November 13, 2017
A very dear reader is going on an exciting trip soon – with friends! – for 12 days. The weather could be cold, or it could be moderate and pleasant. What to do?
Plan, plan, plan…
Let’s start with something that might be her travel outfit, and build from there:
I know that her jacket is purple, and that she wants to wear navy and grey. From that, I developed these guidelines. Your choice of motif could be floral, or paisley, or plaid, or whatever strikes your fancy (I’d probably try something with stars, knowing me…)
Washable fabrics are logical for travel, and the idea of being able to layer is sort of inherent in our whole project, but still important to remember as we work our way through this. These kinds of guidelines might seem like over-thinking things, but I find them useful!
Since my goal is to make this wardrobe as foolproof and interchangeable as possible, I’m going to keep all of the pieces organized in a “Whatever’s Clean 13” template. I’ve added the guideline at the bottom for temperature – the garments to be worn on temperate days will be more to the left, and the pieces for wet and nippy days will be on the right.
I’m thinking that it’s generally easier to find grey clothes for cold-weather rather than warm, so I’m going to make the snuggly clothes choices in grey. In the rush of packing, make sure that you don’t forget a warm hat or headband, and some gloves! The merits of whimsical socks are worth considering too…
After this first step, this is the template. At this stage, you could literally get dressed in the dark without problems, which is one of my goals!
We’re not really needing things for out-and-out HOT weather in this capsule, but a few options for days when it’s sunny and pleasant. This longer cardigan would be a nice change of pace from the purple jacket on a day that permitted….
Never forget your sunglasses, no matter WHAT time of year!
(often, J.Crew pieces are available through Nordstrom, just in case they are among your favorite retailers…)
Here’s the final template. Maybe layering a plaid shirt over a striped tee shirt would give you a headache, but it’s certainly possible! And a velvet skirt might be a bridge too far for some people, but a skirt in a different fabric can give you a nice change from endless pants, as well as give you an option for a relatively dressy evening out.
This is how it all stacks out with accessories. This of course doesn’t show undergarments, toiletries, or nightwear. Warm tights and a set of long underwear wouldn’t be silly at ALL…
Here’s where the wardrobe rubber hits the vacation road! Can everything work together to give a range of outfits suitable for whatever Mother Nature throws at you?
Heck yes! If it didn’t work, I’d re-do it before you saw it!!!
Of course you don’t have to be planning a trip in order to think in these terms when you’re organizing your closet and making purchase decisions; being able to fill in your own “Whatever’s Clean 13” template from your own clothes can help you see what you could really use during the upcoming seasons.
I am loving the way you have laid out this template ! Basically a 3×3 plus 4 bottoms ! 3 cardigans, light, medium , and dark, 6 tops , including prints, with varied necklines, and then the light and dark bottoms plus a skirt . That should cover all but the most formal of occasions ! I’m packing for a week away over Thanksgiving , all cold weather, so this format will be just perfect when translated into my warm neutrals . This will be bookmarked , as have many other of your travel posts !
Wonderful post Janice – we typically travel in "shoulder" season so the weather can go from low 50's to high 70's – definitely a bit challenging to pack for! Have bookmarked this post for future trips!!! Just an FYI, I always find your posts informative, interesting and fun!!!!
Cee Pluse says
What a great travel wardrobe! Even though I don't wear skirts, I really like that velvet one. Perhaps it is time for me to think about adding a skirt or two to my own wardrobe.
I just got back from a quick weekend trip to visit a dear friend in Florida, and realized I need to add one more consideration to my packing options – pets! My friend has four dogs, most of them light-colored, and I quickly realized that dark-colored solids, especially in fleecy materials, are not the best choice (I spent quite a bit of time picking white dog hairs off of my black fleecy jacket!). Oh well, live and learn, right?
I hope the traveler who inspired today's wardrobe has a fantastic trip!
Be sure to pack a roller!
I have three dogs and they have severely limited my fleece-wearing ways! – nancyo
Cee Pluse says
My friend had a roller, but even it did not work on fleece (her dogs have short stiff hairs that work their way into the fleece). Next time no fleece, only smooth materials!
This post is so useful and attractive for a trip to a rainy location, including the Hunter booties for dry feet, but I'd hate to get caught in a downpour without a waterproof coat. I would suggest adding the mid-thought length grey raincoat from Lands End, which would slip over that lovely purple jacket or could be worn alone on a warmer rainy day.
Janice Riggs says
Rain protection is indeed essential – thanks for pointing that out!
I really like the purple jacket.The problem for me is that it can then leave the wearer dressed in predominantly neutral colours when the jacket isn't being worn. I really like the idea of buying a bright colourful jacket but I keep veering towards neutral because of the way it would then limit the options that can be worn with it. Would you be able to explore this topic further?
