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Closet to Carry-On: Fashion Essentials for the Working Woman’s Suitcase

What clothes should you bring on your next trip abroad?

Woman traveler with hat and bag

Traveling for business can be both exhilarating and exhausting. With tight schedules and multiple professional engagements, the last thing any working woman wants to worry about is whether she has packed the right wardrobe. The trick lies in packing versatile, stylish, and professional pieces that are easy to mix and match. Here’s a definitive guide to the essential fashion items every working woman should carry in her suitcase.

Foundation Pieces

Your suitcase should start with quality foundation pieces that are both versatile and functional. One quintessential item is a women’s bodysuit. This staple can seamlessly transition from day to night, whether you’re pairing it with a blazer for a daytime meeting or dressing it up with statement jewelry for an evening event. Opt for neutral colors like black, white, or beige to maximize versatility.

Next, pack a tailored blazer. This classic piece instantly elevates any outfit, making it indispensable for a polished, professional look. For maximum utility, choose a blazer in a neutral color, which can be easily paired with various tops and bottoms.

Woman on dock

Round out your foundation pieces with a pair of well-fitted black trousers. These can be worn with almost any top, providing a chic and professional appearance suitable for various occasions. Additionally, consider a classic pencil skirt for an alternative formal option.

Tops and Blouses

Having a selection of stylish tops is crucial for wardrobe flexibility. Aim for a mix of patterns and solid colors to provide variety without overwhelming your suitcase. Button-down blouses are a practical choice, as they can be dressed up with a blazer or worn casually with jeans. Pack at least one silk or satin blouse for more formal engagements; these materials offer a touch of elegance while being easy to wear and care for.

Lightweight sweaters and cardigans are also fantastic additions, especially if you’re traveling to a location where the temperature might vary. These pieces can add layers and provide warmth while maintaining a sophisticated appearance.


Dresses can simplify your packing since they serve as a complete outfit in one piece. A little black dress (LBD) is a must-have for its versatility and classic appeal. Choose a design that can easily transition from day to night with the simple addition of accessories or a change of footwear.

Sheath dresses and wrap dresses are elegant yet comfortable options suited for business engagements. These styles can be dressed up or down and are often flattering for various body types. Opt for dresses in neutral hues or subtle patterns to ensure they are appropriate for multiple scenarios.


Shoes often take up a significant amount of space in your suitcase, so be strategic with your choices. A pair of classic black pumps is essential for business meetings and formal events. Additionally, pack a pair of comfortable yet stylish flats for times when you’ll be on your feet for extended periods.

Depending on the nature of your trip, consider adding a pair of dressy sandals or ankle boots. These can offer more variety and help ensure that you’re prepared for different weather conditions and social events.


Accessories can make a huge difference in tying an outfit together and adding a personal touch. A watch with a simple design is both functional and stylish. Opt for jewelry that is elegant yet understated; think pearl earrings or a delicate necklace.

Scarves and pashminas are excellent for adding a splash of color and can also keep you warm in air-conditioned conference rooms. A classic leather belt and a pair of sunglasses are other practical additions that can elevate your look without consuming much space.


Finally, the right bag can pull your entire look together while serving as a practical tool for carrying your professional essentials. A structured tote bag is ideal for business settings, offering adequate space for documents, tablets, and other necessities. For evening events, a sleek clutch or a small crossbody bag can provide the perfect finishing touch without overwhelming your outfit.

Ensure that your travel bag or suitcase is also stylish and functional. Preferably, it should be a carry-on to avoid the hassle of checked baggage, allowing you to move swiftly through airports and to your destinations.

In summary, by carefully selecting versatile foundation pieces, tops, dresses, shoes, and accessories, you can create a professional, stylish wardrobe that fits in a carry-on bag. This approach not only simplifies your packing but also ensures you’re prepared for any business occasion, allowing you to focus on what truly matters: sealing deals and making lasting professional impressions.


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