Take it from someone who has way too many clothes, I understand the struggle of trying to pack light. You want to be able to enjoy the journey, not be weighed down by your wardrobe.
With travelling, this becomes something of a necessity, as you can’t be lugging around an entire trunk of clothes for that one “just in case” moment.
I once took three separate washbags for a two-week holiday… you can judge me, it’s okay. After this moment, (and many others) I realised that no one needs that many toiletries and decided to strip down my luggage.
So, I’ve decided to share how to create the perfect travel capsule wardrobe with you. That way, you can make packing light look like a breeze.
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Hope Titley.
Firstly, what is a capsule wardrobe?
The term ‘capsule wardrobe’ was coined by Susie Faux in the 1970s. A capsule wardrobe is usually fifty or fewer pieces, consisting of essential items of clothing.
These should be items that never go out of fashion, such as trousers, coats and skirts, but with seasonal interchangeable pieces thrown in for good measure.
So why is this such a good idea for travelling? Well, for one, you generally want to pack light. You will be carrying your luggage all over, and excess is not what you want.
By crafting your own travel capsule wardrobe that you can take with you, not only will travelling be easier, but you’ll never struggle to choose what to wear.
Crafting your wardrobe and making it work for travelling
I know all too well the temptation to set out three different outfits for the same occasion just because you think they will look cool, without actually considering whether they will get any use.
I was forever returning from trips, pulling out items that I had completely forgotten that I had packed. (Sometimes, I still do.)
So here a few things that I have learnt to avoid doing this, to make your clothes work for you:
The first thing you will want to do is look at your travel plan. Are there particular occasions that may need a specific outfit? What’s the weather like? Will you be doing lots of different activities?
Once you have answered these questions, you can start to pick things out for the specifics. Try and build the outfit you will want to wear before you go, avoiding excess.
For example, if it’s an area where a lot of walking is involved, but you are planning on bar hopping in the evening, packing something like a comfortable pair of trainers that can double with jeans and a nice top is a safe bet.
Clothing in your travel capsule wardrobe
Now that you have the specifics sorted, you can start choosing which pieces you want to take for the rest of your trip.
Grab everything you think you want to take, then once you have an Everest of clothing, start to whittle down the pile from there by thinking about the following points:
1. Pick your basics well
Things like your favourite pair of jeans or a pair of white trainers will go with everything, making them the ideal thing to pack. (If they are suited to your holiday, of course!)
When it comes to picking the basics, you ideally want them to be in neutral tones so that you can mix and match everything.
Then you can build off these to choose the rest of the pieces you want from there.
2. Choose a colour palette
That being said, your clothing doesn’t need to be entirely neutral if that’s not your thing. If you are all about bright colours then go for it!
But by sticking to a particular colour palette you can be sure that your items will look good together, meaning you can mix and match pieces like a pro.
3. Where are you going?
This is something that you probably wouldn’t think about in too much depth. Beach = bikinis and snow = thermals, simple. But actually taking the time to consider where you are going can help you needle out the excess. Are you really going to need that strappy dress if you are headed on a ski trip to the Alps? (The answer is no.) One way to plan for this is to simply check the weather of the places you are headed to before you go. That way, you can be prepared for it all.
4. Will they be easy to care for?
This is especially important to consider if you are going away for a long time.
Easily wrinkled clothes, items that need special care in the wash or even pieces that are white/stain easily may be best left at home.
Not only this, but you want to take clothes that are well made. This way, you can get the most life out of them on your travels, without them breaking on you at a critical moment.
You want your wardrobe to last as long as you do.
5. Avoid buying new
I know it’s all too tempting to open up ASOS and start planning your new travel look, but before you do, delve into what you already own first.
For inspiration, look on Pinterest and make a board of the outfits you like and see what you can build from what you already own.
It might surprise you, making you look at your clothes differently. (Plus it will save you quite a bit of money, which you can then spend on the trip. You also avoid buying things you don’t need, just for the sake of having them.)
Of course, there will be some things that you don’t already have.
