Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Travel Capsule Wardrobe Packing: Italy, September 2016

We're leaving for Italy in less than 2 weeks, which means I need to get this travel capsule wardrobe sorted! I'm notorious for having my suitcase out a month ahead of time...

But seriously, I should start setting things aside so that (a) I don't forget anything, and (b) I don't carelessly wear something that I want to pack, 2 days before we leave, and find that I have to do laundry at the last minute. There'll be quite enough laundry the last morning, because we like to return home to clean sheets, clean towels, and as little in the laundry bags as possible!

As always, I start with what I'm going to wear on the flight. I'm still undecided about accessories (probably an upcoming blog post?) but I know that I'm going to wear comfortable but very neat pants, a simple tee, and a gorgeous cardigan:


travel outfit of black tee, black pants, and black tweed cardigan
Cardigan – Jaeger, tee – L.L.Bean
trousers – Eddie Bauer; oxfords – Munro

Please note that I link to the actual garments if they are still available, or I link to similar items if I can find them; my clothes are NOT all brand spanking new...

(brand spanking is SUCH a weird phrase, isn't it?)

We are landing in Rome and then immediately getting our rental car and driving up into the mountains. It could be warm, it could be cool - September isn't easy to predict anywhere! But I'm keeping my option open to change out of my tee and into a sleeveless top as soon as possible, maybe even before we leave the airport:



adding a white sleeveless top to a travel wardrobe
blouse - J.Jill

If I find that it's legitimately hot when we arrive, I might also swap out long pants for cropped ones, and ditch my oxfords for ballet flats...

adding black cropped pants to a travel capsule wardrobe
Capris – L.L.Bean

It's at this point that I have to start thinking strategically. If I don't, I could easily just start flinging all of my warm-weather clothes into my bag... One would assume that I would know better, but one would be WRONG! I've had below-average packing experiences within the past year, so discipline and structure are key.

And a note right up front, before we get too far into this process: my wardrobe is WOEFULLY, MONOTONOUSLY MONOCHROMATIC. Yes, it's all black and white. I get absolutely bored with clothes, after looking at thousands of pieces all day...

Plus, it's not like I look boring wearing these clothes. I have a head full of uncontrollably curly hair, so I wear a headband all of the time. I always wear earrings, and glasses, too. There's a lot going on above the neckline for me, so simple clothes are sort of calming...  

I will sneak a few bracelets into this mix too... maybe a necklace? Heck, a scarf might even make the trip...

But I understand that this wardrobe would be really difficult for most women. I show it partly to clarify for myself what I'm doing, and partly to show the process in the simplest terms possible.

SO! Next step is another top - this would normally be a great place for a black and white stripe, or print. I'm opting for simple white, but almost any solid color would work well here. A red tank top, or a bright blue tee shirt?


add a white tank top to a travel capsule wardrobe
Tank – L.L.Bean

My understanding of the climate in the mountains of the Abruzzo is warm days with very cool evenings - no air conditioning! But this does mean that dinner (and gelato) will be eaten while wearing a 2nd layer, so a black cardigan will get a workout on this vacation.

add a black cardigan to a travel capsule wardrobe
Cardigan – Line

Although we're staying in a friend's house, we're not planning on laundry, so sufficient "tops" are going to be important. Maybe this is cheating at the packing plan, but I love both of these blouses, and have always intended to bring them both with me:

add a couple of sleeveless blouses to a travel capsules wardrobe
tops - Lands' End

Many women would find highs in the 60's or 70's Fahrenheit too cool to want a pair of shorts, but those are the temperatures that make me happiest - plus I sort of lack the gene that makes normal people feel too cold! But I understand that these may not make it out of my suitcase; we'll monitor the weather forecasts the last few days before we leave, and if the forecasts drop, these could be left behind in preference to a pair of jeans:


add a pair of black shorts to a travel capsule wardrobe
Shorts – J. Crew

Another tee - I'll probably have at least 1 top too many. That will comfortably accommodate any moments of flying food/drink to which I might be prone. Surprisingly, I'm foregoing a solid black tee in this step!


add a fun black tee shirt to a travel capsule wardrobbe
tee - Agnes B.

