Break the Glass Ceiling, Not the Bank: Women’s Outfits for Business Travel

Laura Lopuch

When you’re traveling for business, you need clothes that pack well… and unpack well. Meaning: they don’t arrive looking more wrinkled than the Wicked Witch of the West’s frown lines.

Consider this your crash course in picking the best women’s business clothes, from which fabrics are travel-friendly, to some core wardrobe pieces, and selecting an affordable personal stylist to refresh your wardrobe.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Wrinkle Resistant Materials

A surefire way to prevent wrinkles from showing up is to disinvite them in the first place.

How do you do that?

Pack clothes that are made of wrinkle resistent fabrics. Synthetic fabrics — nylon, lycra, polyester — are wrinkle-resistant. And, you’ll get an added bonus with these clothes: They’re usually anti-microbial, quick-drying and wicking. In other words, they’re technical clothing.

But when you’re traveling for business, technical clothes aren’t an option. You can’t very well show up to a conference in a tank top meant for morning jogs.

So, check your tags to make sure your clothing is made of one of these fabrics:

  • Jersey
  • Wool
  • Lyocell (aka Tencel)
  • Cashmere
  • Knits
  • Spandex, lycra or elastane

Not sure if the fabric has wrinkles in its DNA? Try a quick test. Grab a corner of the fabric and crush it in your fist for 30 seconds.

Fabric didn’t wrinkle? Or, fabric wrinkled, but wrinkles shake out after a minute? Congrats, you’ve made a good choice.

Learn how to pack dress shirts to reduce wrinkles.

Best Women’s Business Clothing: Layering Shirts

Everlane Cotton V-neck ($15)

Everlane creates fantastic shirts (like this super-soft one or this stretchy tank) that dress up or down easily. Take them into a conference and afterwards, whip off your blazer and head into a speakeasy for a cold old-fashioned. You won’t feel out of place one bit.

Best part about Everlane? They’re committed to treating their workers like humans and radical transparency about their prices (aka not jacking up the price on a simple t-shirt).

Best Women’s Business Clothing: Collared Shirt

The Essential Icon Shirt by Rochelle Behrens ($76)

As with so many awesome products, Rochelle invented this shirt to solve her own problem.

“I would always need to safety-pin my shirt at the button. If the shirt fit across my bust, it was too large everywhere else, and vice versa. I got so fed up, I could think of nothing else but how to solve that problem.”

Say bye-bye to slipping a camisole under your classic white collared shirt to avoid unwanted flashes between the bust buttons.

Frankly, this is the shirt I’ve been dying to own… but never knew it existed.

Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Tailored-Fit Supima Cotton Dress Shirt ($98)

Ever pull out the hotel’s iron and find it’s unusable due to rust? 

Yeah, me too. Not to mention: I hate ironing. Opt for a collared shirt that needs no ironing, like this highly-rated one from Brooks Brothers. Made from soft cotton, the fabric is treated to resist wrinkles.

So, you can get to bed earlier (or sleep in a little later in the morning) and not worry about looking like a hobo at your business meeting. Now we’re talking.

Best Women’s Business Travel Clothing: Blouses

Draper James Daisy Vine Popover Blouse ($48)

Dare to express your personality with this super-cute, yet still professional, blouse from Reese Witherspoon’s lifestyle brand, Draper James.

Pair it with trim black pants (see below for the best business ones) or a pencil skirt. Or, don a pair of worn jeans for a quick nightcap at the hotel bar. Your choice.

It’ll quickly become a staple in your business capsule wardrobe for its sheer versatility and ability to make you feel feminine and strong.

Best Women’s Business Travel Clothing: Blazer

Crew Tailored Blazer ($248)

Available in petite, regular, and tall sizes, this crisp blazer from J. Crew is sure to be a new packing staple in your carry on. It scores a record-high of 4.9 stars out of 5 based on reviews.

Crafted from extra fine fabric, it feels silky smooth against your skin. Plus, it’s made from Italian wool, so you’re warm in wintery-cold boardrooms and cool in the summer sun.

Learn how to pack a suit in a carry on.

