This is the first in a series of 4 posts brought to you by Think Less Buttoned-Up—It’s a New 9 to 5.

When working with clients I find it useful to think about business travel in terms of two outfit formulas. The first of these takes you from the airport directly into a business meeting and therefore professional garb is a requirement. The second outfit takes you from the airport to a casual setting, like your hotel room.

Career Wear: Plane to Meeting

  • Non crease top: The Kenneth Cole New York sleeveless blouse ($69) is ideal. Sleeveless tops layer exceptionally well and the pattern helps hide stains incurred during the day. Brook’s Brothers non-iron miracle shirts are another great option and a personal favourite.
  • Comfortable bottom: Pencil skirts aren’t generally something you’d associate with comfort, but the Halogen seamed knit skirt ($68) looks professional and is very comfortable because it’s soft and stretchy. If you’re a trouser gal, try the Sloan fit black textured flare. It’s just as soft and stretchy – fits like a dream.
  • Jacket: Ann Taylor’s Bergman tweed two pocket jacket ($144) is a great mixture of both classic and fashionable edge. It is single breasted, seasonless and looks just as good un-buttoned. Fab with dressy bottoms or a pair of faded jeans.
  • Cardigan: This is an optional extra, but on the plane you can take off your formal jacket and pull on a cozy cardigan for the flight. The Halogen long sleeved boyfriend cardigan ($69) looks great with dressy bottoms and might even be sufficiently professional to wear during your business meeting. Personally, I would swap out the cardigan for my jacket as soon as the plane landed because nothing says you mean business quite like a tailored jacket.
  • Pumps: Comfortable heeled shoes are a must. Choose something with a cushioning foot bed that’s easy to slip off and on for the security check. Although Sofft’s Ramona patent pump ($109.95) is too high for me, it’s received great reviews and is well worth a look.
  • Large Tote: It’s practical to carry a tote when travelling, large enough for handbag essentials, a few notes and possibly a laptop.  The Halogen metallic leather tote ($98) is a dream. It’s simple, chic, lightweight and available in lots of colours. You can even carry a small handbag along with the tote it that suits you better.

Casual Wear: Plane To Hotel

  • Oversized top: A big blouse, denim shirt, voluminous knit top or roomy pullover are great casual top travelling options. The Alternative melange burnout dolman sleeve tee ($42) is fabulous and looks amazing with a scarf.
  • Scarf: I like to wear scarves on flights because the arctic air conditioning blasts freezing air and I’m always cold. My favourite types of scarves are pashimina size, patterned, and very soft, like the Halogen paisley dot challis scarf ($38). They drape well and add just the right amount of polish to a casual outfit.
  • Cover up: It’s a good idea to bring along a jacket, cardigan or trench coat to combat the cold air on a flight. Topshop’s black classic belted trench coat ($160) is a versatile solution since it can be dressed up or down for your trip.
  • Jeans: Comfortable jeans like Gaps’ Real Straights ($69.50) are ideal because they’re stretchy. Knit Ponte pants or legging jeans are nice alternatives.
  • Ankle Boots: I like to wear closed shoes with socks when I travel because it’s cozy and comfortable. Ankle boots like Frye’s Short Taylor ankle boot ($338) are my go to travelling choice. I have these in Fawn and they are wardrobe workhorses.
  • Large Handbag: Choose a large handbag like Fossil’s Modern Cargo leather shopper ($188) so that you can pack extra stuff. A gal needs all her goodies when she’s away from home.

During my fashion buying days, I travelled in business casual most of the time because I had meetings with manufacturers and management as soon as I got off the plane.  Now that I’m my own boss, I can travel in casual comfort and change into another outfit for business meetings.

I’m not in the habit of traveling light, but if you are then you might want to pick the career wear option even if you’re not going directly to meetings. That way you can minimize your traveling wardrobe and pack everything in your cabin luggage if your trip is only a few days long.

Are you are a regular business traveler? If so, what are your traveling outfit strategies?