Here's where the whole thing might go to pieces of the weather turns cold - 2 linen dresses. I'll bring leggings - at least 1 pair - to layer under my dresses if it's cool. (leggings are never, EVER, worn as trousers. if the... tops of your thighs?... are visible, you're showing TOO much...)

Of course I have, at this stage, 2 cardigans with me. But if we start seeing forecasts for highs in the 60's or lower, these dresses might have to be replaced with.... hmm.... a long-sleeved shirt, a long-sleeved tee, and a pair of jeans.

It's clear that I might have to re-do at the last minute if the weather turns. Oh bother...


add a pair of dresses to a travel capsule wardrobe
dresses - Eileen Fisher (similar here); leggings - Hue

A normal person would take black or blue jeans. But I have this romantic vacation image in my mind, walking hand-in-hand with Belovedest, somewhere on an Adriatic beach, wearing rolled-up white jeans and a sleeveless top. Sunset over the mountains...


add a pair of white jeans to a travel capsule wardrobe
Jeans – L.L.Bean

At this point, I'm in pretty good shape, but in the interests of packing a tidy Four by Four, (or jinxing things by having 13 pieces of clothing in my luggage), I'm going to add a 3rd cardigan. This is styled like a sweatshirt, but it's cashmere, so it straddles the casual/dressy possibilities beautifully. I bought it last year, and can't imagine why I waited so long...

add a black hooded sweatshirt to a travel capsule wardrobe
cashmere hoodie - L.L.Bean

This looks very tidy, sort of fool-proof, and quite a bit like me. Having this down in "writing" is tremendously helpful to me to help avoid that mindless overpacking to which even I am prone...

a 16 piece black and white travel capsule wardrobe

Do you want to see accessories? And have you had difficult packing experience(s) like my current one?

love,
Janice
What to pack for travel to Italy; A travel capsule wardrobe in black and white
Like this article? Save it to Pinterest!

45 comments:

  1. I'm one of the ones that would need more colour for myself, but your holiday wardrobe looks as always both very chic and sophisticated, and very restful

    ReplyDelete
  2. I spent Saturday evening helping my mother-in-law figure out what to pack on her 2-week trip to Ireland, and while her wardrobe isn't nearly as beautiful (or coordinated— or is that just the same thing?) as yours, I definitely used what I've learned here to help her get everything she needs!

    I'd love to see accessories! And I hope you have a wonderful time when you do go :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. What? No crisp white shirt? I'm laughing because that is where I start packing...crisp white shirt, Saint James striped heavy gauged stripe shirt, and rain jacket and go from there. Remember, warm days cool nights. I love your picks but I need my white shirt!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I have an AMAZING white shirt.... hmmm...
      You're such an evil influence! ;)
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  4. I could quite happily live in these items - it's pretty much what I take when I travel. If it's not black & white it would be either grey & white or Navy & white. But have to admit that I would probably add a couple of bright coloured cardigans or pullover sweaters just to change things up a bit here and there. I don't normally bother with laundry - even for 2 weeks (it's not as though I'm digging ditches so most tops could easily be worn twice).
    I'd love to see the accessories that you plan on taking - for me it would be earrings, and maybe one or two necklaces and bracelets but definitely a few scarves! I take 1 cross body bag and maybe a small clutch if I'm going to something dressy - wear my walking shoes and take a pair of ballet flats. This is pretty much what I took for 2 weeks to Prague, Vienna and Budapest and had a number of women on the tour comment on how well dressed I was at all times and ask me how I managed to do it with just a 20" case and a small tote bag (my carry on) - it's more a case of not wanting to have to drag a couple of large suitcases everywhere. And I was really relieved to be so organized as we came home via Budapest & they were very strict about what people could take onboard - there was a lot of repacking and people wearing 3 layers of clothing in order to comply - just couldn't figure out why?
    I know that the weather can make things tricky but layers and the different weight of bottoms that you have included should carry you through just fine. I always ensure that my coat/jacket is waterproof (and possibly has a zip out lining) and I'd toss in a pair of lightweight gloves just to be on the safe side.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Something very Audrey Hepburn about those sleeveless, fitted blouses. I hope you have a glorious time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EXACTLY! I've been struggling to put my finger on why I love them so much - they're very much like blouses that my mother wore in the '60s and '70s... As much as I love the idea of my mother as a style icon, the thought that I could have ANYTHING like Audrey is exciting! I couldn't look less like her if I tried... sigh...
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
    2. Well, clearly you have an inner Audrey Hepburn, Janice. Be sure to throw some coins in a fountain on this trip. :)

      Delete
  6. Janice, can either of your dresses work over say a long sleeved top or even a lightweight turtleneck (that might be a bit *too* warm, I realize) That way, you could pack just 1 extra piece, and keep your dress options in the rotation.

