Leslie Willmott | Wardrobe Strategies for Career, Travel & Casual Lifestyles

Wardrobe Strategies for Career, Travel & Casual Lifestyles

Traveling More in Her 70s Than She Did in Her 20s!

By on Mar 7, 2020


Smart Women On The Go Profile:


Rosemary Barnhart has been to more than 160 countries — and she’s still traveling the globe. Rosemary, who is 77, had a long career in the cruise industry so she’s had a head start on many of us. But equally – maybe more – impressive is that her partner Lee is still traveling at 97!

I consider Rosemary and Lee “icons” of the cruise world since they take two or three cruises a year and most are a month long. Their experiences recently attracted Condé Nast Traveler magazine and editor Madison Flager interviewed Rosemary for her perspective on traveling in your later decades:

“I’ve always been sort of adventurous”, says Rosemary, “and that hasn’t changed. If anything, travel makes your visions a little wider and makes you want to go more, see more. The only new approach in this decade is slowing down.

“We can’t do all that driving and traipsing around like we used to do . . . cruising takes us to so many places—all without ever having to unpack a bag. As we’ve gotten older, it’s become the best way for us to travel.”

Click here for the full article – it’s a delightful and inspirational read!


Rosemary’s Smart Packing Tips:  

I’ve known Rosemary since the early 1970’s when we both worked for Simplicity Pattern Company, traveling the U.S. with fashion shows. It gave us both the travel bug. Fast-forward a few years and Rosemary went into the travel business, ultimately spending 10 years working for three major cruise lines. She knows all of the ins and outs of cruising, making her my go-to person to help me with packing.

You and I may not have the luxury of spending this much time cruising but we can learn lots from this cruising maven and her partner Lee. I interviewed Rosemary for our Tips for Travelers newsletter a few years ago and her advice still holds true:

“Two to three weeks before a trip I chart out the first 10 days of our cruise on a calendar, writing down what I could wear each day and evening. This helps me begin laying out clothes. 

“I start with a foundation of pants in neutral colors (her favorite are black, white and cream), packing a variety of tops that will go with all . . . For evening I love to wear pants with fancy, beautiful or simple tops. Many can roll up and tuck into a corner of my luggage . . . Jewelry is key to extending your wardrobe. Pair a very simple top with a ‘statement’ faux-jewelry piece. Switch the jewelry and no one knows you’ve worn the top more than once.”

Rosemary and I both still count Chico’s and J. Jill as great resources for washable, wrinkle-free travel wardrobe pieces.

Proper Planning is Key

I adapted the tools of advance planning from Rosemary, charting out my trips on a calendar, noting activities and expected weather on each day to help me plan my wardrobe. And, like Rosemary, I invested in a collapsible clothes rack to make both planning and packing easy and efficient.

“The rack makes coordination of separates easier (four tops can hang by one pair of pants; shoes go on the floor below, matching up with the selected clothes) and allows me to see all I’m taking before packing,” says Rosemary. Planning ahead is truly the way to take the panic out of packing.

Click here for my interview with Rosemary for many more insights and tips on packing for a cruise. 

Post Script: No profile of Rosemary is complete without noting that her partner Lee, at 97, is a true marvel! Happy and healthy, his mantra is simply “keep moving.” We all need to take a lesson from Lee. He’s the one closing the cruise ship dance lounges every night!



For more travel and packing tips take a look at these previous posts:




  1. I can’t thank you enough, both of you, for this post. So timely in my life right now. Recently, my husband and I won a trip to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Neither of us has ever traveled in Europe, and actually never outside the U.S. other than to Canada and Mexico. What do I wear? Our travel/tour group has been helpful in making suggestions. But I’ve gained 40 lbs. in the last four years due to a mobility disability, which is much better now and has allowed me to drop 15 lbs. so far. My next question was where to find travel clothing in my size.

    Today you answered with links to J. Jill and Chico’s. I’ve found several things I’ll be revisiting and likely purchasing. Our trip is 12 days, and I love the idea of the chart. You’ve helped me get started.

    BTW, can you recommend a good brand of walking shoes for use in walking tours over cobblestones and up and down hills? I must wear orthotics in my shoes and will still be walking with trekking poles to stabilize. I’m determined to make this trip! Would leather sneakers be suitable?

    Sherrey Meyer

    May 10, 2020

    • Sherry,
      I’m delighted to know that the article was so helpful. I trust you found some good travel pieces at both J.Jill and Chico’s! Regarding walking shoes there are several brands to consider but what might be comfortable for me (e.g. Naot, Flexx and Paul Green are three brands I like) may not be comfortable for you, especially since you wear orthotics. Leather sneakers would certainly be suitable, depending upon the time of year you will be traveling (they can be hot in the summer). My suggestion is to shop a store that specializes in walking shoes, such as The Walking Company, and try several on. Let me know what you find! Have a wonderful trip!

      Leslie Willmott

      May 13, 2020

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