In the past, I’d fallen into the trap of buying seasonal pieces just for the holidays, but my puff-sleeved dress sat untouched in my closet; it never seemed appropriate for the occasion. It was a reminder of wasted money, so I donated it. Now I was determined to continue on my path of responsibility: more clothes! This vacation, I wanted to look like myself – just a little more carefree.
It was my version of a capsule wardrobe, a small collection of clothes and accessories that can be mixed and matched to create looks that suit your style. In a capsule wardrobe – a direct repudiation of the micro-trend cycles dictated by fast-fashion brands – each item earns its place on the rack. Smarter choices mean less shopping, which is good for the planet and the wallet. And it is particularly well suited for travel.
The concept is widely believed to have been coined by London boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s and first took off in 1985, when American fashion designer Donna Karan launched a seven-piece collection which, according to Vogue , could “take a woman out overnight”. night, office to party. This fashion trend has now caught on with millions of social media users.
New packing cubes, toiletry bags and other space-saving gear for your next trip
Dressing this way takes a bit of thought and observation first. It is important to be able to identify what you like and what you would like to look like. Allison Bornstein, a wardrobe stylist who worked with actress Katie Holmes, has gained a following on TikTok by giving people the tools to define their style and a vocabulary and framework to create their own capsules.
One of the tenets of Bornstein’s style technique is the “three-word method,” the idea that each person’s style can be described in three words. For example, actress Dakota Johnson’s words are “70s, modern and classic”, while those of “Sex and the City” character Carrie Bradshaw are “bold, elaborate and mismatched”. They serve as a guide, a test to see if each piece matches the image you are cultivating.
Doing these steps in advance takes the stress out of packing because you already know what you like and what looks good on you. “I have so many clients who say they find it easier to get dressed on vacation because they’re limited to what they’ve packed and so they’re more focused and feel more empowered. ‘experimenting instead of feeling overwhelmed with a bunch of options,’ Bornstein wrote in an email.
It’s also a smart proposition, given how chaotic travel has been lately, with many travelers experiencing delays, canceled flights and lost luggage. “Anyone who would normally check a bag is struggling to figure out how to travel with carry-on only, so it becomes a huge problem,” said Alex Jimenez, founder of the Travel Fashion Girl site, which shares packing lists and advices. .
Here’s how to create a useful, personal and stylish capsule that will suit any trip.
Make a mood board. Bornstein encourages customers to create a mood board or pull reference images of looks they’d like to emulate, then “shop” their wardrobe to see what pieces they already own to create looks for travel. Pay close attention to the cuts, fabrics, shapes and constructions of the pieces you love, then emulate them. (After receiving an invite to a destination wedding in Italy’s Tuscany region, a friend told me he wanted to emulate the breezy tops and shorts Timothée Chalamet wears in “Call Me By Your Name” to make tourism, and the sunny opulence on display in the Italian wedding episodes in “Succession” Season 3.)
Think bringing carry-on luggage for a two-week trip is difficult? Only try to pack 11 pounds.
Another way to start is to choose a color story to build the capsule around. “Typically I do white and navy, and whatever I put in my suitcase can be worn together and be part of that color scheme,” said Sky Pollard, product manager at Nuuly, a rental service subscription clothing line that includes brands from Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People. One of his must-have vacation items is a white shirt, which can be dressed up or down.
Bring in some “regulars” and remix them. Think about what outfits you like to wear at home and find ways to adapt them to your destination. For example, someone who likes to wear a blazer, jeans and a t-shirt could try throwing on a tank top, denim shorts and a button-up shirt for warm weather, Bornstein suggests. The key is to reinvent your rooms in new and interesting ways based on your journey. “We don’t need new pieces, we just need new ideas and techniques on how to wear these things,” Bornstein said. “That way you’re not just copying and pasting something you saw on someone else.”
Bring travel-appropriate clothing. Think about the situations you will find yourself in and the activities you will do during your trip to avoid running to local businesses. Pack reliable shoes that will work in different settings and support walking on different terrains.
And don’t forget comfort items to help manage potential travel issues. “There are all sorts of things that can happen during the travel process, and for me, being comfortable means a lot,” said Cora Harrington, fashion commentator and author of “In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie”. .” Her vacation wardrobe doesn’t differ much from what she wears at home, and it includes soft leggings and easy dresses.
Consider cultural requirements and customs and bring items to make your existing wardrobe work. The strappy dresses in my suitcase were appropriate for Istanbul but didn’t work for the more conservative places I’ve visited; I wore T-shirts and bodysuits underneath to make them less revealing and appropriate for small towns. A silk envelope covered my head to visit the mosques.
Rental of items is also an option. Nuuly launched a seasonal travel webpage called “The Getaway Shop” with curated collections of vacation rental pieces suitable for different types of trips, like a cabin or a beach getaway; 82% of Nuuly’s approximately 82,000 subscribers have rented at least one item from the store since its launch in May. For a recent wedding in Italy, Pollard rented a yellow dress with ruffled sleeves, an item she wouldn’t normally buy but was able to pair with sneakers during the day, a jacket for dinner and a “shoe pink and fun” for dinner rehearsal.
Rent the Runway has also seen interest from its approximately 135,000 subscribers in renting items specifically for the holidays, said Sarah Tam, the company’s chief commercial officer. She noted that warm-weather vacation items remain popular in the winter, as travelers escape the cold for tropical climates. During the colder months, the site also sees an increase in rentals of cold-weather clothing such as down jackets and ski jackets, as well as après-ski clothing, from around December to March.
Make (and follow) your own rules. There are many examples of sample capsules available, but they are not for everyone. A capsule doesn’t have to consist only of work-appropriate dividers or neutral colors; a summer vacation capsule doesn’t have to be all about sun hats and sneakers. There are no rules to follow except that you love the clothes and will wear them again.
Decide which items are your own hero parts. For Tam, that includes well-fitting jeans in dark and white washes and “a fabulously cut white shirt.” On the other hand, Harrington wears a lot of loungewear, as well as pajama sets as pantsuits and bathrobes as jackets. “I love it, and I don’t care if people think it’s weird, and that comes from trusting your style and your aesthetic, which I think you need to practice and cultivate,” he said. she stated.
However, there’s a fashion mantra that Tam encourages breaking: you need a little black dress. She doesn’t think black brings confidence to everyone, and she says the dress you wear should be the one you feel good in – whether it’s “white, black, neutral or colored”.
Choose items that travel well. Choose pieces that you will wear and that can handle being bent, tossed, and stuck in a suitcase without sustaining damage. Bring low-maintenance pieces that aren’t too delicate and don’t require special washing or dry cleaning.