    I don't have any challenges packing since I began reading your blog =) I plan, make a pictogram (sometimes just with similar-looking items) and go from there.

    I'd also love to see your accessories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think my dresses would easily layer over a long-sleeved tee... That's smart thinking, and if the weather gets cold that's what I'm going to do!
      thanks!
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  7. I very much like to see your accessories. I find packing shoes to be the most challenging overall. I would be interested in your prospective especially when there is a lot of walking involved and a work conference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shoes are a pain, aren't they? Wear the biggest ones, and pack the rest of them FULL of other things... For this trip, I'm thinking just ballet flats, and maybe my Birkenstock sandals. The sandals aren't quite as broken in as I would like - I just had to replace my workhorse sandals because they were SO SMOOTH on the bottom that I fell, on wet pavement, a few days ago. That's when you know it's time to get new shoes...
      Accessories are now officially going to be a blog post!
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  8. Janice,
    Your choice of color, or lack thereof, makes packing so much simpler ! I'm considering doing a parallel concept in brown, a color that is more friendly to my own personal coloring. However, when on a cruise or an organized 10 -12 day upscale bus tour, daytime clothes are ultra casual, but the evenings get a bit dressier, though not formal, and I always feel the need to bring an extra pair of slacks and more tops for the evenings, as well as some scarves. It makes for a bigger suitcase, which I would love to avoid ! How to choose tops that satisfy both needs, but take fewer of them ? Is the fabric choice the critical factor in that decision ? No doing of laundry is part of this equation. Or do I just maintain the same level of dressiness day and evening, adding various colorful scarves for variety each evening ? I don't wear dresses. Perhaps, I'm the only one on the trip who cares what I wear anyway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we can always assume that we care more about how we dress than anyone else in the world! Not that this makes it any easier, though... That said, if I were dressing for the kind of trips that you are, I'd probably toss in a pair of silk pants (I have Eileen Fisher silk slouch pants that I love so much I almost avoid wearing them, because I'm going to SOB when they wear out!), a nice clutch bag, and some other accessory to dress up the tops that I have with me already. Scarves are always a good option, if you're comfortable with them, necklaces are great, and easy to pack, larger earrings make everything look dressier, if you are happy wearing bigger earrings. Don't forget the overall impact that re-doing a bit of makeup can make - more eye goop, and some lipstick make you look like you're dressed up, too.
      Have fun - anticipating travel is SUCH a big part of the excitement...
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
    2. Hi, before your silk slouch pants wear out, why don't you find silk fabric and take it and the pants to a dress maker/tailor and have them copied?
      I really admire your discipline with the colour scheme, it makes everything so much more efficient and each outfit will still be attractive and comfortable. I struggle because brown is my basic but there are so many shades of brown..black is black!
      Deb from Vancouver

      Delete
  9. A long sleeve white shirt would help hedge your bet on the weather. Just in case sleeveless won't do for that romantic beach walk - think how nice a white shirt with sleeves rolled up combined with rolled-up white jeans would look. Same feel, different level of warmth than adding a topper over something sleeveless. I would also add a shorter white cardigan. Needing a topper each night for 14 nights, I think having a bit more variety would suit me better. Rotating 4 items vs 3 means a lot more options (and I just love a white twinset with black bottoms!) You could consider your leggings "hosiery" and not place them on your chart since you will only wear them with the dresses and not as a stand alone bottoms :) Mind games, eh?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AAAAHHHH!!!! Get out of my head! I just started working on the blog post about my accessories, and I was looking at the leggings, thinking that they're not "really" a garment, since they absolutely have to have something layered over them (at least in my world!). So that really makes them hosiery, right? So my amazing white shirt can go with me, right?
      Mind games indeed! But that's why we do these things a week or two before we leave, so that we can think through the various demands of weather and activities, and be happily prepared when we get there. The thinking that we do now translates into truly carefree travel, during which we concentrate on our surroundings, our companion, the food, the scenery, the beauty of the world and all of it's people.... sigh....
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
    2. I'm curious about where you bought your amazing white shirt! I find them hard to fit right, but would love to have one!

