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Have you ever daydreamed about going to Paris and wondered how to put together cute and chic travel outfits? You don’t have to have a personal stylist or get outfits sent from French designers (but that’d be cool!) in order to put together numerous stylish and versatile outfits. The secret? A capsule wardrobe for travel.
Yep, it’s that simple. Having a capsule wardrobe for traveling is fun and practical. Plus, knowing that you have all your essential and stylish outfits on your packing list makes traveling extra exciting, as it helps to guarantee that you have lots of outfit options and that you’re comfortable throughout your trip.
So, let’s say you want to look fashionable on your next Europe trip but find packing the right items your biggest challenge. In that case, I recommend building a capsule wardrobe for travel. It has made packing a breeze for me, and I know it will for you, too!
What is a Capsule Wardrobe for Travel?
A woman’s travel capsule wardrobe is a thoughtfully curated collection of travel clothes. It contains versatile basics that can be easily mixed and matched to create different looks. It is categorized by outerwear, tops, bottoms, shoes, and dresses that serve multiple purposes for different occasions. These clothing items are usually in a neutral color palette that complements each other.
Whether you’re going on a business trip to another state or a three-week trip to Europe, a capsule wardrobe will come in handy. If you are still not convinced to create a capsule wardrobe, here are reasons why having a capsule wardrobe for travel is essential:
How a Capsule Wardrobe Will Make Your Life Easier
Memorable outfits: Having a capsule travel wardrobe allows you to have a few select and memorable outfits in your suitcase rather than a cluttered array of clothing. You can prepare your outfits quickly because you don’t have to spend hours figuring out what pair of bottoms go with what pair of shoes. This leaves you with extra time to do touristy things in the morning – like taking pictures at a landmark before it gets too busy or grabbing a spot at that iconic breakfast cafe before it’s full.
Confidence boost: Thanks to a capsule wardrobe, you can confidently travel because you have a well-curated selection of timeless staples to create cohesive looks. This can make you feel excited to travel rather than stressed, as you’ll feel well-prepared.
Efficient packing: A capsule wardrobe for travel helps you simplify packing by focusing on versatile clothes and essentials, so you no longer have to deal with decision fatigue during packing. Plus, it leaves you room in your suitcase for non-clothing-related items too.
Less laundry: The upside of having a capsule wardrobe for travel means you don’t have to worry about doing a lot of laundry – because why spend time doing laundry when you can be taking pictures by the Eiffel Tower or exploring the sights around you? If you don’t carry excess clothes in your suitcase you’ll have less laundry to do!
Adaptable clothing: A capsule wardrobe means you have versatile clothing that adapts to many situations during travels to Paris. You can have a slip dress in your suitcase if you need to go to a fancy restaurant. If it’s a casual setting, you can put on a basic tee, Veja sneakers, and straight-leg jeans. A capsule wardrobe for travel provides you with a sense of relief in being prepared for any fashion scenario.
Lighter travel: Without a capsule wardrobe, your suitcase may be filled with excessive clothes. Excessive clothes equals heavy luggage and expensive luggage fees – sound familiar? However, with a capsule wardrobe, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Having fewer items can reduce your luggage’s weight, giving you the freedom to easily travel around.
A sustainable approach to traveling: Do you tend to shop too much? Creating a capsule wardrobe for travel can help you be mindful of how many clothes you buy, therefore minimizing how many clothes you get rid of too. This can drastically cut down on the overconsuming cycle you may find yourself in. If you are interested in sustainability, having a capsule wardrobe for travel is perfect for you!
Now, to help you create the perfect travel capsule wardrobe, I listed the travel essentials that have served me well on my trips to Paris, in hopes that they will help you to pack efficiently and stylishly too!
Whether you need a simple cardigan or a light jacket, having the right outerwear for your season will make your trip more comfortable. (Always take your specific climate into consideration and adapt accordingly!)
Outerwear pieces in a capsule travel wardrobe are also great for versatile layering, as they can easily be paired with different outfits. Plus, outerwear pieces can act as perfect statement pieces too. A coat, jacket, or vest can add personality to an otherwise simple outfit.
Tweed Jacket (similar) – Going to a stylish city? Whether you’re traveling to Paris or London, a tweed jacket is too elegant to leave behind. Plus, it makes any travel outfit look effortlessly polished, whether you’re pairing it with a black slip dress for a fancy dinner or a basic t-shirt for a day of shopping. A tweed jacket is also great because it can be transitioned from day to night.
