Your Guide to Travel Dresses: Comfortable, Stylish, and Wrinkle-Resistant

Jessie Beck

Finding the perfect dress, one you could live in, is already hard enough — but what about finding one that’s also wrinkle-free, doesn’t get smelly after one wear, works for every occasion, or, in other words, is perfect for travel? With so many climates, cultures, and occasions to think about, it’s hard to find a travel dress that can do it all.

Not to fear, tireless adventurer, they’re out there. Whether your travels take you to rough and rugged corners of the globe, or you take more urban journeys where you need to look presentable, these dresses will have your back (literally) along the way. Scroll on for our recommendations of the best dresses for travel, and features to look for if none of these fit your needs.

Curator: Kaftan Dress ($92)

  • Best for: Warm-weather travel, summer weddings, or conservative countries
  • Colors: Blue, marble, purple
  • Features: Wrinkle-free
  • Material: 83% modal, 13% polyester

I’d been searching for the perfect t-shirt dress for years before stumbling on one by Curator, a San Francisco-based brand that works with local manufacturers to make beautiful, high-quality clothing.

While I’m a fan of pretty much everything they make, their Kaftan Dress stands out as a great travel dress. Stylish, breezy, and made of a modal-polyester blend that’s hard to wrinkle, it’s a wonderful option for beachy or warm-weather travel. However, it also styles well with layers and ankle boots for cooler climates.

The loose hang, tee-sleeves, and midi-cut also make it a comfortable choice for conservative destinations, like India, where you want your knees and shoulders covered. Wherever you’re going, roll this dress up, put it in your travel backpack, and get ready to pose for the perfect Instagram shot.

prAna: Berry Dress ($69)

  • Best for: Adventure travel
  • Colors: Pink, blue, black, tan
  • Features: Wrinkle-free
  • Material: 57% organic cotton / 38% recycled polyester / 5% spandex

For a dress you can just as easily wear riding a bus for 3 hours as you could on a classy dinner out, prAna is a wonderful brand to look at. While not an outdoors clothing company per se, their clothing is durable, comfortable, and adventure-ready. At the same time, their designs are stylish and don’t scream “I’m about to go on a hike!” the way some outdoor brands do.

While they have dozens of styles to choose from, I’d recommend starting your search with their Berry Dress. It’s cute, easy to clean, and the solid color options make it a versatile piece that’s easier to dress up or down than some of their patterned choices. Plus, it hangs nicely and has a flattering yet forgiving shape.

Theives: The METAmorph dress ($125)

  • Best for: Everywhere and anywhere
  • Colors: Grey, black, and plum
  • Features: Can be worn 24 different ways
  • Material: 90% organic bamboo with 10% spandex

When I asked fellow travel blogger and carry-on packer, Andrea from Mommy Gearest about her favorite travel dress, she was quick to name the METAmorph.

While most travel dresses are versatile because you can style them for various occasions — dressing them up or down with shoes and accessories — Theive’s METAmorph dress is versatile in a whole other way. You can arrange the dress into 24 different variations.

From sleeveless maxi to long-sleeved mini, this creatively designed piece will give you enough options to stave off your fashion doldrums while on the road. And yes, it’s wrinkle free, comfortable, easy to move in, and easy to wash.

ADAY: Back to Front Dress ($175)

  • Best: Business trips and cold-weather travel
  • Colors: Dark blue, light blue, white
  • Features: 5-in-1 dress
  • Material: 73% polyester, 27% elastane

For travel-ready outfits, I can’t get enough of ADAY, a technical clothing brand for women with stylish yet durable pieces. Whatever I wear from them, I’m confident it’ll pack down well, look great, and wash/dry easily. All of these things can, of course, be said about their Back to Front dress.

Unlike the rest of the dresses listed, it has long-sleeves, making it a great option for cold weather travel. For warmer days, roll up the sleeves and wear it on its own. When temperatures drop, style it with a jacket or over a pair of leggings for a cute but warm look.

Best yet, the design allows you to create five different styles out of it, so even if it’s the only dress in your bag, it won’t feel that way. Button up in the back for a classy night-time look, or turn them into the front for a casual daytime or business casual outfit.

