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How to Build a Travel Capsule Wardrobe: Packing List & Tips

Post by Madison Krigbaum

Planning your next escape? We’re getting all the latest tips and tricks on how to pack a travel capsule wardrobe from Lindsay Unick, Wantable copywriter and blog contributor.

She is a seasoned traveler who knows a thing or two about packing light for far-flung adventures. She swears that, even if you’re a maximalist at heart, a carry-on travel wardrobe is the key to enjoying the journey.

Don’t think it can be done?! Read on and we’ll make you a believer. Her secret packing tip blew our mind.

Travel Capsule Wardrobe Packing Tips

1. Only bring what you love (and never pack for the photo op)

While it can be tempting to build a travel wardrobe full of your most Instagrammable outfits, remember that travel should be about savoring the experience not just documenting it. I always start by choosing the comfortable pieces I reach for on a regular basis (and know I look and feel great in). The truth is, if you don’t love it, you’re not going to wear it.

2. Everything you need should fit in a carry-on, plus one backpack or tote

It’s so much easier to hop on and off of trains or manage multiple flights of stairs when you lighten the load. Unburden yourself from unnecessary luggage and enjoy the sweet taste of (croissant-flavored?) freedom!

3. Pay attention to the weather and what the locals wear

Even though it will be in the 70s throughout my trip, it’s far less common to wear shorts in Europe, so I’m sticking mainly to pants and dresses for this particular travel capsule wardrobe.

4. Only pack for half of your trip (Yep, we said it!)

The trick to packing light for extended travel is to bring only enough outfits to last half your trip. Pack a small amount of powdered detergent so you can easily do a load of laundry if you have a washer available in your Airbnb, or wash essential pieces in the sink of your hotel.

5. Pick a mostly neutral color palette

Any great capsule wardrobe (for travel or every day) starts with a foundation of solid basics, with one or two patterns or pops of color for added interest. Remember, every single piece should easily match the others and be worn 2-3 times throughout your trip. This time, my core colors are black, white, and denim.

6. Repeat your airplane outfit

(If it ain’t broke…) Trust me—the earplugged, eyemask-wearing masses are not paying attention to what you’re wearing on a long-haul flight. You can totally get away with wearing the same outfit on both legs of the journey.

Travel Capsule Packing List


Mix and match travel essentials. Don’t forget! Only pack what you need for half your trip and plan to do laundry halfway through.

  1. Patterned midi or maxi dress (here are some of our fave casual spring & summer dresses)
  2. Skinny jeans 
  3. LBR (little black romper)
  4. Denim jacket
  5. Elevated joggers or leggings
  6. White button-down
  7. Colored tank
  8. Neutral tank
An example of a travel capsule wardrobe for your next trip.


Limit yourself to 3 comfortable pairs.

  1. Sneakers: Choose a fashion-forward pair that’s not overly sporty.
  2. Flats: Opt for loafers, mules or ballet flats.
  3. Low heels or sandals: High stiletto heels are generally a ‘no.’ (Hello, cobblestones.)


Choose your own adventure. . .

  • Pajamas: Sleeping in your skivvies or in the buff saves space in your suitcase…just saying.
  • Outerwear: Pack a light waterproof jacket if necessary.
  • Jewelry: Less is more, and be sure to leave valuable/irreplaceable pieces at home.
  • Accessories: Scarves, sunglasses, and easy-to-pack hats are a great way to keep your outfits looking fresh. One of each is plenty.
  • Face Masks: Don’t forget to pack face masks to keep you safe throughout your journey. Keep on in your purse, one in your carry-on and one in your backpack.
  • Swimsuit: Only bring a suit if you already have plans to hit the pool or the beach.
  • Activewear: One outfit is enough since moisture-wicking workout fabrics dry quickly. Hand-wash and hang to dry overnight.
  • Underwear, bras, and socks: For 14 days, I’m bringing 7 undies, 3 bras, and 4 pairs of socks.
  • 1 purse: Seriously, that’s all you need. Choose a crossbody style with a zipper closure to make sure everything stays secure.

Travel Capsule Outfit Ideas

1. Joggers + Neutral Tank + Denim Jacket 

I’ll wear this outfit with sneakers on both of my flights. It’s so important to dress in layers to stay comfortable, and the joggers’ relaxed silhouette and tie waist also help.

2. Jeans + Colored Tank 

I’ll be enjoying a food and beer tour in London—this flowy sleeveless tank worn with my stretchy high-waist skinnies is the perfect ensemble for indulging.

3. Black Romper 

Paired with low heels, this will be my go-to look for dinners and fancier plans. Its full, skirt-like shorts and high neckline give it polish and wearability. Not into rompers? Pack a simple black dress instead.

4. Joggers + White Button-Down

Front-tuck a button-down top into joggers to switch up the silhouette, then add sneakers for a long day of seeing the sights.

5. Jeans + Neutral Tank

When deciding which neutral-colored tank to pack, choose one with a pattern or embellishments to create an effortless denim pairing that still makes a statement.

6. Maxi Dress

Black and white stripes are timeless, and a maxi length is perfect for a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. I’ll add flats and a neck scarf for the perfect finishing touch.

7. Jeans + White Button-Down

For a classic look that will feel at home anywhere, tuck the button-down into your high-waist skinnies and complete the look with flats.

8. Joggers + Colored Tank

While my olive joggers add a bit of color to my travel capsule wardrobe, it’s also a hue that’s mellow enough to serve as a neutral and works well with almost any shade.

9. Black Romper + Denim Jacket

Adding a jacket and sneakers to the romper gives it a whole new casual-cool vibe, ideal for an afternoon bike tour around Berlin.

10. Maxi Dress + White Button-Down

A casual summer dress can do double-duty as a skirt when worn under a top. Add the button-down and tie it at the waist to create a more defined shape.

Now that you know all the tips and tricks for how to pack a travel capsule wardrobe like a pro, it’s time to stock up on your vacation wardrobe essentials. Skip the stress, get styled by a pro, and start building your perfect travel wardrobe today.

👉🏽 Skip the stress—get styled by our experts for April!


Resort style Style Edit Summer Travel

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