January 23, 2019
I heard from her last week – she and TWELVE of her friends are traveling to England and Scotland in September! Twelve… oh my…
They share an interest – somewhat of a hobby, a little bit of an obsession. It doesn’t matter if it’s growing a particular flower, or baking a specific delicacy, or delving into the history of a certain historic figure. They’ve all decided that they want to travel together! I admire and respect this in so many ways…
But everybody is going to have to come to an agreement about not packing stacks of luggage. It’s a sure way to slow things down appallingly, run the risk of losing things, and over-crowding hotel rooms.
Thus, there has to be an understanding among these women, which (in my mind) includes the following:
Next up, I checked the weather history at their destinations. To me, this seems like possibly warm-ish days, and very likely cool evenings. And one must always be prepared for rain!
As you already know, if you’ve EVER read The Vivienne Files, I think that the outfit that one wears in transit is the most important clothing you have with you on a trip. (depending on what happens to your luggage, it could be the only outfit you have for a day or two!) So I’ve tried to formulate what I’m looking for in such an outfit:
Having guidelines doesn’t mean that there aren’t a world of possibilities! Here are 3 travel outfits…
For me, the most efficient way to pack is to use my travel outfit as the “foundation” of everything else. First, I would add another complete outfit (without a 2nd handbag or tote) that could be completely interchanged with my travel outfit. Note that you can indeed pack 3 pairs of pants in the same color, but with very different overall “feels”. Imagine jeans, a pair of washable wool pants, and a pair of velvet jeans (or corduroy pants). They’re all navy, but each pair has enough of a personality that they don’t all blend together!
Note that with the addition of 3 garments, the 6 garment wardrobe give you at least 6 outfits…
I have to admit that I pack a chambray/denim shirt most of the time – it goes with everything, can be worn over a tee shirt or under a sweater (or on its own!). They don’t show dirt very easily, and are always comfortable…
Next I would pack something like a cluster – 3 tops and another (last) pair of pants. This is a good place to bring in an accent color! This is also the step at which you can bring in a “stand-alone” sweater or top – something that doesn’t go with everything else you’ve packed; as long as it can be worn with at least 2 pairs of your travel pants, you should be fine…
And because of the destination, and the time of year, these ladies are definitely going to want outerwear! I like to think of coats as a 2-part project; you can wear both pieces together in cold weather, or wear either on its own if the weather permits. This kind of versatility makes fewer garments feel like enough:
Are these friends skeptical about having enough to wear? As long as they keep laundry done, they will have more outfit options than days in their trip…
A bit of advice to profit from my mistake: don’t do hand laundry the night before you’re scheduled to move to a new hotel! Unless your room is really dry, and you can wring out your clothes REALLY WELL, don’t risk having damp clothes to pack in the morning! This is the one of the reasons that a couple of plastic food-storage bags with water-tight seals can be tremendously useful…
Show your friends these possibilities:
What have I missed? What advice would you give to participants and organizers of such an adventure? I’m sure you’ve all got some excellent ideas…
p.s. Possibly the best travel advice I ever received – find something that weighs about 20 pounds. Every day, go somewhere and walk for an hour carrying your heavy item. Do this at least 5 days a week until your trip…
Taste of France says
This sounds like a fun trip!
Outerwear with a hood is useful in a rainy climate. No need for an umbrella (which is just something to carry and potentially lose and if not, have to pack wet….)
A problem I tend to run into is tops that don’t work well under sweaters or jackets–too long, too bulky, collar doesn’t cooperate. It’s good to actually test out your combinations.
A while back you had single-color columns, with accents of a patterned or different-colored toppers and scarves. Long ago when I was pregnant I wore a white dress shirt and black trousers every single day for all those months (I had enough for a week and would wash everything on the weekend), so I have experienced the joy of monotony. I now tend to pack everything in black–makes laundry easy, every piece goes with every other piece–and I get my variety from scarves and jewelry.
