Today is the day! We are off to Europe! I don’t think I have ever been so excited and utterly terrified all at once. After learning and promptly unlearning four years of high school French, I’m anxious that my limited vocabulary won’t get us very far in France. And Italy?
Non parlo italiano.
Yes, I did just look that up on Google Translate.
This is without a doubt the biggest trip of my life. Between booking transportation, hotel and activities, working through a language barrier, wandering the streets with starry eyes, and finding time to sleep at all, it will certainly be overwhelming at times. And to top it all off, I have to worry about looking cute. It is Europe, after all.
I want to enjoy our grand vacation, and not let little things like mismatched clothes, dirty pants, and uncomfortable shoes ruin the mood for one second. So to alleviate a little pressure and (hopefully) look chic over the next couple of weeks, I turned to Pinterest and dove into the world of capsule wardrobes.
Here’s my predicament: most warm-weather capsule packing guides feature shorts, tanks, sandals, and button downs for layering. I wouldn’t call myself fat, but there are certain parts of my body that I prefer to keep covered. Dress for your body type and all that. I wear athletic shorts under skirts to keep my thighs from rubbing (the dreaded “chub rub”), and I don’t like to show my armpits if I can help it. And button-down tops? It’s difficult to find one that fits well and doesn’t gape open at my chest. Aside from my normal wardrobe of cardigan, jeans and flats, I wasn’t sure what else I could bring to Europe that would help me to feel and look cool, while still staying comfortable.
I wound up adapting tips from several articles over at Travel Fashion Girl. My favorites are The Classic Summer Packing List and “Sick And Tired of Wearing Dull All Black Outfits when Traveling? Read This.” If you’re like me and want to look good while on the road, I highly recommend checking out her posts
I liked these packing tips because, to quote Pirates of the Caribbean, they’re “more what you call guidelines than actual rules.” It was easy to sub out items like shorts and slouchy pants for figure-flattering skirts and dark jeans, and arm-baring tanks for simple patterned tops. So I finally went for it, and what we have now is my first ever travel capsule wardrobe.
Inspired by a post on dressing up basic black pieces, I started my wardrobe with a few dark basics. Black jeans, skirt, dressy top and a cardigan came first, followed by two pairs of dark blue jeans and a white skirt.
To add a pop of color, I also threw in a much-loved yellow skirt. When choosing bottoms, I picked simple, flattering shapes and solid colors, making it easier to pair them with any top. The dark pants are effortlessly elegant and slimming, while the A-line skirts disguise any belly pudge. Not pictured are the black athletic shorts I wear under the skirts, which help to prevent chafage, and the nude slip that provides coverage under the lighter, sheerer skirts.
Since the bottoms are so simple both in shape and in color, I played around with color and pattern when selecting tops. Every shirt has white or black in the pattern, which makes it easy to mix and match. And even though this capsule recipe doesn’t call for any extra cardigans, I couldn’t resist adding some of my favorites.
Temperatures during our trip are expected to jump from the 50s up to the 70s on any given day, so I have no doubt the cardigans will come in handy on chilly mornings and late nights in the city. The pink and mint cardigans might not go with everything, but they fit well and diversify an otherwise simple wardrobe. Case in point: I even brought a couple of arm-baring tops, knowing I could slip into a cardigan and go about my day.
I couldn’t resist tossing in one cute dress. I suspect this is the one item I won’t need, but really. I can’t resist the idea of strolling around Rome in my purple dress, gelato in hand, off to explore the city with my future husband.
Now for accessories! This is the fun part. I added one black ribbon belt, which can be used to cinch my looser tops and create more of an hourglass shape, and a reversible red and black belt picked up during my recent trip to Washington. I brought only my favorite jewelry pieces, including a necklace from my last trip to France. Nothing expensive, though! I don’t need anything valuable left behind at the hotel, or worse, stolen.
I don’t think it will be chilly enough to warrant a scarf, but they take up so little space in a suitcase, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry! I brought my favorite red floral scarf, which pairs well with several of my shirts, and a multi-colored green one that reminds me of Monet’s lilies. The variety of color in both scarves makes it easier to match; for example, the green scarf has pale yellow accents that almost perfectly match the yellow skirt.
Of course, I brought several pairs of undies and bras, as well as a nude slip to wear under my lighter skirts. I also picked up some no-show socks with extra padding in the heel, and tossed in a couple thicker pairs to protect against blisters if needed. And while we’re talking basics, I also packed several hair elastics. I usually wear my hair down, but I’d like to be prepared in case of rain (that drowned cat look, though) or warmer weather.
Footwear was especially challenging in this case. I’m a flats-only kind of girl, so I really didn’t know what to do for this trip. Any kind of athletic shoe looks woefully bulky and out-of-place on my feet, and I couldn’t walk around in my $20, zero support flats for two weeks without regretting it. (Our whirlwind tour of Paris in 2014 proved that I could barely last two days in my flimsy shoes.) I worried about footwear for months leading up to this trip, only to buy and frantically attempt to break in three new pairs within a month of our departure date. Oy. We will see how this goes.
I packed one pair of nude flats with extra cushioning in the heel and a well-padded pair of walking flats. I also picked up a pair of black Skechers walking shoes two weeks before our trip. They may not look like much, but wearing them is literally like walking on clouds. I whined that they look like shoes a surgeon would wear when standing on their feet for hours, then realized that’s exactly the kind of footwear needed for a two-week trip to Europe. At least my feet will be happy! I initially planned on bringing one pair of gel inserts, just in case, but all three of my chosen shoes are a perfect fit, and I think the gel layer would just make them feel small and uncomfortable. I will probably spend most of my time in the walking shoes, and save the flats for shorter trips and dinner dates.
Or, you know, sunset picnics and wine in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, just waiting for it to light up the night. My heart beats a little faster just thinking about it. I’m a sucker for Paris, and when I remember we’ll have a few days in the country with my grandparents, and a few more to explore Rome as well, I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. Cliché? Maybe so. But can you blame a girl? Paris alone is wonderful enough, and to visit with my boyfriend (who I’ve prematurely taken to calling my fiancé) is a literal dream come true. All that’s left now is to settle in and enjoy the ride. Thanks to my first ever capsule wardrobe, dressing well should be a breeze, and I can focus on the important things in life: like how many macarons I can eat in five days. Thank goodness I brought stretchy skirts.
I’ll see you all very soon! In the meantime, check out my Instagram for all the gorgeous cathedrals, spring blooms, and delicately beautiful pastries you can handle.