In this post, I’m tackling a question submitted in my YouTube comments on how to pack for a formal business trip, in February, specifically to Poland.

I love this question because it’s a real-life situation that combines some of my tips in my post on How to Pack for a Winter Trip and my Guide to Packing for a Business Trip.

As always, I start all packing lists with my 4 parameters: Weather, activities, vibe, and trip length.

Weather: January and February are the coldest months in Poland with an average snowfall of 11 days out of the month and temperatures just below freezing.

For the activities, this subscriber wasn’t specific but did give me the vibe: very formal and the trip length is 7 days.

Packing with Purpose

My first piece of advice for this person would be to get as much information as possible about the activities likely to take place on this trip. Is there a gala, requiring a black tie outfit? Will you be taken on a sightseeing tour or spend considerable time outside as part of this trip? I’m using these as examples because they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum and require the most specific clothing.

Once you have those high-stakes packing items decided on, you can build your list around that. Ideally, you’d be able to use those items in other outfits, but that’s not always possible so it’s perfectly fine if those items live in their bubble and the rest of the packing list mixes and matches. It’s tempting to buy the perfect new dress or outfit that lends itself to mixing and matching in a packing list. But my goal with this blog is not to get you to buy more travel-friendly clothes but to shop your own closet first.

Packing Winter Formalwear

Let’s assume there is a very formal gala, and an outdoor portion of the trip, and the rest of the trip is business meetings or a conference-type setting. That means you’d already be packing a fancy dress, an anorak or puffy winter coat, and some practical boots.

One area where you might consider getting more wear is the footwear for the formal event. With a long winter gown, you can get away with wearing a smart boot, perhaps with a pointy toe, which you could wear at different moments during the trip.

If you’re wearing a short-sleeved gown, you can wear a blazer sort of draped over your shoulders, or a cardigan with nice buttons, as well as something more trendy like a wool capelet. You can wear a pashmina too, which can be your main scarf for the trip. That’s a neat way to get more wear from your evening look. But just a warning fashion-wise, that style can feel quite juvenile prom-like or like a bridesmaid. Or on the flip side, quite matronly.


Let’s regroup on what we have so far: Coat, formal dress, possibly a blazer, booties, and practical warm boots. Now for any boots that are more style than substance, I’d make sure I wore wool socks. For the practical boots I pack, I’d aim to get an insulated pair that still looks good with the rest of my clothes. If most of your business activities are inside, you can switch to your cute booties from your “outside” boots.

Filling In The Gaps

Let’s round out this packing list with a few of my favourite winter business staples:

  • A thin turtleneck or two
  • A wool skirt which could have a few different lengths or shapes. My only tip here is longer means warmer, so if you do go shorter, make sure you have warm winter tights.
  • A blouse
  • A Merino ribbed polo sweater
  • A pair of wool trousers: these are likely what I’d wear on the day I’m going to spend the most time outside. For very cold days, I’d add tights underneath. If the outdoorsy activity is very active, then I’d swap these for a trackpant-like pant.
  • A simple cardigan
  • Only if you have room, maybe one more thin knit wool dress.

Choosing the Right Coat

Now here’s where it all depends on you: puffy coat or wool coat.

I’m hesitating on whether or not to add a smart winter coat. Truly this comes down to: will you have a very outdoorsy event during your trip that requires a puffer? You could choose a smart puffer, a stylish wool coat, or a sporty puffer and a wool coat…it depends on your particular trip.

As for base layers, I’d bring Merino wool tanks, underwear and tights for added warmth, and if you are packing a wool coat, sneak in a little puffy vest under your coat.

Leather gloves lined with wool or cashmere are great, a beanie, and a scarf complete your accessories.

For bags, on a usual business trip, I typically bring a tote bag big enough for my laptop, but for you that maybe only has to be big enough for a tablet or a notebook, it depends on your work. I’d also pack a small handbag for the evenings, perhaps a crossbody with a detachable strap.

This is what I would pack with the prompt submitted by a kind subscriber. If you have any packing conundrums, leave them in the comments below and they may inspire a future video!

Happy travels xox