Best Women’s Clothing for Business Travel: Pants

Betabrand Women’s Dress Pant Yoga Pant (Boot Cut) ($62)

Crafted from stretchy, yoga-pant-like fabric, these pants move with you rather than against you. With their sleek tailoring, they’re perfect for business trips where you go from airport to conference room.

Best part? Your derriere looks well-crafted.

Being comfortable is important. Looking no-nonsense professional is important. If you can also maximize your assets, well, that’s a bonus. 

Made of a stretchy rayon blend, these pants are available in tan herringbone, or grey. 

Anatomie Skyler Pants ($225)

Alex from Travel Fashion Girl named these pants as her favorite travel pants.

“These pants totally rocked the comfort factor when I wore them on a plane and on long train rides in Europe. The fabric has an awesome amount of stretch which allows breathability and gives you plenty of room to move around with ease.”

 

Wash in the sink and these travel pants are dry within hours. Lightweight. Compact. Dress up or down. Fabric stays wrinkle-free. It’s a business-trip miracle.

Back to Alex: “These have ultra-thin fabric and take up a quarter of the space. It’s not sheer, though, and hides dimply skin imperfections that some light fabrics don’t hide. They fit easily into a slim packing cube and hardly weigh anything at all.”

Get Your Very Own Personal Shopper 

If you hate dressing rooms, crowds, sorting through endless racks  of clothing, standing in line to purchase said clothing, and forking over $100+ for a personal stylist’s input, I’ve got good news for you.

You can skip all the bad — and still get a personal stylist — for the luxury of trying on brand-new clothes in your bedroom.

Meet your new BFF: an online styling service.

You fill out an online questionnaire to determine your style. A few days later, a box arrives on your doorstep with curated items that a personal stylist selected for you. (Free shipping, by the way.)

Try on the clothes, decide which ones to keep, send the rest back. Here are the top three best shopping services for business travel clothing.

Stitch Fix

I used this styling service for about 2 years. Just recently I put my membership on hold due to  the fact I wear the same jeans and t-shirt 6 days out of 7.

For a $20 styling fee, 5 unique items are hand-curated for you. That $20 gets subtracted out of your total from any items you buy. Don’t buy any items? You pay $20 for the surprise — nay, delight — of getting a box of unique clothes delivered to your door.

When I signed up for Stitch Fix, I needed more business clothes. Think one level shy of boardroom. That’s exactly what I got. Along with a picture card showing styling suggestions for each of my pieces which got my wheels turning on how to wear them.

My fav part? Unfolding each item from the tissue paper wrappings and wondering what it’d look like on me. I bought some shirts from Hawthorne & Co. that I would never have considered and now they’re some of my go-to business wear shirts. 

Get $15 off your first Fix.

Dia&Co

This online styling service is geared towards women size 14 and up. It works a lot like Stitch Fix: you get five items in a box, pay a $20 styling fee, and send any items you don’t want back in a pre-paid package.

As Leah Ingram writes about her 20 year old daughter’s experience:

“We ordered her first Dia&Co subscription box right before she left for London, where she was studying abroad for her junior year in college. We figured spending a few months in Europe was a great reason to get new clothing. My daughter could easily imagine using the service again when she needs new clothes for job interviews.”

Trunk Club

Hang on, yes, this originally was a “men’s only” styling subscription service — but not any more.

This service works a little bit differently than the two above. Once you’ve signed up, your stylist calls you on the phone to chat you up. Oh my.

Afterwards, your stylist sends you a preview of what you’ll get in your shipment.

A few other differences to note:

  • Styling fee is $25
  • Recieve 10-15 items in your box
  • Give feedback and swap items via their app
  • Owned by Nordstrom so you’re getting a top-notch customer experience

Maria Gavin of Crazy Together writes:

“Even though I only kept one item and I may need to remind my stylist to try and keep the prices a bit lower, I love the convenience of this service. And the added opportunity for communication and chance to review your Trunk before it ships is downright amazing.”

TL;DR

For your next business trip, travel carry on only and go with some MVPs for your business clothes, like:

 

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