10 Practical and Stylish Dresses Every Traveler Should Own

Clothes you can wear year after year.

Buying travel clothes may be tricky because there are different factors to consider. You want them to be able to withstand different temperatures. You want them to be easy to pack so there is more room for shopping. Preferably wrinkle-free so you don't need to have them pressed. And of course they have to be photogenic.

For the stylish and practical traveler, there is also the question, “Can this be styled a number of ways and worn in more than one location?” All other standards follow. Make sure you have these versatile essentials in your luggage.



The golden rule of cosmopolitan winter travel: Your first or second layer has to be cool enough for indoor heaters. A light knit dress is a good piece for when you’re going in out of establishments during the winter. Wear it with a heavy coat outside, and without as you enjoy views from a cafe.
Locations: Europe and America in winter
Seasonal transition: You can wear a light knit dress back home in the Philippines too. 


A sweater dress can be worn with stockings, long boots, and a heavy coat for light winters. It can also be worn as a top as temperatures drop—wear it with skinny ski pants for extra protection from cold. 
Locations: Moscow, Beijing, and Tokyo in winter
Seasonal transition: In places like San Francisco where the winter is less harsh than the East Coast, a heavy sweater dress can be worn alone with short boots.


Despite what the name suggests, a trench dress is made of light material and is more suitable for chilly (rather than wintry) weathers. This is a great option for business meetings abroad. You don’t even have to think about styling it too much; your business pitch can have your full attention.
Locations: Rainy days in London, spring-to-autumn period in Paris and New York
Seasonal transition: Wear it as a light jacket in Manila.


Take it from Dutch stunner Talitha Getty: An elegant kaftan rarely looks dated. You can rest assured that your travel photos can be posted (without shame) online or at home years after your trip. But more than the look, it is the shape that makes a kaftan ideal for travel. It is roomy enough to cover problem areas. A really loose kind may be cinched with a belt or scarf to accentuate curves. Worn as is, a kaftan in a plush fabric is a piece of heaven in hot weather.
Locations: Southeast Asian beaches, Moroccan bazaars, seaside restaurants in Greece
Seasonal transition: Wear warmers underneath and a heavy coat over for autumn.


This sheer number does not have to serve one purpose. Apart from making your bikini suitable for a beachside bar, it can also be used as an overlay for a nude dress or even a long satin nightie (no one has to know). A longer version with side slits can also be worn as a long top over pants—pose sideways and walk opposite the direction of the wind and you have one stunning travel photo.
Locations: Beaches in South America, New Orleans food crawl, New York in the summer
Seasonal transition: Wear over a long black camisole dress and a floor-length jacket for chilly spring nights.


A shirt dress has several style functions: as a peekaboo collar underneath a sweater dress, an alternative to a sun dress, a long top over cigarette pants, and a piece under a sleeveless wrap dress. It can be styled to infinity.
Locations: Brooklyn and Oslo throughout the seasons
Seasonal transition: Wear with a trumpet skirt and statement neckpiece to transform it into a new dress.    


No party scheduled? A simple cocktail dress can still have some use. You can wear it under a light jacket and with ballet flats in spring for a look that is equal parts casual and dressy.
Locations: Spring to autumn period in Kyoto, Valencia, and Sydney
Seasonal transition: You can wear your cocktail dress to a friend’s destination wedding in the summer.


An infinity dress is made of stretchable material so it can be pulled and tugged to create new silhouettes. If you’re having a long-term vacation anywhere, this is a good dress to bring. You will be a true outfit repeater who has sense enough to look otherwise!
Locations: Miami, Rio, and places known for nightlife
Seasonal transition: Wear it back in Manila the whole year—no one has to know all these options are just one dress.


Is it any wonder that Diane von Furstenberg’s jersey wrap dress was a hit in the 1970s? It is airy, flattering on various body shapes, and easy to slip on. You’ll do well to bring one while traveling. It can be worn in any season. Effortlessly chic does not have to be a façade—this dress does not require heavy styling.
Locations: Spring in Tuscany, summer in Bangkok, a trip to Angkor Wat
Seasonal transition: Wear it with a shirt dress underneath when the weather gets cold.   


It's an inescapable fashion essential for women: a little black dress. And with good reason. This style item can be worn anytime and throughout the seasons. It's a "buildable" piece that welcomes creativity. With a long embroidered cardigan, it is a stunning spring outfit. Under a black winter jacket, it is a statement of no-fuss elegance.
Locations: Paris, where effortless style reigns
Seasonal Transition: Wear a white collared shirt underneath for a business function abroad. Top with a long trench if it's cold out.

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Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
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