What I Packed, What I Wore: My Spring Travel Wardrobe Recap

Happy Monday! I’m back home after two weeks of traveling between London, Paris, and the Netherlands. The jet lag has (mostly) worn off, and today I’m recapping and reviewing my spring travel capsule wardrobe.

I find it’s helpful to write up a review of my travel wardrobe while it’s still fresh in my mind. What worked, what didn’t, what I’d do differently. I’ll often refer back to these recaps when planning what to pack for my next trip.

What I packed…

Creating a travel capsule wardrobe is always a balancing act between style and functionality. We want to look good, but we have to be able to move, be comfortable, and appropriate for our destination and activities. And often we need fit everything into a suitcase that can feel very small once we start to pack. 😂

Because I knew I’d be taking several trains during this trip (not including the extra stops I hadn’t planned on…), I opted for a smaller, carry-on size suitcase and “weekender” size duffel bag. Here’s the travel capsule wardrobe I originally planned:

What I'm packing for 2 weeks in Europe and the UK: 6 tees and pullovers, 2 cardigans, 3 pants, 3 shoes
Left: SWEATER | TEE | SWEATER | JOGGERS (SIMILAR)
Middle: CARDIGAN (SIMILAR) | SWEATER JACKET | JEANS
Right: SHELL (SIMILAR) | SHIRT (SIMILAR) | SWEATER (SIMILAR) | PANTS (SIMILAR)
Shoes: LOAFERS | BOOTS (SIMILAR) | SNEAKERS

After a last-minute check of the forecasts, I decided to ditch the sleeveless top and the loafers, and added a packable rain jacket/shell, striped tee (intended as a another base layer) and an extra pair of jeans.

What I wore…

Weather can be fickle any time of year, but especially during “shoulder seasons.” I keep an eye on the forecasts up until the moment I head to the airport. Even so, the weather threw a bit of a curve, turning chillier and wetter (and in the case of the Netherlands, windier 💨) than forecast. Daytime temperatures stayed mostly in the 40’s and low-50’s F. Still, most of what I packed worked out quite well!

Travel outfits

What I wore in London, Amsterdam & Paris. Travel outfits for spring in UK and Europe.
My favorite travel outfits from a 2-week trip to London, Amsterdam/Haarlem & Paris.

I wore almost everything I packed, and even though I repeated a couple of outfits, never felt bored with my choices. Using my usual sports team metaphors, here’s how I’m scoring this travel capsule:

MVP’s

  • brown coated denim trousers (similar). They’re comfortable, warm, and can dress up or down. (Keep an eye on early fall collections when they start to land around mid-summer for more style & color options.)
  • darker wash barrel leg jeans. These were my wild-card pick, and I mostly alternated these with the brown trousers.
  • sweater jacket. This is one of the bulkier tops, but really earns its place. Wore open as a jacket on warmer days, and buttoned as a top over a base layer when it was colder.
  • green crewneck sweater (similar). Great to add a little color, and comfortable in a range of temperatures.
  • packable down jacket (similar). Was perfect for the colder days, but not so heavy that I’d overheat indoors.

Pinch hitters

  • hooded rain jacket (similar). I was SO glad I’d packed this! In Amsterdam and Haarlem it was raining but too windy to use an umbrella. This jacket kept me warm and dry, and also worked well as a windbreaker.
  • silk long underwear. I wore these silk thermal tees as a base layer every day in the Netherlands & Paris. They helped me stay warm without overheating.

Benched

  • striped button-front shirt.
  • long-sleeved cotton tee. Just too cold to wear either.

Wish I’d brought…

I occasionally wished I’d brought a larger “day” bag, with more organization. I’m going to be checking out a few alternates for my next trip, have my eye on these:

Lightweight day bags for travel

Otherwise, I felt as though I had all of the bases covered. In fact, I could have pared back a bit. I didn’t really need the second pair of jeans, could have packed just the darker wash pair. And I only wore the navy crewneck sweater once, would have been fine without it.

Along the way

I’d planned to visit the Clergerie shop in Paris, and did buy a pair of sneakers there (which you can see in the bottom middle photo in the outfit collage above). I did one round of sink laundry for underwear, and had a pair of jeans laundered midway through the trip. That’s it.

