Capsule Wardrobe for Travels: Here’s What to Pack & What to Leave Behind

capsule wardrobe for your next road trip or flight abroad

Capsule wardrobes are essential for frequent travelers who want to go on adventures while still looking like a million bucks. They also present the perfect set-up for fashionable travelers who always end up packing more than they actually need. Ideally, your capsule wardrobe should fit in your carry-on luggage, leaving you no reason to check a bag or haul around a mountain of suitcases. The secret lies in maximizing your ensemble choices without over-packing.

Bring It: Jeans and Leather

Name a more classic clothing combination. You may not need a leather coat or skirt where you’re going, but the material is practically made for packing. You see, it never wrinkles. That’s the reason denim is a must-have, as well. Jeans rarely wrinkle, and when they do, they appear even more casually, carelessly stylish.

Leave It: Brightly Colored Pieces

You’re sure that you’ll wear that hot pink sweater on holiday in Paris—until you see the city streets filled with monochromatic color schemes and subdued shades. Bright pops of color have their place—sometimes—but your vacation capsule wardrobe may not be it. You especially don’t want to pack the bright blue skirt that you’ve never actually worn at home, and you may not want to draw too much attention to yourself in a place you’re not 100% comfortable.

Bring It: Monochrome

Darker hues, neutral colors


and monochrome patterns are your best friends on holiday. They can mix and match without clashing, which can triple or quadruple your wardrobe. You don’t have to limit yourself to just black, although it’s a timelessly stylish bet. Navy, khaki, camel, and charcoal will carry you through your vacation. This tip should apply to tops, bottoms, and shoes. If you do feel the need to bring in accessories with pops of brighter colors, stick to white or cream, light gray, and patterns.

Leave It: One-Off Pieces

Creating a capsule wardrobe depends on filling it with pieces that you’ll wear more than once. In a perfect packing situation, you’ll wear every item in your bag at least three times. Savvy packers can put together an ensemble around a single item on three separate occasions. In other words, you want to maximize your packing potential by only including clothing you love and wear frequently. Don’t pack anything that only goes with one outfit.

Bring It: Three Pairs of Shoes

You don’t need more than three pairs of shoes, ever. Yes, you want to pack every cute shoe that you own, but you won’t wear them. Besides, it isn’t difficult to find stylish boots and sneakers. Think about how much of your vacation you’ll spend walking or just generally on your feet. A European vacation requires boots, shoes, and a third pair, up to your discretion. However, your summer holiday packing list and capsule wardrobe may include sandals or flip-flops.

Leave It: High Heels

Wherever you go, leave the high heels in your closet at home. If you honestly believe you need fancy footwear on your holiday, then compromise with ballet flats or wedges. Practically speaking, you probably won’t spend more than an hour in uncomfortable shoes, so why waste the space?

Bring It: Workwear

This is a holiday, hopefully not a working vacation, but some of your work clothes are apt to be perfect. Just go through your office wardrobe as you pack your capsule wardrobe. A fashionable dress, dark pants, a versatile skirt—your office ensembles are likely composed of mix and match pieces.

Leave It: One-Size-Fits-All

Not all vacations are the same. Packing for a road trip, for example, is different from planning a trip to Phuket or Stockholm. Always consider where you’re going when you pack. To leave more room in your luggage, you may need to layer up at the airport and wear your winter jacket.

Once you get the hang of it, packing a capsule wardrobe becomes second nature. You’re essentially taking along the same things you wear at home. What essentials do you pack on vacation?

Author Bio: Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry, collaborating with industry insiders, designers, and companies, such as Glitzy Girlz Boutique, to get insight on the latest trends


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