Creating a Capsule Travel Wardrobe

Letter 141

Who says travelling has to involve wearing nothing but dark colours ‘because it doesn’t show dirt’ and changing your entire wardrobe to a selection of uninspiring clothes? Many, many backpackers say that. I disagree.

I am a big advocate for being a light-packing traveller, but that doesn’t mean a load of boring dark items of clothing. Travelling is my favourite thing to do in the world, so I want to do it feeling good in what I’m wearing. I’m not into trends, but I do believe that what I wear has a huge influence in how I feel, and I want to look nice in my photos.

So, a capsule wardrobe is what I go for.

  • A wardrobe where all (or most) of the items are interchangeable, meaning lots of different outfits can be made from a small selection of clothing.
  • A wardrobe that is small enough to fit in one packing cube.
  • A wardrobe that will cover all situations – whether that be wandering around a city, hiking, going to the beach, going out in the evening or travelling between places.



capsule travel wardrobe tops
10 tops – mostly t-shirts with a few strappy ones. These will cover different activities and occasions when travelling but should be tailored to suit the kind of trip you’ll be taking. For example my next trip will be spent between beaches, cities, ruins and rainforests, so I’ll need quite a range of clothing!


capsule travel wardrobe bottoms
6 bottoms – a skirt, a couple of pairs of shorts, a pair of loose trousers and some leggings.


capsule travel wardrobe extras
Extras – a nice kimono for chilly evenings or religious buildings, a dress and a fleece.


How To Create a Capsule Travel Wardrobe


Colour Scheme

To ensure that all of the items will be interchangeable and able to create a lot of outfits, you need a colour scheme. This can be quite loose but it is useful. I used my patterned skirt and kimono as my colour scheme. By picking colours out of it I could create a discrete colour scheme and everything would go with it.

My scheme: red/coral/green with grey/navy/white (and a random pop of mustard).


How many items?

As a standard I would ensure you have two week’s worth of clothing. However for me I like to go with whatever I can fit in one packing cube. I packed all of this in and there was still room so I may take a couple of extra pieces, or leave the space for if I want to buy anything there.

I like to roll my clothes both to avoid creasing and to use the least amount of space. It also makes it easy to see all your clothes at once. I had two layers in this packing cube which is 36x30x12cm.


Interchangeable outfits

The key thing about your capsule wardrobe should be that almost all of the items go with everything else, so there are unlimited options of what to wear. This makes it a bit more interesting and means you can pull out any items and they will most likely go together. I think it’s also important to take things that you already like to wear all the time. You want to be your most comfortable and confident when you travel, so ensure your wardrobe reflects this.

For shoes I also like to keep it simple and take some walking shoes, walking sandals, nicer sandals and flip flops. Also don’t forget undies and pjs (but I didn’t think you’d need to see my selection of underwear). Little tip though – get yourself some no vpl pants if anything you’ve got would look a bit weird with a pant line. I also like to take bralettes and sports bras instead of real bras because they are so much more comfy and light!


I hope this is useful and provides a different outlook on travel clothing than other blogs and articles by backpackers. You should take pleasure in what you pack and not feel like going travelling means wearing crappy clothing for months on end. It doesn’t have to!


Thanks for reading,


From Lou

About Me


PS. I wrote a ‘travel essentials’ piece a long while ago which I still find useful today – it’s a one-stop checklist for travelling!

Travel essentials!



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