My Vacation Capsule Wardrobe (And Why I Think Everyone Needs One)

Jenna Kutcher 

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February 7, 2020


Have you hopped onto the capsule wardrobe bandwagon yet? It’s seriously a good way to live and dress yourself to make picking out clothes so much easier and cleans out a whole lotta clutter in your closet. Never heard of it before? A capsule wardrobe is just essentially picking out a few key clothing pieces that are staples for you to mix, match, and wear again and again.

It’s so much more sustainable than constantly buying new cheap things and prompts you to get creative with your outfit selections because you don’t have a million things to choose from. (Plus it saves you a heckuva lot of money over time!) And when it comes to capsule wardrobes, we aren’t talking filling your drawers with the hottest trends that come and go quickly. Your closet should only be home to selective, timeless, durable pieces that you adore and can wear in a variety of ways.

If you’re like, “Yeah freakin’ right, I am not getting rid of half my closet to wear the same things over and over again,” no fret here, my friend! I totally get it — paring down your digs into a smaller selection is a little like asking a gal to chop 6 inches off her hair without any warning. It’s something you need time to warm up to, and so one of the best ways to get familiar with it is by playing with a vacation capsule wardrobe.

What is a vacation capsule wardrobe?

You know those people who fill their biggest suitcase to the brim with outfits galore and 7 pairs of shoes and all the toiletries and accessories for any trip, no matter how long? Yeah, that ain’t me, sis. At least, not anymore. I used to be an overpacking madwoman, but after losing luggage too many times and realizing I only wore 50 percent of what I was bringing along with me, it hit me. Why was I lugging all this with me when I could really be saving myself effort and curating a vacation capsule wardrobe instead?!

A vacation capsule wardrobe is just what you think it is! It’s picking and packing just a few mix-and-matchable clothing items that you can re-wear different ways all throughout your trip. And seriously? It will make your trip and your life so much more manageable, from packing and traveling (hello, carry on status!) to unloading and doing laundry when you get back home again.

Listen, I don’t think anyone LOVES packing and unpacking, so why not make it as stress-free and fast as possible? And when you’re on the go, there’s no guilt about not getting to wear every last thing in your luggage during your travels. Trust me, you’ll get use out of your entire capsule wardrobe, and feel cute doing it!

4 Tips for creating a vacation capsule wardrobe

01. Pick a theme. The key to a solid capsule wardrobe is selecting items that will work together in a variety of ways, so if you like bright colors and big patterns, that’s cool but be sure to pick a theme that allows all the pieces you pack to complement one another! I love wearing and packing neutrals: beiges, warm burnt oranges, whites, creams. So I know when I pack to pick items that look good together, no matter if I wear a certain top with jeans, a skirt, or over a swimsuit!

02. Consider the destination. Will you need winter-wear or warm weather options? Can you layer certain things instead of packing an extra coat or thick sweater? Saving space is everything, especially if you’re going somewhere with chilly forecasts, meaning you’ll need to bundle up in bulkier attire.

03. How long is your trip? If it’s an extended weekend, you can get away with pretty much nothing in your bag. Kidding (kinda). My general rule of thumb is this, but feel free to play with it depending on the weather and destination:

– Weekend/extended weekend trips: 1 pair of jeans/shorts, 2 tops, 1 dress, 1 skirt, 1 sweater, 1 pair of shoes.

– Weeklong trip: 1 pair of jeans, 1 dress, 1 nicer top, 1 skirt, 1 set of leggings, 1 casual tee, 1 sweater/kimono, 1 bralette, 1 hat, 1 pair of shoes.

– Longer than a week: multiply the weeklong trip rules by however many weeks you’ll be gone, so 2 weeks = 2 of everything above. But, if you’re getting up into month-long-plus territory and you’re staying somewhere with laundry facilities, then you shouldn’t need any more than 2 of each item above! Wear and re-wear, baby!

I know this seems sparse, but I promise each piece goes a LONG way, especially when you can wear things together in different ways and think outside the box with how you wear them! This is also why it’s smart to choose pieces that aren’t super loud or distracting, so you can reconfigure outfits without it looking like you’re wearing the same thing again and again.

Also, I think this goes without saying, but please do pack enough underwear for the amount of days you’re gone. I definitely don’t expect you to re-wear those guys!

04. Don’t forget accessories! Jewelry, headbands, scarves, sunglasses, etc. are way smaller and take up less room than your clothes do, so feel free to pack a small assortment of accessories to dress up your outfits in different ways.

My sample vacation capsule wardrobe for a weeklong trip

These jeans: Number one rule of vaca capsule wardrobes: Never ever pack more than one pair of jeans. What’s the point?! It’s the simplest clothing item and goes with literally everything, and jeans are bulky so save yourself the space! These cuties are comfy, simple, and gorgeous. Done!

This dress: Seriously, how cute?! This is one that you can wear from day to night and just dress it up with some fun earrings or a hair scarf in your ponytail. I love the feminine silhouette.

This top: Cute, simple, and wearable again and again (black = no wine, baby, or hot sauce stains in sight!) for you to get a lot of bang for your buck with this one.

This skirt: See? You can have fun with some pieces and wear louder colors, too! I could pair this with a swimsuit, a simple tank, a white tied-up tee, or an oversized sweater tucked in front for dinner. All. The. Options.

These leggings: I’m a proud member of the “Wears Leggings as Pants” society and so these come in handy for all things: travel, lounging, heck even dinner dates!

This tee: A simple tee goes a long way when it comes to capsule wardrobing — and extra points if it says something cute. Tie it up over top a dress, front tuck it into some shorts, or wear it on a run. You’re covered (literally) with this one.

These sandals: Get you a shoe that you can dress down or up. These sandals do just that, and they’re from everyone’s fav store. I love that I can wear them to the beach or a fancy restaurant!

These sneakers: I swear by these sneakers for so many reasons but one being that they don’t make my feet look huge! I have bigger feet and these are the first sneakers I found that I can actually dress up or down. They are perfect for long

This kimono: Heading to a sunny destination? A kimono works overtime as a bathing suit cover-up and a cardigan over dresses, tees with jeans, and pretty much any other outfit! I love this brand entirely. travel days and can go with jeans or a dress! Win, win!

This visor: Sun spots, no more! My face and shoulders get some serious sun protection thanks to this dude, and I love that it’s totally, ridiculously cute. This isn’t your mom’s tennis visor.

This bralette: My fav bralette! It feels sturdy like a sports bra but that heathered look brings it up a notch and I wear it underneath everything. Who needs real bras anyway?

This backpack: I mean, have you seen a cuter backpack? And that leather is like BUTTAH. It’s so good. Sooo good. It’s an investment piece for sure but it goes to a good cause, is exceptional quality, and fits all the baby things as we run around on vaca, which is even better!

Mix and match swim tops and bottoms: I bring like 2 black tops, 2 black bottoms to mix and match! Super easy and you have so many options to switch it up.

So tell me, are you convinced to give vacation capsule wardrobes a go?! Just try it and I know you’ll be a convert. It makes travel so, so, so much more simple, and you’ll be less overwhelmed before, during, and after your trip! Tell me in a comment below what your must-bring vacation staples are!

Wanna know my can’t-travel-without natural skincare pick!?

It’s for real the best non-toxic skincare line I’ve encountered — use code JK10 for 10% off your purchase!

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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

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