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Let the Packing Begin!

T-minus 40 days until I depart for Florence... but who's counting? While I am excited to spend 7 months in Italy (and hopefully longer if one of my grants comes through), I am a bit overwhelmed by the thought of packing for such a long trip. To make matters more difficult, unlike Florida, Italy actually has seasons (not just hot and hotter). I seriously don't know where to begin!

So I have taken to the all-knowing Pinterest for some ideas and inspiration. I am definitely intrigued by the capsule wardrobe trend (my favorite concepts here and here), but I am a little weary of having such a limited and neutral wardrobe for such a long period of time. While I admire women who only need 33 neutral wardrobe pieces (including shoes and bags!), that is just not me. While I have tried capsule-like challenges in the past, I am by no means a minimalist dresser! And to be honest, 30 pieces for 30 days is far less challenging than 30 pieces for three months.

What I do like about the capsule wardrobe is the principle that you select only the items you love and everything can be mixed and matched. With that in mind, my plan is to create three capsules, one for each season (winter, spring, and summer). I'm hoping to limit each capsule to 35-37 pieces (30-33 just feels too small for all of the unknown weather conditions I might face). Now there will definitely have to be some overlap between the seasons, but I think this plan will help me build cohesive and seasonal appropriate capsule wardrobes... well that's the goal anyway.

Each seasonal capsule wardrobe will include tops, bottoms, and dresses. Not included will be my pjs, workout wear, lounge wear, undergarments, scarves, hats, and (this is where my capsule plan is much less minimalist) shoes and coats. I know shoes are typically included in capsule wardrobes, but I honestly can't bring that many to begin with, and I have carefully selected a shoe wardrobe that focuses on comfort and practicality (so necessary on cobblestone!). I am also making allowances for coats, since when traveling, wearing the same coat gets really old in every. single. photo.

With my comprehensive exams finished (and passed!!!!) I have a little break before final exam grading begins. I am dedicating this weekend to photographing every item I want to pack. While that might seem like a lot of work, I think taking the time to photograph each item will allow me to see the versatility of each piece and better plan what's worth bringing and what isn't. I will also get a better idea of how many items I need to include in each capsule. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to fit in shoes and coats after all.

Don't worry, I will be sharing each capsule wardrobe as I create them!

Have you tried capsule wardrobes? Any words of wisdom?

Ashley B
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  1. Packing has to be one of my favourite topics! I'm looking forward to hearing how your planning and packing goes. I tried a capsule wardrobe for one summer that I spent living across the country when I could only bring two medium suitcases. I was taking part in a mission trip, so there were some restrictions on clothing determined by that, but by sticking to my favourites (and the colour scheme that naturally came about) I was able to bring much less than I thought I needed and was still happy with the options available to me.

    Sweet Spontaneity

    1. Seriously, I could pack and plan all day! That's my goal, pack less and only what I actually need. Easier said than done right?

  2. I love your 30 x 30! It's nice to see a capsule wardrobe with so much colour. I really like the neutral capsules that you see, but like you I don't think I could wear clothing like that for a very long time! Looking forward to seeing the finished capsules :)

    1. I agree Christine, while I think others look great in neutrals, I would be so bored!

  3. That is going to be such a long trip; I know you will love it though! Good luck with all the packing! I can't even imagine having to pack for seven months abroad!

    Prep on a Budget

  4. What an amazing trip! I'm so jealous! When I went to Italy there was a United Colors of Benetton on every corner. So I wouldn't worry too much about packing a zillion accessories.

    1. Very true. Plus Italy full of great shoes, so I can also buy shoes there.

  5. I love my capsule wardrobe so much and I'm getting it ready for winter... Changing for the seasons is good because it prevents boredom. Lots of people with capsule wardrobes do it. Also, you can have a second smaller capsule wardrobe for event dressing... whether that is for conferences or formal outfits. These smaller capsules should just have a handful of items, enough to make at least three outfits.
    Also, I worry about the fact that you think a capsule wardrobe has to be neutral. Mine certainly isn't! I use a color palette and work with that. The Un-Fancy's wardrobe planning workbook has a grid you can use for this purpose.
    When I plan my own capsule wardrobe, I like to make a 36 box grid using Paintbrush (or MSPaint for Windows) with boxes big enough to write notes in. Each box represents an item. Then I put an extra box on the side as a wildcard item, which is usually something kind of fun and different. It really helps to visualize what I am doing. I can also use different symbols and colors in the boxes to denote what I need to buy or what I need to pull out of storage. Hope this helps. It has certainly helped my style since I started!

  6. I thought of a couple more things too.
    I usually allow for 6 shoes and 3 coats. I keep an extra faux fur coat and a pair of heels in my formal wardrobe. I try to pick two dresses that I can use as tops AND bottoms by layering--a sweater on top of a dress makes it look like a skirt, while a full skirt on top of a dress (especially a slimmer dress) makes it look like a top. This works better in winter than in the summer because it keeps you so warm. After these, I have 26 items leftover for tops and bottoms. I try to do 9 bottoms and 17 tops. The 9 bottoms consist of 3 skirts, 3 pants and 3 other bottoms (leggings, shorts... depends on the season). For the tops, I opt for move variety.
    Overall, I follow the rule of 3, which works great with my 36 box method, since it sort of resembles a sudoku puzzle. I try to include equal amounts of casual, in-between and statement pieces. So, for my shoes, I have two casual pairs, two in-between pairs and two-statement pairs.
    This all sounds really complicated, but actually comes together really easily when you map it out. If you make sure to only include pieces you really love, you won't have a problem. I'm personally so excited for my travels over the next few months, since, with a capsule wardrobe, you can prepare for a trip very quickly--if you don't own much clothing, you can just pack everything!

    1. Andee, your comments are so helpful, thank you! I love the 36 box grid with a wild card idea! Also part of my stress was how to work in dressy occasions and conferences. I really like the idea of having a mini capsule for those. Are purses included in your capsules? I am going to try my best to include shoes and coats. I am going to start mapping today! Thanks again.

    2. Ashley, I do not include accessories except for shoes. Even though I don't include them though, I do find myself pulling just a few purses, jewelry pieces, scarves, etc. to wear and keeping the rest in under the bed storage, just like my capsule wardrobe. I also keep 6 camisoles (3 black, 3 white) that are not included in my 37 pieces. To me, even though these might show (like if i put an open flannel over a tank top, for example) these don't count because they're more like undershirts. If you are not using it already, you might want to check out Stylebook app. If you haven't heard of it before, for the price of a magazine, you can get an app for iPhone that works just like that computer program Cher used at the beginning of Clueless to visually-organize her closet. I really like it because I can see which items of my capsule wardrobe get the most wear. Even though I am limited to 37 pieces, I find that some items still end up getting very little wear! Best of luck.

  7. I'm so glad I came across this post! I will be spending January-June in Paris for school and still cannot begin to think about packing. I'm definitely going to look into the capsule idea!


  8. 1. Congrats on passing all your exams. 2. I could not even imagine packing for 7 months. Going on vacation for 7 days gives me anxiety in the packing department, I don't know how you do it. However, I have no doubt you will find a way to pack all your prints and look good wearing them in Italy.


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