We’re mostly staying put this winter, but for those who will be traveling, I’ve updated the Winter travel wardrobe capsule, incorporating some takeaways from my trip to Paris last December.
Trying to build a universal winter travel wardrobe is next to impossible. Winter where? Montreal? New York? Oslo? Seattle? Rome? So for this capsule, I’ve assumed temperatures at or above freezing most days, light snow if any, and urban or suburban settings. Consider this a blueprint or starting point, and adjust as needed for the climate you’ll be visiting. (Note: I don’t count shoes, accessories, outerwear or underpinnings as part of the 12 pieces.)
While black is often a go-to for travel, and easy to use as a building block, many of you have requested capsules that aren’t black-based. So this time I’ve used navy, grey and ivory as the neutrals. (You can always swap out some of these for black if you prefer.) Next week, I’ll show you a few more options to add color to this capsule.
Travel Wardrobe Guidelines
As with most of my travel wardrobes, I’ve adhered to some formulas:
- Start with the shoes. Decide what kind of footwear the climate and activities will require, and build up from there. Choose clothing that will work with the shoes you’ll be bringing.
- Tabletop dressing. If you’re trying to keep a limit on the number of pieces, keep the bottoms simple and add variety and interest above the waist. This also makes it easier to create a cohesive wardrobe that can be combined many ways.
- A neutral foundation. It doesn’t have to be black, or even a single neutral (I’ve used three above) but again, neutrals will greatly improve your wardrobe cohesion. I also find that neutrals are easier to dress up than bright colors.
- Think about silhouette when choosing pieces, and try everything on in as many combinations as you can. Most of your tops should work with most of your bottoms.
- 2-to-1 ratio. I find that two tops to one bottom works well for most travel.
- Choose pieces that can layer for warmth as needed. Three lightweight layers that can be removed if temperatures rise are preferable to one bulky layer. Be sure that everything can be worn under your outerwear.
- Use scarves, hats, gloves, outerwear to add color and/or pattern.
- When adding color, focus on two colors that can also be worn together.
Top Row: scarf | turtleneck | shirt | tee
I’ll usually start with a base layer like a silk tank, or (if frigid enough) long underwear. I like silk because I find I don’t overheat in it, and my other clothing slides over easily without sticking. Any of the tops above would be the next layer after that.
I’ve included two patterned tops to add some interest (and in the case of the blouse, to be able to tie other colors together). You can always go with solids, and use scarves or outerwear to add pattern if you prefer.
👉Tip: if you’re going to include pattern in both clothing and scarves, make them different types of patterns. For example, I’ve included dot and floral print tops, so my scarves would be plaids, stripes or animal prints. This makes for easier pattern mixing.
I’ve included a few different sweater styles for variety, but if there’s one neckline or style you prefer, you could always include 2 or 3 of those. Sweaters can be a good place to add some color if you like, which I’ve done here with the burgundy pullover.
I’ve chosen two cardigans with distinctly different shapes. Each could be worn buttoned as a mid-layer, or unbuttoned as a top layer indoors. The crewneck cardigan is a lighter weight merino. You could always opt for the same style in a warmer cashmere without adding bulk.
I’ve stayed with dark neutrals for the bottoms. Skirts are another item that many of you travel with and have requested. This one is a knit pleated style. Add a pair of merino tights to stay warm and cozy.
Because I love ponte knit pants for travel, I’ve included a navy pair in this set. But if you’re including black, the Eileen Fisher ponte knit pants (comes in plus size options, too) are a stalwart in my travel wardrobes. Jeans are a must for me, and I have never regretted bringing them. Last winter my grey skinny jeans were Travel Wardrobe MVP’s (grey jean options here), so I’ve included them here. If I were building this wardrobe for myself, I’d skip the skirt and add a pair of medium wash boyfriend jeans (Plus).
Bottom Row: ankle boots | lace-up boots | knee boots
The boot choices cover a range of temperature, conditions, and levels of formality. I’ve selected colors other than black to provide options, but black footwear would work just as well. Yes, you can wear black and navy together. Again, choose your footwear first (and be sure it’s well broken-in!) and go from there.
Next week I’ll have some outerwear suggestions and outfit ideas using this winter travel wardrobe capsule (as well as adding more color), so do check back.
Will you be traveling this winter? Any particular travel wardrobe challenges?