Trench Coat – You need this outerwear piece in your travel wardrobe – especially if you are traveling to Europe! A classic trench coat is a must-have and luckily, there are so many different ways to style it. Style ideas: Layer it over a sweater for cold weather styling, pair it with a white button-down and jeans for a crisp fall look, or layer it over a chic slip dress to create a timeless spring outfit.
Blazer – An easy way to look fashionable on a European vacation is with a classic blazer. Blazers can quickly adapt to the different activities you may find yourself in. Plus, they pair easily with the other clothing items in your capsule wardrobe too, such as a white tee or Oxford shirt.
Vest – Though slightly unexpected, a vest can be a great modern travel staple – for all climates. The buttons and V-neckline can give your Paris travel outfits a polished flair. And thanks to the cropped style, you can easily style it with jeans and skirts without looking frumpy.
And of course, let’s not forget the power of layering and how it adds extra interest to your outfit! A vest can look as stylish layered over a turtleneck as it does with a white button-down. Headed somewhere warm? Wear your vest alone as a sleeveless top.
Cardigan – Take the time to find your favorite cardigan and you’ll be wearing it on rotation! The versatility of a cardigan is unmatched – it can be styled with all travel tops and bottoms. It’s also practical because if the weather gets warm, you can still wear it around your shoulders to keep it out of the way while looking fashionable.
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Tops are excellent base layers for every travel outfit, so picking the right ones is important. My tip for choosing suitable tops for traveling? Aim for versatility and comfort.
Turtleneck – A turtleneck is a classic piece that can be dressed up with a black skirt or down with straight-leg jeans. I recommend opting for a white (or other neutral) turtleneck because it will perfectly complement the other colors in your capsule wardrobe.
Having a turtleneck is also great because it’s a layering essential. You can pair it with your camel trench coat to create a sophisticated museum look, or pair it with a t-shirt for an effortlessly chic travel look. And thanks to its timeless designs, it’ll ensure that you’ll remain stylish in Paris, London, Milan, or wherever your travels take you, regardless of the current fashion trends.
Striped Shirt (similar) – For your upcoming trip, remember to pack a striped shirt! The styling possibilities are endless with this sophisticated top. A striped shirt looks so chic in the warm weather when teamed up with laid-back jeans or denim shorts and sandals. Plus, it will come in handy when creating semi-formal outfits too. You can dress it up with a black skirt and block heels, or bring out your trusty tweed jacket for an effortlessly chic combo.
What’s more to love about this striped shirt? It has a timeless appeal and will ensure that all your travel outfits remain stylish for a long time.
Basic Tee – A white tee is every wardrobe’s soulmate; it can’t live without it. Whenever in doubt about what to wear when traveling, reach for a basic tee. It works well with other pieces in your capsule wardrobe and is easy to style. You can wear it with a blazer, black pants, or sneakers – the styling possibilities are endless!
Though you might be afraid of it getting dirty, a basic white T-shirt is still a smart choice to wear when traveling. So, if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to add it to your collection!
White Button-Down – Next up is a white button-down shirt – another travel wardrobe workhorse. A white button-down is not only great for styling with your other formal pieces (like black pants and blazers), but it’s also great for styling during the summertime. It can make a chic cover-up for swimsuits or a great shirt to pair with jeans and sandals.
Oxford Shirt – An Oxford shirt can be another important piece in a travel capsule wardrobe, though you might be wondering what the difference is between this and a white button-down/up.
A white button-up shirt for women typically refers to the classic dress shirt. They’re often designed to be dressier and are traditionally made of smooth, lightweight fabrics like poplin or twill.
On the other hand, an Oxford style shirt refers to a type of shirt made from Oxford cloth, which is thicker and has a distinct textured, basketweave pattern. The fit is typically more relaxed than a traditional dress shirt.
Both can be versatile and stylish pieces in a woman’s wardrobe, but they do have a lot of overlap, so if you are trying to pack light, just pick one.
I like a relaxed, oxford-style shirt in addition to a crisp white button-up because it offers more styling opportunities. A relaxed and oversized fit can be a great layering piece over all your capsule wardrobe tops or can look effortlessly chic when tucked into high-waisted jeans.
Wherever you plan to travel, make sure to pack at least one dress in your suitcase! But not just any dress – something black and easy to wear, like a slip dress. They’re comfortable to wear while traveling and are easy to style.
Slip Dress – No matter what your personal style is, a slip dress is a closet staple for traveling. Whether you’re going on a warm-weather trip or you’re exploring the City of Lights, a slip dress is a must-have item.
