Raise your hand if you are a chronic overpacker.
I was totally guilty of that too.
I felt like I always had to overpack because of all the “what ifs” and the “just in cases” that could happen on the trip.
At home, I literally wear the same pajamas for 2 weeks in a row. But on vacation, I pack like I’m going to have an accident every single night when I fall asleep.
Yeah, packing extra for the “what ifs” is totally necessary but shoving half of your closet into 10 packing cubes is a little much, right?
Before, I was totally the one that would check a bag if I’m traveling for 4 days and 3 nights.
Before, I would pack 4 different bathing suits for all 4 days. I would pack 4 sleeping clothes for all 4 days.
Before, I would pack a different outfit all 4 days.
My daily make up is literally just mascara and eyebrow powder. But on vacation, I pack my foundation, bronzer, primer, 2 eye shadow palettes, face masks, 2 different highlights, and like, ALLLL the brushes. 🤦🏻♀️ I would pack my entire make up collection. WHY? jUsT iN CAsE!!! 🤪
…and then I had kids.
It was literally HUNDREDS of pieces of clothing for a family of 5 for 4 days. It was a waste of time, a waste of space, waste of energy, and it was heavy.
I noticed we only used half of the things I packed anyway. So the question to ask when you're packing is, "is this totally necessary?"
This is not a novel idea. Capsule wardrobes have been around for a long time.
A capsule wardrobe is it’s a term coined in the by 1970s British Fashion Icon, Susie Faux (source). It's 30-40 practical pieces that you can put together for an entire wardrobe for a season. Since we’re only traveling, we’re going to whittle it down to about 5-10 pieces.
Before building your vacation capsule wardrobe, its helpful to have two -- once for warm weather and one for cold weather. Since I live in Southeast Asia, I'll write about cold weather wardrobes later... when I have access to the weather and the clothes. 😉
Think about what you’re going to do then plan accordingly.
Are you going to be active? If so, you’re going to have to pack a few more workout outfits.
Are you sightseeing? Comfortable outfits.
Are you going to go to the gym in the AM and then sightseeing? Pack workout shoes.
Are you going to the club? Are you going to a wedding? Now is the time to pack your 2 different eye palettes.
Just plan accordingly!
He’s an example of what I would pack on a 5 day trip to somewhere warm:
versatile pair of flats or sandals (ones that you can walk all day in but also can wear to a nice dinner)
versatile athletic shoes (ones you can work out in but also casually wear with an outfit)
1 all black workout outfit
1 pair of pants
1 button up shirt
3 pairs of socks
1 sports bra
1 regular bra (or corresponding bra according to your tops and straps)
6 pairs of underwear
1 bathing suit
make up needed
You want to choose a color you normally wear. I like to wear a lot of black and white because I have many children. If black gets dirty, its easy to hide. If white gets dirty, you can bleach the stain out by putting it in the sun! I used a lot of Dorsu pieces to build this capsule wardrobe. They create a lot of ethically and sustainably made basics -- but more on that later!
Pick pieces that are versatile. Can you wear that dress more than one time? Can that button-up serve some sick looks? Can you wear it as a layer to keep you warm on the airplane BUT ALSO look adorable on top of your bathing suit while you're walking to the pool? Pack it.
Accessorize! Earrings, headbands, scarves, hats, etc. don't take up a lot of space in your suitcase and you can use these pieces to elevate and/or switch up the vibe of your outfit.
Wear more than once. Unless we're doing a rugged outdoor activity or sweating at the zoo all day, we usually wear our clothes more than once. So why would we act like we wash our clothes daily on vacation? But if you're not into this idea, then...
Do laundry on vacation! A lot of hotels have a laundry service and a lot of vacation rentals have a laundry accommodation. The one time I utilized the gym in the hotel, I came back to my room and gave my workout clothes a quick sink rinse and hung them up to dry to use for my workout session the next day (spoiler alert - I did not workout the next day).
Packing a vacation capsule wardrobe makes packing quicker and easier since you packed pieces that you absolutely love.
It reduces the amount of nonsense you mentally and physically carry.
Packing as light as possible with some packing cubes and a small suitcase means you don't have to wait forever for your luggage. You don't even have to worry about lost luggage.
Most importantly, you don't have to fuss about what you're wearing or planning your next outfit. You can just focus on getting off that plane and relaxing ASAP.