A minimalist’s suitcase…

I recently flew to Kansas City for a week for work and found myself debating my wardrobe.  I knew that I needed clothing for a multitude of activities; work, exercise, travel, leisure, and possibly a night out for drinks.  This was my wardrobe.

Minimalist luggage

My minimalist wardrobe for a week in Kansas City.

The Items:

  • Black cotton short sleeved dress from Patagonia

  • White and black striped cap sleeve blouse from Loft

  • Gray knee length cotton skirt from Loft

  • Taupe wool wrap sweater from Loft

  • Yellow polka dot 3/4 sleeve top from Lululemon

  • Light gray polka dot tank from Lululemon

  • Black cropped leggings from Patagonia

  • Black Chaco flip flops

  • Yellow Soloman XR Mission runners

The easiest way to pair down your wardrobe, especially for travel, is to choose a base color.  Your base color should be a neutral that all of the other accent pieces match.  By choosing one neutral color you automatically eliminate the need for multiple pairs of shoes or bags to match.  No more needing to pack a pair of brown and black shoes along with a brown and black purse to match!  You can literally cut your suitcase in half just by choosing a base color.  For my week-long wardrobe, I chose back as my base color.  Black is great for traveling because it doesn’t show dirt or wrinkles as badly as browns, tans, or even navy.  Black is classic and tends to unintentially lean towards the more professional and put together side.  I knew that by choosing black, all of my other accent pieces would match, giving my finished wardrobe a more cohesive look. 

The next thing to focus on is individual pieces that make up a whole.  What that means is to step back and stop thinking about your wardrobe in the terms of “outfits” and more in the way of “items” that can be mixed and matched.  We are trained, when we pack for a trip, to look at our entire wardrobe and pick out specific outfits that we feel great in.  The problem that we run into is then packing too many items that we wear only once, as that specific outfit.  Instead, look at your wardrobe, choose your base color, and then choose specific articles of clothing you feel great in.  Maybe it is that pair of jeans that always makes you feel sexy, or even that lightweight wool sweater that you get complimented on every time you wear.  Those are the “items” you want to pick out.  

Then you need to go through all of those individual items that are your favorites and piece them into a whole wardrobe.  This can be a done a couple of different ways, but the easiest way that I have found is to choose two more accent colors that go well together along with your base color.  Examples are green and orange, yellow and cream, or blue and yellow.  For my wardrobe, I chose bright yellow and light grey.  Now you can eliminate all of the other items you picked out.  This should narrow down your individual “items” significantly.  Lastly, you pick out the staple pieces you will need; pants, skirt, dress, long sleeve top or sweater, short sleeve blouse, tank, shorts, etc.  Now look at the “items” you have left.  Look at them from afar as a an entire wardrobe and you will see that they are cohesive, they are manageable, they are simple yet still your own style.  Voila!  You have your packed wardrobe!

You can always get more technical and look at specific types of fabrics and whether they wick dirt, are wrinkle and/or water resistance, have sun protection, or even have simple washing instructions that you can do in a hotel sink with soap.  I feel as though this is an entirely different blog post that I fully intend to write later as I continue along my minimalism journey in part of my 28 Things to do Before I’m 29.   So don’t worry, I won’t bore you now with that! 

Lastly, keep in mind that ultimately you want to feel like yourself and be comfortable.  Although my wardrobe above is nine items (including shoes), and some may even argue that is too many, I am not here to tell you what your magic number is.  You will ultimately determine that based on where you are going, for how long, and what all you need to be prepared for.  Just know that your number is most likely more than half of what you are typically packing now.  Eliminate the clutter in your suitcase and never pay a checked bag fee again!

Happy packing and light travels!