As you may know, I love to travel. This summer I spent just over three weeks in Europe with my family, sightseeing and visiting friends. Early on, we decided we were going to travel light, and take one carry-on size suitcase each. No checked bags allowed.
Before I left, I spent more time than I ever had planning and preparing my wardrobe to ensure this was both possible and successful. I consulted stylish and well-travelled friends, and I researched others’ capsule wardrobes on Pinterest, creating a board full of inspiration and ideas. Check it out here if you want to see what others have done, and what kind of looks I favour (Hint: I’m not a formal dresser.) (Scroll down past the men with beards to see what I mean)
I tried to use as many pieces from my existing wardrobe as possible. The idea wasn’t to spend a fortune to make this work. Once I got going, however, I found there were a few key pieces that I needed to acquire. In the end these included: a new pair of stretchy skinny jeans, two scarves, a thigh-length cotton cardigan, two summer sundresses, a sleeveless cotton shirt, new sneakers and new sandals. I got most pieces on sale however, so it wasn’t a huge outlay of cash. I also love the pieces and continue to use them now that I’m home.
The final capsule included only fifteen pieces (yes, 15!) not counting shoes and necessities. These included:
5 Bottoms, 6 Tops, 2 Dresses &2 Layers:
Thin ecru chinos
Black dress shorts (worn only once)
Grey striped t-shirt
Sleeveless floral blouse
Sleeveless tunic length shirt
Long-sleeve white t-shirt
Red, white and blue mini-print floral sleeveless sundress
Blue with white floral pattern sleeveless sundress
Black and white striped cotton cardigan
Red ballet flats
7 pair undies
Light grey scarf with white polka dots
Mixed blue, red, white, yellow abstract large scarf
Navy cotton belt
Handbag (blue and tan)
Mini-umbrella (pink & white)
Swimsuit (never used)
As you can see from the photos, typical outfits included:
jeans, t-shirt with jean jacket and scarf – Keds
sundress with jacket and scarf – sandals or flats
leggings and shirt with cardigan – Keds
chinos with blouse – Keds
Most importantly, I always knew what to put together to make an ensemble because it was preplanned. I had something both comfortable and appropriate for every occasion, from travel to museum days, to walking to dinners out. I had to go all day without a change of clothes, most days, and transitioned to restaurants without a problem. I had to do a small laundry wash only twice in over three weeks. And I rarely wore exactly the same combination twice, so I was never bored with my choices.
“Your dress is lovely, Madame.”
One of the smartest pieces of advice given to me beforehand by a well-seasoned traveller friend (Thanks Natasha. Mwah!) was that, however casually we dress here on the West Coast of Canada, with our yoga gear, shorts and fleece, this simply wouldn’t cut it in the cosmopolitan cities of London and Paris. Instead, she suggested sundresses for warm summer days.
I took this advice (thus the new purchases) and these were some of my favourite ensembles. With sandals or flats, optional sweater or jacket, and a scarf in my bag in case I got chilly, I felt like the best-dressed tourist around. I was cooler than I would have been in shorts (after all, there’s not much under a sundress and you can catch a breeze by the River Seine. Even better, I felt more like a stylish local than a tourist when dressed like this. I even got stopped by a well-dressed woman while touring the Ste. Chapelle cathedral on the Ile-de-la-Cite in Paris, to have my lovely floral sundress complimented (en Francais, bien sur.) Trust me when I say that this was an unprecedented event in my life.
Stylish and Practical
A second recommendation was to skip the rain jacket in favour of a super-light, compact umbrella in a light summer colour. I chose a pale pink-and-white flowered one from The Umbrella Shop in Vancouver, cheerful, affordable, durable and guaranteed for life. This I could carry on iffy days and whip out for a shower, then tuck away. It also doubled as a parasol when caught standing in line in the hot sun at the Louvre museum.
Everything did indeed fit into one bag, including shoes and toiletries. The ease of movement, speed and convenience of not having to wait around for checked baggage was a pure delight. (Cue visual: flight attendant striding jauntily across the airport concourse with scarf flying behind, and the attendant big grin of a sophisticated world traveller.) Aside from our main overseas flight, we took a short flight across the English Channel, as well as two long-distance train rides and numerous Tube, Metro and city bus rides to and fro. There were also elevators and staircases, doorways and foyers that were breezed through painlessly. I highly recommend taking this extra effort to prepare for travelling light. I’m obviously a convert and will never again over-pack and suffer from too much baggage and wardrobe indecision while travelling.
Have You Tried This?
I hope you enjoyed this recap of my travelling capsule wardrobe experiment. If you’ve ever packed a capsule wardrobe for a trip, comment below and tell me how it went. Do you have any tricks or tips to share?
Kindle Scout Campaign
By the way, since returning home, I’ve been hard at work completing my forthcoming new novel, Disruption by Design. It’s spending the next month on Kindle Scout. Click here to check it out and if you like it, please Nominate it. And then share the link with other avid readers, too.