How to Build a Travel Capsule Wardrobe: Packing List & Tips
Planning your next escape? Stylist, Lindsay, 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. Headed to Europe for 2 weeks, with stops in Paris, London, and Berlin, she gave us an inside look at her essential packing list, plus important tips on how to create a travel capsule wardrobe you love.
Travel Capsule Packing Tips:
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.
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!
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.
Plan to do laundry.
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.
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.
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:
Clothing: Mix and match travel essentials.
1. Patterned midi or maxi dress
2. Elevated joggers
3. Skinny jeans
4. LBR (little black romper)
5. Denim jacket
6. White button-down
7. Colored tank
8. Neutral tank
Footwear: Limit yourself to 3 comfortable pairs.
• Sneakers: Choose a fashion-forward pair that’s not overly sporty.
• Flats: Opt for loafers, mules or ballet flats.
• Low heels or sandals: High stiletto heels are generally a ‘no.’ (Hello, cobblestones.)
Don’t Forget: Again, only pack what you need for half your trip.
• 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.
Extras: 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.
• 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.
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 these 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 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.