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Traveling in Style with a Capsule Wardrobe

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Let’s start by assuming you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is let alone how to travel with one. A capsule wardrobe consists of oh let’s say 10-15 items that can be mixed and matched to create dozens of outfits. This is popularly used to create a seasonable wardrobe by taking pieces you already own and adding key pieces to reinvigorate your closet. Fall staples often include riding boots, booties, a stylish hat, medium weight coat. You add few tops, such as sweaters, t-shirts, and a button down along with some bottoms, such as jeans, trousers and a skirt. Ten items become twenty outfits. Capsule wardrobes are the biggest key to successfully packing light.

I’ve mentioned before that I am part of an online community hosted by Travel Fashion Girl (TFG) filled with women who love to travel fashionably. Check out Alex’s blog, she has tons of resources. Many women in this group are pro carry-on only. There are lots of reasons people like carry-on, speed of travel due to either checking bags or lugging them around the airport or train stations, the ability to bring back more stuff, but most importantly so your trip isn’t ruined if your luggage gets lost. I had no idea how often luggage gets lost, until I joined this group. Once United lost my Underwater Hockey gear bag on the way back from Chicago, it took over a week to get it back. I never really thought about how miserable it would have been if they had lost it on my way to the tournament. But imagine you are flying to Miami to depart on a cruise the next day and the airline loses your luggage, you could never replace your stuff quickly enough to have a full wardrobe before your cruise departs. You'd also spend most of it wearing a cruise line t-shirt. Now imagine you’ve landed in Paris, no suitcase and it takes the airline days to admit they have lost it and reimburse you for the cost of the goods. This money, which won’t come till after your trip, will never be enough to replace your stuff at Paris prices. I don’t worry about this at Disney, and you will never convince me I need to take less ears in order to achieve carry-on only status.

I’m going to show you Pat's capsule wardrobes from fall 2019. I'll be honest and admit I took twice as much as I should have. We actually packed our first 3 days and necessities in our carry-on luggage and the rest of my shoes and superfulcious clothes in the one the bigger suitcases and left the other empty to bring back champagne. Travel decanter silicone bottles, jars, and pill bags are key to the carry-on only way of life. As is wearing your hat on the plane. This hat is very similar to mine and is foldable if you need to stick it in the suitcase. My carry-on bag for this trip was a large Longchamp Le Pliage Tote. I'll link you to my packing cube suggestions later one.

I have a Pixel phone, so I use the Android App YourCloset, but there is an Apple equivalent called Stylebook. Here’s the basics on how to use them. The pictures are from Pat’s packing list, because they fit on one page. I don’t recommend spending time taking pictures of your actual clothes. Go to Amazon, find something similar, take a screenshot, and crop it. Amazon is especially great because 90% of items are pictured on a plain white background.

Step 1: add pictures of clothes from your closet.

Step 2: create a trip with outfit categories.

I do this when I am bored so I have dozens of trips I may never take.

Step 3: create outfits for your trip.

Try to stop yourself from going crazy on this one. Try keeping it to 10-20 items that you are mixing and matching.

Step 4: create a packing list and add your outfits to your packing list.

Step 5: Pack! The best feature of YourCloset, is that it will spit out a complete wardrobe packing list and takes all the guesswork out of it.

Pat told me packing cubes were dumb until he saw how efficiently Scarlett and I used them. He own's multiple sets now. Not only can you reduce space by tightly packing in clothes but you can organize in any way you want. Tee-shirts, undergarments, pants, or you can organize by family members. In hotels you can easily take out the cubes and throw them in drawers, one for each family member. So many ways to use them. These are my favorite packing cubes.

Calpak Metallic Gold Calpak Black Compass Rose eBags

Of course having a stylish and functional suitcase is essential in packing properly too. We love hard sides because they open in both directions and make it much easier to pack. They also don’t stain or tear. The Samsonites are Pat’s exact suitcases and the other two are just very similar to my set from Nordstrom and Scarlett’s sold out Calpak set. I’ve also mentioned that Scarlett and I only have 20” and 28” and Pat also has a 24” and I wish we did too. Make sure you buy a 20” carry-on not 22” as that doesn’t meet European carry-on size requirements.

American Tourist Pink Luggage Set Samsonite Luggage Set Calpak Luggage Set

Here are some of my basic pieces in all my capsule wardrobe, which were chosen for comfort in all travel situations.

White & Black T-Shirts Rockstar Jeans Blondo Waterproof Booties Ecco 7 Sneaker

I always wear a cardigan when traveling here are some recommendations, I own everyone:

Leopard Cardigan Rainbow Cardigan Neutral Colorblock Cardigan Navy Striped Cardigan

Here are some of Pat’s basic capsule pieces that he finds comfortable and I find them acceptably fashionable.

Straight Flex Jeans Under Armour Polos Hanes Undershirts Reebok Sneakers North Face Fleece

Hopefully this will help you pack a capsule wardrobe for your next trip!

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