Unless you’ve got unlimited money and lots of room for luggage, traveling with one’s entire wardrobe is a pipe dream. I find I always pack way too many things than I actually need. I must also say I had a fashion/shopping addiction at one point in time, and if you’ve seen my closet/bedroom, you’ll know that that is an understatement. I donate probably 1-2 garbage bags full of clothes every few months, yet my closet still seems to look the same. I am going to widdle down my clothing collection down to almost nothing, but even still…I want to keep things I cannot travel with. Lucky for me, I have family and friends who will store a few bins for me, but I still need to pack much lighter than I have in recent years.
On my big trip coming up this year, I wanted to not have to stress about what to pack. I knew I couldn’t pack it all, so I started thinking… why not create a capsule wardrobe, but for travel! It will help me keep my amount of clothing packed in check, which my back will thank me for when I am not collapsing under the weight of my wardrobe.
In case you’re wondering what a capsule wardrobe is, it is defined as the following:
“Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”
Before we discuss the capsule wardrobe I have created, think about the following:
Where are you headed?
This one is pretty straight forward, but if you’re heading to a tropical destination, don’t pack all long sleeve shirts and sweaters. The same goes for the opposite – if you’re headed to a cooler climate, don’t pack 20 tank tops and 1 sweater.
What is appropriate for the various cultural differences between your norm and the places you are visiting?
Think about it this way – if you’re heading to a country that is more conservative, you may want to leave your short shorts at home.
How long are you traveling for?
The longer you’re traveling, the more enticing it is to pack more – but be careful!
What type of activities will you be taking part in?
If you’re planning to stay on a resort the entire time (not my idea of a good time, personally), I suppose wear what you usually would. For trekking, long term travel, etc. I would recommend a good walking/hiking shoe, a pair of flip flops and a cute pair of flats (that are also comfortable). I am not the heel type – if you are, feel free to pack one pair for a night out or for a time it feels appropriate (ie. not hiking up a mountain, etc.)
Now let’s plan!
Here is my rough plan for my trip. I am going to a lot of warmer climate places, but since I get cold easily, I have taken that into consideration. This is for a 4.5 month trip – so if you’re headed somewhere for a week, this is WAY too much stuff!
My Capsule Collection – Travel Edition
- 3 pairs of pants (jeans, etc.)
- 4 pairs of shorts (and/or skirts)
- 3 pairs leggings and/or yoga pants
- 2 Dresses (casual and somewhat formal)
- 2 scarves (bigger is better, can be multipurpose – sarong in the warm climates, infinity scarf in the cool climates)
- 5-10 pairs of underwear (the longer your travel duration, the more you should pack – including one ugly/comfortable pair for that time of the month)
- 2 bras (1 sports, one not, your choice)
- 4 tank tops/halter tops
- 3 t-shirts
- 1 long-sleeve shirt
- 1 layering shirt (that can be worn on top of your tank tops, but not necessarily on its own – ex. too low cut, too much skin, etc.) Layers are a great way to stay covered and have a bit of ventilation but not have to wear a turtleneck.
- 2 sweaters (I am always cold, so I pack at least two no matter the climate)
- 4 pairs of socks (2 short, 2 long)
- 1-2 hats (sun hats for the warm climate, beanies/toques for the cool climates)
- A good windbreaker jacket
- 3 pairs of shoes – walking/hiking, flats & flip flops
By using a formula (see what what it is and how to do it here) , I found that this capsule collection will yield 1472 total outfits!
Extra consideration for:
- 1-2 bathing suits (if you like to swim) – One piece and a bikini – I personally am packing only my one piece, as I enjoy swimming but do not enjoy bikinis.
- Less pants/leggings, more shorts + skirts!
- Skip the long sleeve shirt for another tank top/halter top, but keep the layering shirt in case you need the coverage.
- Less socks for more bras! If you’re not going to be wearing shoes requiring socks often, if at all, why not swap it out for an extra bra or two, great for when you’re getting sweaty often. Always bring at least 1 pair of socks though!
- Less bottoms for more dresses! – 2 items for each dress you pack instead.
- More t-shirts, less tank tops if you’re about that life.
- Add another sweater or two if you wish.
- Good pair of gloves (with touchscreen ability if possible)
- A really good, warm jacket
- Less shorts/skirts, more pants, leggings, yoga pants & long skirts.
- More long sleeve shirts/t-shirts, less tank tops.
Some general tips
- Pick plain over a bunch of patterned pieces.
It is easier to work with different plain pieces than to try and match a pattern on a shirt with a patterned pant. If you’re the type to accessorize your outfits, you’ll be in even more trouble.
If you plan on packing a total of 5 tank tops, and 4 of them are patterned, ensure it is balanced out with some basic, patternless bottoms, etc. I suggest leaving most of the patterned stuff to the scarves, accessories, etc.
- Pick pieces that are versatile, and that pair well with your planned excusions, etc. Ie. Don’t bring your collection of mini skirts if you plan to go mostly hiking.
- Spend your money on good pieces. Save the bargain buys for seasonal/trendy pieces.
If you spend the extra money on a good quality jacket, the likelihood of it wearing out/falling to pieces is a lot less than a twenty dollar jacket. I think of it as cost per use (or CPU). If you know you’re going to wear it often, the cost per use will make it worth it. An example, you buy a jacket that costs 250$. You wear it 300 days out of the year. The cost per use is approximately 83 cents per wear. You also bought another jacket that was twenty-five dollars. You wore it five times, and the zipper broke. That is 5$ a wear. See what I mean? 🙂
- Use packing cubes to get the most out of your packing space.
- If you want to pack even less, pack a few extra acessories to “jazz up” your look.
- You can always buy more pieces from your destination – don’t forget that!
Some may say my idea of packing light is still way too much… what can I say – I have widdled it down quite a bit, and perhaps when the time comes to actually pack, I may realize this and take a few extra things out. Only time will tell! 🙂
Before going vegan and what not, I went to school for fashion marketing. I promise I did not just use google to whip this together. Although fashion is no longer my passion, I certainly do know a thing or two!
Photos courtesy of Morguefile.com
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