      Delete
  10. I'm leaving for Dublin Friday. Navy pants, cardigan and t-shirt with Mary Jane shoes in transit. For 4 weeks, I am trying to do grey/navy 4x4 with raincoat and a couple of extra tops (maybe). Saturday's predicted temperature in Dublin is a high of 69F so I might toss in cropped navy pants. I just bought new Naot oxfords yesterday as stability is very important to me when I walk. I just counted. I have 13 items. I'm not sure if we have a washing machine in one of our apartment rentals but my t-shirts could be hand-washed if necessary. I'm relieved that all of you clothes are not in "spanking new" condition. Although mine are all clean and pressed right now, they have all been well-worn before the trip. I'm looking forward to accessories. Are you doing it tomorrow?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Vivienne Files accessory post will be before the end of the week - I always (try) to work a day or two in advance, just in case things fall to pieces here in the Chez Vivienne empire...
      Take your navy capris, definitely, but be warned that the coldest I've ever been IN MY LIFE (and I live in Chicago) was when we lived in Dublin. That wind off of the Irish Sea will freeze anybody not born for it. That said, the actual temperature never gets terribly low, and the Irish people seem to shrug it off...
      I think this explains a lot of why Guinness was invented...
      Drink a toast to my old home town - Dublin in a special city.
      Envious, but loving hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  11. This was so useful to see how you think it through. I regard myself as a really experienced 'packer,' but I still have to think it through every single time. And sometimes I still screw up.

    I'm leaving in two weeks for a month in the UK (Avg temp 55 to 65), with a 5 day side trip to Barcelona (avg temps 65 to 80). I"m taking several grey and black dresses quite similar to yours, with tights, long sleeved t shirts, a vest and warm scarves for the UK and to wear bare-legged in Barcelona with a linen cardigan in the evenings.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree on the white blouse. I would say it would be warmer than the 70s in Italy in September, but maybe not up in the mountains. I would hesitate to take shorts. I have two pairs of shorts which I wear exclusively when I'm in the U.S. I have never worn them living in Europe. I don't even wear shorts to run. However, I would definitely consider a short skirt. It isn't about showing leg--mine are OK and I'm fine with flaunting a little--but something about shorts just doesn't work here. Even husband changes into long pants to run errands in town even when it's 100 degrees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about a skort? Can you see that working in place of the shorts?

      Delete
    2. If you mean shorts with a flap in front, no. If you mean a short skirt with attached shorts under, OK. Or maybe the kind of very loose, skirt-like shorts, or possibly very pressed and proper knee-length bermudas. I've never seen any of my French friends in shorts--men or women.
      All that said, it's just to not look like a tourist. There are tourists all over the place wearing shorts.

      Delete
  13. Janice, for the first time in the two years that I have been following your blog I have used the 4x4 template to pack for a city break to Venice. I couldn't make a two accent colour theme work for the clothes, so I opted for black, white and silver grey. I took a couple of sheer scarves and some jewellery to add a splash of colour (Turquoise and Coral). I also couldn't get exactly 16 pieces, so I had some gaps, but it still worked and I used all the pieces twice and mixed and matched for day and evening outfits. I will try again in October for another Italian trip and see if I can fill those gaps. It was lovely to be organised and carry a smaller case for the first time EVER! I even managed three pairs of shoes! Much thanks, from Sharon, UK.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Janice, I noticed the pants you were wearing on the plane are stretch with no option for a belt. Whether stretch jeans, slacks, exercise capris, or anything else, those kinds of pants start falling down my hips within a few hours and I'm constantly tugging on them. I find that very annoying and distracting. How do others avoid this problem? (I love your blog and have used it both for curating my home wardrobe and for travel. Thank you!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me, my widest dimension is below the waist - so no falling down. The stretch gets them over the wider part and then they just naturally stay in place.

