How to create a basic capsule wardrobe for traveling light.

Have you ever got to your destination and had to wait for your checked luggage to pop out onto the carousel? Have you ever been in your hotel room and someone is tapping their foot ready to hit the town and you cannot decide what to wear?  Or have you overpacked and realized nothing you brought with you matches anything else in your suitcase? These are real issues that every traveler has faced.

STOP THE MADNESS!!!! Stop wasting your vacation digging through an unorganized suitcase. Stop wasting your vacation waiting for that checked luggage. AND STOP OVERPACKING. You don\’t need all that excess. I do have a solution for you. Create a capsule wardrobe for your next trip. 

Capsules are a great way to minimize the number of things you bring traveling while providing a stress-free wardrobe. No more wondering what to wear. You\’ll already know everything you packed goes with everything else in your bag. 

Here are some tips on how to create your own. I have created a capsule wardrobe as a guideline for those who want to travel light. Below are the basics. You can add to it or leave some items out but this is a solid start.


First thing first

The first thing you want to do when you\’re putting together your capsule wardrobe is to pick a color you want to cultivate your looks around. For the example provided I picked a peach/light pink. This will be your foundation. You want to pick one color to build your wardrobe off of because all of the pieces you bring with you should all go together. 

Pull out all the clothes you think you want to take on vacation with you about a week before you go. Lay all the items out on your bed. If you haven\’t picked a color palate yet do that now. What color comes up more than others in your current selection? Use that. 

Once you have the color remove anything that will not go with that color. Now take a hard look at what remains. Are there items you know you wouldn\’t wear. For example that sequenced cocktail dress you can only wear to a black-tie event, you\’re probably not going to wear at any point during your vacation…that should go back in your closet. Unless you\’re traveling for a wedding or an event that you would need a specialty item for, you won\’t need it for this vacation. 

From here start to put outfits together. Every shirt you bring should be able to go with every bottom you and can be worn by itself or layered. 

The Jacket

Pick something that is functional. If you\’re traveling to the UK, you\’ll want a raincoat, no matter the season. If you\’re traveling to Europe in the summer, you might want a light jacket for windy days or cool evenings. Check the climate of where you\’re going and bring one jacket that will meet all your needs for that trip. I have a raincoat in the example.  

Pack in Layers

Bringing layers is key to any capsule wardrobe. While traveling you could experience everything from 80 degree days to 40 degree nights and you need to be prepared for that. The best way is to layer. Picking layers that are moisture-wicking will help you to stay dry and cool or warm when you need it. When deciding on your layers make sure that you can pair each shirt with each bottom you\’re bringing. Everything needs to be interchangeable. You\’ll be amazed by how many outfits you can make from a finite amount of clothes.

For the example above, I have 12 pieces, not including the accessories, those 12 pieces can create more than 50 outfits! Throw in the accessories and you can create so many more.  

Two pairs of Pants should be it.

As a rule of thumb, I only bring two pairs of pants when I travel. If you pack more you\’ll find at the end of your trip there may have been pieces that you just didn\’t wear. Pick your two favorite pairs, one pair of jeans, one black that you can dress up or down. Pants should be multifunctional. 


Pick one or two sweaters you want to bring with you. Make sure they\’re versatile. You want them to go with everything. They\’re also great for layering and in a pinch they can be a light coat. I like to bring one cardigan which can be dressed up or down. Make sure it\’s of good quality since it\’ll be your best friend on the trip.


I try to bring no more than 3 and that includes a pair of flip flops. I always pack a pair of trainers that I can use to work out in and a pair of comfortable shoes that can be dressed up or down, they usually tend to be boots of some sort if I\’m traveling anytime other than summer. Bring whatever you\’re comfortable walking around in for hours at a time, that\’s the most important point. Ladies, leave your heels at home. Honestly, you won\’t need them. If you want a pair of shoes for dressing up bring a light pair of flats that you can easily pack, which are comfortable to walk in and take up next to no room in your suitcase.

A dress

I always make sure to pack a dress. Usually a shirt dress of some sort. They are great for layering and much like everything else I pack it can be dressed up or down depending on what you pair with it. And let\’s be honest, it\’s nice to wear a dress once in a while.

A bathing suit

Always pack a bathing suit. You may not think you need one but they come in handy for more than just swimming. If you\’re planning to visit a spa or sauna on any of your travels a bathing suit will be needed. It also comes in handy if you\’ve run out of underwear and you won\’t be able to do laundry for a day. 

Workout clothes (optional)

I like to go for runs when I\’m traveling. You\’re able to see some great sights while you\’re pounding the pavement and it\’s a great way to get a lay of the land when you\’re visiting somewhere new. Working out might not be something that you\’re even thinking about doing while you\’re traveling and that\’s fine. If this is the case you could omit them from your travel wardrobe. One of the reasons I always travel with at least one set of exercise clothes is that they can be used as your flight clothing too. When you fly you want to be comfortable and I find exercise clothing to be some of the most comfortable to fly in. 


Whatever you decide to take with you for accessories, make sure that you are taking very few. When it comes to jewelry try not to take anything valuable, or anything you would hate to lose. I like to take two scarves, a sun hat, and a knit cap. Knit caps are great because they pack up to nothing, weigh nothing and will add an extra layer of warmth if you need it in a pinch. One of the great things about accessories is that they can change the whole look of your outfit. So you can add an accessory and you have a whole new outfit to wear on your trip. 

The Takeaway

The best thing about a capsule travel wardrobe is that it leaves you so much room for souvenirs, like that beautiful one-of-a-kind sweater you found in Ireland. (Just saying…) Think about all of the fun things you can take home that you wouldn\’t be able to if you packed that extra pair of shoes you never wore.

Capsule wardrobes help to keep your luggage light which will save you on luggage fees and could free you up from having to check a bag. Honestly, who wants to spend their vacation time waiting for their luggage to get off the plane? No matter what the reason the less you have with you, the less you have to monitor and the more relaxing your vacation can be. 

What would your travel capsule wardrobe look like? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time!

(Repost from 4/2020)

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