I’m a Fashion Expert, and This Is One Item I Pack for Every Trip

Trust me, don’t leave home without this piece.

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Zella Explore Pullover Sweatshirt
Zella Explore Pullover Sweatshirt.

What should I buy? What are you wearing? What are you packing? I get these questions often. The last question is the most popular since I am not only known as a fashion expert but also as a carry-on only traveler. I could be embarking on a trip for three days or ten; I’ll be lifting my suitcase into the overhead bin. In order to make sure I fit everything I need in just one piece of luggage, I always make sure to pack wardrobe essentials that I can wear multiple ways, including one absolute must-have: a crewneck sweatshirt.

Using a carry-on makes me much more aware of what I pack and those oh-so crucial pieces I don't leave home without. Why a crewneck versus a hoodie, a zip-up, or even a cardigan? To me, the look is more refined and versatile. For the plane, it's jet set chic with comfy black leggings, a white tee, and sneakers. It can also be cute and preppy with denim shorts for a breezy afternoon of sightseeing and even dressed up when tied around the shoulders of a strapless maxi dress for an evening out at a beachfront restaurant. A classic crewneck is a piece that's seasonless, sporty, and trendy, not to mention less bulky and easier to pack than a hoodie. 

With over 15 years of fashion editorial and styling experience with expertise in the activewear and athleisure market, I know just how to find the perfect sweatshirt. When shopping for a new crew neck for your next trip, my main tip is to pick a shade or print that will keep it versatile. A solid neutral like black or gray will not only help keep stains to a minimum but will work with everything from jeans to a floral maxi skirt. If you choose a print or a graphic sweatshirt, make sure it's one you don't mind showing up in all your photos. My friend learned that lesson after wearing the same logo hoody on a European adventure. Our photos ended up looking like an ad for the store. 

The good news about crewneck sweatshirts is that there is a variety to choose from at all different price points. Keep reading to shop my favorites Amazon, Nordstrom, Zappos, and more.

Hanes EcoSmart Crewneck Sweatshirt

Hanes Women's EcoSmart Crewneck Sweatshirt
Hanes Women's EcoSmart Crewneck Sweatshirt.

A heather gray sweatshirt is a classic item. It feels vintage yet modern and goes with everything. With an oversized fit (it comes in sizes small to XXL), this selection from Hanes will definitely keep you cozy while traveling or on a chilly morning or evening. To make this a nighttime look, wear it with dark blue or black jeans and booties. Add a statement earring to dress it up even more. 

To buy: amazon.com, from $11 (originally $18)

Alternative Lazy Day Pullover

Alternative Lazy Day Pullover
Alternative Lazy Day Pullover.

Zappos

I tend to travel with many black wardrobe staples for obvious reasons; they go with everything. A black sweatshirt will go right over your patterned dress and work with your bright pink shorts. It's a blank canvas that can read urban, beachy, or country, depending on how you style it. This pick has a classic fit and relaxed cut that makes it great for layering. What makes this soft option even better? It's made with 20 percent recycled materials, so it’s the perfect option for anyone wanting to shop more sustainably. It’s available in sizes XS to XL. 

To buy: zappos.com, $34 (originally $65)

Zella Explore Pullover Sweatshirt

Zella Explore Pullover Sweatshirt
Zella Explore Pullover Sweatshirt.

Soft, smooth, and made with 100 percent cotton, this lightweight piece has a particularly convenient feature: a kangaroo pocket. It’s great for storing your phone on a flight or keeping it handy for a picture while walking through a city. The drawstring hem allows you to go for either a looser, more casual fit or a fitted one for a put-together look. Another feature that is perfect for chilly airplanes or temps is the thumb holes on the cuffs. Just loop your finger through for some extra coverage to warm up chilly hands. 

To buy: nordstrom.com, $59

Bingerlily Crewneck Sweatshirt

Bingerlily Crew Neck Sweatshirt
Bingerlily Crew Neck Sweatshirt.

Amazon

For those who love to wear color, the variety of bold hues offered in this sweatshirt will make it hard to pick just one. Crafted from a soft, pill-resistant blend of cotton, spandex, and polyester, this piece has a ribbed hem and cuffs for a flexible, stretchy fit. With a more fitted shape, this is  a piece that doesn’t compromise on comfort and will never look sloppy. 

To buy: amazon.com, $23

Varley Davidson Sweat 

Varley Davidson Sweat
Varley Davidson Sweat.

While the zip neck brings a more sporty vibe, the shawl collar and ribbed cuffs on this sweatshirt keep the look snug and refined. Another reason why it’s a great pick for travel? The piece offers several different styling options because of the neckline. For cold-weather adventures, consider wearing a turtleneck underneath for more warmth and a layered look. Alternatively, you can wear a cami underneath and unzip the collar to display some layered gold chains or a statement collar necklace. The cotton, polyester, and spandex sweatshirt comes in sizes XS to large. 

To buy: zappos.com, $118

Vineyard Vines Sunset Slub Cotton & Linen Sweater

Vineyard Vines Sunset Slub Cotton & Linen Sweater
Vineyard Vines Sunset Slub Cotton & Linen Sweater.

Yes, this is technically a sweater, but with a casual design, it has the feel of your favorite sweatshirt but with an elevated look. While I do caution choosing a sweatshirt that is printed, what I like about this dip-dyed number is that it brings on cheerful and happy vibes. It’s also perfect if you are heading on a beach vacation and will seamlessly match with indigo and white denim. The rolled neckline offers a looser fit yet keeps the look clean. It ranges in size from XXS to XL.

To buy: nordstrom.com, $168

Aerie The Happiest Oversized Crew Sweatshirt

The Happiest Oversized Crew Sweatshirt
The Happiest Oversized Crew Sweatshirt.

Aerie

If a slouchy look is what you tend to gravitate towards, this oversized crew is an excellent option. Made with lightweight fleece, this piece is very packable and will not take up too much space within your suitcase or carry-on tote. It’s also longer in the back to provide extra coverage, which is perfect for anyone who plans to travel in leggings or fitted bike shorts. The frayed seaming keeps this top on the casual side, but half tucked into jeans and worn with some heels, it will create a cool look for a night out exploring local bars. Since it’s available in 10 colors (and sizes XXS to XXL), you’ll be able to choose between neutrals or bold pops of color.

To buy: aerie.com, $42 (originally $60) 

Sweaty Betty After Class Cotton Blend Crop Sweatshirt

Sweaty Betty After Class Cotton Blend Crop Sweatshirt
Sweaty Betty After Class Cotton Blend Crop Sweatshirt.

Nordstrom

Boxy and cropped doesn't have to mean messy and unflattering. This cute top is perfect for anyone who veers a bit more trendy. It’s also a great option for shoppers who love bold hues since it comes in eight gorgeous colors. Filled with comfort-focused features like flatlock seams, a terry cloth lining, and thumb holes, this cotton and modal sweatshirt is ideal for long travel days. It’s fitted through the arms, making it a bit more tailored to the body for a flattering look. Plus, it falls at the hip and will pair seamlessly with any high-waisted pants. 

To buy: nordstrom.com, $68

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