Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Multiple European cities: Packing with navy, khaki, red and turquoise

I get some amazing questions, with descriptions of trips that make me absolutely green with envy!  One of my friends recently shared that she's going to be in Belfast, London, and Paris - what a dream trip for me...

She had isolated two jackets that she wants to take, and around which she would like to build her travel capsule wardrobe.  
navy rain jacket - Jack Wills, short trench coat - Woolrich

These are great choices - something waterproof is ALWAYS essential in Ireland, and it's wise to have a lightweight jacket even in the middle of the summer.

So my thinking: you need to start with a dark neutral color; navy is the obvious choice in this case.  I always start with a "core of four" in the dark neutral, but in this case, I'm not going to include a skirt, because these garments are going  to be worn a LOT, and linen capris could be very useful if the weather gets hot... Two navy tops - short sleeved and 3/4 sleeve, navy pants, and navy capris.

And at this point, I include two pair of navy shoes, chosen primarily for their classic simplicity and their extraordinary comfort.  Vacations are all about walking...

Navy short-sleeved tee - J. Crew, navy long-sleeved tee - J. Crew, navy pants - J. Crew, navy linen capris - J. Crew, navy oxfords - Hotter, navy flats - Gabor

Yes, I chose all four navy garments from J. Crew; if you don't already have your core of four, it is easy to purchase them all from one company, and this also increases the chances that the colors will blend nicely.

Next, we need to bring in the other neutral - khaki.  AND, we need more pants and/or skirts.  So... a simply khaki dress, khaki pants, a pair of pretty but comfortable khaki ballet flats, and our first accent piece - a skirt that includes all of the colors in our palette. With both a dress and a skirt, you will be prepared for all but the most dressy of occasions.  If you get invited to a formal ball, you'll just have to go shopping...
Dress - Patrizia Pepe, ballet flats - Hotter, pants - L.L.Bean, skirt - Mango

Now some red!  I always think everyone should travel with a cardigan - it's a great layer over sleeveless tops on cool days, or in harsh air-conditioning.  A red top that works with the cardigan gives you a twin-set like look, or a pretty dressy top for hot weather.  And a great printed tee shirt that combines your neutrals and accent colors...
Cardigan - J. Crew, floral tee shirt - Paul Smith, draped top - Alexon

And finally, we need to consider a second accent color, and some more tops.  A second cardigan, and two more tee shirts... Always remember that a cardigan can be worn buttoned up, on it's own,as a crew-neck sweater.  It's easy to forget that...

turquoise tee shirt - Burberry, turquoise cardigan - Jardin des Orangers, striped tee shirt - Uniforms for the Dedicated

Tomorrow I'll show some accessories, and how these garments come together in a lot of outfits...


  1. This would be a very doable wardrobe for my upcoming trip to Germany. Not as exciting as the trip you mentioned (I'm visiting family), but I have made this journey countless times in the summer, and always had to borrow something to keep warm. Those Gabor flats are the ultimate walking shoes. I love them and will purchase one or two pairs again on my next trip.

  2. Thank you for describing your thought process as you choose these clothes--so helpful for me! I'm planning a month long trip to visit Sweden this summer (I'm visiting family) and I've been trying to work out a wardrobe. This is so close to what I've been thinking and quite helpful. I've been looking at shoes in recent days and your choices here are brilliant! I'm looking forward to the follow-up post with accessories.

  3. What a lot of clothes for a short trip. Too many shoes! I'd limit the color palette to a maximum of 3 colors (navy, khaki and red --eliminating the pretty turquoise, alas) and skip one pair of shoes and one coat. Otherwise the luggage will be way too heavy. Even on a group tour that includes "baggage handling" there is still a certain amount of schlepping you own kit, especially in the airport.

    1. Oooh, I don't think I made it clear that she's going to be gone for 3 weeks. This might be more clothing than you need for a trip of this length; I'm trying to give her some options. Clearly, you're better at packing light than most of my friends are!

    2. I disagree that this is too much for a three week trip. We are going to London, Amsterdam, Rhine Cruise, Zurich, Lake Como and Venice in September - will be gone the entire month. Have my travel wardrobe worked out and will be taking more than Janice shows because of the dinners etc on the cruise. However, I took pretty much the same things last year for three weeks in the UK and felt it was a perfect wardrobe. All bottoms black - jeans, pants, dressy pants for cruise, denim skirt and capri pants. All shoes black except my gold Reiker sneakers! Don't bother with a carry on until coming back (it folds flat in my suitcase) so just have my travel purse which is big enough for my book and glasses etc and one suitcase - we always check them as we are not in that much of a hurry to get moving. Taking underground in London and Amsterdam and can manage the suitcase by myself - my husband also takes a carry on for the ipad and other tech stuff. Janice's other travel wardrobes were a HUGE help in the planning last year - many thanks! As long as one's suitcase does not exceed inter-European flight weights and closes with enough room for a new pair of shoes and something else I might buy I take what I know I'll wear and what fits in and that seems to work for me.

    3. I also disagree that this is too heavy. This is almost identical to what I have planned for our trip to England and Wales. I did a trial pack and including clothes, shoes, underwear, accessories, and PJs, it added less than 10 pounds to my carry-on bag. I am assuming that the traveler will be wearing part of this - a pair of pants, top, and sweater.

