How to build a capsule wardrobe for travel
UPDATED AUGUST 2022
Why superheroes wear the same costumes every time? There are many possible answers to this question, but one major reason certainly includes that the people who created these fictional characters wanted to make them instantly recognizable.
You don’t only have to stick to movies to see this trend. Look at some of the most famous people on Earth, such as Mark Zuckerberg or former president Barack Obama. They have, what you call a capsule wardrobe. They keep it simple, and go with clothing items that will never go out of style. Do you want to build your own image in this way? Why not start with a capsule wardrobe for travel?
You first have to narrow down the choices
The whole point of capsule wardrobe is very simple: you need to choose your style! Once you make your picks, try to stick to it as much as possible. This is where travelers have the advantage. Once you pack your clothes and leave your huge closet, there’ll be no turning back.
Just how to do this? In case you’re really having a tough time with it, why not just lay it all out there? Seriously, take all of your belongings and place it all around the bed. By doing this, you will have a better idea of stuff you need to keep, and the ones you can live without off. There will be some rough decisions to be made, that’s for sure, but take it in stride.
Donate some clothes
You know that you hardly ever get to wear that furry jacket you bought way back during your college days, but you just don’t have the guts to throw it away? Here’s the thing, you don’t have to. Naturally, there’s no place for items like that in the capsule wardrobe, but here’s a different solution, you probably never thought of. Why don’t you give it away? Sharing is great, as it gives us that warm feeling in our stomach that is something we should all strive towards. Instead of feeling sad about your missing belongings, why not be grateful that you got a chance to help someone out? In case you’ve never done this before, trust me, it’s definitely worth it.
Do not aim for a specific number
It’s not hard to come across those articles that give advices on how to create a perfect wardrobe capsule. Among other things, most of them try to specify the exact number of items you need to focus on. In my opinion, this is complete nonsense. First of all, we are all specific, and have our own set of preferences. You cannot give out the same advice to college students and elderly business minded people, as they probably have very little in common when it comes to style. Go with whatever make you feel comfortable, but enforce at least some restrictions on yourself, or everything will get out of hand pretty quickly.
Furthermore, in case you decide to put a hard cap on a number of items you’re allowed to choose, you will most likely turn this ordeal into work. We always try to take up a different approach. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and just try it out one time. Think of it more like a game. Ultimately, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You can realize that you’re simply not yet ready to make this commitment, and you’ll be able to walk away, no harm, no foul. Still, something tells me that once you taste the capsule wardrobe life, you will never go back.
Pay special attention to the quality of fabrics
When it comes to capsule wardrobe, this can possibly be your no.1 priority. Naturally, style is of utmost importance, but if you strict yourself to only one pair of jeans, you better make sure that they’re going to last!
Did you notice we mentioned denim? That was on purpose. You see, denim doesn’t wrinkle too much, and every traveler knows that wrinkles are tough to get rid of, especially if you’re in a hurry in a foreign country.
Always go with layered clothing
Layered clothing is always recommended, especially for individuals traveling to a place with a colder climate. Your favorite sweater might be very comfortable and warm, but it’s unfortunately not very practical. First of all, it takes up a ton of space, which doesn’t fit too well with the minimalist concept. Chances are it’s also quite heavy, and carrying it around will probably tire you out during your trip. Lastly, it won’t be of much use if the weather suddenly improves and temperatures start to rise.
On the other hand, layered clothing concept is much better suited for travelers. First of all, thinner clothes are better when it comes to repelling smells, and you’ll be able to retain your desired body temperature easily by adding or removing layers. Also, in case it gets dirty, it’s easily washable, and it will dry up in no time. When you’re on the road, these things mean a lot!
But what about the colors?
This is especially true when it comes to this segment. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that you should only wear black clothes. Feel free to go with your favorite color, or two, but try not to get too crazy with your color pallet. Avoid any complicated patterns, if possible. Remember, the goal here is to be able to mix and match all of your items at the same time.
- Merino wool T-shirts might be a bit expensive, but they are every traveler’s best friend. Try to buy at least one pair, and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
- Avoid hoodies and sweaters. Use long-sleeved shirts instead. You’ll be able to save tons of space.
- Always have a rain jacket around, you never know when you’re gonna need one.
- Choose high-quality underwear and socks that are easily washable.
- If possible, select clothing items that fit every purpose, or “wardrobe chameleons” as I like to call them.
They say that a short black dress will never go out of style, but what about jeans? These unsung heroes of the fashion world have been around for ages, and yet, they never seem to lose in popularity.
Jeans can really vary on the design front, but when it comes down to it, if you buy yourself a regular pair of slim fit jeans, you’ll be able to wear them for months to come. Not only that they are easy to combine with other clothing items, they are also highly durable, comfortable to wear and simple to maintain. From important business meetings to casual sunsets at the beach, you cannot go wrong with denim jeans.
To some, this might seem like cheating, as black jeans are not that different than regular denim ones, but that’s not necessarily true. It’s unquestionable that black jeans are the more stylish option. However, there’s another hidden advantage to them. You know what they say, black is a slimming color! If you tend to relax during the winter months, and pack on a few pounds here and there, these jeans can efficiently make it seem like you’re still working out on the regular. Well, at least this trick works for so long.
A regular white T-shirt
Regardless of your age and gender, we can proudly claim that you need a white T-shirt in your capsule wardrobe. You know what they say, when you run out of fashion ideas, the best thing you can do is keep it simple. White T-shirts work with literally any style, they are very comfortable to wear, and in most cases, tend to be fairly cheap. We already mentioned that you should dress in layers in case you’re visiting colder climates, and a white T would be a perfect starting point.