So when you do need to buy something new, pick an item that you really love. This way, it’s guaranteed to be worn throughout your travels and beyond.
Toiletries in your travel capsule wardrobe
This is an area that, as I said at the very start, I struggle with.
For someone who has a four/five-step skincare routine, naturally wavy hair and likes to wear makeup, packing light in this area is a real struggle.
It’s taken some time, but here are a few things I do to take as little as possible:
1. Look into solid/packaging-free products
Shampoo bars, conditioner bars and solid soaps save so much space in your luggage, and they generally last a lot longer. Plus, they are pretty light, so avoid you lugging around excess weight.
Most of the time, you will be able to keep them all in a single container. Got to save all the space you can!
2. Try and use products for multiple purposes
For example, I use my bronzer and highlighter for eyeshadows, or my bar of soap to gel my brows. Doing this means you can take less, without sacrificing products entirely.
This applies to makeup brushes too. If you can get double-ended ones, you are onto a winner.
3. Cut back that routine
This is coming from me with my total skincare obsession.
But if you are travelling, consider what the items are that you truly need. You want to clean your skin, keep it nourished and protect it.
This means taking a good cleanser (which you can also find in solid form), moisturiser and an SPF, will be the essentials to keep you going.
If you wear a lot of makeup, you might want to add a good makeup remover. (Some things can be non-negotiable!)
Jewellery in your travel capsule wardrobe
Whether you want to take your jewellery with you is down to personal preference.
If you’re going to pack jewellery, you need to carefully consider what you want to take.
How would you feel if a particular piece was lost?
This is a big one. If you take it only to leave it behind in your bag because you are worried about losing it, then maybe it should be left at home.
There’s nothing worse than realising your favourite necklace is gone.
Take pieces that go with everything
Look at the jewellery you wear every day as that is usually a good place to start.
Generally, a pair of gold/silver earrings, a necklace that is secure, and rings that fit will make you feel comfortable with wearing them out.
If you’re more of a statement kind of person, try and take only one or two pieces, ensuring they will be worn.
Get a safe place to store them
When you aren’t wearing them, you don’t want them to get lost in the depths of your bag.
Find a secure container to place them in, making them easy to find.
A proper jewellery travel case will keep them safe and avoid the tangled mess, but an old glasses case will work fine in a pinch! (My usual go-to.)
Packing your travel capsule wardrobe
When it actually comes to packing everything itself. There’s a lot of debate on the best ways to do it.
Should you fold or roll? Do you try and wear as much as you can to give yourself more space?
Whatever you think is the best way to pack, I’d like to offer a few suggestions of my own to help you out!
1. Roll or fold?
My answer? Why not both! Small and thin items roll particularly well, like underwear and camisoles, taking up way less room in your case.
Bulkier items like towels and jumpers, I’ve found are best folded, trying to get them as flat as possible.
Sometimes, you will need to just use your judgement for how you pack, but generally…
Roll: Underwear, light tops, swimwear, socks, dresses, shorts, thin jumpers, skirts, leggings and thin denim pieces.
Fold: Towels, thicker jumpers, hoodies, coats (if you can’t wear them while you travel), joggers and thicker denim pieces.
2. Reusable items
However, packing your reusable water bottle or coffee cup can be bulky and take up unnecessary space.
Luckily, you can actually buy collapsible ones. So once you are done with them, you just squish them flat and slide them into your bag.
Helping the environment in a way that works for travelling is always a plus.
3. Light clothing
If you are going to take lighter coloured clothing, pack them inside out.
This way, if they happen to get a smidge of makeup on them, or maybe some dirt from your shoes, it should be hidden on the inside of your clothing.
You don’t want to unpack to realise that half of your clothes are already stained and not wearable.
As always, this is not a by the rules list. The best part about creating your travel capsule wardrobe is that it will be unique to you and your style aesthetic. Make it work for your personal taste!
With all this in mind, go and craft your perfect travel capsule wardrobe, that’ll be with you on all your adventures.
Where are you heading this year? Let us know whether you are a travel capsule wardrobe pro, or are going to try it for your next journey!