I spent Christmas of 2010 in the ‘burbs of Chicago with my family. Husband Mike and I drove down together, but I flew back alone a week later, and since nothing BURNS ME like a $30 baggage check fee, I was determined to pack a carry-on only.
As I was madly cramming items into my rolly bag, I realized that I was creating a capsule wardrobe and one that would work quite well for non-family-centric trips. You’ve seen these outfits before, but since I’ve gotten a few requests for both travel and capsule wardrobe posts, I thought I’d wrap both into one!
ON CAPSULE WARDROBES
Personally, I love a large and varied wardrobe. So much so that I responded to the first call for advice by asking Nubby Twiglet to guest post on how to work within the confines of a capsule. But packing for this relatively recent trip and for our voyage to Iceland back in August have proven to me that crafting a small, well-edited wardrobe from simple, chic pieces can be fun and satisfying. (Temporarily!)
ON TRAVEL AND PACKING
Recently, I’ve written about my views on packing effectively, but just to reiterate a few of the high points:
- Pick a color scheme: If you’re traveling for more than a couple of days and attempting to pack light, you’ll need to bring interchangeable pieces. Picking a simple color scheme – generally black, white, gray, and a color – will allow you tremendous versatility in a small group of items.
- Try everything on: This is especially key in a capsule because you NEED to know how the various items will work together. Create a distinct outfit for each day you’re away from home, try each outfit on, and write down the items involved.
- Pack easy fabrics: Unless you are required by law to wear a linen dress or button-down shirt, pick and pack items that won’t wrinkle or crease. Jersey, knits, anything with spandex.
WHAT I BROUGHT
Here’s a quick inventory of what I took with me for my week in Chicago:
Gray knit dress
Black knit dress
Washable polyester ocelot-print tie-neck blouse
Extra-long black tank top
Red tank top
Black-and-white-checked pintuck tunic
Gray boyfriend cardigan
Black knit moto jacket
Black ponte riding pants
Straight leg jeans
Wedge platform booties
Flat black boots
Red stud belt
Multi-strand onyx necklace
And here are the outfits in order of wearing:
This was Christmas Eve, so I knew we wouldn’t be doing tons of gallivanting. I felt safe wearing this flattering but slightly saucy outfit knowing that I’d either be at home lounging, or outside in my long coat.The wedge booties were perfect for this day, since we did relatively little walking.
Christmas Day is extremely casual at my parents’ house, so I wore a loose, unconfining tunic and my ponte riding pants. Again, the wedges were fine since we were indoors all day.
Plans for this day included shopping with The Budget Babe and hanging out with girlfriends post-dinner. This is a slightly altered version of an outfit I’d worn a month or so previously, so I knew it was a winner. The flat boots were a must since BB and I planned to walk … though we had to reschedule!
Lunch with a dear friend was the only thing on the docket, so I did the wedge boots again. I regretted it. Although these shoes look AMAZING and are fairly comfy, Chicago had quite a bit of snow and ice by this time and I longed for more traction! Lesson learned …
The Budget Babe and I met on the Magnificent Mile for our shopping date, and had a whale of a time. However, this wasn’t the best choice of outfit. I caved and swapped my flat boots for the booties, which was acceptable … but I generally prefer easier layers when shopping. Leggings and a tank make the BEST underlayers. I had plenty of other outfits in the chute, but somehow felt compelled to stick to this one. Durr!
Mom and I had lunch with my sister and I shopped a bit on my own. Later on, went to the movies with my dad. Again, relatively little walking, so the wedges worked!
I insist on extreme comfort en route, so this was my outfit for the day of the plane ride home. And a good thing, too, since my flight got canceled, rescheduled, and massively delayed. All knit pieces, a cozy scarf, and flat boots kept me comfy for the entirety of that long-ass day.
- This combination of grays, blacks, animal prints, and a splash of red were a bit dreary for my usually colorful tastes, but I certainly felt chic and pulled-together all week long.
- Heavy reliance on knits meant I was comfy and wrinkle-free.
- I wore the heck out of my jeans, and am determined to wear them more in non-travel life!
WHAT I’D CHANGE
- The wedge boots were a mistake. Period. I must remember that even traveling to see my parents for a non-touristy vacation will mean lots of walking.
- I wish I’d picked patterned pieces that included more color. Although I think it really helped break up those dark neutrals to include some busy patterns, I MISSED color!
- I wore those jeans three days in a row. I should be more mindful of which items are getting re-worn when.
When you travel, do you pack capsule wardrobes? What are your personal guidelines? Any tips for making a capsule seem more varied?