Tuesday, August 2, 2016

European Capsule Wardobe Part 1 - How I Packed

You are looking at a chronic over-packer.  Life-long.  My husband and I went to Greece for 2 weeks, 5 years ago.  We went with a tour group and traveled across the country on land, changing hotels every day or two, and then a 3 day cruise, followed by a couple more days on land.  Our group leader gave suggestions of how to pack light.  I laughed.  No way was I going to wear the same 5 shirts and 2 pair of shorts for 2 weeks.  So we showed up at the airport and everyone in our group had a backpack.  I had my largest suitcase and it may have exceeded the 50 pound limit.  I was a tad embarrassed, but thought I’d be fine.  By the second time I had to load and unload my suitcase from our charter bus and haul it up 3 flights of stairs in a European hotel, I knew I had made a mistake.  I vowed to never over-pack for Europe again. 

Fast forward to this Spring.  We took our 2 girls (8 and 10) to London and Paris for 12 days.  We flew into London, took the Chunnel from London to Paris, and flew home from Paris.  There was a lot of public/mass transportation involved.  I decided we would each pack in a carryon that we could easily pull behind us and one shoulder bag/backpack that we could easily carry.  With kids, I didn’t want anyone to be struggling with large suitcases or needing help.  We all had to manage our own stuff!  So after a lot of time on pinterest I came up with 2 solutions – efficient packing and capsule wardrobes.  I’ve tried a capsule wardrobe before with an Instagram challenge (check my IG posts from Feb. 2016).  I survived, but it wasn’t for me.  I think capsule wardrobes are perfect for some people and I would love to help anyone create one!  It’s just not my thing.  However, I thought I could rally for a European vacation.  So I started pinning capsule wardrobe ideas.  The awesome thing was that I already owned everything I needed for a great winter/spring European capsule wardrobe!  I literally did not have to purchase one thing!  I stuck with a black/grey/navy color scheme, so basically everything matched everything.

I ended up using 1 trench coat, 3 shirts and 2 tank tops (to layer for warmth), 3 sweaters, 2 very casual dresses and one nice dress, 3 pair of jeans, one pair of leggings, one pair of boots, one pair of slip on walking shoes and one pair of heels. I mixed and matched my pieces into 13 different outfits!  To these outfits, I then added a few scarves and a necklace to add a little interest and warmth.  I probably could have made more looks with these pieces, but we would only be gone 12 days, so I stopped at 13.

So let’s talk suitcases.  My initial plan was to use a carry-on from the set of luggage I already had.  After watching several packing tutorials I decided to invest in a hard shell carry-on bag.  I ended up finding this one at TJMaxx for just under $50.  

Well worth it in my opinion!  I was able to pack 2 pair of jeans, one pair of leggings, 3 scarves, a sweater and a trench coat just in the top part of the suitcase! Here is the method I used for that.  

I love how the top zips up all nice and tidy!

For the rest of my clothes I used the rolling method.  I like this for 2 reasons.  1-it most definitely saves space.  2-you can see everything in the suitcase without having to dig around!

I stuffed my tights and socks into my shoes and put my walking shoes and heels in one of my Kate Spade purse cover bags.  I like to pack shoes in bags so they don’t get other things dirty.

 Undies went in this “Wash and Wear” bag that my mom made.  This bag may be my very favorite travel piece!  All clean undies went in the “Wear” section.  As I wear them, the worn ones will go in the “Wash” section.  Just love this!!!

This was really hard for me, but I went really light on the jewelry.  One necklace, 5 pair of earrings, and a ring.

And thanks to my lovely mom (again), my jewelry went in this. 

The “Wash and Wear” bag and the jewelry bag fit nicely on top.

Toiletries all went in this cute little bag I found at TJMaxx.

It came with a little funnel to make liquid transfer easy.  And it also had cute little pre-printed labels to stick on the bottles!

That ended up sliding into a pocket in the top just perfectly.                                                                                                                                                                

 The bottom part also had a nifty little flap with a little more storage.


 Now in the effort of full disclosure - I packed this 2 weeks before our trip.  A few days before we left, we checked the weather and the forecast was WAY warmer than their annual average.  I had pretty much packed all long sleeved layers.  Well, I wasn't about to undo that packing masterpiece. So...believe it or not, I was able to fit in 3 short sleeved shirts and a pair of cargo type pants in addition to what I had already packed!  Crazy! I'm so glad I did, though, because we had some really warm days mixed in with some cooler days.

This was such a fun project for me and I felt really proud of myself.  It came in super handy with all of the walking through the city,  train stations and up many narrow flights of stairs!

Next up - What I wore on the plane!


  1. Amazing. I LOVE how you show us how your packed. Going on an anniversary (25! Woot!) trip to Charleston, SC for a week in April. No, I am not too excited. ;) Great advice! Oh, I am seriously so happy I found you!



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