The best thing about button-down shirts is the fact that they come in all sorts of variations. From a casual everyday shirt, to more fancy options, there’s plenty of choice for everyone. Actually, you can allow yourself to go crazy with all sorts of different patterns and combinations, and even go as far as getting a couple of Hawaiian shirts, if that’s your thing. We’re not here to judge you, the most important thing is to buy something that will spark a little joy every time you wear it.
Here’s one item that every adult needs to have in the closet. While some of the previously mentioned items can be found for cheap, it’s usually a good idea to invest in a quality blazer that will last you for years to come. With that in mind, it’s probably best to stick to the norm, choosing the black, navy blue or gray color options, which will never go out of style. Furthermore, even if you are just chilling in your home, wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, you can just put your blazer on in a hurry, and you’ll instantly be ready to attend a high-class party without feeling underdressed.
Finally, here’s a clothing item that might not be ideal for all demographics, but we just had to include it. Seriously, if you had one thing that you can say makes you feel cool the moment you put it on, we’re pretty sure that biker jackets would be near or at the very top of the list. They have been around for decades, and styles did change slightly, but not as much as one would anticipate. It appears that the designers have hit the sweet spot with this thing, and it still somehow stays relevant, even nowadays. While it’s safe to assume that younger generations tend to be more drawn to this item, we’re sure you have seen plenty of situations where our mothers and fathers dust off their vintage biker jacket, and it still fits like a glove! Truly a timeless peace.
Think ahead of time
To be honest, we are fully aware that some travelers, who are, let’s say, more compulsive, aren’t too worried about planning ahead. If it worked so far, why change the system? Well, when it comes to minimalist packing, you’d want to think ahead. It will give you more time to prepare for some “tough” decisions that you’ll have to face. Don’t be afraid to create a packing list ahead of time, as it will make the process a lot easier. After a few trips, you’ll become a master of creating a perfect capsule wardrobe plan. Trust me, I’ve been through it before.
Ease your way into it
Instead of going fully committed right off the bat, try taking smaller steps at first. It’s similar to any major life change, in fact. Everything may seem terribly daunting at first, but if you just pace yourself, you’ll eventually get there. Still, how does that relate to capsule wardrobe?
Start off by getting rid of the clothes you barely ever wear. Now, I know it may be tempting to go on a huge shopping spree immediately after, but don’t do it. It will teach you how to live with fewer things at your disposal. After a week or two, repeat the process all over again, and narrow down the choices even further. Eventually, you’ll realize just how quickly you were able to strip down your cluttered wardrobe to bare essentials.
Always include a few comfortable T-shirts in the package
Most people fall on this very hurdle. You see, when being faced with the decision of having to narrow down the choices, most individuals will gravitate towards their favorite stylish shirts and pants. It’s only natural, after all. However, those individuals fail to realize that most of us actually spend a huge portion of our day in front of the TV or a computer, just relaxing after a stress filled day. One cannot really relax while wearing those tight clothes, can he? Still, there’s nothing wrong with having pajamas, or your favorite old raggedy T-shirt from high school on hand. With that in mind, choose wisely!
Have a couple of sets ready to go
For people who love to travel and spend a lot of time on the road, it can be difficult to slow down and put together a detailed plan that includes a couple of capsule wardrobes for travel. Still, if you force yourself to put together at least two or three different variations, you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run, as your luggage will be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Our advice would be to create capsules suitable for various weather conditions. Ultimately, a packing list that has sweaters and long sleeve shirts won’t do you much good when visiting tropical areas, and similarly, Hawaiian shirts are not that useful during winter. If you have three sets, for warm, cold and mild climates, you will be ready to go to any destination around the globe in no time at all.
Be mindful of local customs when it comes to clothes you wear
Even though we are pretty used to casual dressing etiquette in the U.S. it’s important to note that not all countries share this idea. For example, a lot of tourists who love to travel light and are used to wearing summer clothes, such as tank tops, leggings and short skirts won’t be able to visit some temples and other cultural sites in many places.
At the very least, although this might not get you banned from these places, you might offend some locals. Even worse, you could be looking at a hefty fine if you decide not to follow the rules that are put in place for everyone. To avoid these negative experiences, do a quick Google check ahead of your trip and update your capsule wardrobe accordingly.
Incorporate some athleisure in your style
With the increased popularity of modern materials that are lightweight and extremely durable at the same time, it’s no surprise that the athleisure look took off the way it did. This was also helped by the fact that polyester clothing items are now of much higher quality than before. Whatever the combination of factors might be, it’s a fact that most travelers now proudly boast this look, and you should as well.
It’s highly practical, looks good and modern, and it will make your life on the road a much more comfortable experience. There are now thousands of brands from which to choose, and that includes more affordable options, as well as those intended for individuals who aren’t afraid to splash a lot of money on clothes. Either way, we’re sure you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Choose your luggage size carefully
As many travelers know, it doesn’t matter how committed to the minimalist lifestyle you are, if you happen to only possess large suitcases, you’re going to inevitably pack a lot more clothes than you might need. The best way to avoid falling into this trap is by opting out for a smaller size bag, or ideally, a carry-on bag.
Still, not all carry-ons are the same, and if you decided to make this transition, choose a model that offers a lot of modern features that will help you maximize every inch of available space. For example, if you combine our carry-on backpack with a smart system such as packing cubes, you’ll be able to pack all of your essentials and keep them neatly organized and wrinkle-free.
Create a go-to list
The most reliable way to make sure you’ll never forget an item is to place it on a check-off list. There are plenty of apps that will be perfect for this action, and all of them allow you to check and uncheck an item as many times as you’d like.
You can create this list in minutes and always edit it and add items that you forgot about initially whenever you want to. The most important thing is to keep it somewhere where you’ll never lose track of it, and your phone is ideally suited for this task.
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