It also surprises me only on the coats has a hood, particularly as ‘you shoudl always be prepared for rain’ was one of the notes at the beginning! I am a professional in losing umbrellas, and since then I don’t consider getting a certain coat unless it has a hood. (Or it is a summer jacket) They can also always keep your head and neck warm if necessary. Which is nice when you’ve got short hair
It will rain, possibly a lot. Outerwear with a hood is crucial, large groups with umbrellas are not very popular in tourist locations. There may also very hot days so I would suggest more than one short sleeved top (can be layered on cooler days). 3 coats seems rather a lot. Moving around all those places you won’t want to sit in a long coat or even carry it around. By May most of us are in shorter coats or jackets. Finally, Scotland + spring = midges so strong insect repellant is necessary!
I love this post,thank you. There are so many combinations that tug at my eyes. Except when travel starts and ends in warm weather, I bring along a top and bottom base layer. Mine isn’t an athletic layer but a smooth snug layer which matches, beige or black, my outfits. I prefer a v-neck top for this so it doesn’t interfere with any top.
SUZANNE GHOSH says
I love your posts, but unfortunately I have stopped wearing boots with zippers in flight. TSA makes you take them off and runs them through security even when you have TSA pre-clearance.
It isn’t only the zippers. Many boots (including many Blondos, which I favor for their waterproof-ness) have metal in the toes, which TSA needs to screen.
You’ve outdone yourself, Janice. There is so much valuable information in this blog today…it must have taken you ages to create it. Thank you for your time, effort, intelligence and good taste! Happy travels.. Hallie
Peggy Bugg says
Oh, this is WONDERFUL! Thank you sooooo much.
Susan Farnik says
Wow, thanks so much for this. I’m one of the lucky thirteen going on this trip and I will certainly use your excellent suggestions to plan my wardrobe!
Surely you have room for a fourteenth? Love the UK, and several of those destinations are on my bucket list. It looks like it will be a nice long trip. I will be happy to develop an interest in your shared hobby. – nancyo
I second nancyo’s comment. I too am available. 15 is a lovely # for a female squad. I behave well with others and can be very entertaining. I’m well traveled and excellent at packing light. Pretty sure I’m not busy in Sept. ?NancyS
Emily Vandiver says
Such a helpful post, Janice! Your travel wardrobes are always inspiring. The second travel capsule in this set is especially delightful.
I agree with Taste of France that a hooded coat is helpful as long as you don’t need a dressier style.
Kathy Donaldson says
After wringing out washed clothes, roll them in a dry towel to remove more moisture, then hang to dry. ?
I love your packing posts! I went through this one marking many of the items, as we are planning a similar trip. I would search for a different marl navy sweater, however, as this one is mostly cotton–and I find cotton bulky (both packing and wearing) and not warm. It is on sale, though…
There are so many beautiful options here. I’m heartened by seeing that at least theoretically some people will look halfway decent on planes. However, I have to add that any outfit I wear on a long flight should probably be buried by arrival. Not only is it being worn under stressful conditions with sometimes radical temperature changes, but airplane and airport seats are absolutely gross. This is the outfit I would send for immediate cleaning!
Love this post! Discovered you from another blog. I generally have a one color travel wardrobe (black) and then add color with scarves and shirts. I lay everything I think I want to take on my bed. Then look at how they can be combined and what I can get rid of. Then I try every combination possible so I have no surprises at my destination. Scarves are my thing so I can quickly change up an outfit. I wear only comfortable walking shoes. May bring a pair of sandals depending on weather/destination. I am looking for a pair of very comfortable, but good looking, travel pants right now for a trip to Spain this summer.
You are a rockstar! These are great travel wardrobes and you have given wonderful advice. Hope these travelers have the best time ever!
Mary E says
Plan you laundry day: When we stay in a city for two nights, we drop off our laundry at a local place as soon as we check-in to the hotel/B&B. Then, even with delays or mix-ups, everyone has clean clothes when we move on to the next city. It feels like a great treat to have your laundry done for you while you’re out touring!
Listen, if you’re going to try and catch a glimpse of the heir to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, that is OK with me! Either way, great choice, J!
pat valentic says
Wow! I love how you take simple pieces and bring them all together. The grey is my favorite. Thank you Janice. You truly are a gifted fashion designer and teacher. Patval
Stephanie Baker says
We went to Ireland last fall and yes the hooded coat was essential. However, what I didn’t plan for was that my purse/backpack was not waterproof and the maps/books got wet.