      Delete
    2. These pants might bag a little bit at the knees after sitting in them for 8 hours, but they don't really get baggy otherwise, and they stay right at my waist, where they belong. Truly, these have been my go-to dress pants for 10 years, because of the way that they hold up, especially when I travel. Highly recommended!
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  15. I love it! yes, it's monochromatic, and that's great for you. This is a fantastic example for illustrative purposes.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  16. https://www.halsbrook.com/catalog/product/15192https: Chinti and Parker Stars and Stripes Oatmeal Cashmere Sweater:
    Thought of you because of the stars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank HEAVENS that it's a navy stripe, and not black... I don't plan to buy anything more this year (I just got 2 new black dresses, about which you will hear soon) and that sweater might have weakened me...
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  17. If this were my suitcase I would ditch the shorts. Also, I would probably add a lightweight jacket, just because September in Europe could be anything, and I don't trust forecasts two weeks out. Do you have a long sleeved dress that you could sub for one of the short sleeved ones? You could push up the sleeves if necessary and wear it with or without the leggings. - nancyo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a 3/4 sleeve dress... hmmm.... I'll probably keep the shorts, if only because we're staying in a friend's house, and I'll wear them when we're hanging out there. Plus, I don't get cold as much as normal people do! But changing out 1 of the dresses might be smart.... thinking.... thinking....
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  18. I did the 4x4 for the first time on a recent trip and it worked beautifully: navy, grey, and teal. I'm going to try again for a work trip in November, but that will be harder because it's a combination of suit stuff and regular clothes.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great to see your planning and thinking set out so clearly, and illustrated so well. What a heavenly holiday!
    My last-minute evil is when I want to throw in a skirt and one or two extra tops - well, there's room ... Then I chant 'Luggage is the enemy, luggage is the enemy!' and take at least one of them out again. It's always the weight that gets me down. Better to feel light and carefree the way Audrey looks on her Vespa, even while dressing like oneself.
    Robyn in Tasmania

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think you should be quite set up. I just came back from Abruzzo, and never wore a skirt. Days are warm but not humid, so no real need for a/c. Nights can be cool, so bring a long pajama with you too, as probably there is no heat during the summer in old houses.
    It all depends at what altitude you are staying. In Campo Imperatore (2100m) it was freezing, in L'Aquila in was hot, un the town (1200 m) it was pleasant.
    Be prepared for sudden showers too!
    Above all, have fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BTW, you night want to check with your friends. We had a terrible eartquake in Central Italy last night at 4, several towns were destroyed. Abruzzo should be fine, but I bet the eartquake was strong there too.

      Delete
    2. Chiara

      I hope you and your family are safe.

      Delete
    3. Chiara

      I hope you and your family are safe.

      Delete
    4. Oh yes, thanks -we are far enough and there wasn't any damage here.

      Delete
  21. We vacationed in the mountains and on the Adriatic (Urbino, Ascoli Piceno etc..) and Mediterranean in late September and had weather hot enough for beach days. I'd throw in a suit just in case you get lucky!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Janice,

    Do you wear a bracelet with a watch? If so, on the same arm or on different arms?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do NOT wear a bracelet with my Fitbit, because it's a Fitbit Surge and it's pretty stinking big! But with a normal watch, I would definitely wear bracelets on the same wrist, AND on the other wrist. I'm bracelet mad...
      hugs,
      Janice

      Delete
  23. I just returned from Italy, October 2016 and it was warm. We traveled from Naples to Venice and the most I needed as a light cardigan. I traveled with 3 pants, 1 dress, 4 tops, and 3 cardigans. I could have traveled with less, but what I had was very adequate. I washed a couple of times. The planes, both Air France and Atalia, were very warm with a lack of personal ventilation. The long lines for passport checks were also very warm. Good walking shoes a must and for me (70yrs.) support stockings. Keeping track, we walked out 10,000 steps every day! It was marvelous! Pack light as it is a long trip. I checked my main bag and was so glad. I still carried my travel purse and backpack.

    ReplyDelete
  24. With RentalCars you can get the most affordable car rentals from over 49,000 locations globally.

    ReplyDelete