When packing for a trip, many people choose to over pack because they feel they need more options. I’m here to show you another way. Now, more than ever traveling out of carry-on luggage can save you from many travel headaches. We don’t need that! We’ve waited long enough to travel and it’s important to make the most of our travel time. The best travel hack is to pack a versatile travel wardrobe capsule.
In the graphic below I’ve shown how to create 8 travel outfits for different travel scenarios based on only 12 items of clothing. You could easily create many more! Let’s get into some top level tips that will get you started on creating your own travel wardrobe capsule. More details on those clothing items can be found in this blog post.
IDENTIFY TRAVEL STYLE
Identifying travel style involves 2 considerations, the cultural and stylistic considerations of your destination and your own personal style. How I would dress for a European trip differs greatly than how I would pack and dress for a Southeast Asian trip. When I travel to countries like Morocco my outfits are more modest and covered up. This takes a bit of research but that’s part of the travel capsule creation process. Your personal style and the style you want for your trip will also help you focus on the clothing options that work best for YOU. For example classic, outdoorsy, beachy boho, sporty, etc.
This capsule was created specifically for European travel but you could take the template and apply it to your own specific travel needs. Europe isn’t as formal as it once was, so the style direction of this particular capsule is smart casual. There’s several style podcasters, bloggers and tik-tokers that advocate for finding your 3 words that define your style. This is a great exercise to apply to creating your travel capsule wardrobe. For this capsule, I would say the words are “ Classic, easy and quirky”. Classic items like a trench and Breton stripe sweater mix with graphic tees and sneakers for a quirky juxtaposition that keeps it interesting and not one note. The silhouettes are a bit relaxed for an easy, comfortable yet chic vibe.
CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE
Every article or blog post about creating a travel capsule wardrobe says to choose a color palette. This can make planning a travel capsule overly difficult and is only vital when you are packing for long trips over 2 weeks. For an average 4-12 day trip aim for matching at least 2 tops with one bottom. The more items that match the easier this is, but I know for myself and probably you as well that we don’t all have curated closets that match by color palette. Patterns are fine with tops and skirts. For the purposes of this capsule, I went with rich brownish, earthy autumnal tones with slight accents of pattern and color in the neck scarves. Don’t let the aesthetics of choosing a color palette slow you down, stick to neutrals and you’ll be golden. Add color in your accessories!
SHOP YOUR CLOSET FIRST
Most of the time you won’t need to buy a whole new travel wardrobe and in the spirit of sustainability I don’t advocate it. Here’s some essentials that should be in your closet that you can include in your travel capsule:
A good pair of jeans or two, a dress or skirt, lightweight tee shirts, a button down shirt or blouse, a lightweight sweater and a smart looking jacket. That’s the basis of a decent everyday and a travel capsule wardrobe. In the fall, remember that you’ll most likely be wearing a jacket so simple tops are fine. Add a scarf and you will look put together! If you don’t have these items I love shopping sites like Poshmark and DePop for gently used or new items. If that’s not your thing, these basics can be found at every price point at places like HM, Zara, Target and Old Navy and department stores like Nordstrom.
LAY OUT ALL POTENTIAL OUTFITS
When you have a closet full of clothes and options, it’s SO HARD to narrow down your options. I literally throw everything on the bed that I’d like to pack and start taking things away based on weather and travel style considerations. Then I set aside those “Hero outfits” that I know I love to wear and are appropriate and fill in the rest from there. Add items that match or can layer with your base hero outfits and fill in from there. Choose the most versatile items when narrowing in on your final travel wardrobe capsule.
If you need a little more direction, I’ve got a FREE travel wardrobe planner available just for YOU!
Sample Capsule Packing List (12 clothing items)
- 1 Outer Layer (Trench Coat)
- 1 Rain Jacket
- 1 Jacket or Blazer
- 1 Sweater
- 1 Blouse
- 1 Long sleeve shirts
- 1 Short Sleeve shirt
- 1 Short Sleeve shirt
- 1 Pair Jeans
- 1 Pair Dark Pants
- 1 Skirt
- 1 Dress
Sample Capsule Packing List (3 pairs of shoes)
Links to products
Short Sleeve Top – Similar
AVOID LOST LUGGAGE
If I haven’t convinced you yet to start planning and creating your own travel capsule yet, consider the realities of traveling today. I recently read an article that said lost luggage was up 20%. Most of us don’t have to read an article to know this is true. I’ve had many friends experience this first hand.
I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want to land in Italy or anyplace else without my luggage. If you have a trip coming up, I encourage you to not procrastinate on packing and plan and create your own travel capsule wardrobe. If you need an additional resource, I’ve created a guide to help get you packed in 10 easy steps!