Creating the perfect travel capsule wardrobe

Becca Donaldson ·
Travel Capsule Wardrobe Wes Nelson


We’ve all been there – spending hours packing a stuffed zipper-bursting suitcase with a travel wardrobe that effectively comprises every item in our already overstuffed home wardrobe. What’s worse, when we return and unpack, we discover that about 90% of it hasn’t even been worn. But we needed it, just in case! Or did we? 

If you want holidays and business trips without the packing angst then knowing how to master the perfect travel wardrobe is a must. So, read on to learn how to create a capsule wardrobe for travel. 

Why use a travel capsule wardrobe?

It’s not just the packing and unpacking difficulties that makes us desire a travel capsule wardrobe. You may want to avoid hold luggage fees or enjoy the ease of travelling with hand luggage only. Indeed, you may fear the horror stories of hold luggage going missing and not want to risk losing quite so much of your wardrobe! 

It may be important that you aren’t weighed down, literally, by cumbersome baggage. It may be necessary to ensure that you have quick choice options for a business trip to London or want to mix and match summer options. There are so many compelling reasons to travel light.

The trick is to create a 10 piece travel wardrobe and master minimalist wardrobe travel. So, how do you do it?

1. Do your homework

The secret to how to build a capsule wardrobe for travel is all about planning. You can do the planning for your work travel capsule wardrobe sat at your desk, not the night before your business trip! Or you can enjoy dreaming up your perfect capsule wardrobe for summer travel on a bleak grey day in winter when you need a pick-me-up.

The primary consideration in creating a capsule wardrobe is to find out what the weather will be like at your destination. Get specific. You need to drill down into what the weather is usually in that exact spot at that time of year, but also what weather is being experienced there in the immediate lead up to the trip. 

Next, consider if there are any cultural or business appropriate customs that need considering. Will you need to cover your head or shoulders in certain locations, for example? ? Does your business travel capsule wardrobe perhaps need to be more or less formal than what you usually wear to the office?

2. Get to know your itinerary

For your summer capsule travel wardrobe, don’t start formulating specific packing lists until you know if you’re planning to hike and canoe or sunbathe and dance. It’s a similar concept for your capsule wardrobe for work travel – you need to know what you will be doing and when. 

Create an itinerary that provides an overview of what you will be doing on each day of the trip. This helps you to determine what clothes you will actually need rather than grabbing everything just in case. If you are aiming for a 10 piece travel wardrobe, this is particularly important. 

Make sure you pay attention to the days spent travelling. When you move on to creating your packing list, these outfits serve as the base onto which you can add your further 10 pieces. Make sure to consider any specific business functions or leisure excursions. It’s also useful to consider your accommodation in line with your itinerary to determine how easy laundry will be. 

3. Making your ultimate travel wardrobe list

You’re now ready to start making the list for your travel wardrobe. The idea is to choose items intentionally and minimally. They should be highly in line with your personal style, but to keep things compact, you will need to make some compromises towards classic styling and neutral palettes (you can use accessories to add pops of colour).

Importantly, your travel capsule wardrobe packing list will be unique – not just to you, but also to this trip. For example, a travel capsule wardrobe for an older woman on a business trip will differ from the same woman’s travel capsule wardrobe for a spring trip to Italy with friends.

Your travel capsule wardrobe essentials should be neutrals which are versatile. A good example is a sleeveless vest top that works paired with a suit for a business meeting that can be matched with jeans for evening drinks. 

Your goal is to choose around 10 items that work together rather than 10 separate outfits. A good rule of thumb for most trips (but will need adjusting for season and type of trip) is two second-layers, four tops, two bottoms, one dress and one sweater. What you wear for travel is considered additional but should be used within the planning. Items such as swimwear, underwear, accessories and scarves aren’t included.

If, like most of us, you can’t think without visualising, lay out potential items on your bed and see how they work together. This will help to reveal gaps in what you’ve got.

4. Choose new items wisely

Even if you’ve got an overstuffed wardrobe at home, chances are that you are missing some crucial elements. When you start to consider a travel capsule wardrobe, you need each item to work with all of the others. That’s quite a tall order. 

Having determined what you’ve got that works together and suits the trip, you can now see the gaps in your travel wardrobe. You will need to do some targeted shopping to fill these gaps. Be very specific with what you are looking for; for example, a blush-coloured blouse, ideally cotton, suitable for rolling up sleeves. 

Shopping with this type of detailed list is very hard to do on an actual shopping trip. It can take hours! Here, online shopping is definitely your friend. Start at Reliked for your pre-loved favourites and discover ample choices for your perfect travel wardrobe.

Once you’ve learned how to create a capsule wardrobe for travel, you’ll never look back –or sit on an overstuffed bursting suitcase – again!

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