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The capsule travel wardrobe

They often say that you can find your design style by looking at your fashion style. I would like to think it also works the other way around. At least that was my approach for our most recent trip. After listening to all the latest horror travel stories, we decided on carry-on luggage only for our two week trip to Italy and Switzerland. My capsule wardrobe had to include lounge wear, comfortable shoes and a few nicer outfits for eating out as well as a concert or two. I decided to look at my favourite images from past design projects and take my palette cues from there. Below is what I came up with and it worked absolutely fabulous! Not only did I have multiple outfits, but also the convenience of just a small bag to lug around cobbled stone paths and onto public transport.

So what did I take with me as my “design inspired” capsule wardrobe?


Based on my design inspiration photos I kept the palette restrained and packed mainly black, white and tan items. This combination has also been the tried and tested combination in my own and many of my clients’ homes, and has stood the test of time. As with a restrained wardrobe, a neutral palette for your home need not be dull and dreary. Like a good pair of elegant black pants, your key (and more expensive) furnishings should be neutral, durable and timeless in terms of style. I took shorts in all three mentioned colours, white linen pants, wide legged black drawstring pants, black leggings (for the flight) and jeans. The combinations possible with these seven bottoms were endless.


For capsule tops I packed a classic white and black T-shirt, a white tank top, a dressier black sleeveless and a knitted tan coloured top. In addition to that, I packed a long sleeve white and a long sleeve tan linen shirt that functioned as protection against the sun, and also for layering with a couple of strapless tops I managed to sneak in. I opted for a dressier off-the-shoulder black linen top for more classy events. A black sweater (to wear on the plane), and a lightweight tan knitted sweater (that I could use for layering if needed) completed my top choices. When your home (or your travel wardrobe in this case) consists mainly of neutrals, it is important to use layering to add texture and interest. Just as you layer an outfit to change things up or introduce trends, like with a fun scarf or belt for example, you do the same in your neutral interior space with pillows, throws and found objects that speak to you. For both dressing and designing you can bring in some textures like wicker, grass cloth, velvet and leather.


Only two dresses made it onto the capsule travel wardrobe list – a white summer maxi dress and a tan knitted dress. I threw in a black maxi skirt at the last minute, but wore it only once. Tip: don’t add things last minute that were not part of your original plan!

We experienced extreme heat on this trip (around 38 degrees Celsius), and I have to say that the type of fabric made a huge difference. Anything cotton or linen was great and anything man made quickly became unbearable. The lovely tan knitted dress barely made it through half a day- it was just too hot! Fabric content is equally important in your interior space. Durability is key for those hard working pieces like sofas and everyday-use chairs. Always look for a rub count of at least 30,000 double rubs on those furnishings. When it comes to area rugs, nothing will outlast a wool rug. More costly than other manmade options, but think of it as that cashmere sweater that will last a lifetime if well taken care of. Personally, I love linen and good quality cotton for drapery, bedding and decorative pillows. Washable, breathable and with so many beautiful options available.

Shoes and stuff

I knew we were going to walk quite a bit so my trusted runners were first on my list. To save space I wore them on the plane. I also took a pair of black leather slides and flip flops with some bling. As an alternative option to my runners I packed white leather sneakers. I had my old leather backpack for the plane and also took a black cross body smaller bag for everyday use. This worked very well. If you buy leather pieces for your home, do some research. Not all leathers are the same. Different leathers wear differently and it will depend on your own preference which option is best for you.


I thought one swimsuit would be enough but bought one more while I was there, (did I mention it was hot?) and was able to squeeze that into my bag on the way home! My favourite fedora, fun scarf, interesting belt and classic sunglasses completed my packing list. The accessories in your home should also be personal and tell a story. Resist the temptation to buy random generic things for the sake of filling a space. Just like a beautiful vintage scarf inherited from your grandma, or picked up from a thrift store, can be a timeless and unique item in your wardrobe, so can that antique vase or architectural salvaged piece infuse personality and interest into your home. And with a neutral backdrop, your accessories can really shine-wardrobe or home!

What is the take-away?

I would say: Less or more, neutral or not! I may never go back to the scary option of a checked bag, though winter packing might be a whole different story! I honestly could have stayed for two more weeks and not run out of combinations to wear.

With a restrained palette in your home it is also easier to “make different combinations” as the mood takes you. I find it very therapeutic to move things around in my house. With key pieces being neutral, I can literally move accessories from upstairs to downstairs and anywhere in between. And you really get your workout in when you start moving furniture and rugs! So, what do you think? Small is beautiful, less is more, neutral rules?? Share your thoughts below!

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