One of the biggest challenges with traveling is balancing feeling comfortable and feeling like you’re putting your best self forward into the world. We want to be relaxed, but presentable. Cozy, but beautiful.
After all, how we dress reflects how we feel and how we want the world to see us. And when you’re restricted to one checked bag (or maybe just a carry-on), it’s hard to imagine how to be all of these things when your luggage space is so limited.
Enter, the Capsule Wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes have been around since the 70s, but the trend circled back around in recent years. This term to describes the act of building a wardrobe full of a limited number of versatile, quality items that can be mixed and matched to make a plethora of outfit options.
Not only is a capsule wardrobe a sustainable and affordable approach to fashion, but it also saves space! This is why the capsule wardrobe approach is not only a great mindset for your everyday closet (goodbye, overconsumption!) but also the perfect method for packing your travel essentials.
Why it Works
When you’re limited to a certain amount of space, the key is versatility. Pieces that you can layer, wear again and again, and dress up or down.
The capsule wardrobe method encourages choosing items that can be mixed and matched, meaning the colors and materials of each item complement each other. Creativity is key when it comes to making new, exciting outfit combinations.
This approach will help you see your closet in a whole new light. From the airport to sightseeing to nightlife, building a capsule wardrobe will take you wherever your heart desires during your travels.
Travel Capsule Wardrobe Essentials
How you build your travel capsule is up to you! Of course, it will depend on your destination, the time of year that you travel, and what activities you plan to do once you arrive. This guide will help you get started. Don’t feel like you need to follow it to a T, but use it as a reference point for pieces to include in your packing list.
Limited luggage space often means you’re tempted to leave the sweatpants at home. I’m a firm believer in function over fashion for travel days, especially if you’re in for a long car ride or hours-long layovers.
My recommendation is to bring a travel set, a pair of comfortable leggings or shorts with a sports bra, layered under your favorite sweatshirt. (I find that my personal favorite option is a one-piece.) Make sure to use pieces that are thin (i.e., no bulky sweatpants) and can be rolled up small to fit in your luggage later. Bonus points if your travel set can double as a workout set if you feel the need to get physical and do some vacation-friendly workouts during your trip!
When you hear “t-shirt”, your mind might immediately think “boring”. But that’s not the case! Including a basic shirt in a neutral color means that you can mix and match it with almost anything, including any extra statement pieces you plan to bring with you (if you have the room, of course). You can layer it over your travel set or pair with any other bottoms you bring with you. Choose the silhouette that works best for you, whether you like a short, cropped look or a loose, boxy fit.
Even if you cringe at the term “oversized”, trust me on this! Bringing a shirt that fits just a little looser than normal means that you can wear it in multiple ways. Use it as a swimsuit cover-up at the beach or as a jacket-style layer over your travel set for a hike. At night, button it up and pair it with your favorite pants. The possibilities are endless.
Having one fancy top for a night out is always a good idea. You can wear it with your skirt or dress or with jeans, depending on how formal or informal you want to be.
Another fun idea if you’re headed for warm weather: Double your fav one-piece swimsuit as a bodysuit.
Versatile Skirt or Dress
If you love adding a feminine flare to your outfit, bringing a skirt or dress can help you seamlessly switch between your day-to-night looks. The POPFLEX skorts are a great piece for this element because they are comfortable and elegant. You can wear them to a fancy restaurant and even as a part of your travel set (Yes, they’re that comfortable).
Jean jackets are seriously my ride-or-die. I never travel without one and highly recommend including one in your travel capsule. They seriously go with everything. If you’re not a blue jean type of girl, black denim is a fantastic alternative.
Your Favorite Pair of Pants or Jeans
The great thing about jeans is that they’re durable. Blue jeans are a classic. You can wear them multiple times before they need a wash and they go with a lot of different tops. If you’re not short on space, you can also incorporate a pair of black jeans for an elevated look.
Classic & Comfy Shoes
While I’m just outlining essentials and not going into detail about accessories (I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader!), it’s important to talk about the elephant in the room; footwear. When you’re traveling, you’re probably walking three or four times your usual daily step count. There’s a lot to see and do! And if you’ve only got room for one pair of shoes, you need something that will be comfortable and versatile. I recommend a classic low-rise and neutral-colored sneaker. My personal favorite is the Nike Air Force One, but there are plenty of options out there.
If you’re headed somewhere where sandals are a must, these comfy slides won’t take up much room.
Putting It All Together
Now that we’ve given you the formula for building your travel capsule wardrobe, we hope you’ll take inspiration from the following outfit combinations.
What are your travel essentials?
Let us know in the comments!
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