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What We Learn about Travel Fashion from Audrey Hepburn and the LBD

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Travel fashion necessity number one is as simple as the little black dress

travel fashion
The sunglasses, the almost messy hair, the coffee and the LBD (Breakfast at Tiffany’s screenshot from trailer in public domain)

If  one were to judge by thumbing through a fashion or celebrity magazine, travel + fashion go together rather nicely. Willowy starlets wearing oversized sunglasses and skinny jeans, carrying humungous leather bags  are often captured mid stride in various international airports. In one of the minor mysteries of life, their feet are frequently shod in boots (and interestingly the paparazzi generally stays away from the security line where even their subjects must remove their Uggs one foot at a time.)

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with fashion when it comes to traveling. On the one hand we think stylish travel clothes can be a lot of fun and that there isn’t anything the matter with wanting to look your best while on the road. On the other hand we think it is even more important to feel your best.  

 We get a lot of questions here on The Travel Belles about how to dress in Italy and France. It definitely can be intimidating to travel to a country where women are known for their impeccable taste and infallible fashion sense. We also understand that if you are planning to travel to one of the more “stylish” cities that looking and feeling your best go hand in hand.

What would Audrey wear?

Although Audrey Hepburn was an icon for many reasons, these days she is most often remembered as a fashion icon. During her lifetime she was frequently asked about her style. This was her standard answer:

“My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses.”

The “Little Black Dress”: both a reality and a state of mind

Even in contemporary airport fashion spotting, there are distinct elements that are inherited from Hepburn’s style (note large sunglasses.) These women may not be wearing a literal LBD as they navigate security lines, but any true travel fashionista, famous or not, seen at an airport throughout the world on any given day, most likely has a travel version of the little black dress rolled up neatly in her carry on.

In order to be the perfect travel LBD, the item should be:

        • Machine or hand washable and preferably made from a cotton jersey or poly blend. As with all wardrobe centerpieces, it’s better to invest in quality. That way your LBD will still be looking good, instead of turning into a pilled and faded thing after a few washings and taking up space in a closet. You can always pick up an inexpensive scarf or belt to wear with it at a local market or Target!
        • Tailored enough that the dress will both feel comfortable and look good without a belt . Not only will this make the airport security line a little less fussy, but facing the reality that after a few days of macaroon or artisan gelato eating  not having to wear a belt for an outfit to feel and look put together can make dining more pleasant. In other words: no tent dresses.
        • Long enough to be comfortable getting up and down and curling up in your airplane seat if  planning to wear during long haul air travel. Long enough for whatever it is you will be doing.
        • Black. Spills happen, and stains have a way of revealing themselves over time, and black is still your best bet.

The cut, length and neckline of the best travel dress is an individual choice. How the LBD is worn is even more individual. Think of it as an empty palette to express your individuality.

Look One:



Look Two:

In case you were wondering, we think a maxi dress can be  “a little black dress.”


Now we want to know about your favorite piece in your travel wardrobe. Any suggestions about what you’d like to see us cover in the world of travel fashion for next month?



More little black travel dresses:



About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

3 thoughts on “What We Learn about Travel Fashion from Audrey Hepburn and the LBD”

  1. Great artIcle! I’m sitting on the ferry on my way to SeaTac as I write this. Although not wearing a dress because it’s very cold, I’m in head-to-toe black, with bright scarf for splash of color. The only way to fly!

  2. I always, always wear a dress of some kind. They’re effortlessly classy and so comfy to fly in. AND they’re easy to layer – especially if you’re flying between hot and cold climates. I just keep tights and a pashmina tucked in my bag and I’m ready to go. 🙂

  3. I adore travelling in my LBD, with a warm sweater and boots in winter, splashy accessories in summer. What I’d love to see is an article on the perfect travel hat. I live in Seville, where women never, ever wear hats except to a daytime wedding or the beach. This summer, I need to find a great travel hat that’s packable, gorgeous and, oh yes, keeps the sun off my face. Any ideas?

    Karen McCann

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