Packing a Capsule Wardrobe for an Extended Trip Abroad

by Elle on June 15, 2012

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Your twenties are filled with opportunities to see the world. Exchange programs, volunteering overseas, working abroad, and backpacking trips are popular ways to get some travel experience – provided you can get your stuff together.

So for all of you world travelers, here’s a guide to creating a small, capsule wardrobe for an extended stay away from home.

The basics of packing.

A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe full of basic pieces that can be used to create many outfits. Since most of us only wear about 25% of our wardrobe with any regularity, a capsule wardrobe monopolizes on the pieces that you wear frequently and can mix-and-match with ease. It may take a little forethought, but a capsule wardrobe is a great way to have many outfits without the fourteen suitcases.

You’ll want to do your research before packing: How many bags are you allowed? What are the dimensions? And, most importantly, what are the weight restrictions? A light-weight, easy-to-maneuver suitcase will be a great travel companion for your extended trip.

Next, you’ll want to consider the climate of your destination and your length of stay. Will you need just summer pieces and a couple of items for cooler nights? Or a suitcase filled with layers to see you through a miserable Scottish winter? You’ll want to make sure you pack for the weather.

tips 11 large Packing a Capsule Wardrobe for an Extended Trip Abroad An example of a capsule wardrobe using just neutral colours

What you’ll need.

You’re probably wondering how many pieces of clothing you’ll need to get through the duration of your trip – but keep this in mind: you’ll be able to do your laundry once every 7-10 days.

Realistically, you’ll want to pack a week’s worth of bottoms: this can include jeans, shorts, skirts, and dress pants. What you pack comes down to personal preference: do you only wear pants (if you’re a guy, then probably) or do you also wear skirts and dresses? Are you willing to commit to wearing a particular skirt or dress once a week? Ensure that the pieces you choose are versatile and worth carting half-way across the world.

You’ll probably want to pack a few more shirts; maybe 5 t-shirts, a few collared or long-sleeved layering shirts, and three or four long-sleeved sweaters/blazers. Again, this comes down to your personal style.

Designing your capsule wardrobe.

Start off by picking out your neutral pieces. The bulk of your wardrobe should be neutral colours: black, grey, beige, brown, and navy. I know that this sounds boring, but when you think about it, but how often do you pair a bright top with a colourful bottom?

One of the easiest ways to assure that your pieces are easily interchangeable is to pick one or two colours to add to your wardrobe – ideally colours that are flattering for your colouring. Select a few pieces in these colours to add a pop to your daily wardrobe.

Items that you pick for your capsule wardrobe should have a lot of versatility; pants that you feel comfortable wearing to school and on weekends; skirts that you can wear to class but also for a night out on the town; and shirts that are casual and a couple to dress up in. You want to have the option to mix and match your tops and bottoms – which is easiest if you stick to neutral bottoms and a mixture of coloured, patterned, and plain tops that can easily be layered together.

And what about shoes?

You’re going to want to limit yourself here. Aim for three pairs: one comfortable pair of sneakers for walking, one pair of cute flats to dress up your outfits, and one pair of heels for nights out on the town. If you’re a guy, this is probably a whole lot easier!

Your capsule wardrobe.

The hardest part about packing a capsule wardrobe is leaving your favourite outfits behind. But you’re sure to appreciate your efforts when you have a cohesive wardrobe that fits into a single suitcase. Make it your own by adding a few signature accessories and you’ll be all set to travel in style!

Elle is a 25-year-old blogger from Atlantic Canada. After spending University as a townie, transfer student, dorm dweller, commuter, on the Dean’s list and academic probation, spending a year studying abroad, and at long-last graduating with a Masters degree, she’s experienced just about every up-and-down that college life can throw at you. An aspiring biologist and animal lover, she spends her weekends away from the Internet to enjoy nature walks, kite flying, and exploring her hometown.
 Packing a Capsule Wardrobe for an Extended Trip Abroad
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