Houston is the home of Beyoncé, several pro sports franchises and one of the most diverse culinary scenes in the country. Think Czech kolaches in the morning, Vietnamese-Cajun crawfish for lunch and smoked brisket for dinner. So, packing clothes that don't show food stains makes sense, but it's Houston's hot and humid climate that should inform most of your packing decisions.
Casual Clothes in Lightweight, Breathable Fabrics
Between the months of April and September, Houston's residents cope with being sweaty all the time. The city is notorious for its humidity, and the air gets extra swampy when the temperatures soar between late spring and early autumn. Temperatures routinely rise into the 90s during these months.
Even in the cooler months, people who tend to run warm may have to contend with sweatiness. So Houston isn't the best place to wear linen, wool and other fabrics that are either very warm or show sweat. Cotton is a good option. It's breathable and tends to dry fairly quickly. Avoid polyester and other synthetic fabrics, which hold heat close to the skin. Instead, choose a casual daytime wardrobe of walking shorts and an assortment of T-shirts, polo shirts, tank tops and other lightweight tops. Bring at least one pair of pants and a cardigan or warmer layer, as Houston's air-conditioned buildings can be downright cold.
In winter, Houston's temperatures are often in the 60s. Pack warm-weather clothing for a wintertime trip, but bring along at least two pairs of pants and long-sleeved shirts.
One or Two Stylish Nighttime Outfits
Houston is a huge city with a diverse nightlife scene. In general, though, it's a fairly conservative place, and people dress up to visit downtown restaurants and clubs. But to hit a barbecue spot or country music bar, jeans or shorts are totally acceptable. That's why most visitors don't need to waste suitcase space with a ton of dressy ensembles. Bring one pair of lightweight dress pants and a collared shirt or a knee-length cocktail dress and shoes to match. If your plans involve more than two nights' worth of upscale dining, pack a second outfit.
Breathable Walking Shoes
Yup, sweaty feet are a reality of life in Houston. Pack at least one pair of sturdy, supportive sandals that you can comfortably walk in for a long time. But Houston isn't a tremendously walkable city, and its size means that getting around by car is the most practical option, so don't worry about choosing all your footwear with long walks in mind. In addition to walking sandals, feel free to bring a pair of flip-flops and a pair of casual slip-on shoes or ankle boots too.
Accessories for Houston Weather
Many Houston hotels have pools, and it takes less than an hour to reach some of the area's beautiful beaches, so pack a swimsuit and coverup. One downside of Houston's humidity and proximity to water is that the city has a major mosquito population. It's easy enough to buy bug spray in Houston, but bringing your own small bottle or a package of insect repellent wipes reduces the chance that you'll start your trip covered in itchy bites.
Sunscreen is likewise essential, as are sunglasses and a brimmed hat. Houston is prone to powerful rainstorms, especially during hurricane season – which officially lasts from June 1st through November 30th – so bring a hooded raincoat. If you're driving to Houston and have trunk space to spare, pack a pair of rain boots just in case.