Convertible clothing is a staple of many a frequent traveler. Planning your vacation or travel outfits can be the most fun part of preparing for a trip, and we will often spend hours matching up possible outfits and seeing what will fit in our bags. Sometimes, however, your priority might be “as few items as possible.” Enter the items that can do two jobs or more.

You may be aware of the many items out there that have been specially designed to turn into several different things. Those are great, and worth checking out. For my own purposes, however, I am going to focus on items that you might already own, or that might be easy to find at your local high street or mall.

Short dress/Long t-shirt

Now, this one will depend on personal style and preferences, as well as how much you like to cover up. However, a t-shirt style dress, or a long t-shirt that you might consider wearing as a dress, can be an excellent convertible piece to take with you. As a dress, you might wear it at the beach or out and about – this might also depend on the culture of the country you are visiting.

It can also be a great idea to make sure that the fabric is a little clingy on you. This way, you can fold the bottom hem up a few inches underneath the fabric of the shirt. If the shirt isn’t too loose, the fold should stay put and it will look like a regular length t-shirt. Otherwise, it should be suitable for tucking into your various pants and skirt options.

Maxi Skirt

A nice long maxi skirt can be a very versatile option on its own, as it can be adapted to both formal and informal settings depending on the accessories and other items you pair it with. Beyond that, however, it might also be able to function as a convertible knee-length dress. The dress version will be sleeveless, which might not suit everyone, but you could also wear it with a scarf of jacket if you like your shoulders covered. You will need to make sure that the skirt is elasticated enough to hold itself up on you.

Button Down Shirt

This is an old convertible classic, but is still well worth mentioning. A nice, clean button down shirt or blouse can be a great addition to any wardrobe, let alone a suitcase. However, its versatility means that it should be considered for easy travel. Of course, as a shirt, it allows you a formal option if the need arises. If you do want to keep this as an option, make sure the blouse itself is smart, perhaps something monochromatic with a crisp collar. You can wear it tucked in and with the sleeves folded up for a more beachy look, or perhaps tied at the waist. It can also work as an extra layer, almost like a very light jacket, especially if it has a noticeable structure to it.

Button Down Dress

This performs some similar functions to the button down shirt, but with the added bonus of making you look like you write poetry in your spare time. That is, a nice dress is a great item to bring along in any case. This is especially good if it can make the switch from formal to informal. If you can unbutton it all the way down, however, it can also be used as a long layering piece. This can be nice to add to an outfit for that poetical look, or act as something to throw over a bathing suit without having to wriggle.


It’s a wrap – it’s a scarf – it’s a dress – it’s a skirt – it’s a blanket – it’s a headcovering! …The shawl, or oversized scarf, really is the superman of convertible travel garments. Even if you already own one, you might not even be aware of all the things you can do with it. Try doing a little internet research to find all of your options. There are ways to turn a shawl into a dress, a skirt, or even a poncho-type wrap.

Its potential functions will be limited to a certain degree by its size, the material, and the design. A nice soft pashmina, for example, can function excellently as a scarf, or a knee blanket for travel. However, you might not want to twist it into something you can wear over a swimsuit. A light, open weave or translucent silky piece might make an excellent headscarf or wrap. However, it will probably not work on its own as a skirt. Try a few things and see!


This is the casual convertible cousin of the shawl. It serves many of the same functions, though might be less available to your more formal outfit choices. The fabric could also be a little bulky for some of the shawl’s potential purposes. However, a kikoi has an added advantage – it can be used as a towel. True, it does not have the absorption of a a regular towel, not by a long shot. However, if you’re somewhere hot enough that the sun should do most of the drying, it can definitely work. On a practical note, it can be nice to have a bright, distinct and easy to spot design laid out on the beach. When you go into the water, it will allow you to keep an eye on your belongings from afar.