Everlane: Japanese GoWeave Sleeveless V-Neck Dress ($74)

  • Best for: Urban exploration
  • Colors: Black, white
  • Features: Wrinkle free, pockets
  • Material: 100% triacetate

Pockets really do make a dress perfect, right? If you agree, then you’ll want to know about Everlane’s Sleeveless V-Neck Dress.

Comfortable to wear and made of a triacetate fabric that’s resistant to wrinkles, this timeless piece is a great addition to your travel wardrobe for urban adventures or business trips. Both the black and white version are timeless in design and easy to style. Simply throw a long-line blazer over it for a business trip, or pair with sneakers for a casual day of walking around the city.

If you prefer something in a different style, great news: Everlane has a whole line of GoWeave dresses in varying cuts, colors, and prices, but made of that same wrinkle-resistant fabric that makes this dress travel ready.

Leith: Racerback Dress ($30)

  • Best for: Business travel and urban adventures
  • Colors: Black, beige, teal
  • Features: Simplicity
  • Material: 100% polyester

Whether you’re on a business trip or a bleisure trip, this simple racerback dress by Leith will easily take you from meetings to meet ups. The conservative shift cut means it works just as well layered under a blazer for a meeting as it does over a bright t-shirt for a casual day out.

If it’s not quite your style, Leith has several other simple, versatile options to choose from, almost all of which are under $60.

Columbia: Freezer Dress

  • Best: Tropical and beach travel
  • Colors: Several prints and black solid
  • Features: Sun protection, cooling and wicking fabric
  • Material: 92% polyester, 8% elastane jersey

Compared to the other dresses on this list, Columbia’s Freezer Dress is the most technical and outdoors-ready. The fabric is both cooling and blocks UV rays, making it a great option for tropical and beachy destinations. Simple yet flattering, it’s a casual dress that can handle adventurous, warm-weather destinations, like Thailand, Kenya, or Costa Rica.

For this kind of travel, I’m more concerned about packing a dress that’s sturdy, comfortable, and doesn’t get dirty easily. It doesn’t have to be fashion forward, but flattering enough to make me feel like a good-looking human again after hiking for three days in the same t-shirt. Columbia’s Freezer Dress is that dress.

What Makes a Great Travel Dress?

Style is such a personal thing — so there’s always a chance my recommendations didn’t match with yours. If you’ve read this list and still haven’t found the perfect dress for your next trip, here are a few characteristics to look for:

Material

Some fabrics are better for travel clothes than others. If your dress is made of a synthetic material like polyester, that’s a good sign that likely won’t wrinkle. I’d also recommend looking for something with a small percentage of spandex or elastane, which adds extra comfort.

Cut 

Midi and mini cut dresses lend themselves better to layering, as do short-sleeve or sleeveless dresses. While maxis are fun, I find that I can make more outfit combinations with shorter cuts.

Versatility

As a rule of thumb, look for a style that you could easily design an outfit around for both a casual brunch and a nice night out. Usually, this means avoiding anything ultra trendy or loud.

Durability

Especially if you take long trips or travel often, choose a dress that’s well made and will last. For me this means avoiding fast fashion brands like H&M and Forever 21.

Brand

The brands mentioned above (Curator, prAna, Everlane, ADAY, Leith, and Columbia) have great options for travel dresses — even if our original recommendations are out of stock. Additionally, I surveyed dozens of ladies about their favorite travel dresses and ExOfficio, Athleta, Kameleon Rose, and Toad&Co came up as tried and trusted brands for travel dresses.

TL;DR

A great travel dress is like a great hairdresser — never let her go. But if you’re on the hunt for a new one — be it black, with pockets, or versatile enough to come with you to any climate — we recommend these dresses:

If none of these suit your style and your quest will continue beyond this article, arm yourself with the knowledge of how to spot a great travel dress. Look for synthetic fabrics with a bit of elastic, shorter cuts that are easy to layer, a design you can style multiple ways, and a quality make that will last throughout your journeys.

When in doubt, check our favorite brands, Curator, prAna, Everlane, ADAY, Leith, Columbia, ExOfficio, Athleta, Kameleon Rose, and Toad&Co.

 

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