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Women’s Ultimate Guide to Creating a Travel Capsule Wardrobe

travel capsule wardrobe

Guest post by Chi Li

Traveling is such a great experience. Whether you’re traveling for a short or long period of time there’s so much to gain from the experiences that come along with travel.

After living through quarantine, it’s also one of the things many of us are itching to be able to enjoy freely again. Regardless of when you’re traveling, it’s no secret packing is one of the most stressful aspects of travel.

Packing functionally, yet stylish is an art form! That’s why I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for creating a travel capsule wardrobe. 

Let’s get into it!

Research the Logistics

Before you pack ANYTHING for a trip it’s essential that you’re aware of the logical aspects. Check the weather report, this is an absolute must, prior to getting your clothing in order.

This is where a lot of people go wrong and end up overpacking or under packing. Knowing the weather for your destination helps you to know what to dress for in that regard. 

Another thing to plan out, or at least have a better sense of, are any of the activities you’re going to be doing on your trip.

Similar to the weather, if you don’t have a pretty good idea of the activities you’re going to be doing it makes it really hard to pack strategically! 

Pick a Color Scheme

Once you’ve narrowed down the weather and activities you’ll be experiencing during your trip, it’s time to pick a color scheme. This is important when packing because it makes it easier to create a capsule wardrobe when you have a consistent color scheme going on.

Think about it, if you have pieces that are all different colors and patterns it’s much more difficult to mix and match. Instead, when everything’s in the same color palette you can create multiple outfits using fewer items. 

Select Your Foundation Pieces

Moving on to the packing process, next up is to select your foundation pieces. When you’re creating a capsule wardrobe for travel, it’s all about packing strategically and minimally.

Now that you have the color scheme in mind, I suggest pulling out a few foundation pieces. These are oftentimes going to be bottoms, like jeans/skirts, and/or dresses.

The reason I suggest starting with foundation pieces is it makes it super easy to build outfits once you have a couple of foundation pieces chosen. 

Your foundation pieces can be a range of different pieces, just make sure you’re choosing them according to the weather and activities you’ll need them for. 

Choose Your Outerwear

This may seem like a funny step to approach next in the packing process, but I’ve found it’s the best way to continue building that travel capsule wardrobe.

Because outwear tends to take up the most room I suggest selecting the outwear you need for your trip, after you’ve chosen your foundation pieces.

You can visualize how the outerwear will look in combination with the foundation pieces to make sure everything mixes and matches the way you desire.

Typically, you don’t want to get crazy with the outerwear here (it’s easy to overpack!). Keep your choices as minimal as possible, but also make sure that you’re covered as necessary. 

Style the Rest of the Pieces

At this point, you’ve got your foundation and outerwear pieces selected, so it makes it much easier to begin pulling in the rest of the items you need. This is typically where I’d begin selecting any shirts necessary. Keep your color scheme, weather and activities in mind here! 

To make this even easier for yourself, I prefer to lay out the items as I pull them. This way you’re able to visually see what you’re packing and gives you an opportunity to see how things can mix and match together, creating that functional travel capsule wardrobe.

When picking your tops and the rest of the items to create your travel outfits I suggest visualizing how you can wear the pieces together in more than one way.

When you bring a top, for example, that you can only wear ONE way with ONE pair of pants it’s much more difficult to create a true capsule wardrobe.

Instead, when you have items that can all be worn together in different ways you aren’t locked into one specific outfit and can adjust as you want/need during your trip. The true definition of a capsule wardrobe!

The Final Touches

By this point in the packing process, you should have almost all of the clothing items you need for your trip, if not all of them. So this makes it easy to pack in the finishing touches. Things like shoes, accessories, and undergarments.

I highly recommend saving these items for last. When you pack things like shoes and undergarments first it makes it harder to determine whether or not you have what you actually need, and what will flow with the rest of your capsule wardrobe. 

Again,  just like with the top and other clothing items continuing laying out the items you’re pulling to ensure there are a flow and function to everything you’re bringing with you. 

Now on to the Extras + Necessities

Ok so you’ve covered all the clothing you plan to wear throughout your trip, so now you can move on to the extras and necessities. Things like pajamas, toiletries, workout clothing, etc.

I recommend leaving this until the end of packing your bags because it allows you to ensure you have enough room for all the clothes you need to bring in your suitcase. Not to mention, it’s best to get the harder part done first (just like anything!). 

Give Yourself Enough Time

One of the biggest mistakes people make when packing is not giving themselves enough time to do so properly. We’ve all been guilty of waiting until the VERY last minute to throw some clothes in our suitcase and head to the airport. But those are usually the times we end up with too much or too little in our bags.

Do yourself a favor, save yourself the stress, and pack ahead of time. It’s much easier and more efficient to create a travel capsule wardrobe when you have adequate time to do so!

About the author

Chi Li is founder of petitedressing.com, a fashion platform dedicated to petites and women of any height who want to understand how to dress for their body type. Petitedressing has touched the lives of millions of women since it was founded 3 years ago, and today it has grown into a fashion community that connects and inspires women through fashion via Facebook group, Youtube Channel, and the Petitedressing website.  Chi Li resides in New Jersey with her husband and son.  Besides fashion, she is a fan of dark chocolate and yoga.

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