You can easily style it with a blazer or a trench coat and flats for an extra elevated dinner look. Alternatively, you can dress it down with sneakers for a casual chic shopping look.
Straight-leg Jeans – Straight-leg jeans (or your favorite style of jeans that you feel most comfortable in) are an essential part of travel style. From sneakers to block heels, they can be paired with virtually anything. They can also work for any occasion, whether boarding a plane or walking through the cobblestone streets.
Black Pants – Do you always want to have the right thing to wear while traveling? I highly recommend getting black pants. You really can’t go wrong! One of the best ways to style black pants in an everyday travel look would be with a basic tee or a striped t-shirt. Just look for a comfortable waist that you could picture yourself wearing for hours at a time – like this pair!
Black Skirt – Like black pants, black skirts are equally as important in a capsule wardrobe for traveling. You can create a lot of versatile travel outfits with one, for either casual or elevated occasions. Mini, midi, or maxi – choose the hemline that makes you feel the most comfortable.
Lastly, you can’t create a capsule travel wardrobe without planning what pairs of shoes to pack. Here are some great options to add to your capsule wardrobe:
Sneakers – Sneakers are essential for traveling – whether you’re on a long-haul flight or spending hours walking through the city. Thanks to minimalist sneaker styles, you can feel comfortable and still look chic by slipping on sneakers. My favorite go-to sneakers are Veja in white. With minimal designs and a neutral hue, these sneakers easily adapt to many items in a travel capsule wardrobe. Pair it with a slip dress, black skirt, or straight-leg jeans.
However, Veja sneakers aren’t your only option. Though not as minimalist looking, these New Balances rank high on the comfort level as well.
Block Heel – Travel season and fancy dinners may call for heels – but most likely not stilettos. Though cute, they are often not comfortable enough to wear on the go; That’s where block heels come in handy. You can never go wrong with a simple and streamlined neutral pair, but don’t be afraid to add some personality either! Consider choosing a pair with a Mary Jane style to give your travel outfits a preppy touch.
Loafers (similar) -Another practical and elegant footwear you may not be able to be without is loafers. They’re not just for the boardroom. Loafers are great for creating chic airport outfits or for spending the afternoon at the museum. They’re perfect for whenever you need a practical and elegant shoe.
Boots – These knit boots are one of my favorite ankle boots to wear on the go! They give my feet a sleek fit and feel like I’m wearing socks. Even better, they look good with every clothing item in my travel capsule wardrobe.
Ballet Flats – These flats are tried-and-true essentials in my travel capsule wardrobe. They’re practical and cute to wear with any of my travel outfits.
Key Takeaways of Creating a Capsule Wardrobe for Travel
Stick to a neutral color scheme: As you can see, it’s important to create a capsule wardrobe with clothing items in a neutral color scheme. White, beige, camel, black, and gray complement each other well, but you’re not limited to just those options. Blues and greens can be considered neutral as well.
Remember to pack basics and wardrobe staples: You won’t be able to create chic travel looks without sticking (mostly) to classic clothing items. Blazers, trench coats, straight-leg jeans, sneakers, and boots are travel wardrobe must-haves that never fail. Once you have your essentials in place, feel free to add a few statement pieces to your suitcase – if you have the room, that is!
Don’t overpack: The goal of having a capsule wardrobe for travel is to have a well-curated clothing collection. Though adding a few statement pieces is fun, focus on the accessories that can make your outfit feel fresh, rather than excess clothing items. You may be surprised at what little wardrobe staples you actually need to get you through your trip.
Make sure to consider versatile styles: Put your focus on versatile clothes. If you pick clothes that can mix and match with each other, you won’t be struggling and scrambling to put together new outfit ideas.
Select high-quality pieces: This is another important step for creating the best capsule wardrobe for travel: Picking quality items that will last a long time. Buying a top that gets faded or loses a button after one trip would be disappointing, and frankly, a waste of money. If you have room in your budget, focus on high-quality pieces.
Some of my favorite brands to get durable clothing items are Banana Republic Factory, Madewell, J.Crew Factory, and Everlane.
Comfort is key: Did you notice that all the items I listed were chic and comfortable? Don’t compromise your convenience to look stylish! There are many clothes you can find that are equally comfortable and stylish.
Creating Your Capsule Wardrobe for Travel
If you follow these travel capsule wardrobe tips, you are going to put together chic and elegant outfits, all the while minimizing stress. (And who doesn’t want that?)
Now that you’ve got the clothes, you may be wondering what handbags to pack in your suitcase. Up Next: A Guide to the Most Popular Handbag Styles in Paris