Overall, I’d give this spring travel capsule wardrobe a score of 9/10.

I also tried out some new luggage and travel gear, which I’ll be reviewing in an upcoming post.

What are your travel “MVP’s?”

Read more about my travels here:

Out & About in London (Part 1)

Out and About in Amsterdam & Haarlem

Out & About in Paris

Out & About in London (Part 2)

And for more travel wardrobe and packing tips, be sure to visit my Travel Wardrobe Resource Hub!

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35 Comments

  1. Could you please explain your sports team metaphors, as I don’t understand them at all! I suppose they’re American terms.

    1. Yes, MVP is Most Valuable Player. “Pinch hitter” is a player not in the usual lineup who is brought in to bat (hit the ball) for a teammate. “Benched” means sat on the bench for the game, didn’t play.

  2. I really enjoyed the analysis of your trip wardrobe! And thank you for taking us along on our adventures.
    Regarding travel bags, my new favorite (and very affordable) is the Baggallini 3-In-1 Convertible Backpack. Light weight, holds a water bottle or glasses case in each side pocket, multiple carrying options, good zipper & open pockets, light colored lining, and a sleeve for your luggage handle. And I’ve machined washed and air dried when I get home. Added bonus it also fits my current knitting project!

  3. Hi Susan – I am inspired by your packing. My MVP’s for traveling this time of year is usually a blazer and trenchcoat with lighter layers underneath. Like you, I find 2-3 pairs of pants to be enough. I am intrigued by the Lo and Sons bag you added to your widgets, I’d love that for every day. Please let us know which bag you choose if you get one. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. It was nice to sit down with a cup of coffee and read about your adventures. Cheers

  4. I’m such an overpacker…your posts are definitely helpful, thank you.

    I’ve been eyeing those Paul Green Hadley sneakers. They are so expensive but I’m tempted after seeing your posts (and others’ posts) about their versatility and comfort. A few of the Nordstrom reviews, however, say the quality is lacking (pealing leather, etc.)…what are your thoughts/experiences?

    1. Hi Grace, thanks! I’ve had no issues with peeling or other quality problems, and I’ve worn these sneakers A LOT.

  5. You looked great! I’ve learned so much from your packing posts. We’re planning a trip to Switzerland next year & I already know what I’m packing. No more overpacking for us!

  6. How did you find the fit for the Clergerie shoes? I’ve been wanting to add a pair to my wardrobe for some time but without a way of trying on before I commit , I’ve resisted

    1. Hi Dorothy, I found these fit true-to-size for me. I’m usually a 38 in European shoe sizing, and that’s what I took in this style.

  7. Kudos to your packing. I find shoes to be the biggest “space suck” in my carry on. I generally wear one pair for the whole trip.

  8. I am really interested in any travel luggage recommendations you have. I like my suitcase, but my carry-on with toiletries, iPad, etc. doesn’t have much structure. The outfits you took were great. I especially like the green sweater, the coated pants with sweater, and the striped T and taupe pants. The barrel-leg jeans not so much. Yet, it’s important to be comfortable, dry, and warm!

  9. I love when you do these recaps! You’ve taught me the importance of it and it helps me pack each time.

    Welcome home

  10. Hi Susan! Thanks for your recap! I’m confused by ‘the second pair of jeans’ that you mentioned. Did you take a second pair of denim jeans or were you referring to the Tibi silky-looking cargo pants (love, BTW)? Regarding your handbag/purse: I love my Lo & Sons ‘pearl’ but more and more I’m needing something that’s lighter weight. I think the MZ Wallace bags are fantastic. I’m anxious to hear more about your trip–places you stayed, etc. I’m interested in how you liked your new toiletry kit. The Emme is a great (and break-through) design but on the heavy side. Did your shoulder and wrists survive with all that train travel??

    1. Hi Sally, I packed 2 pairs of denim jeans. One in a lighter wash, and the darker wash pair you see in the photos.

  11. Currently in Provence, France & quite cool and rainy. Have been wearing my waterproof sprayed sneakers constantly; as well as my rain jacket. Yesterday worn with a packable down vest under it. Layers are the way to go! Our sweaters- last minute additions- are getting a workout. Loving my Banana Republic silk & cashmere cardigan & pullover. Hopefully we’ll see some sun in Paris by May 7.

