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There are three colours that make up 95% of my wardrobe – white, black, and gray. This isn’t because I have a hidden vendetta against colour. In fact, I actually really enjoy wearing bright colours and patterns. However, bright colours and patterns are not ideal when I have to pack two months worth of clothing and belongings into one backpack. For anyone who has attempted this, you’ll know how difficult it is. Through many rounds of trial and error, I’ve found that I am only able to do this by creating a travel capsule wardrobe of simple, neutral coloured clothing (white, black, and gray). This way, I can mix-and-match every article of clothing and get more wear out of them.
I’ve come across many different articles that outline ‘the best travel clothes’, but I’ve still yet to find one thing worth purchasing. The clothing is either incredibly overpriced, prioritizes comfort over style (to the point where even I wouldn’t wear it), or not versatile enough to incorporate into my existing travel capsule wardrobe. I decided to write this blog post to share what I currently have in my travel capsule wardrobe and to hopefully collect additional ideas from all of you. Happy reading, and I look forward to seeing your comments and suggestions!
Note: I tried to attach photos of the clothing in-action when possible but unfortunately, some of it is pretty hard to see. Click on the links for better product photography!
Check out more tips for how to pack light here.
This shirt comes with me on every trip – in fact, I love it so much that I bought it in multiple colours (black & white). It’s one of the softest shirts that I’ve ever owned, and it never wrinkles or needs any maintenance. It’s only slightly cropped on me (my torso is long, so slightly cropped on me = not cropped on most people), so it looks less ‘young’ than my other cropped shirts. This material also feels very durable, and it’s still in perfect condition after 1-2 years of regular wear (and no tear).
I’ve been waiting for lululemon to come out with a cropped tank that I can wear without looking like I’m going on a run, and they finally have! This tank is made with lululemon’s Vitasea fabric, which consists of pima cotton, lyocell, and lycra. It’s fitted but not tight, and it’s the perfect length for high-waisted pants. You can pair it with leggings for an on-the-go yoga class, or with a nice pair of jeans for a fancy dinner. #versatile.
This t-shirt is made with nylon/polyester, and it is very sweat wicking. You can get many wears out of it before it starts to smell.
This t-shirt is more cropped than the Sunday Best one mentioned above, but it looks super flattering with high-waisted pants. Because of its simplicity, it’s also possible to buy this shirt in a more exciting colour (yellow, perhaps??) while still being able to pair it with anything.
If I could only have one pair of pants in my travel capsule wardrobe, these would be it. I’ve always sworn by black joggers because they do a great job of mixing comfort and style, and I was so excited to find these after my previous Splendid joggers ripped (they had a good seven-year run). These joggers are made of polyester and spandex, and they feel very light and airy when worn. There is also subtle detailing, such as a leather-esque covering on the drawstring cord, that make the joggers look more luxurious. Disclaimer: I’m 5’8” and these joggers are a tiny bit long on me. They have ribbed cuffs so I’m not sure if they can be tailored, but it’s worth a shot!
You don’t have to worry about getting these shorts dirty or wrinkled with their natural vintage appearance. I wear mine without the belt strap, so they’re extremely minimalistic and easy to wear. This is another piece of clothing that I liked so much, I bought in multiple colours (white & black). Aerie is fantastic at designing soft, decent quality clothing that is available at affordable prices, and these shorts are a great example of this.
I begrudgingly hopped on the bike shorts trend after hearing amazing reviews about these bike shorts from Amazon. They’re extremely affordable compared to other similar bike shorts, and after hiking in them numerous times, I can personally attest that they don’t ride up, are sweat wicking, and overall a great buy. Bike shorts are great for a travel capsule wardrobe because of their versatility – you can wear them for a day out, or you can wear them to exercise.
These joggers are thicker than the Rudsak ones and are better for chillier temperatures. They also look more athletic, so I like to bring these on trips where the outdoors are more of a focus.
I recently picked up my first pair of Nike Air Force 1’s and while I haven’t had a chance to travel with them yet, I will definitely be bringing them on my next trip. I previously had Adidas Stan Smiths (also an excellent option) in my travel capsule wardrobe, but I switched to AF1’s after hearing countless positive reviews. My Air Force 1’s took a few wears to break in, but they’re already as comfortable as my Stan Smiths were. The AF1s are easy to dress up or down, especially because they have a slight platform to them. I had previously heard that wearing white sneakers to places like Europe are a dead giveaway that you’re an American tourist, but having travelled extensively through those countries, I can tell you first-hand that everyone wears white sneakers – tourist or not. If you can only bring one pair of shoes on your next trip (and you’re not going running or hiking), bring these.
