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The time has arrived! Start packing for your two-week trip to Europe. Oh, what outfits to take and how can I leave space in my suitcase for souvenirs? Today, I will share with you my capsule wardrobe, filled with various pieces to be comfortable and stylish while sightseeing in Europe. I will share how to pack light, stay stylish, and dress with ease on vacation.

How Many Pieces in a Capsule Wardrobe?

The goal is to ONLY take 15 pieces of clothing! By picking the right pieces, you can mix and match tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, and accessories to create endless travel outfits for whatever adventures you have in store this summer.

The ideal size of a capsule wardrobe depends on the length and nature of your trip. There is no hard, fast rule of how many items to include in your wardrobe, but using the 5-4-3-2-1 Method will help narrow down universal pieces and make coordinating clothes easier while traveling.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

The concept of a capsule wardrobe is a few essential classic items that can be supplemented with seasonal pieces and accented with jewelry.

The benefit of a capsule wardrobe is that you have interchangeable quality clothing pieces, allowing you to create multiple outfits. The second benefit is that you will spend less time stressing over building an outfit and have tons of space in your luggage for souvenirs.

What is the 5-4-3-2-1 Method?

The 5-4-3-2-1 Method is designed to create many outfits out of 15 pieces of clothing. Typically, the plan goes something like this:

  • 5 tops
  • 4 bottoms
  • 3 layers (this is referring to jacket/sweater)
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 dress

I like to play around with the numbers depending on the season and the needs of my travel plans. Although I am using the same concept of the 5-4-3-2-1 Method, I have arranged the layout differently:

  • 5 tops
  • 4 bottoms
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 layers
  • 1 swimsuit

5 Tops

Choose five adaptable tops that go with all the bottom pieces you’re taking with you. Always include a white T-shirt and a white collared dress shirt. The other shirts can vary in sleeve length as long as they can be coordinated with the bottoms to be worn multiple times. I have chosen blue as my base color for all my shirts. All these tops can be worn on a day of sightseeing or the evening for dinner with a jacket.


4 Bottoms

The four bottoms I included are jeans, shorts, and linen/dress pants. Go with complementary fabrics and colors so they can be dressed up for an evening out or during the day while walking the city. I like one of the bottoms to be black jeans or wide-leg pants.

3 Dresses

I love to wear a sundress when traveling in spring and summer. Although these are the easiest to throw on, they limit your mixing and matching options. For these pieces, you’ll want to make sure they suit the color palette of your accessories and offer the flexibility to wear out during the day or evening.


2 Layers

Depending on the season, the type of layers you will need for your capsule wardrobe will differ. Since I am traveling in the summer, I will include a lightweight evening jacket. I don’t need an additional layer so that I will include an extra piece with my swimsuit.


1 Swimsuit w/ Coverup

Again, this is not something you would include in your capsule wardrobe if traveling in the winter. A swimsuit is a must for my summer trip to Portugal, so this is my “1” item in the formula that is perfect for this trip. I will also include a swimsuit coverup as one of the layers.


Although I didn’t calculate shoes in the capsule wardrobe, it is however necessary. Because I am traveling to Portugal, shoes are simple, sneakers! Since I will be doing a lot of walking and it is incredibly hilly, I need a shoe with cushioned soles and ankle support. I am packing two types of sneakers and maybe one pair of sandals.

Shoes can take up a lot of space in your luggage. Try only to include three pairs of shoes.



I believe when traveling, your jewelry should stay simple. Find those timeless pieces that work well with all types of outfits. A long-chained and shorter-chained necklace will provide enough to layer or wear the necklaces separately.

Two pairs of earrings for the day or evening will give you enough versatility to dress up or down. I love bracelets, so one piece that fits all outfits is key.

A scarf that can be used as a wrap or a splash of color to a capsule is a great accessory. I also like to include a hat such as a straw (for summer) or knit (for winter) to give you a different look.

The handbag can also be a way to add design to your outfit. A nice crossbody bag for the day and a small wrist purse for the evening are good options and don’t take up a ton of space in your luggage.

The summer is hot in Portugal, so I am including sunglasses.



For underwear and socks, feel free to throw in as much as you can manage. Don’t forget your shapewear and any undergarment that you feel is needed to make your outfits complete.

Color Tones

Sticking to neutral colors makes it easy to coordinate outfits. I selected blue, white, and black, with a splash of color here and there. You might feel like this may get boring, but you can dress it up with jewelry, scarves, and handbags.


A critical factor in coordinating a capsule wardrobe is your selection of fabrics. Since I am packing for a summer capsule wardrobe, the fabrics are cotton, linen, and lightweight blends. Denim is another great fabric that is great for summer or winter outfits.

There are no fast rules when building a capsule wardrobe. Not only do you have to account for your body shape and personal comfort, but you also must consider the weather and travel plans. The goal is to limit and coordinate the items so you are not overpacking for your vacation.

Know, get busy traveling! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.

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Happy Travels!

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