Can you give advice on how to consolidate and pack the toiletries and other items that are necessary. Often times I find my clothing only taking up half my bag and the other stuff (dryer, flat iron, makeup, etc) takes up the other half.
I have the same problem, even though I use travel size toiletries and no one item is large. By the time I get medications, first aid supplies, sunscreen, makeup, hair things, and other toiletries packed, I’ve added another five pounds to my luggage. And the bulk!
Except for the barest minimum( small travel bottle of shampoo and conditioner) I have purchased toiletries, sunscreen and first aid supplies when I arrive. For makeup I economize on space with pencils, tinted moisturizer, lip/cheep color combo and my concealer doubles as a neutral eye shadow. Unfortunately as I get older my space saving is cancelled out by bulkier medications.
I found some truly tiny dual voltage travel hair appliances that have been lifesavers! They are the BaByliss Pro Nano mini straightening iron (1/2 inch) and the BaByliss Pro travel dryer – both were on Amazon. In the US I assume that I can find a blow dryer anywhere that I stay, but that’s not always true of the travel that we do in Europe. With these two products I can bring what I need an take up almost no space. (I wish they paid me for this recommendation, but no) – nancyo
Leslie Lord says
Exactly what I needed to read as I am planning a couple of trips! The 3 week jaunt to Rome Tuscany Provence SWFrance and Paris will be done using only a small carry on!
I have always loved analyzing your posts and how you pull a plan together with its component parts, especially your packing posts ! Love, love , love this one ! I also enjoyed your outfit dividers made of transportation icons. The cement mixers cracked me up ! Thanks again for this post — to be saved for sure !
Margie from Toronto says
I love this post and all the outfit combos! This is how I try to pack for trips and the only things that I would add are a few more tops. I’d add another shirt or two and a couple of t-shirts to wear under shirts or cardigans.
I rarely do laundry even on a 2 week trip – maybe some socks but that’s usually it. If it’s more than a week I wear good undies for the first 3 or 4 nights – then wash them and pack them away. The rest of the undies are throw aways (old ones that I keep aside for travelling). This way I make more space plus don’t have to contend with a lot of dirty laundry on the trip home. And that tip about doing laundry before a non-travel day is invaluable! And ziplock bags are the best.
I also second coats with hoods – no umbrellas to lose or to get damaged in often windy conditions (especially in Scotland) and since I walk with a cane, one less thing to worry about. That is why I also use a cross body bag when travelling – just helps to keep everything together and within reach. I’d add a pair of gloves and a warm scarf – it can be quite “bracing” in Scotland in September!
I’d also welcome a post about travel toiletry bags and what to take. I keep things to a minimum but have still not found the perfect bag for these supplies.
Lisa Ham says
Janice, thank you for this post! You’ve given us so much useful advice here. And I love all the colors in the first two wardrobes! I’ll definitely be rereading this one the next time I travel.
A couple of extra lightweight t shirt / undershirts will make everything else last longer and take up almost no room. Plus I have an eyeglass cleaner spray bottle fill with fabreze for freshening stuff up (my number one best tip).
Not sure why you show May temps when the trip is in September. At any rate, as a Californian those temps sound like winter to me!
Eileen Fisher clothes are my friend when traveling. Also add color with scarves!
Lately we have been traveling to Italy in warm weather, I have been making an effort to bring cotton tops that can be sent out for laundry. I figure the extra expense is part of the trip, and helping me keep packing light. I do bring more tops than you suggest. I also always bring a cashmere cardigan.
Uh, uh, uh…. Absolutely NO good reason…
I shall fix that!
thanks for catching this most inexplicable of errors!
Brilliant! Thank you for sharing your thinking process with us, I love to know the “why” behind your choices.
I guess I’m the outlier because I absolutely HATE hoods! I did a trip similar to this one two years ago in October. Would you believe it rained (misted) only once in 10 days in Scotland? A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, I’m sure. I prefer a hat and umbrella if it rains. Hoods never fit correctly on me, and I look terrible in them. As for wardrobe, I chose my bottoms first, two pants and two skirts, and then packed tops and third layers that would coordinate. Everything worked well. I also planned to abandon a pair of old loafers, a pair of old corduroy jeans, and a worn-out nightshirt before I came home, leaving room for my purchases. At the Linton Wool Mill in Carlisle, England, the store sent our purchases home for a very reasonable fee, and the fabric arrived home before I did! There is a special pleasure in traveling with a group of congenial women who are all interested in the same hobby. I hope your reader has a wonderful trip!
