Packing Light: A Summer Capsule Wardrobe

Gone are the days when people packed giant steamer trunks for their vacations. Now, how to pack for travelingwoe betide the traveler whose suitcase weighs more than 50 pounds. Between the overcharges from the airlines and the pain of carrying extra luggage, it makes more sense to travel light.

For years, the British have embraced a concept called the “capsule wardrobe,” and the idea has been growing in popularity in the United States as well. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to own a minimum number of garments that can be mixed and matched to form dozens of unique outfits.

The capsule wardrobe concept lends itself easily to travel, since traveling naturally limits the number of clothes we can have with us for the duration of the trip. A capsule wardrobe of eight pieces, for instance (three shirts, one skirt, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, and two sweaters) can yield an impressive 40 outfits!

To build your summer travel capsule wardrobe, follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Plan your activities. Will you be hiking, swimming, or doing other outdoor activities, or will you be doing more city walking and visiting museums? How much time will you spend at the beach? How often will you go out to meals? Try to list a general schedule of what you will be doing on each day of your trip.

Step 2: Identify the clothes you’ll need for each activity. Take into account the climate you’ll be visiting; how hot will it be? How often does it rain? Does the temperature drop significantly at night?

Step 3: Plan general outfits for each day. For instance, on a day when you plan to go to the beach and then out to dinner, you’ll need the following items:

  • Bathing suit
  • Cover-up
  • Dress
  • Sweater

Do this for each day of your trip.

Step 4: Tally the items you have listed for each day. Gauging the length of your trip, how often you can wear each item, and your access to laundry during the trip, build your capsule wardrobe based on your itinerary. Bear in mind that small items like bathing suits and underwear can be easily washed in a hotel sink and hung up to dry. Also, most bottoms (skirts, shorts, and pants) can be worn several times before needing to be washed, whereas shirts are more likely to get sweaty and dirty if you’re out walking a lot.

Bon voyage!