These shoes are quite an investment, but they’re worth it if you have some extra cash on your hands! They’re made by Canadian brand ‘La Canadienne’, and who better than Canadians to design shoes made for all types of weather and terrain? These boots are made of waterproof Italian leather, and there is a memory foam insole inside. I have spent entire days walking in these shoes (even in rain and snow), and I’ve never had a problem with comfort. I’ve been known to be very picky about shoes and comfort, so this is a lot coming from me! Because they work so well in the rain and snow, these are my go-to shoes when travelling during the winter or to somewhere with cold weather. They also make every outfit I own look nicer, so it’s an all around win for me.
I bought this Frank and Oak puffer on a whim, and it more than exceeded expectations. The puffer comes with a secret pocket which, when unzipped, opens up into a crossbody bag that you can stuff your puffer into. I have owned other jackets that are ‘packable’, but this one is by far the easiest to pack. It also comes with a hood that has a zipper pocket that you can pack it into (yes, this jacket is very packable), and offers the perfect level of warmth for a chilly fall day. I’m not even going to include any honourable mentions for this one, because this is the only jacket you need for your travel capsule wardrobe.
I didn’t discover the magic of cropped, zip-up sweaters until recently, but let me tell you…it’s a game-changer! Not only does it match my largely cropped wardrobe, it also takes up less space in my backpack (backpack > suitcase). In fact, this zip-up hoodie is actually extremely compact. It also goes with everything else I pack for my trips, and serves as an excellent layering piece.
My ideal travel sweater is comfortable, versatile, and low-maintenance, and this sweater checks all of those boxes! The sweater feels as soft as cashmere but it’s actually 100% nylon, which means no dry-cleaning! The instructions do say to hand-wash the sweater, but I’ve had no problems with throwing it in the washing machine. I can dress this sweater up or down, and I never need to worry about creasing or ironing the sweater.
This zip-up hoodie is slightly thicker than the TNA hoodie and, naturally, takes up more room. This could be a pro if you’re looking for a warmer hoodie or if you’re packing for colder weather.
At this point, I’ve raved about this bra to everyone around me. It’s the most comfortable bra I’ve ever had, and I wear it everyday (even if I’m not exercising!) The support is not that firm, so I would recommend bringing a sports bra with heavier support if you plan on engaging in intense exercise. This bra functions fine for yoga and lighter exercise though.
I don’t want to have to worry about what I’m wearing on my travels – least of all, what underwear I’m wearing. The Uniqlo seamless underwear is super durable and won’t show with any pants you choose to wear. It’s hassle-free and requires minimal thought, which is all I ask out of my underwear.
I swear by smartwool socks for any big hiking trip. The socks use a technology that allows them to regulate the temperature of your feet and be more breathable than regular socks. This extra breathability means that you can re-wear your socks multiple times without the smell becoming overwhelming (depending on the smelliness of your feet, I suppose!). While I’ve only worn the hiking smartwool socks so far, I’m looking into picking up a pair for regular everyday wear.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I wear this bag everywhere! I have the black version (currently sold out) and it goes with any outfit I throw at it. It’s also big enough to hold everything I need to carry with me on a day-to-day basis. I usually wear it as a cross-body bag instead of a fanny pack, but it functions great either way.
I like to bring a simple, black leather bag that is not too flashy (safety first – you don’t want to get robbed during travels), but nice enough to use when going out to bars or clubs for trips where I know I’ll be spending more time in cities than in nature. I wasn’t able to find the exact bag that I have online, but I’ve linked a few alternatives that look similar (option 1 and option 2 links above).
Planning a hiking trip? Check out our complete packing guide for taking on a big hike like Mt. Kilimanjaro here.
These pieces are all tried-and-true, and they have accompanied me on many a trip around the world. The items on this list have made packing and dressing for trips exponentially easier, and I hope they do the same for you. Let me know what your favourite travel capsule wardrobe pieces are in the comments below, and stay tuned for additions to this list!
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