Yes I loved the touch of purple too. I like the idea of purple gloves and hat. Carol S
Janice Riggs says
Ultimately, I think it depends on how much you are comfortable wearing an all-neutral outfit. For many of us, just a touch of color in a scarf or a piece of jewelry is plenty, but if you really prefer more color, then (oddly enough!) a neutral coat would give you more options. In this wardrobe, a grey coat would open the door for tee shirts or cotton turtlenecks in a veritable rainbow…
Last week my travel wardrobe was mostly black + gray, with a dark hot pink coat, and it came together very quickly. I carried the color of the jacket into the wardrobe, with a matching pink cardigan. My rain jacket was black (and very necessary) and I had a shawl/wrap that was teal+black. With some scarves that had both the pink and the teal, it was a surprisingly successful capsule for a cold, wet trip. – nancyo
I love this wardrobe. I already have the socks,a similar jacket and a bunch of grey clothes. These posts are so helpful. Today I am rocking various shades of teal along with a black skirt. I wold have never put all of these pieces together without your inspiration!
I am travelling to China for 10 days on business in December. Hopefully there will be some sightseeing as well. I am working on a warm to cold, smart to casual capsule with an uncertain dress code and itinerary, and no washing as I can't be certain of it drying/getting it back before moving on. I may need evening outfits for dinners and functions. So far: 1 smart & 1 casual skirts, 1 smart jacket, 1 short casual down jacket, 1 rain jacket, 1 smart jeans, 2 cardigans, 2 blouses, 3 footwear, 1 cross body bag, 6 T shirts/thin sweaters, 1 smart dress, 1 smart/casual dress, 1 tote bag, necklaces, scarves and belts. I expect to be layering the T shirts under dresses and blouses if it is cold, and can layer the down jacket under the raincoat. Although this seems a lot when I have planned potential outfits for each day most things get worn at least twice. What would you pack?
Janice Riggs says
I studied your list for a while, and I think you're going to be fine with what you've chosen. My understanding is that it's easy and inexpensive to have laundry done in China, so even if you find yourself to be very dependent on a handful of pieces, you won't have to worry about keeping them clean.
I think I'm going to study this "changeable weather" scenario more…
Thank You! Trying to figure out how to pack for a 7 week trip to Rome, Scotland, England and Uganda. December thru Mid January. Wedding x2 and a safari in Uganda. Traveling light is going to be very hard, and will have to check thru presents etc.
Any idea how to expand the above wardrobe?
I used your Whatever's Clean template to develop my wardrobe and pack a 7 kg carry on for a 16 day trip to Europe in October. It worked great even for two days where they had their hottest ever October days. Your site was a game changer. For the first time EVER I travelled overseas comfortably and felt well dressed in every location and for every occasion. Thank you so very much.
Janice Riggs says
Oh THANK YOU for letting me know – my work has a purpose!
I shall now happy dance around the apartment for a full 3 minutes. It's important cardio…
Dance away…you earned it!��
Caroline Jackson says
I have spent months planning a Central Europe fall vacation. And this post was my game changer. I tweaked what I had planned and am so happy. I leave in a week and feel ready for all temperatures. I even added a purple sweater to my navy/gray/black scheme. Still don’t have a rain jacket but I am hoping for the best. I will be saving this pist for sure. If you add a warmer to hot template for summer, let me know, Florida is my next trip. THANKS
You can always buy a rain jacket when you get there! My best rain wear was purchased in Ireland…
I just love your posts!
My husband and I are planning a seven night Alaskan cruise at the end of August next year and I am wondering if it is possible to pack everything in a 20in carry-on each? We will not only need casual clothing for on board, but there are 2 formal evenings as well. Some of the excursions we have planned will involve being outdoors for a majority of the time(hiking, boat tours, etc). I plan on taking my 3-in-1 jacket to cover any possabilty weather wise. The other thing I need to consider is my husband is 6’3″ and close to 350lbs.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible. His shoes are going to be too big to allow much else to be in the bag, and I suspect that you might need a range of clothing for possible variable weather. Sometimes, it’s not worth it to try to minimize luggage to the point that you don’t have what you need with you!
Check with your cruise line about how much storage/close space you will have in your cabin. Since you don’t have to handle your luggage during your cruise, you can bring more bags, or a bigger bag, than you might take if you were hopping on and off of trains traveling across Canada or Europe.
I’m certain that she can do that in a carryon. The secret to ‘formal’ night packing on a cruise is to use a very lightweight fabric such as Chico’s Travellers line or JJill’s Wearever line. These fabrics are fluid, wrinkle resistant, and easily foldable, and dressy. A pair of black flats or low heels work with them as well.
It might be a tougher call for her husband if he needs a sports jacket and dress shoes. But the shoes can be carried in a backpack if they don’t fit into a carryon. My husband wears black Vionic lace up shoes that can be worn for walking around and at dinner in a fancy restaurant. So, some careful shoe selection can eliminate the need to take a more formal pair that takes up a lot of room and is used infrequently.