Even though I’m already a light packer, the capsule wardrobe trend recently inspired to pack even less (clothing). Usually, I’ll travel with about four outfits that I can mix and match with each other but this past winter, I cut that in half. In essence, I wanted to create a minimalist travel clothing capsule that I could tweak slightly depending on the destination (add in a swimsuit, take out a sweater, for beach vacations — vice versa for cold climate trips).
Minimalist Travel Clothing Challenge
I traveled to 6 cities for 25 days with only 2 outfits.
For 25 days this past winter, I put this test to the test and traveled to 6 different cities throughout the U.S. — Seattle, New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Portland (Maine), and L.A. — with only 2 outfits. That’s a total of:
- 9 articles of clothing (not including undergarments)
- 6 accessories
- 2 pairs of shoes
Best yet, I built it from my existing wardrobe and it took up about half a duffle bag. At the end of my travels, I never felt like I’d been unprepared for weather or the types of activities I wanted to do. Below is what my minimalist travel clothing capsule looked like, and how it functioned in action:
For pants, I brought one pair of basic, black yoga pants (Lululemon, $98) and one pair of black jeans (my jeans are by Just Black, pictured below are BDG jeans, $58). This way, I could easily have an outfit for outdoor adventures and workouts, everyday wear, and nicer dinners.
To keep warm, I included two sweaters. One black sweater (Oak + Fort, $38) and one light grey sweater (Ann Taylor Loft, no longer available). The black on black look with a necklace was typically my go-to for nicer dinners, and the chunky grey was just as good for yoga classes as is it was for hanging out.
Packing light is all about layers. For warmer days and workouts, I had a basic black tank for workouts, Azalea $39). For everyday wear, I had one white t-shirt (Gap, $25), and a printed t-shirt (Anthropologie, no longer available) that was quirky enough to get me out of a black-and-white style rut. Typically, tops are where I’ll throw in something less basic — since it’s a lot less to pack an extra top than an extra dress, pants, or shoes.
The Outer Layers
Packing for winter almost always means having more stuff — after all, a sundress is much smaller than a sweater. To stay warm, I had a thin pair of leggings (Uniqlo, $4), a black beanie (similar hat shown below, H&M, $30), a scarf (similar scarf shown below, Zara, $30), a down jacket (Columbia, $110), and a pair of gloves (Smartwool, $25). Mostly, the cold-weather add-ons didn’t make my bag bigger since I wore most of them as I moved between cities.
When I went to L.A., I left the under armor and gloves at home but otherwise kept everything the same.
With only a few articles of clothing, accessories are an easy and lightweight way to give outfits a new life or dress up a plain look. For these trips, I traveled with a tiny pouch that had a necklace (similar necklace shown below, Of a Kind, $48), sunglasses (similar sunglasses below, Asos, $22), and a pair of earrings (Bird of Virtue, $20).
I traveled with 5 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, and 2 bras (one normal, one sports). Sorry, y’all, I won’t be including photos of those (#awkward).
For 23 of the 25 days, I traveled with just one pair of shoes, a pair of low, black booties (similar boots shown below, Toms, $75). However, I had a pair of black sneakers (Nike, $80) for the weekend in Seattle — how could I not go for a hike in those mountains?
Traveling with two outfits for almost a month might seem crazy. Then again, there are fashionistas who live their lives with less than 30 articles of clothing. If you’re feeling inspired by the capsule wardrobe trend and want to create a minimalist travel clothing wardrobe for yourself, just remember:
- Choose clothing you already love and wear a lot
- Stick to neutral colors but don’t be afraid to add a dash of boldness
- Opt for items that pack down small over those that don’t
- Learn how to do laundry while traveling
- Pack in something small and light, like the Setout Divide Backpack
Of course, your minimalist travel clothing capsule will be unique to your style (as it should). Just have fun and don’t be afraid to travel with less!
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