Traveling has been on my mind a lot lately and I’m eager to get out and about exploring. One of the things that make travel a little easier and less stressful is minimalist packing without sacrificing great style. Creating a capsule wardrobe is always a good idea as they help to keep your closet more tamed and make getting dressed much easier. Without having a million pieces to choose from and instead, having a well-curated collection that coordinates and is versatile, you can get dressed with ease. Fine-tuning your own personal style can also make creating a capsule much easier.
All of this combined can make a travel capsule easy, functional and stress-free. And can maybe mean packing light for once! And no this doesn’t mean wearing the same outfits over and over, it means mixing and matching a well-curated capsule of pieces for an array of options to choose from when you’re traveling. Here’s how to do it.
Travel Capsule Wardrobe
The secret to creating a travel capsule wardrobe is packing super versatile tops. These can be simple button downs that go with casual things like jeans, or dressier pieces like skirts. To basic white tees or striped tees (a favorite for an instantly more chic outfit). For cooler temps, add in classic sweaters that you can easily layer.
Whatever bottoms you love and live in, that’s what you’re adding to your travel capsule wardrobe. For many it’s likely a great pair of jeans or black pants that you love. Opt for the ones that can easily work with all the shoes you plan on bringing. I wouldn’t bring a pair of jeans that requires a specific pair of heels with them only (I’m looking at you wide-leg pants).
Dresses + Skirts
Dresses can sometimes be a bit tricky for a travel capsule as they can rarely be worn multiple times without you being bored with them. But sometimes they work. If your dress can be easily transitioned from day to night, it works. If it’s solely for a nice dinner or fancy event that you just have to attend, so be it, that happens. Skirts are an ideal item to add to a capsule wardrobe as they can be mixed and matched with different tops and layers that can work for dressier dinners and everyday exploring. I love a great floral midi skirt for a trip that can be worn with a tee and sneakers for a casual look. But then easily dress it up with a leather jacket, silk camisole and heels, and voila you have several outfits.
Light layers and outerwear will depend greatly on your destination. I think a light layer like utility jackets, denim jackets or cardigans make for a great third piece and can pull together jeans and a tee in a snap. Try to maximize these items and make sure you can wear your outerwear with as many outfits you plan to wear. And keep in mind the weather when planning. If I’m heading to a place in the fall that may be a little cool and damp, I’ll try to pack a classic trench and layer it up with a sweater or scarf. But the trench can also be worn on its own with a light tee for warmer days too.
I try to keep my accessories to a minimum. But they can also be a great way to spruce up jeans and a white tee. Since they don’t take up a ton of space, you can definitely add some fun accessories to your carry on suitcase to refresh some outfits. From adding in a bandana, or a pretty belt on a dress, to scarves for easy light layers to stay warm, these can all be great ways to maximize your basic travel capsule.
This is one of my weaknesses when it comes to packing and can be tough depending on the trip itself from the destination to the weather and the activities you’re doing. But for short trips, aim for 2 pairs of shoes. The ones you’re wearing on the plane should be comfortable ones like a loafer, sneaker or any kind of flat you love. Then for your second pair, maybe something that can dress up some pieces. For longer trips or ones that have varying temperatures and activities, try to minimize anything extra. As in, you don’t need a pair of heels for each night out! This is why I love a good neutral block heel. Great for day, night and everything in between.
Everyone’s different with what they prefer to sleep in, but my number one tip is just to pack as simply as possible. I prefer to sleep in tees and leggings or sweatshorts. Instead of bringing a new set for each night, I do one for every 2 nights. And sometimes even 3. This is especially true if I will be wearing t-shirts on this trip as I can just sleep in them afterwards. I always pack my least bulky sleepwear too. No need for big comfy sweatpants when shorts or thin leggings can do the trick. Plus, a pair of black leggings is never a bad idea for an outfit in a pinch!
A perfect example of a good weekend travel capsule wardrobe. Go to bottoms with jeans, a few basic tops that can feel elevated, and a layer or two. A dress that can go from day to night with just the swap of a shoe is my favorite. Each top goes with each bottom. Shoes can go with every pair of bottoms to mix and match. All you need is a pair of pajamas, and your favorite purse that you like to carry and you’re good to go!
