Well this week sort of turned into fashion week here at FTRB. I guess it’s kind of fitting (no pun intended) since it’s fashion week somewhere in the world all month. London just finished, Milan is happening now and Paris is next week. Coincidentally, I’ll be in Paris while it’s going on. (The husband has meetings in Paris next week and asked if I wanted to tag along. Is that even a question?) It’s always fun to be around all the buzz even if I’m not attending the shows.
Since it will only be a few days in Paris and I’m flying all that way, I decided to add a few days in Antwerp, a city I have wanted to visit for decades. Why Antwerp? The answer is also fashion-related. Antwerp is a mecca for avant-garde fashion (many of the designers I have loved the longest like Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten are all from there) and a pilgrimage to MoMu (Mode Museum), the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the Dries flagship store, etc. have long been on my travel wish list but I never managed to make it there. It’s a quick train ride from Paris so it was finally a good opportunity to fit it in. I can’t wait!
I’m packing as we speak so it seems like a good time to talk about travel wardrobes. After traveling to over 50 countries. I think I’ve finally gotten them down to a science!
As a little background, I first started traveling extensively after college and in the early years, I used to pack all my best clothes: wool boucle suits, cashmere sweaters, silk scarves, leather gloves….. I’m not entirely sure what my thinking was at the time other than I just generally liked being decked out. (My style was also a little more conservative back then.)
Then at some point, I stopped taking the nicer things on trips because I wanted to save them and didn’t want them getting ruined or worn out. I’m not sure why this happened either but I think it started when we were doing more adventure type trips and traveling through some rough terrains…. doing what they call hard travel. I think I liked being able to just come home and dump my entire suitcase into the washer, setting it on the heavy duty cycle and not worrying about anything delicate, etc. That then just sort of became a habit. It wasn’t as if I dressed in rags but I definitely didn’t always look my best.
In recent years, I’ve swung back around closer to how I used to travel. As part of the Minimalism Game, I am tossing the last of those less than desirable pieces that were reserved for travel. There’s no reason why I should deviate from trying to look my best when I’m traveling, especially considering how much time I spend on the road. I also want to get enjoyment from the clothes I have. If not now, when, right? I’m only packing things I love to wear which are comfortable and make me feel great. Hopefully those are the only types of clothes I’ll have left in my closet once I’m done with the game! So, at the same time I’m simplifying my wardrobe I’m upgrading my travel wardrobe too.
I think that’s a good mantra for all areas of life: simplify and step it up!
To me, a perfect capsule travel is stylish, comfortable, versatile and appropriate for the climate, environment, culture, itinerary and planned activities. I also believe in traveling light so I’m asking a lot from a little.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the key is to maximize the wear you get from each piece. To create as many different looks possible with a minimal number of pieces, first decide on a palette for the entire wardrobe (like you would do for decorating a room). Then choose versatile pieces that all fit into that color story. Finally add in accessories like scarves and jewelry which are great for switching up a look without taking up much space.
I also limit myself to one bag for day, one bag for night, one pair of shoes for day and one for evening in addition to whatever I’m wearing on the plane. I live for shoes and bags so this is tough for me but these are the bulkiest items so I force myself to stick to this limit. I’ll make an exception if there will be several special events requiring more looks but this is rare.
Keeping all of this in mind, I plan outfits for each activity on the itinerary. (I actually keep a copy of my itinerary in front of me while I’m packing.) This takes me hours but it saves me time getting dressed at my destination and that’s valuable time I’d much rather spend enjoying the location. It also ensures I have the right thing to wear at all times and that goes a long way to making a trip enjoyable. I can’t imagine packing any other way now.
Lastly, here are a couple of things I don’t do. I don’t pack any new pieces that I haven’t test driven yet. I need to know it will be comfortable and doesn’t have something off about it that I’ll discover only by wearing. I also never pack options. I take only the pre-planned outfits (plus one extra just in case something unexpected comes up or there is a spill/mishap) but nothing else. Once you start with options, it can quickly spiral out of control.
So that’s it. As I said before, I don’t believe in lists and formulas because our travel wardrobes, like our everyday wardrobes, should express our own personal style. So I offer these as guidelines and hope they help you create your own perfect capsule travel wardrobes. I’ll post some outfit photos on Instagram (@FromTheRightBank) and Snapchat (FromTheRightBnk) during my trip so you can see my approach. And of course there will be shots of pretty spaces and things as well as some walking tours so please join me!
When I get back from my trip, I’ll give you a full recap of my 30-Day Simplify & Declutter Challenge. It’s been going great! See you then!