  12. I use MZ Wallace almost exclusively at home because you can’t beat the organization. When I’ve traveled, I’ve used a small (7.5 L) navy Dakine backpack for my day bag, which fits a lot but I’m thinking of upgrading to a 10 L Pacsafe bag with a water bottle holder. A lot of my travel is in places where I could get pick-pocketed (Egypt, India, Morocco) so it seems like a good investment. I bring a small, versaltile MZ Wallace bag for dressing up at night. I finally splurged on luggage and I’m happy with my Briggs & Riley carry-on and backpack. Expensive, but guaranteed for life.

  13. I was pleased that you mentioned the silk long johns. Base layers are essential if you are facing variable climates. I only pack the tops, but I take several. Silk, merino, CuddlDuds, Uniqlo heattech — I have them all. Short sleeves are the most versatile because they layer (and pack) so well. If it gets chilly, your lightweight tops are suddenly good for a 10° temperature drop with a base layer underneath. I also take along one or two Buffs merino neck warmers for instant turtlenecks. If it warms up during the day, it can be gone in 30 seconds for an on-the-go adjustment.

  14. I really enjoyed reading about your travels and seeing your wardrobe in action! Hope it’s a bit warmer for you back in California.

  15. It sounds like such a good trip. Even tho the weather wasn’t perfect, it looks like you had a great time. (I feel like sometimes we get glimpses of the true nature of a city when we don’t see it under ideal conditions, anyway.) In terms of your next trip–and your search for a slightly larger day bag–I recently got the Lo & Sons Aoyama. Wish I could give you a review of it so you’d have more info as you consider which more organized travel bag to get, but alas I haven’t worn it yet. I can say that it’s very, very lightweight (lighter than their Nouvelle, which I adore and have in several colors). And I’m so intrigued by the interchangeable straps. Good luck with finding the right bag for you (such a fun endeavor!). Now I’m looking forward to your review of the Paravel suitcase you used. I recently got one (also not yet used) and can’t wait to read your assessment of it.

  16. I think you did extremely well. Do you think you will ever have any use of the pink puffer bag you bought along the way?
    Greetje

  17. Thanks for the great recap. I will be traveling by train in the Milan, Lake Como areas later this year and plan to pack smart like you do. As for an mvp, I always bring a longchamp le pillage tote folded up and use that for day trips.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your travels and your recap! I’m a big fan of MZ Wallace bags. Their largest sling bags (Bowery & Crosby) are great for travel. I used one for a week in Paris, then again for 2 weeks in Australia. It’s amazing how much they hold while being lightweight. Along with my essentials, I was able to carry an 8oz water bottle in the Bowery sling bag.

  19. Hi Susan,
    (My comment disappeared..hopefully I’m not repeating myself!)
    Loved reading your recap, so helpful. Inspired by you, I keep Notes on my phone of my travel capsules and recaps.
    I spotted your new shoes! Very nice and a lovely souvenir I think.
    My MVPs are lightweight Rollie shoes/boots, merino camis, and large zippered raffia type totes that fit under the seat in front of me – they go with everything and take me anywhere. I’ve gone through several and I’m on the lookout for one with a sleeve to fit over the handle of my carryon suitcase. I do enjoy collecting items for future travel.
    Best wishes,
    Julie x

  20. I’m so intrigued by the Tibi joggers! How is the sizing? Are they something you think you will get a lot of wear out of?? Thank you!

    1. Hi Holly, I think they run true-to-size (I’m wearing size Small). I think because of the fabric, they can be dressed up a bit, and I’ll be sharing some ideas soon.

  21. Hi Susan,
    You had a great whirlwind trip!
    (pardon the pun on “whirlwind”)! I was in Paris the week before you and during your visit. I’m starting to think that a raincoat is a necessity in the spring, but is a bit of a problem with carryon bags, I had to wear mine on the plane.
    I’m with you on the day bag “conundrum”, to avoid taking two different sized day bags along, (which I’ve done), it’s hard to find just the right size to lug all day.
    Thanks for all your travel/packing ideas!

  22. I think you will enjoy the Martentic rolling duffel. It seems to have a great deal of organization.