To expand on this weekend travel capsule for a longer trip, I’d probably add in an additional jacket that can easily be worn on the plane. And then a few additional tops. A graphic tee, maybe a nicer top for dinner, and then one more bottom. Whether you’re more of a jean person, or skirt, adding one more in will help give you a really well rounded, yet still minimalist travel capsule.
How To Build A Travel Capsule Wardrobe
Creating a travel wardrobe for your next trip can be super beneficial. It will make getting dressed much easier and allow you to pack light in your carry on suitcase. Which is always a plus. There are several key tips to making sure your travel capsule allows you to mix and match great outfits, not be stressed about getting dressed each day and will keep you from overpacking. My biggest tip is in the pre-planning. Keeping versatile pieces in mind, and not so many full complete and separate outfits.
Plan Your Outfits And Try Them On
My favorite packing tip I can give any time you’re packing for your next trip is to plan and try your outfits on. I like to first plan out my trip as much as possible knowing what activities I’m doing and the types of outfits I know I’ll for sure need. Even if you don’t have EVERYTHING planned out, whatever you do know you’ll for sure be doing, write it down and plan the outfits. If you have a nice dinner you have to go to, make sure you add this in. It may not be a normal piece you pack, but maybe you can get a second look out of it or at least know you can create a backup outfit too.
Next, I always encourage people to try on their outfits. It’ll make creating a mix and match capsule that much easier. You’ll be able to quickly put together additional outfits by swapping out a top, adding a light layer, etc. By forcing yourself to keep that skirt on and make two outfits from it, you’ll be able to extend your pieces into more looks this way. Instead of just creating singular outfits, it’s better to force yourself to create multiple looks using singular pieces. This will mean packing less full complete outfits, and instead more versatile pieces.
This also helps you to figure out what to toss so you pack only the things you really need. Sometimes I really feel like I want to bring this new dress or pretty top. And once you put it on and realize it’s not as comfortable or as versatile as you thought, you’ll know to leave it behind. Which can be game changing for maximizing space.
Check The Weather
While also planning my outfits, I always check the weather. You never know when Mother Nature may change on a dime and getting a decent idea of the weather can help you plan. If it’s going to rain, you can make sure you pack the necessities to survive the weather and not find yourself buying something last minute or suffering through crappy weather. It may also mean adjusting the pieces you pack or don’t pack because of it.
Quality Over Quantity
For any capsule wardrobe, the goal should be quality over quantity. The same goes for a travel capsule wardrobe. Don’t bring a skirt that doesn’t feel great, or wrinkles instantly. Pick the pieces that you feel your best in and that are quality items that can be worn over and over again. I find myself bringing the closet essentials I swear by that are always worth investing in.
Choose Fabrics Carefully For Your Travels
When selecting pieces for your travel capsule, keep in mind fabrics. Not only for your personal style and looks, but also for the destination. Going to a warm weather destination? Add in lots of cotton and linen. Heading somewhere snowy and cold? Pack wool, cashmere and thin layers. But also keep in mind how things can easily wrinkle or not wrinkle. I try to avoid things that require a lot of fussing. If you feel the need to bring that wrinkle-prone skirt, at least pack a mini steamer. I love this one!
Stick To The Classics
I can easily get excited to pack new fun pieces when I travel. But I can assure you, every time I do I find myself wearing it once and it takes up way too much space. When I get home and unpack, there’s always that one trendy piece I roll my eyes at knowing damn well I should not have packed it. The things that always work, and never get old, are sticking to the classic pieces in my closet. Look at the things you wear the most and feel your best in. That’s what you should always be packing.
This may be different for everyone, but for me, it usually means my favorite jeans, simple tees both basic and graphic, and light layers like a utility jacket or leather jacket. And of course comfortable shoes like sneakers, ballet flats or your favorite sandals that you can walk for miles in. Stripes are also always a chic and smart choice too and can easily dress up a pair of jeans with a heel, or be paired with a skirt. Try to avoid those insanely trendy pieces if you can so you aren’t just wearing them once and wasting space.
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