo. 🙂
There are many colors and designs from this company. Shop here.
Travel Umbrella with a traditional hook handle
It will not surprise you that you need an umbrella in Britain when you visit, and as I experienced on my first day in London, a quick cloud burst can leave you soaked if you don’t have your umbrella with you or a hood.
On my last trip to England, one of the must-purchase items I had on my list was one of James Smith & Sons’ travel umbrellas. Very sturdy and well-made, they also have the classic hook handle, and I love this as I have found it to be a necessity as I simply hook the umbrella on to my crossbody bag, and it doesn’t take up space or require a larger purse. It is weighty enough that I know if it is there or not, and as soon as it begins to rain, I opened it up and voila! I am dry and able to keep wandering about with ease.
~Unfortunately, James Smith & Sons only sells their travel umbrellas in person at their shop in London (I profiled it here). But whichever brand you buy, I highly recommend making sure you have a curved handle.
Simple Jewelry and my Jewelry Travel Case
Over the past year, I received in one of Sharon Santoni’s My French Country Home boxes, a jewelry travel case/box from Sézane, and this was the first trip in which I used it. I so appreciated its many options for storing my jewelry – earrings, necklaces, and watch – as well as its compact size. Whichever brand you choose to purchase from, having a designated place to store your jewelry, but not take up a bundle of space, is a wise idea.
The jewelry I pack is not large, so these small boxes work well for me. Of course, if you wear larger jewelry, you will need something bigger, but there are many sizes out there. It is just a matter of choosing what speaks to you and fits your needs. I have shopped a couple below.
Cuyana has one that is similar (multiple color options)
Mejuri jewelry case (black also available)
Pack the scarves, the best versatile (and easiest to pack) accessory
In a Ponderings . . . post (September 2023) shared with TOP Tier Members I shopped many ribbon scarves as I had purchased and included one on my recent trip. I found it a wonderful option for travel accessorizing as it isn’t too bulky but provides the finishing touch to a simple out. You will be able to see me wearing it with an outfit in November’s upcoming A Cuppa Moments.
Stripe Nautical/Breton boatneck Tops
When I want to go casual when I am traveling in Britain – typically in the countryside, but not always, but still look pulled together, I reached for my recently purchased Boden Ella boatneck long-sleeve Breton tops (see below). And currently, these tops are 25% off!
If I was going out and about, I would pair them with a pair of jeans and my pointed toe flats or sneakers, and if I was relaxing at my vacation rental, I paired them with navy pajama bottoms such as these.
And why boatneck? Not only are they more comfortable for me personally as someone who doesn’t like anything to constrain my movement around my neck, but they also slim one’s shoulders if you have broad shoulder such as myself.
Always the wellies!
I always pack wellies when I head to Britain, and this time was no different, but what was different was that I needed to purchase a new pair as my go-to travel pair (more malleable) had sprung a leak.
Migrating from Hunter’s to the French brand Le Chameau, Ipicked up the Giverny style. They did wonderfully! They were very flexible and moved with me well, but also had good traction as I hiked quite a few miles in the Lake District on slippery surfaces with the full-day of rain.
~My new French wellies drying out by the fire at my vacation rental. Read a detailed post of three sharing my Travel Diaries of this trip. Explore becoming a TOP Tier Member to gain this exclusive access.~
A Full set of Pajamas
As someone who thoroughly enjoys spending most of my holiday when I travel to Britain out in the countryside, I always make sure to pack pajamas, the long pants and long-sleeve style, as I go to the country, yes, to explore, but also to wholly relax, and thankfully, I was able to do quite a bit of that on this latest trip (explore all of the Travel Diary posts of this trip here).
As I mentioned above, sometimes I would just pair my pajama bottoms with my Breton long-sleeve top depending upon how much warmth I wanted, but for a full set, I love my Serena & Lily linen pair (four colors and prints are available – two are shown below). And the lovely plus with linen pajamas as they are super comfortable whether you are traveling during autumn or spring or summer or winter, you get the idea. 🙂
Nude Pumps, forever and always, Nude Pumps
Whenever I am in doubt as to what I should wear with an outfit, I know my nude pumps will never let me down, and so I was thankful I trusted this advice and packed them as I work them to the theatre in London with a navy sweater dress as the weather was quite moderate and a coat was not needed, nor were boots which I had planned on. I prefer a matte nude pump which can sometimes be hard to find, but when you find the brand that is most comfortable for your foot, don’t hesitate. If they are made well, they will be with you for years. You can always reheel or resole as wear occurs. I have done this a couple of times on the heels I packed on this trip and they, from LK Bennett (see below), are still going strong.
