Travelling lightly: create the ultimate capsule wardrobe

If you’re the type of traveller who frequently needs to sit on top of your suitcase to zip it up, only to find you’ve well and truly exceeded your baggage weight allowance, you’re not alone. As someone who packs their case to the brim with a few too many ‘just in case’ items (that pom-pom-swathed jacket seemed necessary at the time), I decided to call on the help of travelling photographer and master of the capsule wardrobe, Jess Kearney. Here, she tells us how she learned to travel lightly, and how you can too:

The word ‘minimalism’ is getting some serious airtime right now. And I must admit, I’m a big fan. Especially when it comes to my wardrobe.

Five months ago, I set out on a solo European adventure. Just me and my suitcase… which I was determined to keep under 20kg! Nothing like the threat of dragging overloaded luggage through the cobblestoned streets of Paris to get you packing light. (My camera bag is another issue entirely, but let’s not go into that right now!)

So I guess you could say I’ve become somewhat of a minimalist wardrobe enthusiast. Not gonna lie, it’s taken many years of practice. If you saw my wardrobe now, you would never believe ten years ago I had what I liked to refer to as a ‘wardroom’ – a whole room dedicated to clothes, shoes and accessories! Trust me – if I can embrace a capsule wardrobe, anyone can.

Let’s break this down into a few tips…

Jess Kearney's capsule wardrobe

Buy less, choose well, take care
I’m a true believer in investing in quality pieces and making them last! While the pull of ‘fast fashion’ is oh-so-tempting, the rewards of a well-considered purchase are always longer lasting. Don’t be afraid to drop a fair chunk of change on a few key items, and treat them like little treasures. Favourite boots looking a little dull? Take them to your local cobbler for a little TLC! Winter coat a little musty? Have it professionally dry cleaned! Find your favourite pieces, and if you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.

Does this go with that?

When adding a new item to your wardrobe, consider how it will work with the items you already own. Plan out the outfits in your head. If you can’t see the new item fitting into your existing wardrobe, maybe it isn’t the right choice. And hey, why not try finding your ‘uniform’? For me, this is a choice between blue or black jeans, brown or black ankle boots, something grey, a white or stripey on top, with a brown leather jacket or black wool coat for the cooler months. Fewer, well considered options makes dressing in the morning a breeze!

It’s fun to get fancy
Having said that, we all need a few pieces for when we want to throw all the rules out the window and just get a little fancy! My traveller’s wardrobe includes one fancy dress and a fun skirt for when I’m tired of the old jeans-and-boots look. I find having these items up my sleeve keeps my wardrobe from feeling stale!

It’s important to not let your wardrobe turn into an, ahem, ‘wardroom’. Set aside some time, maybe once every three months, to re-evaluate things. Hold onto the items you love, and for the love of tidiness, get rid of the ones just taking up space! Sell, swap, donate. To borrow a phrase from The Minimalists themselves, if it ain’t ‘bringing you joy’, don’t hold onto it.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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