Random notes on the U K in September: Be aware that Scotland is midge central, you might want to pack insect repellent. I would cut out a pair of trousers and one of the coats. Although the average temperatures might seem low, it is often very warm for a few days so a light top or even a light dress might be useful. The most important things are comfortable walking shoes for town and country. Remember there are shops if you need clothes and charity shops which welcome good quality donations when you leave!
I’m in the middle of planning for a 2-week trip to Japan in April, so I was very interested in reading this post! I think there is a lot of valuable information here, but I’ll just add that I, personally, would never travel with any of those shoes. I need the most comfortable shoes I can find and that brand, for me, is Skechers! (Specifically, the Go Walk Joy). On this trip, I will be limiting myself to two pairs, the Skechers and the new All Day Trainers from Cole Haan. They’re a little bulky, so I’ll be wearing them on the plane.
I agree completely about the futility of bringing an umbrella. I have a lightweight A-line raincoat that can easily be folded into my bag or backpack. I lost the hood a long time ago, so I use a waterproof bucket hat that works just was well to protect my face if it’s really sunny out.
Another thing I always do is bring a travel-size spray bottle of Febreeze to spray on my clothes between wearings. It doesn’t take the place of washing them, but it really helps especially on warm days.
In contrast to Janicew (who is quite right) I will add that I have been taking trips to Scotland for years and even in the height of summer have needed woolly jumpers (sweaters), especially in the north. You definitely need to cater for all seasons on this trip.
Of course, the temptation to buy sweaters in Scotland is almost overwhelming. Cashmere, Shetland wood, merino….
Don’t forget Arran and Fairisle :D
Well, I *was* going to mention that, but you got there first!
A really good fleece is a must!
Heidi Davis says
Several years ago my husband and I went to Europe. Each of us only took a carry-on plus small backpack and these contained EVERYTHING we needed for our whole three weeks. And because of YOU, Janice, this was successful! I’d been reading your posts and learned how to “capsulize” my wardrobe from you. I will add that even in summer, a light jacket with a hood is essential. (Your hands will be free, and no umbrella to lose.)
LOVE the tip about the 20# weight ‘training’. I’ll start with lower weights though and work up, but I know from previous travel that the tote/purse/backpack/whatever can get heavy!
Alison Gunn says
It does seem that some people are confused about the three different capsule styles you’ve put together. You’re not advocating taking three coats or three entirely different sets of clothing. ;-) This is a great post; you always manage to show me why all the clothes I think I’m going to need are excessive. BTW, I always bring packets of Tide and Woolite so that I can wash in the sink or, more likely, in the bathtub. The bathtub has proved necessary with pants/jeans more than once, due to how sweaty/dirty pants have gotten and how I’m going to need them in a day or two. I never bother getting clothing done by a laundry, having had a laundry absolutely ruin something I was relying on many years ago. As for doing laundry, no, try to never do it unless you’re staying two or more days in one location, but if you do (or if you have bathing suits which don’t have time to dry) yes indeed, Ziploc bags are great, as are compression sacs (mine are Eagle Creek, and I’ve had the same set for years).
Chambray shirts are very useful but I find them a bit basic for travelling. I think they need dressing up with chunky silver Jewellry, or (my fave with denim) turquoise Jewellry.
My travel tip is dry shampoo – often. My hairdresser told me to do more with my hair when it needs a wash and this has been great advice. I can put it up in a pony tail and then when I let it out my hair has more volume (great for humid climates as hair can dry when it is up), use dry shampoo/ volumizers, put on statement earrings.
Also, if your feet swell on a plane, wear compression socks or tights. I just came back from a trip where I packed 6 pairs of shoes and wore two! My feet were too swollen to wear the others. Buy one pair of non-fashion but OK “comfort shoes” – I always end up walking way more than expected.
I also pack one ensemble for every type of climate as it can always be unexpectedly hot or freezing eg thermal singlet.
