How to Pack a Capsule Wardrobe for Winter Travel
A capsule wardrobe for winter travel streamlines your packing process and allows you to enjoy your winter European vacation without the stress of over-packing. Winter European travel can be a magical experience, but it can also be a source of stress when it comes to packing. With colder weather and the need for bulkier clothing and accessories, it can be tempting to over-pack and end up with a bulky suitcase to lug around. But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
What is a travel capsule wardrobe? A travel capsule wardrobe is a collection of versatile, mix and match pieces that can be worn in multiple ways, allowing you to pack light and stay stylish on your trip. The idea is to choose a limited number of pieces that can be worn in a variety of combinations, eliminating the need for a bulky wardrobe and different “outfits” for each day of travel.
1. Pack Thin Layers vs. bulky layers
When planning your winter travel capsule wardrobe, focus on selecting thin layers vs. bulky layers. By choosing thin layers you will not only be warm but you won’t weigh down your suitcase with bulky layers.
Layering is key for staying warm in colder weather. Fabrics like merino wool or cashmere are lightweight yet do a stellar job at providing warmth and style. Invest in a few key layering pieces, like cashmere or merino wool sweaters, and bring a variety of lightweight tops, sweaters, and jackets to layer with them. Functional fleece is a mid-layer option if worn underneath a coat.
Additionally, you may require thin base layers that will provide much of your warmth. For more on winter layering, read my blog post on how to strategically layer your travel outfits for winter.
2. Choose versatile pieces
When it comes to creating a travel capsule wardrobe for winter European travel, the key is to choose pieces that can be worn in multiple ways. Look for items like classic coats, button down shirts, and jeans or wool trousers that can be dressed up or down, and opt for neutral colors that can be easily paired with other items. Keep it classic and neutral with trend items sprinkled in.
3. Select the right outerwear
In this winter travel capsule there’s two outerwear options: a wool coat and a minimal pack-able puffer. A heavy-duty and classic camel coat is the ultimate in functionality and style. This coat will keep you warm and bring together all your outfit options.
Your coat is the most visible layer of your winter travel outfit so choose it wisely. The packable puffer can be layered under the coat for extremely cold temperatures or worn on its own on days where the weather permits. Puffer jackets are widely worn throughout Europe so you won’t look out of place. Don’t forget to bring a scarf, gloves, and a hat to keep your head, hands, and neck warm.
4. Minimize Footwear
Footwear takes up the most room in your luggage. Keep it light by choosing versatile and functional footwear and include only two pairs in your winter travel capsule. Pack a pair of waterproof boots and pair them with wool socks. If you’ll be experiencing snow or rain or extremely cold temperatures a heavy duty, lined boot may be in order. Conversely, if you’ll be traveling somewhere with milder temperatures a sneaker or other casual yet comfortable shoe will work.
5. Edit your travel capsule
Take note of your travel activities and edit your travel clothing options accordingly. You most likely won’t need anything more than casual clothes on a hiking trip. If you’ll be doing more big city sightseeing activities then your travel wardrobe should reflect that. Don’t be tempted to pack “just in case” items!
6. Add statement pieces
While a travel capsule wardrobe is all about versatility and simplicity, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Add a few statement pieces, like a bold coat or a colorful scarf, to add some personality to your outfits.
7. Packing Tips
When it comes to actually packing your travel capsule wardrobe, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to maximize space and stay organized. Consider using packing cubes and compression bags to keep your clothes organized and wrinkle-free. I don’t normally recommend compression bags but I acknowledge winter wardrobes can be bulky, so use your best judgement. Roll your clothing instead of folding it to save space, and utilize every nook and cranny of your suitcase for added storage.
Don’t procrasta-pack and wait until the last minute. If you are a Notion user you will want to get your copy of my packing list and template. If you are new to Notion, it is a free productivity tool (for individuals) and I’ve been using as planning tool. I created my NEW Winter Packing Checklist and Travel Capsule Planner to help get you started on packing with customizable lists and my travel capsule template and more.
By using a travel capsule wardrobe and following these tips, you can streamline your packing process and enjoy a stress-free winter vacation. Say goodbye to bulky suitcases and hello to stylish, comfortable, and organized travels!
9. Use a Winter Travel Capsule Checklist
Use this travel capsule as a guide. Download my FREE planner or get the Notion planner to help you plan your own customized winter travel capsule wardrobe.
- Outerwear – For this capsule, a classic camel coat is versatile and warm.
- Outerwear – A puffy jacket can be worn on its own or layered under the camel coat on extremely cold days.
- Sweater 1 – A pullover sweater provides warmth as a mid-layer. Merino wool and cashmere knits are lightweight and stylish.
- Sweater 2 – Neutral colors make it easy to mix and match look for details like a polo collar to vary your looks. Similar.
- Long sleeve top 1, long sleeve top 2 – Pack long sleeve tops to layer under sweaters and/or coats. A turtleneck offers extra warmth.
- Graphic Tee – A graphic tee adds a little personality to an all neutral capsule wardrobe. It can be layered on top of a turtleneck or long sleeve tee or layered under a sweater or jacket.
- Button Down Shirt/Blouse – A button down shirt is a versatile item that can be dressed up or down and easily layers with other capsule items. Similarly, a blouse can add a dressed up element to your travel outfits.
- Bottom layer 1, Bottom layer 2 – This winter travel capsule includes 2 pairs of denim pants. If you are wearing bottom base layers underneath make sure the style can accommodate the extra layer.
- Dress – Winterize your dress by wearing base layers underneath or layering with tights and a turtleneck.
- Optional piece: This 11 piece winter travel capsule allows room for 1-2 additional items. This could be another bottom layer, dress or a mid-layer like a puffy vest.
- Winter Accessories – Don’t forget hat, scarf and gloves. Add color or pattern here if you wish.
- Leather Waterproof boots – A comfortable black boot will be one of the most versatile items in your travel capsule.
- Insulated Winter Boots – Add some insulated boots on travel days when you require extra warmth.
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