What to Wear on a Road Trip


Hi Imogen,

I was wondering if you have any ideas to look tidy and classy whilst travelling by car. Many Australian ladies travel long distances by car for holidays or as a life style choice. My friend was dismissed as unworthy in a jeweller whilst wearing the travelling outfit adopted by most ( 3/4 pants, knit top and sneakers). The snooty sales girl omitted to notice the 7 blue diamonds on my friend’s fingers and lost a very large sale!
We ARE judged by how we look which is simply the way of the world. I would like help to change this uniform. Bearing in mind that outback temperatures are enormous, stops are few and far between and mooching around on rough ground is part of the joy of this kind of travel.
Hope you can help as we are off from Central Queensland to Darwin (3000 kms) next month. I look forward to your wisdom.
Cheers Judy 

What to Wear on a Road Trip

I’m not a fan of pants on a road trip. Pants can be quite binding and uncomfortable when you’re sitting in a car for hours on end (which on any Australian road trip tends to happen as it’s such a large place).

Instead of the standard top and pants, I recommend a dress, like any of those featured in this picture (all from Verily).

  1. Look for a dress made from a non-crush fabric.
  2. A pattern is great, it means that you don’t need to accessorize (the pattern is the hero) if you don’t want to.
  3. A pattern will also help to disguise any stains, in case you spill a little of your drink on yourself when you hit a bump in the road.
  4. Dresses like these won’t grab or bind at your waist and make you uncomfortable while you’re sitting.
  5. The joy of  a dress is that it looks like you’ve made a real effort, when in fact you’ve just thrown on one garment.

If it’s cool in the morning, you can add leggings and a cardigan, which can easily be removed as the day warms up.

Ensure the shoes you choose are comfortable if you’re doing lots of walking, but you may want to keep a pair of dressier shoes to change into if you’re hitting the shops.


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  • I love the ideas that you have given for what to wear. I don’t know why I didn’t think to wear one of my comfy skirts instead of jeans that are definitely binding and uncomfortable.

  • This is BRILLIANT Imogen. Thanks so much. I have just returned from the Darwin trip but will be armed and dangerously stylish for all future travels. I ended up wearing my linens as I know they are comfortable. They did the job of comfort but sadly shrank when I forgot to turn the dryer at our Motel down to cool. What a shame. I will not be able to look like I have crawled out of the rag bag again. Once again, THANK YOU.

  • Totally agree with wearing a dress! Today I’m leaving on a 5 hour drive to Charleston SC for my niece’s wedding. I’m wearing a cool, loose-fitting dress, shrug, and sandals. I will be comfortable but still look presentable! In fact, all I’m taking is dresses for this long weekend.

  • I travel extensively in the US, both by motorhome and boat, and the ladies’ “uniform” here is also capris/shorts and a tee shirt. I decided a number of years ago that I wanted to step it up a notch but still be comfortable.

    For me, skirts are the key. I have a selection of cotton and linen midi skirts that I wear with knit tops. I don’t know why skirts the same length and material as capris (what you call 3/4 pants?) seem so much dressier, but they do! And yet the comfort factor is identical. Add a simple necklace or a scarf and you’re dressed for anything.

    I very much like the idea of patterned dresses (or skirts) but here in the US it is hard to find any that aren’t made of polyester or viscose. I find those don’t breathe as well in the hot, humid weather here along the US east coast. I wish manufacturers would show us more cotton blend dresses…

    • Louise, take a look at tommybahama.com. Lots of patterned linen or linen blend dresses and some skirts. I love wearing dresses in the hot and humid South.

  • I have recently bought two Verily dresses for a trip to the U.S and Canada. When the first one arrived I knew it would be perfect. I would buy a 3rd one if my favourite, the marine twist dress, came in another colour. The sleeves are so flattering on that one. I am planning on wearing one on the plane for starters and I know the other will be still looking good when it comes out of the suitcase.
    I was hoping to win another in your recent competition!

  • When I was traveling for about 6 hour (or more, not me driving! :P), I prefer to wear leggings of a thicker but lightweight material (those that are polyester blend http://cdn-s3-3.wanelo.com/product/image/1614891/original.jpg ) and a soft tunic top. During summer, I tends to wear leggings with tunics over jeans/pants (but tempted to try “skorts”) when I dont want to wear skirts/dresses and I think this is good alternative to people whose style isnt feminine (Personally, Im a cameleont who wear almost any clothing type as long its appropriate for the occasion and I like the style. xD)

    But you are definitly right about pants (and jeans for the matter). I only find them comfortable if they are super stretchy and has a higher waist. The typical low rise jeans/pants that are so populare for younger women tends to hug my hipbones way too much and creates “crotch bulk” on me . .___. (Strangely, many younger girls seems to associate high waist with mommy jeans. xD Oh well…)

  • Excellent discussion. I’ve always wondered why Australians dress down to travel in cars whereas Europeans don’t, but maybe it’s the distances!
    My suggestion is to do away with the capri pants. This unflattering garment has had its day. Replace with ankle-length narrow pants, which go with slightly longer tops, not shirts but tunics and blouses in light fabrics.
    Your suggestion of dresses is great, just that for some of us finding flattering dresses is hard. However I always look and have finally managed to find some.

  • I agree with Michaela, finding dresses is difficult. With maxi dresses or long skirts I have issues over proportions and scale. I need to cover up my legs as well, so wondered if a dress could be worn over a leggings – or would it be better to alter it to a tunic length to make it work with limline trousers or good quality jeggings- in a lightweight fabric instead ?
    What advise do you give for wearing linens or a linen and cotton mix of fabric ? Linen tends to always crease a lot, but can be cooler to wear in the heat.

    • You can easily wear a dress over leggings or shorten it to tunic length, or wear a tunic!

      Linen creases heaps. I find it a difficult fabric, but it can be good in the heat.

  • I know this is an old topic but I’ve just found it. One of the reasons I like dresses for road trips has not been mentioned – it’s easier to use the “facilities” during a stop. 🙂

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