Pack one ensemble for each type of activity and just tell your friends you are sick of lugging heavy baggage. Something often goes wrong with flights and you find yourself on a transfer bus with way too much baggage and no hands to grip the rail…
Just a thought that not everyone will agree with, I would not plan on abandoning old clothing items along the way. Europeans are very conservative about trash, generating far less than Americans. Moreover collecting trash is more expensive and there is less space to put it. If I take something, I bring it home to junk up my country, not theirs.
Thank you for this comment! I totally agree.
I love this post. And maybe I’m just not creative enough…but I’d love to see a version of this idea but for a warm weather location — how to round out a wardrobe if you don’t need to be as concerned about the warmth of the wardrobe which changes up the layering a bit. Just a request!
Chris M says
I have found the hotel shampoo or body wash works great as a laundry soap to wash things in the sink. I also have been known to wash out small things while in the shower. I feel like I get them rinsed better.
True, and true. I feel like I get things really clean when I rinse them in the shower…
I’ll put in another vote for hats rather than hoods. Hoods blow off – and yes, they’ll encounter wind on this trip. Great post, Janice. Thank you! And for those going on the trip: the northern islands are fascinating, but chilly even in July. Depending on the activities planned, you may want sturdier shoes than some of those shown here. Archeological sites can be pretty muddy …
Hardcore Minimalist traveler here – I can solidly recommend the LL Bean waterproof-primaloft-packaway-jacket. After much research, I got the smallest Men’s version (more pockets!) and have found it handles quite a range of temps while still being very light and wind/rainproof. (I live in Chicago and have taken it to Denmark, DC, and around the Midwest so far). Add a handful of Uniqlo heatech or airism tops in various weights and colors (they pack tiny and airdry fairly fast!) and a pretty zip up fleece layer (or a cashmere sweater) plus a hat, and you’re nicely geared for the weather in a surprisingly small space. (Thank you Janice for turning me on to Uniqlo!). Consider Ahnu for walking shoes – they’re not dressy but your feet will be happy even if you walk on wet cobblestones all day. I agree with the others on avoiding cotton for this climate – much too bulky and not warm. (And, no, I am not a paid recommender either – I just travel a lot!)
Love this post. So many good notes. How small a bag will a capsule like this fit in? I used to travel with backpacks and a seriously minimal wardrobe…now I’m older and have occasion to go places in a dress once in a while, I’m thinking I need proper luggage…but every bag I look at seems enormous.
Gail Finke says
Great post. I have flown several times over the past few years, after not flying in a long time, and am constantly amazed by the women running around in yoga outfits… not just the yoga-inspired “athleisure” stuff but workout capris and spaghetti strap workout tops. How is that possibly comfortable on a plane? They usually get cold! And what if they lose your luggage (my daughter lost her CARRY-ON luggage recently, when the crew made her and another man on the flight check theirs after getting on the plane, and kept his on the plane But sent hers to his destination!)?
Lisa in Seattle says
Fun post! I go to the UK for three weeks every year with just a carry-on (21″ suitcase) and personal item (large tote that contains my purse and becomes my “day-out” bag during the trip.) Like most women who read this blog, I care about looking my best. My first decision is ALWAYS a basic color choice – navy or black. I usually do navy in the Spring/Summer and black if my trip is in the Fall/Winter. Grey is always my second neutral because it goes with both. My third pair of pants is usually a nice denim slim style jean, more and more of a knit variety fabric for supreme comfort as long as they look updated and fashionable. The other big decision is the style of pants. Do they require tunic tops to cover your tush? If so, then ALL your pants and tops need to be the same so they are interchangeable. Most hotels and guesthouses in the UK now have hairdryers and heated towel racks in the bathroom. I wash/rinse clothes in a 2-gallon, freezer weight zip-lock bag in the sink. I “block” my wet, washed clothes with a dry towel (gently wring out clean clothes and lay them out, individually, on a clean bath towel. Fold the towel in, over the garment, and roll up. Squish out all the moisture by standing on the roll in bare feet.) I then drape them on the rack and they dry within an hour or two. Be careful though – they can be too hot for some fabrics and lingerie if left on too long. Have a great time.
Can this be done for a summer trip?
Helpful advice all around, and I love the outfits! What are your thoughts on a travel outfit of either a dress or skirt instead of pants–is there a possibility to make that a practical and doable option?