So what is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Creating a travelling capsule wardrobe is a really good investment. Although it takes some thinking about and co-ordinating of what you are going to wear – for a few weeks away and city trips they are invaluable.

There are two ways to get your capsule wardrobe from A to B – one is to use a carry-on suitcase and the other is to use a carry-on backpack. I have done both, but now I am in the motorhome fulltime I go for the carry-on backpack.  I always use an Osprey rucksack. Not only for my carry-on but for all my washbags, my day-bag and bum-bag too. They are expensive but the longevity of the bag makes it worth spending the money. Plus I like the way my backpack opens up like a suitcase with its zip-around top.

I can see my WHOLE well thought out packing in a glance and not stuffed in the top of a check-in backpack.

Put simply, a capsule wardrobe is about paring down your bag to make sure that everything you have in it has a purpose. Your principles of creating your essential packing items should follow this:


  • Build a core wardrobe of basics
  • Everything goes with everything else
  • You don’t have to think about what you are packing
  • It’s easy to update it with key colours

The days outfit choice becomes really easy

Think about the different things that you do on your holiday – for me, its a mixture of hiking and getting outdoors with some cultural sightseeing, art galleries, dinners out and maybe meet ups with people for drinks. 

You might be doing an Everest Base Camp trek – so your list will be different – check mine out for Everest here. But for if you are packing for city breaks and some casual hikes – this will suffice easily – I did manage kayaking in Vulcano, Sicily, a hike up Mount Etna, a trip to Vietnam and a jaunt to Brazil following these principles. 

The principles of a Capsule Wardrobe.

  • Pack for a week or 10 days only. This is key – the more you plan to pack for – the more you will end up taking – the 40L carry-0n bag becomes a 50L and then a 60L. Then you need to change your tickets to take into account that you need to check in luggage etc etc.
  • Choose layers – it is much easier to layer up to stay warm or layer down to cool down that it is to pack for all the seasons that you think you may come across.
  • Keep a neutral colour base – keep the odd item for on-trend new purchases – like the shocking pink or the day-glow lime, but generally keep things muted and stylish in a classic combination.
  • Pick non-iron or low iron clothing – if you have to iron it – unless you are in a hotel or good quality AirBnB, then you will need to take your travel iron with you – and thats more packing weight!
  • If its bulky – wear it. Yep – that big jumper or that ultra padded jacket or those big walking boots – wear them on the flights (I always travel in my walking boots!) because they take up so much space. When I get to my destination and move between locations, I either wear the boots, or if its hot, then I tie the laces and let them dangle off the back of my bag. 
  • Pack items – not outfits. If you pack 4 tops and 4 bottoms, there should be 16 outfits, not 4. (4 tops x 4 bottoms = 16 outfits). When you get into that mindset – its a game changer!
  • Pick the right bag – if you have a large bag, you always pack more stuff – you have ‘Space’ and humans love filling up space with ‘stuff’. Take a cabin carry on case – or take a 40L backpack – which ever suits your style of travelling! I have flown RyanAir, Easy Jet, EuroWings and several other budget airlines with my 40L Osprey rucksack – and have never been stopped 

Don’t take walking poles in a carry-on as most airlines will not let you take them on in hand luggage. They could be used as weapons. 

Essential List for a Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe should be neutral colours with a few on-trend items or accessories. You might want to add a pop of colour with a t-shirt or a pair of flipflops and some chunky jewellery. The colour palette I chose has a natural base – beige, cream, ochre, denim, white.  Shades of blues and browns.


This is what your packing list should consist of.

  • 4 casual t-shirt style tops
  • 2 nice tops
  • 1 long-sleeved white shirt
  • A denim jacket or similar
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 2 pairs of shorts (or a pair of zip off hiking trousers can do instead of a pair shorts)
  • 1 denim/utility type skirt
  • 1 longer skirt/trousers
  • 6 pairs knickers
  • 3 pairs trainer socks
  • 2 pairs walking socks (if you hike!)
  • 1 pair of walking boots
  • 1 or 2 pairs of flip flops/sandals (a pair you are comfy to go paint the town red in!)
  • Perhaps 1 pair of exercise shoes (if you can’t do without them)
  • 2 or 3 really lightweight dresses that fold up into nothing but dress up or down.
  • Sarong (can double as a cover on overnight trains or buses and as a beach towel)
  • Swim wear
  • Costume jewellery/accessories
  • Over shoulder handbag and also a make up bag that will double as a clutch.
  • Upgraded sunglasses – go for those Gucci sunglasses to up the stakes.
  • Couple of scarfs (for chillier nights and to dress up an outfit)
  • Lightweight neutral jumper
  • Shortie PJ’s with a top that can double as an evening top! 

That is literally it. Don’t forget that you are going to likely be wearing your jeans, boots and lightweight jumper on the flight, so those do not need to go into your bag. Also a pair of walking socks and possibly a scarf.

The 5-4-3-2-1 capsule wardrobe

Have you heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 approach to capsule wardrobes? Its a really simple and effective way to build clothing collections. You can apply the same principle to your home wardrobe as well as your holiday wardrobes. 

This approach not only makes getting dressed easier and faster but also ensures that your wardrobe is flexible, space-saving and tailored to a travelling lifestyle. 

The 5-4-3-2-1 packing list

  • 5 Tops: This can include t-shirts, blouses or shirts. The idea is to have a variety of tops that can be mixed and matched with your bottoms for different looks and occasions.
  • 4 Bottoms: Options here include jeans, trousers, skirts or shorts. Depending on what type of holiday you are doing, the aim is that the selection should cover your bases for both day time and getting dressed up for a night out.
  • 3 Dresses and/or Layers: Depending on your personal style and wear you are visiting, this could include dresses, jumpsuits, or layering pieces like sweaters, blazers, and jackets. These are essential for adding versatility and options for temperature changes. If you are going to a ‘guaranteed sun’ place – just skip the layers bit. The aim is to have less not more!
  • 2 Pairs of Shoes: One pair should be casual, and the other for going out or dressing up a little. The goal is to have footwear that’s comfortable and versatile enough to match with any outfit in your capsule.
  • 1 “Wild Card” Item: This is a piece that adds a pop of personality to your wardrobe. It could be statement piece of jewellery, a brightly coloured scarf or an accessory that you just can’t leave behind. This item is meant to spice up your wardrobe and can be swapped out seasonally or according to your mood.

The principle behind the 5-4-3-2-1 capsule wardrobe is to streamline your wardrobe to a manageable number of pieces that you love and wear regularly. It encourages thoughtful consumption and sustainability by focusing on quality over quantity which in turn reduces the impulse to buy fast fashion, which is so bad for the environment. 


It’s an ideal strategy for anyone looking to embrace a minimalist lifestyle but keep a stylish, cohesive wardrobe with fewer items. 

So you can see how easy it is to do.....

I always think a luxury bag is classed as an essential as well if you can. My brand of favour is a Mulberry. I have have a few in the motorhome still but did sell bags to downsize into my new vanlife lifestyle. 

I hope that you have found this useful – if you have then let me know – and if you think I have missed something – then let me know that too!! 

Honestly – a capsule wardrobe is a complete game changer in the packing front. You probably won’t get it right first time – and the second time you will refine further.

Remember…. wash out your smalls, keep fabrics as natural as possible – use wool or merino wool – and update your wardrobe regularly to take into account season and fashion changes! 

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Angie and Damo Signatures
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