3 Weeks, 3 Cities, 1 Suitcase: Creating a Travel Capsule Wardrobe

travel capsule wardrobe
carly romeo

When Carly approached me with a last minute request to help her create a travel capsule wardrobe for an upcoming trip, I jumped at the chance. She explained her situation: traveling for a three week period, going to three different cities with completely different climates (New York, to Santa Fe, to Seattle), and basically taking one suitcase. 

With the ease of a seasoned stylist, I said, Of course, no prob! She only looked slightly panicked at the thought - but we booked our session for the week later.


At the session, we sat down to brainstorm a few things:

travel capsule wardrobe packing list
  • Full trip itinerary - where was she going and why. For her New York and Seattle trips, she was running Feminist Camp - so she needed to bridge the gap between cool + professional and approachable. Also, no jeans. Her Sante Fe trip was a complete departure from the clothes needed for her other weeks: think, desert, hot, and minimal but free flowing and some color.

  • Weather - obviously weather also plays a huge deal in this! It's hot and summer in NYC and while she loves all black, she didn't want to go full on black on black in order to stay cool. So: project: integrate some lighter pieces: thinking lighter tops and shoes. For Santa Fe we were looking at hotter days and cooler nights. Needed: some light jackets. Seattle we all know will just probably rain, so we could reuse a lot of the NYC outfits and make sure she had boots + a rain jacket.

  • Current closet - we also wanted to work with what she had as much as possible and create a list of items that she might need to round it out. 

So that was the game plan - here's how we did it!

New York City Looks

travel capsule wardrobe
new york capsule wardrobe

We started by creating outfits for her New York trip with the above things in mind: needed to be super biz casual, not black on black, and easily walkable. We identified 2 bottoms: black pants and grey pants and an array of tops that she already had. The major hole for her New York trip was a neutral flat that would be comfy but also lighten up all of her outfits. Enter: the Naturalizer pointed toe flat (pictured above)! This went on her "MUST BUY LIST" since she didn't have it.

Seattle Looks

capsule wardrobe
seattle outfit capsule

We then did her Seattle looks since we would build on the New York outfits - the main difference here is that we incorporated a lot more outfits with darker tones and her boots. We added the multi-colored flats instead of the nude ones. Perfect for her style and the aesthetic of Seattle.

Santa Fe Looks

capsule travel wardrobe
how to create a capsule wardrobe
capsule wardrobe

Santa Fe made us think a little more creatively! She had a few core pieces like a red dress, denim romper and jean shorts, but this is where her own closet was the most lacking. We immediately decided she would get two of the linen tops from Uniqlo (similar to the silky tops she had in other colors for her NY/Seattle outfits) in a white and light purple, add a fun romper, and purchase a pair of thong Birkenstocks - all items perfectly aligned with her own style, easily able to pair with other things in her closet AND on the trip (you'll see we also paired the white linen top with one of her NY outfits), and also be "on theme" if you will for the Sante Fe trip. 

Things to pack + buy

capsule wardrobe shopping list

We threw an extra pair of jeans in the mix for her laid back days, knowing they would go with any top or shoe she was already bringing. I made her a packing list and you can see, she's not packing that many seperate items! The whole capsule was designed to really work together, maximizing on space and letting her feel that she was fully equipped to know what to wear each day.

We also created a travel outfit from an easy to wear black dress, her boots, and her jean jacket so that the bulkier items could travel on her and free up room in her suitcase.

Based on the items she needed to add, I sent her a full run down of those items and their cost, so that she could easily see what she needed to buy to round out her capsule!

A few days after this session once she placed her orders and had the items come in, she reported back that they were all working AMAZING! At the time of writing this blog post, I checked in to see if she had packed yet (she leaves in 4 days). Her response? "LOLOLOLOL. But when I do, it's going to be SO easy."

That my friends is how a capsule is done.

Sydney is a personal wardrobe stylist with over nine years of experience in the fashion industry. She specializes in helping women create sustainable and timeliness wardrobes that work for them, not against them. She is also the creator of BEYOND where she provides coaching services for aspiring personal stylists helping them take their styling hobby to a full-time business.

Sydney is a graduate of the Los Angeles-based School of Style, holds dual masters degrees and currently lives in Richmond with her husband and three cats. She loves black coffee, vintage, and the great outdoors.

For styling or coaching inquiries: please contact: sydney@chicstripes.com