How to Pack the Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe for Travel

Many times while traveling, things do not go as planned and my trip is extended (cancelled flights, opportunity to stay longer, whatever).  My first reaction was to add a couple new items to my wardrobe (yay, excuse to go shopping), then I learned the secret to extend my original wardrobe for another week (or more). I discovered how to pack the ultimate capsule wardrobe for the most mix and match options with a limited amount of luggage.  A little preparation while packing can give you loads of outfit combinations during your travels!

I spent many years traveling for work, and many more years traveling for fun.  Here are a few of my top packing tips to build the ultimate travel capsule wardrobe.
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Capsule Wardrobe 6 Month Progress Report

If you are new to the Capsule Wardrobe concept – start here.

capsule-wardrobe-6-month-progress-reportA little over 6 months ago, I set out to Build a Capsule Wardrobe.  My plan was to assemble a new wardrobe by downsizing my already overflowing closet without buying anything new.  Here is my 6 month progress report on Building a Capsule Wardrobe through reduction.

So, how did I do?  Well, I reduced many clothes from my closet.  My plan to not buy anything new did not work out quite the way I expected.

How did my Closet get Out of Control?

I started to become aware that I was shopping for entertainment.  This was not just for clothes, my entertainment shopping extended to shoes, furniture, office supplies, make-up, and even cleaning products!  I realized as I would put new purchases away, that I already owned several of that same item (4 dresses in the exact shade of blue, 2 still with tags).  Hmm, I started to consider that maybe I do not need any more of those.

The real ah-ha moment came when we prepared for a 3,000 mile move. This was a closet purge on steroids!  I donated bags and bags of clothes and boxes of household items to charity.  I finally acknowledged my Shoe Addiction, and focused on building a Capsule Wardrobe through reduction.  I started with an arbitrary goal to get rid of 5 items per month.

What Worked?

Shopping trips became more focused and less frequent.  I had a current inventory of stuff that I had just moved, so there was no “mistake” buying something that I already owned.  We kept a running list of needs/wants, then only bought off the list on our planned shopping trips.  No impulse shopping, or browsing for entertainment, resulted in less time spent shopping.  We had exactly what we needed (plus a few planned splurges), less clutter around the house, and more money in the bank!  Continue reading

What is a Capsule Wardrobe and How do I Build One?

Capsule Wardrobe is the hot phrase in fashion right now.  I just completed a 3,000 mile move (and corresponding closet purge), so the Capsule Wardrobe is on my mind.  I need to understand what is a Capsule Wardrobe?  Will this work for me? How do I build one?

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.

Capsule wardrobes apparently have been around for awhile.  It is claimed to be a practical way to manage what is in your closet, deciding what to purge, and what to add.


Without realizing, I pack for travel using the capsule wardrobe method on a very small scale.  One week’s travel will consist of 2-3 dresses (casual or work attire), jeans, black dress slacks or skirt, one swim suit, black yoga pants, and matching colorful/print shirts.  Shoes to wear during travel, pack another pair of shoes that match everything, and flip flops (to wear around the hotel room, spa services, hotel pool, etc).  For colder weather, add a coat and/or 1-2 cardigan sweaters for layering.

Now how do I apply this to my entire wardrobe?

My Style Sister, Lesley from Working Look, hosts some great videos and practical advice.  Her three principles of defining a Capsule Wardrobe are: Continue reading

Effective Strategies for a Closet Purge

As the temperature cools down for fall, I have purchased a wardrobe refresh and now I need to clear out some old & outdated items to make room for it all.

I encourage a wardrobe “check-up” at the beginning of each season.  Trying to go through an entire closet all at once is quite daunting.  I prefer to tackle one season at a time.  Start with the upcoming season and pull everything out.  If that is still too much, then divide into smaller categories.  Try stuff on, skirts, pants, shoes, tops, everything.  Be honest with your self, and solicit input from friends if you are just not sure.  Ask yourself (and a friend if necessary):

  • Is the fit and cut of the garment flattering?
  • Is this age appropriate (applies to everything; work-out gear, professional attire, date-night clothes, etc)?
  • Is it a classic style or totally on-trend right now?
  • Is the garment in great condition with no signs of wear or distress?

When all of the questions above are YES, then Keep it!  These are your wardrobe staples so consider reorganizing these items to the best viewed section (usually the front) of your closet or drawer.  If the item is a smidge too big or small (one size up or down), AND it is high quality, classic style, then I keep it and put it towards the back of my closet or drawer.  My weight fluctuates enough that I like to keep smaller sizes around when I am having a “thin” day, and I still have great options for my “fat” days.

If you are crafty, or know someone who is, consider creating a re-purpose or recycle pile for those items that just break your heart to get rid of.  For any unfortunately shrunken items, before you decide which pile consider this “unshrink” method.  Would the item make a great Halloween costume for next year?  If the fabric is super cute, consider making a fabric scrap covered picture frame, scarf, headband, gift wrap, craft projects, or other accessory.  Choose your projects and be fearless – what is the worst that can happen to a garment you were going to get rid of anyway?

Consider an alterations or repair pile for those high quality items that just need a little love and attention.  Items with missing buttons or broken zippers are often less expensive to have repaired than to replace.  Long skirts that are ripped or damaged at the bottom can be hemmed to a shorter skirt.  Dresses can be converted to a fabulous top or great skirt (depending on what is wrong or bad fit with the item).

Now, you are ready for the Purge process!Closet Purge

Even if the item is the correct size, if it is a bad fit get rid of it!  If you honestly look at the items and ask yourself “what was I thinking?” it needs to go.  If it was on-trend or funky years ago and the style has not held up over time, then it needs to find a new home.  If the item is way too big or small (more than 1 size up or down), then free up that space for clothes that you will actually wear.

High quality or designer brands can be taken to resale or consignment shops.  Resale or consignment shops will give you more money for items in season, and may not accept out-of season clothes.  eBay is also a good item for designer clothes, but tends to be more time consuming than dropping off for consignment.

If the item is not a candidate for resale, then group for donation to charity shops. Charities and thrift shops appreciate in season donations, which benefit people right away rather than being stored for months.  Many of these charities will pick up your donation at your house.  This is a great opportunity to donate household goods (decor, mis-match dishes, etc).

The seasonal purge will keep your closet from being too cluttered, and may help you “remember” all the great clothes in your wardrobe.