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  • Writer's pictureMichaela A de Guire

How do I build a "Travel Capsule Wardrobe"?

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Traveling can be a lot of fun. But packing… I find, is usually a challenging endeavor. Anticipating the weather, choosing clothes that blend in and don’t shout “tourist”, making sure you have all your essentials, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on as the variables are listless.

Today I am going to teach you how to make packing a breeze. Packing doesn’t have to take endless amounts of time and occupy your mind for ages. Having a list of items that are essential (no matter where you go or what time of the year it is) is not only helpful, but a time saver too. If you need an essentials cheat sheet you can grab the “Woman's Anywhere, Anytime Essentials for every trip away” to get you set on the right path! Essentials include toiletries, phone cable, and anything that would make your trip a lot easier on the mind when you have it with you (in your carry-on). Once you have packed all your essentials the next step is the clothes you are planning on wearing on your trip.

The Next Step

After you pack all your essential items, the first thing you need to do is choose your theme… No I don’t mean your style theme, because you should have a sense of style that is yours alone already.

Rather, I am referring to your color theme. What colors would you like to wear while you are gone on this trip? I’d suggest choosing somewhere between 3-5 colors. If you are having an extended stay of 10+ days I’d suggest choosing 5 colors, but if you are planning on a short trip stick with the 3 colors. Choosing a color theme will help you keep from over packing and while getting the most out of each piece you do take with you.

Another thing to keep in mind is a washer. Will there be a washer readily available where you are going? If so then I would consider putting it to use. There would be no reason for you to pack a different top for each day if you can actually wash and wear the top a second time with a different bottom or vice versa with a set of bottoms.

Something to keep in mind, is it Versatile?

Pieces with versatility is key. When you are traveling you want to keep everything light and breezy. You do not want to be confused or unsure what to wear when. To help keep everything organized and coherent it is best if you plan your attire before you pack. This goes beyond counting tops, bottoms, and choosing a dress or two.

"When you plan, or rather, strategize your attire you guarantee you will get the most out of everything you pack." -Michaela de Guire

You want to plan ahead for what outfits you will be wearing on each day you are gone. It is during this process of packing that you will learn what pieces are versatile and which ones are not. It is during this phase that you will learn what you are interested in wearing more than once. packing is not just creating a checklist of items to bring, but rather, strategizing your attire to guarantee you get the most out of every item you bring. Think about it this way, how annoyed you would be if you brought 10 outfits, but only wear 2 outfits in multiple ways. You only wore 20% of what you packed, yet hauled around a suitcase full of options and opportunities that were never taken. How would that make you feel? Pretty sad, maybe a little annoyed. That's why strategizing is vital to your packing.

Versatile is important when packing light. Put simply, versatility is something that can be adapted to different functions or activities. Thus in terms of style a garment that is “versatile” can be worn in many different ways, and works for many different activities or events. For example if you have a dress that you wear to work, but swap the blazer for a denim jacket and the heels for sandals then you have successfully taken the dress from “work” to “play” and thus it is versatile. A few questions you can ask yourself to know if any given garment is versatile is:

1. Can you easily dress it up and down?

2. Can you style it differently, or layer it with different outerwear pieces to alter the vibrations (the feel the overall look has)?

3. Is it neutral, as in, do the details, fit, and color allow you to wear it with other colors, prints, textures that you have in your wardrobe?

Some of the most versatile items you may have in your wardrobe include (but are certainly not limited to) any classic wash and fit denim. This includes denim jackets, skirts, and jeans. White tops, whether it is a simple button up or a lacy, feminine top. All white tops are considered versatile because they are so neutral. Tan and nude shoes. Yes, I know they can be kind of ridiculous at times, but tan shoes actually blend into your natural skin tone so they do not really add, nor take away from any given outfit. And the final item is a dress in a neutral color, or if your style is all about color then a color that best suits you. Preferably a dress that does not have too much extra glimmer and details. Something in a classic cut with a neat hemline, neutral color, and minimal details. An example of this would be a sheath dress.

What are your plans? What does your itinerary look like?

Now before you pack only the colors you have chosen in versatile clothes, there is one more thing to consider before you become a marvelous packer. That is your itinerary. What are your plans? What clothes would work best for your trip? Are you going to dinner? Is this a business trip? A Personal trip? Sightseeing? Hiking? Or just lounging with friends? All these activities require a little different attire. Nothing has to be too extravagant, but it is important that you know what your plans are so you can be best prepared for them.

Much like the clothes you wear at home, each piece has its function. Each garment, accessory, shoe, etc. has its own job. Each function is a little different. A shoe may be a shoe, used to protect your foot from the environment and offer comfort. However, you wouldn’t dare wear a stiletto to a beach, nor would you wear a gym shoe to a dinner party. Just like shoes, tops, dresses, and bottoms all have their place. We need to take into consideration what we are to wear when we do select activities, even when on vacation.

Best attire for going Out to Dinner:

Think simple clean cut, minimal detail dress. And style the accessories according to what you see the indigenous people wearing.

Sightseeing for the Day:

Summer: Lightweight top, linen shorts, straw hat, sandals or light sneakers, easy bag or basket, and possibly a scarf.

Winter: Pants, boots, sweater, coat, scarf, hat, backpack or sturdy tote.

On a Hike (or just dropping in to the gym):

Leggings, sports bra, tank, gym shoes, gym bag. Sweater if it's chilly.

Local Hot Spot of Brunch:

Summer: Easy, lightweight sundress with a straw hat, sandals or light sneakers, easy bag or basket, and possibly a scarf.

Winter: Dark wash denim jeans, white wool sweater, long necklace, gloves, long boots or booties, beret hat (if it's extra chilly add a long coat or easy blazer).

Cozy & Longing:

This is where you would wear your favorite outfit, keep it clean and classy, but comfy.

Once more if you are ready for the “Woman's Anywhere, Anytime Essentials for every trip away” packing cheat sheet you can grab it here… and finally one last tip regarding packing… roll your attire, do not fold it. This will not only offer you the most space possible, but it will also keep wrinkles down.

P.S. If you are looking to pack a straw hat look for a “packable hat” that way you can get one that is flexible and can be easily flooded and stowed away in your luggage.

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