one suitcase: winter vacation capsule wardrobe

Post 10/10 -
Between my job & my love of seeing new places around the world I spend a fair amount of time living out of a suitcase. From all the experience I have gained from hauling myself & my stuff all over the place I have learned just how valuable packing smart & packing light is to your sanity. And I think I have gotten pretty good at selecting just my few favorite pieces of clothing to bring and stretching their use though multiple outfits for multiple activities as I travel. So for this second installment of the one suitcase feature I'm going to try out a beach vacation capsule wardrobe.

The purpose of the "One Suitcase" feature is to try to show you how you can pare down your packing list when you travel without sacrificing the number or variety of outfits you have for the range of activities your trip may entail. I have learned through trial and error (and the pain of lugging wayyy too big a suitcase) that by packing a few favorite & versatile pieces of clothing I can mix and match the items into a surprising number of outfit options. You just have to do a little planning up front. Hopefully the posts this week will show you my method and help you find the potential of the clothes you already have in your closet!

In case you missed it:
The method:
  1. Basics - First I pick some basics pieces to lay the foundation for the trip. I try to pick my favorite go-to clothes. Clothes I know I wear over and over. The ones that go with almost everything. For me, this usually involves  laying out my favorite jeans, warm sweaters and a pair of super comfy boots.

    For the basics in this capsule wardrobe I have chosen white, cream & blue as the base colors. I packed my favorite black & denim skinny jeans, black mini skirt, white button down shirt, chambray button down shirt, black long sleeve shirt, cream knit sweater and wool coat.
  2. Black long sleeved shirt - Target
    White button down blouse - Banana Republic
    Chambray shirt - Old Navy
    Cream cable knit sweater - H&M
    Black mini skirt - Gap
    Cream lady day coat - J.Crew
    Denim skinny jeans - Target
    Black skinny jeans - Target

  3. Interest - Second, I add a few interesting pieces to compliment the subtle basics. I look for pops of color or fun patterns or even texture (puffer vest!) that will make the basic pieces more exciting. I try to grab items that will compliment each other or at least be somewhat in the same color scheme. For me, I'd usually go for a striped top, a dress, patterned button up, colored sweaters/cardigans, interesting jacket and some type of fun bottom which in this case is a colored pencil skirt.

    For this capsule wardrobe I chose a fair isle sweater dress, striped long sleeve shirt, red plaid button down, green sweater, grey boyfriend cardigan, mustard pencil skirt, white puffer vest and leather jacket.
  4. Fair isle sweater dress - H&M 
    Green sweater - Polo Outlet
    Grey boyfriend cardigan - Target
    Red plaid shirt - Gap
    Black and white striped shirt - H&M 
    Faux leather jacket - Forever 21
    White puffer vest - Northface
    Mustard pencil skirt - J.Crew

  5. Accessories & Shoes - Finally, I add some accessories to complete the outfits. Jewelry, belts and scarves take up very little room and can dramatically alter how an outfit looks. Unfortunately, shoes is the area I still struggle with. I always want to bring just one more pair. But I've learned to limit myself to only either blacks or browns (depending on my clothes) and then nude/beige shoes go with everything.

    For this capsule wardrobe I chose two necklaces, one gold watch, three scarves and one pair of black tights (not pictured).  For shoes I packed riding boots, hunter wellies and black high heeled booties.
    Cream & Gold scarf - Target
    Black scarf - Target
    Mustard scarf - Target 
    Black ankle boot - Aldo
    Green "wellies" rain boots - Hunter 
    Brown riding boots - Macys  

    Gold link watch - Michael Kors
    Red bubble necklace - eBay
    Gold stone necklace - Target
Proof of concept - Here is everything all laid out and then put in my carry-on bag. (The one caveat is that I would carry/wear my winter coat and wear my brown boots while I travel - so they don't actually get packed in the bag.)

    Hope you enjoyed!
    You can check out my first two One Suitcase features with Business Casual clothes here and Summer Vacation clothes here:


    1. So helpful! I love how you broke down the method of it all. Definitely helpful, and I really appreciate this helpful post!


    2. Once again, a great series on doing more with less. The series is not just great for traveling, but shows us how to remix items when we don't have a large wardrobe (or budget) to work from.

    3. Not gonna lie, probably the most impressive packing I've every seen.

    4. Hi! I absolutely love this! I've been frustrated by my wardrobe for a long time and think this is such a great concept!
      Specific question about traveling (and I hope I'm not the only one thinking this): I can't typically wear shirts multiple times without washing them... maybing I'm just super sweaty or stinky ... or something. How do you reuse your items so much while traveling??

    5. These are seriously the most helpful posts EVER....not just for packing, but for wardrobe planning. Thanks!

    6. Next time could you leave room for undies & toiletries so we have an accurate idea of how much fits in the suitcase? Because the way it looks now, you never change out of the bra & panties you wore on the plane, you sleep in the nude & you only use the toiletries in the hotels. It would be most helpful, thanks :)

    7. Hi Anna,
      For me the most difficult part of packing for a trip is trying pare down to a limited set of clothing pieces to maximize the number of outfits that I can create. The easier part of the packing process is adding the necessary undergarments, tech accessories and toiletries once I've decided on clothing. So for me the focus of the one suitcase posts have been around harder concept of the clothes.

      But all I would do to complete this suitcase is to top it off with a small packing cube with undergarments and my small makeup bag by placing them both on the green sweater. And then my liquids & tech items go in my purse for easy access in airport security.

      I hope this helps!

    8. I love this!...will definitely come back for more tips. I'm a novice traveler and I suck at the packing department. So I need to step up my game in packing stylish and easy to mix match clothes :)

    9. Wow! Great site! I found you through Pinterest and your tips are so helpful! I am planning a trip to the midwest this month and I expect rain and temps from mid 40's to high 60's or possibly into the 70's. Normally that type of temperature fluctuation possibility would have killed me to try and pack and I would have thrown in everything I owned "just in case" and ended up with the 75 pound suitcase as big as Texas! With your tips, I am working on pairing down my suitcase and adding in lightweight jackets and sweaters to layer. Have you tried "space bags" to compress the clothing for travel and how do those work if you have? I am worried about wrinkles, but would love extra space for another pair of shoes since I know I have to bring clunky rain boots AND workout clothing/shoes.

    10. Just wanted to say a big thank you! I stumbled upon your blog a while back after seeing a pin on Pinterest, and added you to my Feedly straight away!! Your outfits are always so well put together and I especially love your capsule wardrobes!

      I am about to head to Melbourne on a business trip for two weeks so I looked back over your capsules to get ideas - I rarely travel away from home for such a long period so I was freaking out for what to take with me! We have a casual dress code and this capsule wardrobe is such perfect inspiration!! Thank you!!!!!!!!

    11. Any chance you could make a 2 weeks in Europe list? :)

    12. This is such a great idea. In a couple of months, I am headed off for travels for about eighteen months and I expect that I will be wanting to do something similar to this, so this was a really helpful post. You can't take everything, but you want to be sure that you've got plenty of variety. I am actually planning on staying in Barrie hotels for part of it, have you traveled through there at all? Thanks for the post!

    13. Sounds like some cool travels! I'm super happy & flattered you've found this post helpful!

    14. This is great! I am going to Europe for a week in the fall and this is exactly what I am looking for. I hope you do a 'Fall' based list soon. While most of these outfits will be perfect, they are a bit warm for that time of year. I love seeing how you put it all together

      1. Thanks! I have so many ideas for these posts but I just need to find some time to put them together! I'll do my best!

    15. What about pjs, underwear and socks...does that all fit too?