When space is an issue, you've got to pack clothes that can work with more than one outfit.
All international travel requires some math, which is, in my opinion, not fun–we’re talking rupees to dollars when you’re haggling in a sweaty marketplace or kilometers to miles when you’re trying to figure out how fast your taxi driver is actually going.
However, there’s also some arithmetic that I find genuinely rewarding (and maybe a little less intense) when it comes to globehopping: managing double-duty attire and only packing items that have, at minimum, dual-use functions. The math is simple: why pack three things when you can pack one (that does the work of three)? A dress that converts to a skirt. A reversible kimono that flips from a loud pattern to a subtle solid. A jacket that also serves as a dress. You get the point. If a piece doesn’t multitask, leave it home. You can pack half the amount, avoid checking your luggage, circumvent luggage fees, and mete out the extra room in your bag to bring home some swag from the road.
Here are some of the best double and triple (and quadruple!) hitters we could find.
The Yuna Multi-Way Shirt by Aurorei
A travel girl’s best friend. Wrap it in front, tie it in the back, show off some midriff, or tuck it in to cover up. Tie it tight to accentuate your curves or let it hang loose for some breathing room. No one will even notice you wore this versatile piece yesterday when you switch it up the next day. Handmade in the heart of Brooklyn with a Japanese sustainable linen/cotton blend that softens the more times you throw it in the washing machine. The product comes in Black, Natural, and Eucalyptus colors. Sizes range from XS to XL.
The Layered Strapless Wool Dress by Cos
If the skirt and short combo is called a skort, what do you get when you cross a dress and skirt? A skress? Anyway, pair it over a button-down for that overseas business pitch. Ditch the shirt and wear it alone for celebratory drinks afterward. Squish it down as a skirt and pair it with a comfy hoodie for the long flight home.
The Apron Jumpsuit by Vetta
This one’s a three-for-one special. You can tie it in the back for a trinity of different looks. Wrap it for back coverage so you can wear a bra. Tie the back in a bow to create a little lower-back peephole action, or twist it around and tie it in front. As if that isn’t enough choices, the flattering onesie looks just as cute with a top underneath as it does when worn au naturel. Made in NYC, it comes in “Washed Navy” and “Washed Black” and is available in sizes 0-18.
The ADAY Back to Front Shirt
Since three ways are not enough for everyone, this piece ups the ante and raises you two. This 5-in-1 seasonless dress shirt can be worn backward, forward, open, closed, cinched at the waist, or loose. And it comes with a separate belt! Pop the collar style if you’re feeling cheeky or fold it down for a more straightforward look. Throw it over some leggings for the flight home or for the perfect mobile travel day outfit. Available in XS-L.
The Women Water Swimwear High-Neck Red One-Piece by OndadeMar
Wearing a swimsuit by day that becomes a bodysuit at night (assuming it’s dry by then) is such a genius covert maneuver we’d be surprised if it’s not in a CIA fashion handbook somewhere. So, yeah, this thing is the perfect accessory for double agents working the day shift and the night shift. The high-necked frilly red off-the-shoulder bathing suit can also function as a slinky top with jeans or a skirt. You’ll find sizes in XS-L.
The Sylvia Dress by Mara Hoffman
Buy one, get four with this button-up, cover-up shirt dress that works so hard to achieve so many things it deserves its own vacation. It functions as a robe, a tunic, a belted form-fitting dress, and a button-down shirt. Comes with a removable belt. Available in sizes XS-L.
The Noble Towel by Teema
Talk about multiple identities. This Turkish towel/beach blanket/scarf/shrug/throw pulls its weight and more. It has a striped design so subtle it can pass muster for multiple uses. Tie it on as a sarong and head off to the surf. Lay it down on the sand as a blanket. Wrap it around your neck when the sun goes down and then effortlessly toss it over your shoulders as a shrug when you go out to dinner. And when you get back to your room, throw it over a piece of furniture just so you can say you used the towel for all its different applications. Handmade by seamstresses in Turkey using looms for extra soft yumminess, this fashion statement comes in navy, stone, and beige.
The Carnaval Reversible Kimono by Farm
Now you see it, now you don’t. This breakthrough Brazilian brand’s product comes in a celebratory toucan print that would be perfect for Carnival. Inverse it for a gallery opening in Paris. Heck, slide it on when you get out of the shower and are doing your hair. This kimono, available in XS-L, is here to serve.
Fatal Dress by Wolford
The famed hosiery maker has designed this for the quick-change artist inside of every woman. You can lengthen this seamless tube into a dress, truncate it into a top, or split the difference and sport it as a skirt. It comes in 10 colors, XS-L.
The Retrograde Jacket Dress by Encircled
Dip into a phone booth wearing one version and when you dash out rocking it a new way, nobody will recognize you. This clever and timeless number, made in a fair-labor sewing studio in Toronto, is a jacket that can be zipped up to become a dress that can be worn in two ways; wear the zipper in the front or the back. Try it out in sizes XXS-XL.
The Billy 4-Way Reversible Tank Top by Helene Clarkson
Not only very reversible but also fully flippable, the lightweight tank top has a crew neck on one side and a V-neck on the other–one for work and one for play. Flip it inside out to go from a subdued and understated print to a blingy and festive one. Comes in XS-XL sizes.
The Diane Kroe Wear Ever Skirt Dress
Inside out and reversible, you say? Pfft. This piece can also be worn upside down! Honestly, you may deem yourself a light MacGyver for the number of looks you’ll out of this number. The specialty snaps can be configured to turn this contraption of a dress into eight different looks. The octo-dress wins the award for its performance in a lead role, in a supporting role, and every other role in the movie.