Monday, 15 August 2016

How This Former Over-packer Changed Her Ways

I don't know about you, but packing for a holiday can be a nightmare. If you're anything like my former self, you end up chucking in all these clothes & costume jewellery, only to discover that (a) you don't end up wearing them & (b) the things you end up needing like long sleeve tops, scarves & a decent jacket you don't pack. (Hello eastern Canada in early autumn!) Cue a mad scramble to the shops to find something you like...or don't like, in the case of my very touristy Niagara Falls hoodie. (Hey, I had to keep warm!)

If you're also anything like former me, you could find yourself potentially losing your luggage at the hands of officious VIA Rail staff in Toronto because it's overweight* & well, they're sticklers for weight restrictions. Cue lots of swearing, stress & the realisation that something had to give the next time you travel overseas.....

...enter the capsule wardrobe.

I'm sure you're all familiar with this idea (and if not, here's some pointers), but did you know that you can apply the same rules to your suitcase?

I first stumbled across the idea of a travel capsule wardrobe through Styling You some time last year & since then I've put it into practise every time I've travelled somewhere, from staying up the coast for Christmas to sailing away on a South Pacific cruise for 9 nights, as I did earlier this year. Pretty chuffed to say that on that particular trip there were only 1 or 2 items I didn't wear - and that includes the 2 tees I bought the day before I hopped on board.

Here's some tips for packing your own travel capsule wardrobe:

Stick to a neutral palette for your basics. Black, white/ivory & grey clothing works for a reason. If you're a fan of the monochrome, then this will be a cinch; but if you're a colour-lover like me, then your sense of style will need an adjustment. Which brings me to my next point...

Add an accent colour & some prints. I've been a bit sneaky here & included pops of red, blue & green; but if you have a lot of items of the same colour, then make that your accent colour of choice. When it comes to prints, choose whichever one you like from your wardrobe & stick to it. For me, this meant stripes, stripes & more stripes of all kinds, with hints of polka dots & mosaic print. (Scarves not included.)

Make sure your items pair well together. I enforced a packing rule whereby if one of my casual items (e.g a skirt) didn't work with at least 2 or 3 other casual items (e.g. tops), then it didn't go in the case. Being strict like this will ensure you get maximum wear out of everything you pack.

Take into account the weather conditions of your destination/s, as well as what type of clothing you'll be wearing the most. If you're travelling to multiple destinations/climates like I am this time, or you're travelling between seasons, do your research beforehand and make sure you have options for both cooler & warmer weather. You don't want to get caught out like I did in Canada, trust me. On a similar note, if you know you'll mostly be wearing casual clothes, then stick to a casual wardrobe. If there's even the slightest chance you're going to have a night out whilst away, then pack your casual items + 1 or 2 items you can dress up or down. In a nutshell, tailor your travel wardrobe to suit your needs.

Also take into account luggage restrictions. This should be a no-brainer, but it is amazing how many people forget to do this and then have to do the ol' re-arrangement job at the check-in desk. Depending on the airline and which class you're flying in, checked baggage allowances vary. Most budget carriers only include carry-on luggage in your fare price & make you pay extra to check your bag in. Even then the allowance is generally 20kg (44 pounds), as is the case for 2 of my flights this trip. (Hence why I couldn't pack too much!) Other carriers offer anywhere between 23-32kg (50-70 pounds), so make sure you read the fine print when booking in order to avoid hefty fees.

(Still on the luggage tip, I'd also advise taking into account how much your empty bag weighs before you pack. My hardcase weighs 4 1/2kg/10 pounds on its own, so I knew I had to be extra careful not to overpack because America & shopping.)

As far as your underwear goes, best to pack your black and/or flesh-coloured smalls. Practicality wins the day here.

Now for the fun part where I show you what I packed for this trip. I actually had more stuff in my case until I looked at all the shots I'd taken for this post & realised I could do without an extra skirt, tee, tank & blouse - yay for streamlining! (No yay to re-taking & editing photos though.)

Bear in mind that I'm away for 2 months & will be travelling between different climates, as well as going to a wedding whilst overseas; so my aim is to work a partially trans-seasonal & largely casual wardrobe with a few dressy/dressy-ish options just in case. I have some other (dressy) clothes packed separately for the cruise I'm taking from Hawaii back to Sydney, which my parents are kindly packing in one of their cases the poor things.

travel, capsule wardrobes, casualwear

1.  KOOKAÏ Noodle tanks (New Vanilla + Black), Big W Emerson grey tank // 2. Mavi Lola Classic Tank (Black), Just Jeans Curved Hem Drapey Tee (White/Navy), Just Jeans Scoop Neck Tee (White Navy)// 3. Portmans chambray shirt seen here (since sold out) //4. Old Navy & Portmans long sleeve tops (Portmans top seen here)

travel, capsule wardrobes

5. Sportsgirl red midi skirt from last winter, St Frock Vanessa Midi Skirt in Polka Dot (as seen here) // 6. JAG Twiggy Skinny Jeans (Black) // 7. Decjuba mosaic printed maxi from last summer (dress up/dress down option), Seafolly black & white chevron striped maxi from 2 summers ago (for a poolside cover-up)

travel, capsule wardrobes

8. Portmans black tank from several summers ago (for a dressy option - will go with my jeans) // 9. NYDJ denim capris purchased during last trip to US // 10. Sussan ponte leggings seen here (will wear these on flights only) // 11. 2 x scarves - both purchased in Canada (FYI, they were from Reitmans & Winners respectively.)

travel, capsule wardrobes

12. Leather jacket purchased in Canada/Niagara on the Lake // 13. Portmans trench (other colours/styles available here) // 14. Wedding outfit - Bardot ivory blazer purchased ages ago + a blue with white polka dot dress - both are in this bag for protection)

travel, capsule wardrobes

Sunseeker kaftan purchased last summer + Billabong Surfside Bustier Bikini Top & Surfside Lowrider Pant (Maldives) seen here 

travel, capsule wardrobes

 Yosi Samra Roee Metallic Leather Flip Flops in Rose Gold // Roxy thongs/flip-flops/jandals // Customised silver metallic/silver glitter heels from Shoes of Prey (fancy shoes for the wedding + the cruise) // FRANKiE4 JENNi Black Reptile sneakers 

travel, capsule wardrobes

Portmans pony-hair clutch bought 2 summers ago // Forever New silver & light pink clutch bought last spring // Kate Hill Melanie Crossbody Bag (Stone) seen here

I also packed my trusty Carolina Panama Sombrero hat + silver & rose gold accessories since I'm a matchy-matchy kinda gal.

Looking at it now, I probably could've done without the trench coat; but I know it'll come in handy if one of my loose tees doesn't cover my cooch & I start worrying over the whole leggings-aren't-pants rule.

*Don't worry, they let me keep my case in the end.

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Are you an over-packer, a minimalist or somewhere in between? Do you think I could've restricted myself further? How much would you pack for a 2-month trip?


  1. That looks like some sensible packing activity! I suffered last time I went interstate by packing my favourite tees, which didn't correspond to the jeggings I packed because they were too short to cover my business. Utter fail.

  2. I'm a notorious overpacker!
    Even worse as I love shopping when on holidays!
    You've done well!
    Have a great trip


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