Travelling light isn’t a skill that has always come easily to me, or to many of us. Infact, I would still rather have three outfit options for one day than be made to suffer wearing an outfit that doesn’t fit the mood. Alas, for many years, I’d return home from trips with many clothes unworn, which some may see as a bonus, as they could go straight back into the drawer with no need for washing. But now, thanks to a sensible packing hack, I am no longer filled with anxiety when my luggage is diverted to the rear conveyor belt in airport security because I have forgotten to bag a liquid item, as I know that I won’t be rummaging through unnecessary and disorganised clothes that I will never wear to find it.
So what is a capsule wardrobe?
Simply, it is a collection of clothing that has been thoughtfully curated, with items of clothing that can be interchanged to create a number of different outfits. Just from a few staple items of clothing, you can create a number of different looks. Living minimally in this way, particularly as you travel, draws your attention to the practicality and function of your wardrobe, as well as bringing the focus to pieces that you really love.
Establish Your Realistic Minimum
The first step in curating your wardrobe is establishing the number of items. For a seasonal capsule wardrobe at home, you’d expect your closet to have around 30 to 50 pieces, creating a two-week wardrobe, which you then repeat, regularly swapping out clothes that have served their purpose. The term ‘pieces’ includes shoes, handbags, hats and coats, and if you’re feeling extra minimal, you could throw accessories in there too! For a 5-day trip, you’d expect to pack 10-20 pieces, excluding undergarments.
Planning a capsule wardrobe requires organisation and foresight. If you are not someone who typically has an idea of what you will get up to on a trip, you may want to have a few activities in mind to help you travel light. Are you planning to go swimming? If so, do you really need 6 bikinis, or just two interchangeable ones? Will you go for a meal every night? If you do, will it be casual or dressy? Are you planning to do much walking? If so, you will need trainers or boots. Check the weather before you pack, as this will inform you of the number of layers you need. For a recent 5-day trip to Sorrento, I ended up packing two dresses, two handbags, two cardigans, one light coat, a pair of jeans, two tops, sandals, trainers, and of course my Solanas.
Choose Timeless Pieces That Are Uniquely You
Next, you need to decide on the timelessness of each piece. Are these pieces that you will end up throwing away next year, or will they be part of your travel capsule for years to come? For example, I have a linen cover-up that was passed down to me by my Grandma. She bought it in Venice, and on every summer trip, without doubt, it makes the cut. Pick high quality items that won’t leave you wanting to replace them next season.
Find Your Personal Colour Palette
Speaking of my linen cover-up, being white and light, it goes with everything, from a casual day outfit with jeans, to more formal strappy evening wear. An important factor to consider is the complementary nature of each piece. Sticking with nude tones, using linens and cottons for summer, and wool, cashmere and denim for winter, ensures that the materials in your wardrobe are always suited to each other. If, like me, you find nude bland and well-estranged to your fashion vocabulary, then ensure that the palette you curate does well together. Pastel coloured pieces always work well, but if in doubt, pick a base statement colour, and centre your pieces around this. When in the Mediterranean, my base colours are blues, whites and pinks.
Patterns And Prints - You Don't Have to Avoid Them!
Finally, think of patterns and prints! The last thing you want to do is have packed wonderfully beautiful pieces that clash because one is zebra print and another is floral. Usually, minimalist packers avoid prints all together, but some prints work very well in a capsule wardrobe, such as nautical stripes for a holiday by the sea, or a statement piece like a leopard print dress. Unless your patterned piece is interchangeable or is a statement piece that will likely hold its own, avoid patterns where you can.
Don't Let Your Brain Fool You
Once you have whittled your clothing items, it is time to accessorise. For a short trip, you will never need more than three pairs of shoes. Don’t let your brain fool you. Trainers, a pair of heels and our Vivarini Espadrilles in white will cover all outfit needs. Again, it can be tempting to pack a couple of handbags, but a practical, neutral handbag goes with almost everything, and for where it doesn’t, a small, space-saving clutch can do the trick. Pack staple accessories, like your watch, a necklace, and two or three pairs of earrings. Throw in a hat, scarf and a pair of sunglasses if you need them, and there you have it - you will relish in your lightness and never travel in excess again!