Please sign in to post.

Packing dresses

Hopefully hubby and I are leaving for Europe September 7th. Starting in Rome for a couple of days ( have been before). Will be in Italy two weeks, then on to France.

It’s going to be quite warm for the first part of our trip and I am thinking about packing a couple of light weight dresses. Found a nice tee dress on My Granddaughter told me about this website. Got it in three different colors. Washed and dried the first one and it is now a nightgown 🤣. What do you expect for $10.00. But they are so soft and comfy, so I will wash them and not put in dryer.

Anyway, do you pack dresses? Do you have favorites? Just seems like a dress would be much cooler.

Thanks for your input.

Posted by
25526 posts

On my first trip to Europe I took a couple of dresses. I also took some flat, leather-soled sandals. The dresses were fine (except I took a white one--what was I thinking?); the stiff-soled sandals were not. On that trip I learned that super-cushy shoes are critical to me. Unfortunately, the sort of shoes I need look ludicrous with dresses.

Others can find nice-looking shoes that work for them, so they can take dresses to Europe. Lucky them. Based on my earlier experience, though, I'd avoid anything that's a light color below the waist. It's awfully easy to brush against a grimy wall, the door of a bus, etc.

Posted by
11058 posts

I took a dress like this one from Lands End on a recent domestic trip. Packed well, washes and dries without shrinking. I agree, a dress is a great alternative as long as you can find comfy shoes that will go miles.

Posted by
149 posts

Dresses are fantastic for warm weather travel! I always take at least one, often wearing it on the plane because it looks nice but feels like a nightie.

I find wash-and-wear jersey dresses in a colourful pattern to be the most comfortable and practical. It’s easy to add a cardigan and maybe tights or leggings for cooler weather. I wear mine with sandals or Mary Janes.

Posted by
6445 posts

Hi Sue,

I love wearing dresses when I’m traveling! I usually pack four outfits (I just do a carry on), plus the pants I wear on the plane. Normally two of the four are dresses.

My favorite has been a wonderful Toad & Co. black cotton dress with tiny cap sleeves and falls slightly below knee length with one side that can be shirred. I wear it with a very lightweight blue patterned scarf or similar and it has been the perfect dress to be able to step into a church by pulling the scarf over my shoulders and then back up again.

I also like to switch into either a dress or long pants for dinner, depending on the temperature. My second pair of shoes is a pair of black flats to wear to dinner or nice events, i.e. the ballet, etc.

I bring 1-2 black short length culotte slips, so if my legs get hot, they don’t stick.

Posted by
4077 posts

Oh, Laurel, how funny! I spent a ridiculous amount of time this afternoon looking at dresses from Land's End. 😁

The last time I took anything with a skirt on a trip to Europe was in 2014 when we went to Istanbul and Greece. Until very recently I haven't owned a skirt or a dress since I returned from that trip.

My problem is that most dresses or skirts tend to be heavier and/or bulkier than a pair of pants. As a carry-on light packer, that's an issue for me. And truth be told, I look better in pants.

Having said that, I'm always tempted by dresses and skirts, but they must have pockets. On the recommendation of a friend, I recently bought this H&M skirt, at the local store.

With the elastic waist, generous cut and my somewhat recent lack of hips, I got a size small and it actually looks good on me. It's 78% lyocell and 22% linen. It washed and dried nicely, folds or rolls into a small size and weighs a reasonable 10 ounces. The dark brown is a very forgiving color for a bottom garment. It's now out of stock, but H&M might be a good, relatively cheap place to shop for hot weather dresses and skirts.

Besides Land's End, I was tempted today by the linen dresses at Woolovers. I like the pocket pinafores and tunics, although the pinafores would probably take up too much packing space for me. A pocket tunic would be better. Be sure to look at their clearance ones, too. I've never bought anything from them, so I have no idea how long it would really take to receive something and the shipping cost as shown is confusing, but they do have a US phone number to call with questions.

Posted by
6113 posts

I always take at least 2 dresses, usually 4 plus a couple of skirts and a selection of tops. I have a variety of brands, but I ensure when I buy clothes I scrunch the garment tight in a fist to see that it doesn’t crease. There’s nothing worse than wearing clothes that are creased (I don’t take a travel iron), which is why my linen clothes stay at home, no matter how cool they are.

Dresses with short sleeves maybe more practical for visiting churches or cooler evenings or take a scarf and a sleeveless dress. Don’t take pale or white garments as they will be forever in the wash.

Posted by
545 posts

Thanks for your helpful replies. I’ll be wearing sandals with the dresses in warmer weather. We’ll be in France early to mid October so weather will be cooler. I could add leggings to a couple of the dresses, but like some of you, I don’t have shoes that will go with a dress and leggings.

