If you’ve ever daydreamed about running along the Mediterranean coast in carefree, fabulous outfits like in Mamma Mia or if the chic Kardashian outfits inspired you while skiing down the mountains of Vail and you’re looking to revamp your travel wardrobe, then this read is for you. We’ve got tips, tricks, and links to help you build your own travel capsule wardrobe that’ll make you feel like the dancing queen you are.

1. Keep it timeless

A timeless wardrobe works well all year round, and building a travel capsule wardrobe will make you look and feel chic in just about any season. Keep the colours of your clothing cohesive so you can wear them interchangeably. Minimal patterns and softer tones work best, but adding one or two accent pieces is perfectly fine.

For example, pick a bright-coloured pareo or printed overshirt as the few statement pieces that can be layered work better for mixing and matching attires with more basic ones. Look for a good bathing suit you love and feel good in and a packable jacket for winter.

Singaporean brand Align Swim makes gorgeous bathing suits and resort wear that looks luxurious while still being incredibly practical for all your water-related adventures. Uniqlo sells a range of affordable and packable down jackets in various colours, so you’ll definitely have some options to choose from.

Uniqlo Light Ultra Down Jacket available here.
Align Swim available here.

2. Simplify the accessories

The key to a good capsule wardrobe is simplicity without sacrificing style. You want your wardrobe to be an extension of who you are. Pack pieces that are made well and are long-lasting. Carry no more than a small pouch of accessories with you.

Luccacal is a Malaysian-made jewellery brand. Their pieces are waterproof, sweatproof, and hypoallergenic so you can wear them in the shower, gym, and the ocean fearlessly! Their designs are minimal, perfect for layering and extremely affordable. This is a big win in our books — no one wants to worry about losing expensive jewellery when travelling. For slightly higher-end jewellery, MYJN is a little on the pricey side but still affordable.

Luccacal Jewellery available here.
MYJN Jewellery available here.

3. Sandals, boots, sneakers

When it comes to footwear, it’s best to keep it simple and functional. The last thing you want are shoes that cause blisters and discomfort, especially if you’re going to be walking a lot. Pack a good pair of sandals that don’t take up too much room in your travel bag. Fipper sells both trekker and strappy sandals that are great for daytime activities, but can also be dressed up for an evening out.

Boots are also nice for looking a little more put together — a classic pair of waterproof Timberland kicks are good year-round. They’re perfect for hikes and still look good while you’re in the cityscape.

Sneakers are a no-brainer on travels, so throw in your favourite pair of Vans, Converse, Nike, or any other sneaker you own, and you are good to go.

Fipper Women’s Strappy Sandals available here.
Fipper Men’s Trekker Sandals available here.

4. Pack an ‘emergency dress’

When she was First Lady, Michelle Obama never travelled without a suitable dress for a funeral. While most of our lives don’t call for such urgency, the idea still applies. Pack an ’emergency dress’, which is code for a good outfit, just in case.

You never know when you’ll need to dress up for an occasion. Alia Bastamam’s Resort Collection is currently on sale with some stunning pieces you’ll find yourself reaching for repeatedly.

Alia Bastamam 2023 Resort Collection available here.

5. Invest in quality pieces

Quality wardrobe staples can take your outfits from casual to casual chic in a matter of moments. Elevate your look with a good hat, scarf/pareo, belt, or a nice purse. Lack Of Color is an Australian-founded company that makes the most stylish hats, perfect for everyday wear and travel. It is on the pricier end, so it is definitely an investment, but you can find cheaper alternatives at H&M, Mango, or Cotton On.

Lack Of Color available here.

6. Basic packing list — a guided list for men and women

When creating a travel capsule wardrobe, try to pack at most seven days’ worth of clothing. If you are away for longer than a week, wash your clothes and wear them again — we’ve got tips for doing laundry while travelling. Here’s where having cohesive colours will aid you in using the same pieces to create a variety of new looks. Consider if your trip involves more business or casual days, outdoor adventures, or extreme sports activities, then add or remove pieces accordingly.

Other things to consider include the weather and season you are travelling in, and if you have easy access to a launderette. If you’re travelling somewhere remote and need to wash clothes by hand, opt for materials that are easy to wash and dry quickly. This is a basic guide on what you should have with you, but you can customise it to your specific needs.

Travel capsule wardrobe for women:

  • 3 to 4 basic T-shirts or lightweight tank tops
  • 2 dresses or blouses for formal events and/or dinners
  • 1 jacket or overshirt
  • A scarf or pareo/cover-up
  • A hat
  • 3 pairs of pants (a pair of jeans, activewear leggings/cargo pants, semi-formal trousers/linen pants, etc.)
  • 1 pair of shorts or skirt for warmer days
  • Enough undergarments and socks for a week
  • 1 pair of walking and everyday shoes (sneakers, sandals, etc.)
  • 1 pair of dress-up shoes (boots, flats, etc.)

Travel capsule wardrobe for men:

  • 3 to 4 casual T-shirts
  • 1 to 2 button-up shirt for formal events and/or dinners
  • 1 jacket or flannel
  • 3 bottoms (shorts, travel pants, sport/outdoor pants etc.)
  • A belt
  • A cap or hat
  • Enough undergarments and socks for a week
  • 1 pair of walking and everyday shoes (sneakers, sandals, etc.)
  • 1 pair of dress-up shoes (boots, loafers, etc.)