My jersey midi dress for days of plane travel worked as I had hoped!
I shared in September and in episode #366 of the podcast that I was going to wear a dress (jersey) for my travel days to Britain and returning home, and I did just that. Don’t worry, I did launder the dress in between each trip (which was easy to do as it just needs a standard wash and dry). I was the most comfortable I have ever been while traveling for nearly 10 hours and 15 with my connecting flight to and from Redmond, and I also felt pulled together.
I purchased this style in navy from Michael Stars, and will be picking up one more in olive as it is super comfortable, has the complementary ruching at the side and waist, and once I had my tailor close the side slit (just not necessary for my style), it was ideal. I received many compliments from various people while traveling.
You can see me wear my dress in November’s upcoming A Cuppa Moments.
What I Am Going to Improve Upon
My Passport/Travel Wallet, the size
In my previous Travel Wardrobe post in 2022 I shared I needed to update my passport/travel wallet, and while I thought I had something that would work, I found out it was too long and I need something more square so it will fit into my crossbody bag mentioned above.
So I have done some shopping around, knowing what I want to hold in my travel wallet (passport, global entry card, cash, coins and boarding passes), and found these:
From Bellroy, four different colors (navy shown below).
Gnome & Bow’s Gulliver Travel Wallet (five colors available)
~Includes a zipped coin pouch which I find to be a necessity in Britain and Europe, vs the states.
A Larger Travel Tote as my Carry-On
I mentioned in a This & That post a couple of weeks ago, that while I upgraded to a travel tote from Longchamp (large) with a longer drop for the handle, and it worked as I had hoped, what I need now is just a slightly larger travel tote. So perhaps Longchamp’s Travel Tote; however it doesn’t have a large strap to sling over my shoulder, just a handle, so it is their XL size that I am keeping my eye on. Available in canvas as well, this will be an upgrade that I again will make as I know that I appreciate their quality, but just need a slightly larger size.
Currently on sale (33% off) at Nordstrom, red also available.
Available in navy as well as solid black from Longchamp. Shop here.
Flat or kitten knee-high boots for London
I love wearing boots in the autumn and winter when I visit Britain, and well France for that matter as well, but I have to walk, even to the Tube, I need my heels to be a little flatter.
This low kitten height would be ideal, such as these from Staud. I have this exact pair but in a 3″ heel, and while I love the suede and style, there were a bit too high for running up and down the tube steps and walking even a couple of blocks. Now I know!
Staud has this style in MANY colors and finishes, so be sure to explore here.
Only wear my Rothy flats for plane travel, not walking about the city
I wore and still love my pointed toe nude Rothy flats; however, I made the mistake after arriving in London (having worn them during my plane travel) of keeping them on to walk about the city. As I like to go at a good clip, and then it started to rain, the back of the shoe (likely because I might need a 1/2 a size larger, caused a blister, and I should have slipped on my Sneaker from Rothy’s mentioned above (which I did do the next day).
The good news was I was able to wash my pointed toe Rothy’s, and they were as good as new after having gotten quite dirty from walking in the rain.
Rain Pants for the Lake District
So, as I shared in great detail in this Travel Diary Post, when I visited the Lake District, it rained buckets. And while I loved it, I became sopping wet. Not thinking about packing rain pants, but thankfully packing a lightweight raincoat with a hood, the next time I visit this region, I will have rain pants at the ready just in case. 🙂
All in all, packing went pretty well for including outfits I felt comfortable in and were stylish to my taste. As always, there will be something to learn on each trip when it comes to working the best, but since my previous trip, I felt as though quite a lot of progress had been made, and I hope that what I learned will help you travel more comfortably and stylishly for your future trips to Britain in autumn.
Thank you for stopping by and be sure to tune in or read a post/episode in the archives that gives even more detail about every single item to pack if you are visiting Britain in Autumn – shared below.