How to create a capsule travel wardrobe

Here’s how to create a capsule wardrobe for your next trip away.

A capsule wardrobe is probably best defined as “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally love to wear.” But given that it’s not exactly feasible to take your whole wardrobe with you when travelling, creating a capsule wardrobe to pack instead makes perfect sense.

Not only will taking the time out to plan a capsule wardrobe mean you end up packing lighter and smarter, but also by having an idea of what predetermined outfits you can spend less time getting dressed and more time exploring and enjoying your destination.

So where should you start? Obviously your capsule wardrobe will depend on for how long you are going away, but as a rough guide it’s good to aim for two to three items of each category. For example, your capsule wardrobe for a two-week holiday could include:

  • 2 pairs of pants (jeans and a smarter pair)
  • 2 shorts or skirts, one of each
  • 2 dresses (again, a daytime one and an evening one – you can go past a little black dress)
  • 2 jumpers / knits /long-sleeve light-weight tops
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 singlets (opt for some dressier pieces to dress up daytime outfits into evening wear)
  • 2 jackets (a light-weight casual option, such as a denim jacket and something more substantial in case it gets cold in the evenings or during transit)
  • 2–3 pairs of shoes (runners/sneakers, some nice sandals and a something to give you some height, such as wedges or heels)

This gives you a total of roughly 16 items with four bottoms, two dresses and eight tops with which to play. Not to mention at least two shoe options for both daytime and evening. Obviously, if you’re not going for that long or feel this is more than you would usually take, aim for one of each of the above items instead and, similarly, if you’re going away for months on end, consider upping the above to three options in each category.

When choosing your items, make sure you consider the following factors:

  1. Do you love it and would you wear it right now or do you wear it on a weekly basis at home?
  2. Is it easy to create outfits with? And does it match most of your other items?
  3. Is it appropriate for where you are going in terms of climate and culture?

An easy way to ensure you end up with the most versatile capsule wardrobe possible is to stick with a neutral colour palate for the most part and then add in the occasional statement item to liven up your outfits.

When it comes to creating a capsule wardrobe, accessories are your best friend, because they make it easy to turn an otherwise simple or basic outfit into a statement. On top of the above, you could consider taking two printed or colourful scarves, a hat and adding in a few of your favourite accessories. And when it comes to underwear, less is perhaps not more – feel free to take more than two pairs of those! 

One more thing: don’t forget your bikini – while aiming for two is admirable, I have to be honest and say this is one area I can never travel with less than four options.

Do you have any tips for creating a travel capsule wardrobe? We’d love to hear them in the comments.


    SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her plane essentials include noise-cancelling headphones, a solid Spotify playlist, sleeping tablets, an eyemask and a large scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights – i.e. every one.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    21st May 2016
    4 bikinis, really! 4 bottoms, 6 tops, 2 cardigan or jackets which all match and a few accessories and you have more than eneough
    22nd May 2016
    Best colour for basics is black ...

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