Oh such a problem to have. Just so excited to be thinking about packing once again.

Posted by
355 posts

A black skirt that covers my knees with an elastic waistband has traveled the world as my “dress”. It is flared so covers my knees when seated. All the tops I wear with pants go with the skirt. My brother joked about the little black skirt since is part of every trip. It made me laugh a guy would remember a piece of travel clothing.

Posted by
9855 posts

My favorite place for buying warm-weather dresses is the larger farmers markets in Europe. I bought a lightweight one two days ago for 20€ and will probably buy another next week. The tag says made in Italy, for whatever that's worth. Otherwise, I have my $10 Kohl's dress that has traveled a lot.

Posted by
1206 posts

Unlike everyone else I don't find dresses to be cooler or practical. I have to wear leggings or shorts under and then I have 2 layers instead of just 1. Just wearing shorts or capris to start with is cooler and works better for me. But you do what works better for you.

Posted by
101 posts

I wear a lot of casual dresses for every day and travel. My favorites are Prana and Title9.

Posted by
10323 posts

Dresses are much cooler! I roll them to pack and that has worked well for me. No wrinkles!

Posted by
1629 posts

I love dresses! They are so easy and back down making carryon only even easier. In the winter I will wear long sleeve dresses with leggings and ankle boots.

I am laughing at the Shein dress, only because my daughter told me about that website and I have ordered a few items from there. I have one dress that is adorable and was $8, lol. I have not worn or washed it yet, but will do gentle and hang to dry as it is a dressier fabric than say cotton. I bought several swimsuits from there as we are headed to Iceland and didn't want to spend more money on suits that may get ruined form the thermal baths. Their swim suits typically range for $14-17, so no loss if the fabric gets damaged. Our daughter says she buys all of her swimsuits from there. My only real complaint with that site is their photoshopping. OMG, horrendous! I cannot describe how bad it is, you have to go look for yourselves;)

Believe it or not, Amazon has great dresses! Amazon Essentials has wonderful dresses that hold up very well and are quite inexpensive. This is one style that I have probably 4-5 of.

I also really like Lands End. I have several of the a-line linen knee length dresses the are super comfy.,43307,43324,44256,44967,45261

I am so envious of all of this talk. We are headed to Iceland so a totally different wardrobe. Takes up more room:(

Posted by
2245 posts

I like skirts better than dresses. You can get more wear out of them between washings than a dress. If you buy a print skirt, you can change it up with several different light weight tops which are certainly less trouble to wash than a dress. I brought a synthetic print skirt with me to Croatia and I was happy I did. I spilled wine on it one night and on another occasion a tour mate spilled an entire glass of beer on me. The skirt was washed on those nights, was dry and wrinkle free by morning and was none the worse for wear. Skirts were my main item on a trip to Greece as well. Just something to think about.

Posted by
15098 posts

I take this Eddie Bauer Aster dress, except mine is a print:

It is similar to the knee-length Lands End dress on the right side of the page that Laurel linked, but it is poly/spandex, not cotton. That makes it quicker to dry if I wash it.

I take one light jacket and one cardi in co-ordinating colors to wear over the sleeveless dress if it is cool out.

Posted by
6445 posts

Whichever ones you decide, be sure to wash them at home and hang to dry to see how long they take to dry. I’ve had some that didn’t pass, even though they seemed lightweight.

Posted by
1259 posts

While my fluorescent socks do not match, and even though I REALLY want it to because, like skirts and dresses, it is remarkably comfortable, I cannot make the kilt work for me as everyday wear when traveling.

I've read dozens of blogs, packing lists, and trip reports from women covering a wide range of ages, cultural backgrounds, experience levels, and destinations. Most of them seem to prefer skirts over dresses for the variety, mix and match flexibility, ease of packing, and because washing a skirt only takes one piece of their ensemble out of action.

Posted by
2860 posts

Have a look in your local thrift stores for cotton travel clothes.
I have found lots of great really lightweight skirts for travel there over the years.
I do that because European washing machines have a way of really beating up your clothes, (we stay in apartments) so I try to not take my good clothes with me.
No one there cares a fig what you as a tourist look like.....just be clean and tidy!.
Also, the Eddie Bauer dress a few posts up is really comfy too, I wore it last trip to Italy in awful heat and humidity.
Dresses and skirts are the way to go in really hot weather IMHO.

Posted by
5697 posts

Evidently I am the only one who still wears a money belt ? Really difficult to access from under a dress!! But I always pack a below-the-knee skirt for warm-weather trips -- much cooler than pants or even shorts, and just as accessible for the money belt if needed.

Posted by
2076 posts

Here are the notes from my packing list: "Skirts and non-tuck shirts make going to the bathroom easier! Pockets are important! But with rain, skirts and sandals aren't good."