    4. I guess I do pack lighter than most. I take one 19" soft-sided carry-on (no wheels) and a small cross-body bag only. I have traveled throughout October and November (and January and February) with a basic wardrobe: black tissue wool skirt, black gabardine dress pants, grey jeans-like pants, red blouse, white dressy blouse, black cashmere turtleneck sweater, black cashmere cardigan, light blue or grey LS casual top, LS base layer for warmth, raincoat, beret, gloves, 2-3 scarves, jammies, lightweight robe, travel slippers, 1 pair walking shoes, 1 pair dress shoes, 1 pair tights, 2 pair socks. 2-3 pair undies (if I am going to the UK, I tend to take fewer and buy some at M&S), 2 bras, travel umbrella, 3-1-1 bag, small hair dryer, small alarm clock, small camera, cheap cell phone (no camera), plug adapter, charger, small "Marble Memo" book for travel diary, dressy necklace and earrings, and watch with 24-hour markings. I do laundry as I go along, preferably at a launderette. I have taken this wardrobe or a slightly varied version of it across Europe and to Japan and China. I wear the jeans, casual top, cardigan, walking shoes, socks, 1 bra, 1 pr undies, and heaviest scarf on the plane and keep the beret and gloves in my raincoat pocket, which I also wear. Cross-body bag has wallet, note book, camera, cell phone, charger, umbrella and adapter. I rely on scarves for color and variety. I have gone hiking, attended the opera, dined out with friends, and met various dignitaries as a official representative with this wardrobe. If I am being met off the plane in an official capacity, I wear the skirt or black pants and suitable top -- white dressy blouse or cashmere sweaters. I had the unfortunate experience many years ago to fly late at night into a small community for an early a.m. meeting. My luggage flew elsewhere. Fortunately, before I left home, I had ditched my more casual clothes for dressier, office-y clothes and thus attired the next day I made it through the meeting. My luggage arrived home a few days later. Since then, I've only used one small carry-on that I can manage entirely on my own. I also don't tend to buy souvenirs when I travel although I did have to shop a box of official gifts home from china. I also take an extra small folding suitcase -- just in case. I don't take a lot of tech stuff although I am thinking of getting an unlocked cell phone with camera for future trips. I get a lot of good ideas from Janice for travel wardrobes. Based on this post, I am seriously thinking of going with turquoise vs red along a few seasonal wardrobe changes for my upcoming 2-week town and country trip to New England

    5. I never take more than 10-12 lbs. when I travel. That includes EVERYTHING -- camera, clothes, cell phone, 3-1-1 bag, books, umbrella, outerwear, shoes, etc. Many European airlines have strict weight and size restrictions for luggage (including handbags). Also, keeping your one carry-on bag with you on a train is good security plan, too. I need to be able to pair everything 3 or 4 different ways in order for a clothing item to make it into the bag.

    6. Thanks for listing what you take. Am surprised that you pack light, yet bring a bathrobe!

  4. What I have learned from you over the past year of following you on-line, is that you can fashion a fabulous wardrobe using almost any core colors paired with a few accent colors. My cores are black, white, grey and navy/denim. I find myself gravitating toward peach/coral and yellow as accents. And it is working out wonderfully. I have gotten rid of many things and learned not to feel guilty. Someone else is enjoying my mistakes, perhaps someone who could not afford to otherwise. And I also learned that the colors that served me well in my youth were too saturated for my current skin tone and hair color. I've never looked better and I shop 90% less. My attitude and bank account thank you.

  5. Looks like a nice set, though I would probably try to take less, maybe lose the capris, whatever... I like the colours and combos :)
    And today I just bought Gabor ballerinas that are super-comfy and can be worn with bothshort and long trousers, jeans, skirts and dresses. With my silver sandals, I am probably covered for the summer, now!
    For Europeans - Gabor is a German company, though not sure where their shoes are actually made. Peter Kaiser shoes are still made in Germany, as far as I know; My family comes from what used to be the shoe-making town for many brands, but most factories were moved To Italy and then farther afield from the 70s.

  6. I just purchased a pair of red pants and a turquoise cardigan! My neutrals will be black and white (instead of the navy and khakis) as I have an abundance of those colours in my closet already. Your choice of patterned tops are inspirational! I am definitely missing these bridge pieces. I can't wait to see what you do with the accessories.

  7. This is gorgeous! Could you possibly do a version of this, replacing the khaki with gray? Thanks so much for your hard work. It is MUCH appreciated!

  8. I'm going to Texas for a month in June (visiting family) and am planning to take very similar items, although my color palette will be navy, black, turquoise and purple. I used your travel capsule pointers for a 2-week December trip to Texas and Wisconsin that involved a graduation, trip to a waterpark, church, workouts and family outings. Somehow I managed to leave all of the hanger items (dress, skirt, cardigan, jacket) in my closet, so I ended up with 2 pairs of black pants, a few tops, and a black cardigan, shoes, scarves, and a pair of boots for a 2-week trip! I ended up ordering a black dress from Travelsmith for the graduation, but otherwise I was fine even though I would have liked to have more choices. What a revelation!

  9. What a great combination! I tend to be a chronic over packer, much to my hubby's chagrin, so this is less than I usually take for two weeks. What I've found in the past is that I pack pieces I like without considering how they work together.This capsule shows me that I can take less if I work with core colours and build off them. I've found that I really like's a bit softer than black and it goes really well with red and turquoise...two other colours I really like. This is a great exercise, Janice. My hubby will appreciate it. :-)

  10. I love, love, love this combo! And I think that this would work just as easily here in the US. I have to go to Boston, NYC and Toronto this summer for work (and a bit of pleasure when I can sneak it in). I think this combo would work extremely well for N. American cities too! (I'll just substitute black for the navy...and voila! The packing will be done, since I have very similar pieces to all of these....

    Thank you, Janice!

  11. Thank you so much for this! I am going to Sweden/Finland for 3.5 weeks this summer, and your wardrobe suggestions are really helping to alleviate my stress over packing! I feel so lucky to have found your blog.
    ~ Tasha