Posted by
6445 posts

Laura B, I always am wearing a money belt and wear dresses at least 50 percent of the time in Europe. I don’t wear a dress on the days I’m planning to go to the ATM because I immediately place the large bills in my money belt. And I wear pants or capris on the train when I will need to provide my passport at the next hotel. Otherwise, the money belt is never accessed in public. I have the amount of money I’m planning to spend in the morning in my crossbody purse and replenish it when needed - either in a restroom or in my hotel room.

Posted by
545 posts

Thanks everyone for your wonderful input. I enjoy reading what and how other travelers pack. Our flight leaves in three weeks. In past years, pre-Covid, I would have already packed and repacked several times by now. This year I have that little thing in the back of my mind that thinks we might not be able to go, so I haven’t started any pre-packing yet.

Posted by
47 posts

I usually pack two pairs of pants and two dresses. The dress are of the INC brand -usually find them in Macy's and a local consign!ent shop. Of the two dresses one is a sun dress and the other is a maxi dress. Both are lightweight, easily to wash and quick drying.

Posted by
9 posts

I pack skirts. I can re-wear a skirt a few times, while I feel the need to wash my innermost underarm layer after a single wearing. So a dress is just more fabric attached to the underarms. :)

Posted by
100 posts

I wear linen skirts year round and take them on trips, too. I find skirts and dress so much more comfortable than pants. I used to wear those bike short things underneath in hot weather to prevent "chub rub" but those were hot and ruined the wonderful freedom of wearing the skirt. Then I tried skin protecting products made for runners. They are awesome! I use Gold Bond Friction Defense. It looks like a stick of deodorant, but you swipe it on any area that might rub and it really works. It also works on feet if you think you might rub a blister.

Posted by
65 posts

If you have chubby thighs like me, you risk the dreaded "chafing" problem wearing a dress or skirt in warm weather. I highly recommend something like a Jockey skimmie. They are lightweight bicycle short-style panties with no compression at all. Keeps you cool and comfortable. Problem solved!


Posted by
2283 posts

We just returned from Italy. It was hot. My daughter and my son's girlfriend wore dresses most of the time. Girlfriend is mid 20s and my daughter 30. My son's girl friend wore sneakers with her dresses and my daughter wore leather hiking boots (she has been having foot issues). I saw lots of women in dresses dressed similarly to them. I would not sweat what shoes to wear as anything seems to go.

Posted by
173 posts

I packed a black mock wrap skirt for a September trip to Sicily and wore the heck out of it with black slip on Skechers. Some days it was too hot for the capris that I had planned. My sister/travel partner wore several dresses with white tennis shoes and always looked chic. I have since discovered the rayon dresses from Old Navy and love them.

Posted by
57 posts

I have found that Royal Robbins Women's spotless traveler tank dress is the perfect travel dress. They are quick dry, wrinkle resistant and really lightweight. They also are made of a stain resistant fabric. They are rather expensive but well worth it for someone who travels light and does carry on only,

Posted by
38 posts

for me it's all about the shoes! I have "problem feet"... I have dresses that are both comfy and presentable looking (JJill is my favorite place for them), but often get caught up in finding shoes that are comfortable for me to walk a lot that go with the dresses.

Posted by
469 posts

Jealous much of any one packing to go anywhere at the moment - we're back in lockdown in NZ

However, my Macabi skirt finally turned up (had taken 6 weeks from Pennsylvania to NZ - very happy with it - they are the best travel skirts ever because they have pockets that I've managed to fit 2 phones, 2 wallets and 2 passports in when my partner ended up in hospital in China! Super light, super easy to wash, and can be made into trousers if you need to climb something They are overly long - I'm 5'7" and bought a "short" which is a midi length on me - but that also means they don't look stupid with boots

Posted by
2036 posts

I have this dress in black tall and it covers my knees.
I love it so much I bought it in turquoise and a sleeveless version in olive. One of them is coming to Europe next summer. I just went to Costa Rica and was so happy to have the black one. It was hotter than Hades and I was sweating like a pig!

I love the material because it’s breathable, hardly feels like it touches you, can be hand washed and easily dries overnight. It has a crinkle texture so you never need to iron it and can roll it up for packing. Can be dressed up or worn with sneakers. To combat the thigh chub rub, I use a friction stick made for runners. Works great and no additional shorts needed (defeats the purpose of the dress!)

This is another dress I bought for a trip to Florida that was cancelled last year. It hand washes and hang dries beautifully. Has pockets, covers shoulders and knees, and can be worn with sneakers.
Limited-time deal: OUGES Women's Summer Short Sleeve V-Neck Floral Short Party Dress with Pockets