Capsule Wardrobe: 2 Weeks in Europe with 1 Carry-on

Our mother/daughter trip to Europe is less than a week away and I’m so excited I can’t sit still! My most recent outlet for my energy (after cleaning the apartment for company this weekend and putting in extra hours at work) was the most fun – packing my bag!

And yes, I mean bag. As in a single carry-on that is actually smaller than the size limits for European carry-on luggage!

We are going to Europe for two weeks, but I wanted to see if I could stick to my self-imposed one bag limit. It helps that we will mostly be staying at apartments booked on Airbnb, and most have a washing machine – if our clothes get too funky after a hot day, we can easily wash them!

So to keep my packing list to a minimum, I went with the capsule wardrobe idea: everything in my bag can be mixed and matched to create many more outfits. I stuck with a basic black theme with neutrals and a few pops of color.

packing list

Blue circles indicate I’ll wear it on the plane, and it won’t have to fit in my bag.

Here’s my packing list:

  • Navy ruffle dress
  • Black capri pants
  • Black skirt
  • Black shorts
  • Casual white and gold medallion tank
  • Navy on cream medallion tank
  • Spotted black and tan blouse
  • Colorful bird shirt
  • Two basic camisoles: black, white
  • Black sweater
  • White sweater
  • Black belt
  • Brown sandals
  • Black and cream patent flats
  • Undergarments
  • Pajamas

1 Dress: I’m only bringing one dress, but I plan to wear it a few times. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and will dry quickly.

3 Bottoms: I’m bringing three bottoms total, one skirt, one pair of shorts, and one pair of capris. They’re all black, so they won’t show dirt, and they all go with the tops I’m bringing.

4 Tops: I’m bringing three tops that can fit a variety of situations. Worn with a skirt, they can be dressed up, but worn with shorts, they are dressy-casual.

2 Camis: These two camisoles take up barely any space, but serve many purposes. I can sleep in one, I can wear them for extra layers under a shirt, and if I wear the black one with the black skirt, it looks like a black dress!

2 Sweaters: Two basic colors will work with all of the outfits. I tend to be on the hot side, so unless we’re in an air conditioned airport or other cold space, I won’t need much to stay warm. I’ll wear one on the plane, so only one has to fit in my bag.

Minimal Accessories: The belt will help define my outfits without taking up much space. For shoes, I’m bringing one pair of flats and one pair of (very!) comfortable sandals. I doubt I’ll need many other shoes than that, since they match all my outfits. As far as jewelry goes, I tend to wear the same bracelets, earrings, etc, every day. Plus I imagine I’ll pick up some fun finds along the way!

Undergarments: Without going into too much detail, I’ll be bringing 5-7 pairs of underwear and a spare bra. Since we can do our laundry periodically, I don’t see a need to bring enough for the full two weeks. I’ll pack one pair of shorts and wear a camisole as pajamas, since they take up minimal room.

Other: While the weather is looking great for our visit, I’ll also wear a khaki jacket on the plane. Who knows if it will get unexpectedly chilly? I might stash an umbrella in my mom’s checked bag just in case.


So with less than a dozen pieces of clothing, I can make a different outfit everyday for the full two weeks we’ll be in Europe! And best of all, it all fits in one tiny bag!

Have you done a capsule wardrobe for your travels? Leave me a link in the comment section below and let me know how it worked for you!

Categories: Europe, Fashion, Luggage, Planning

Tags: , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Jen’s mom on the other hand is having trouble with this less is more concept. I always want to add just one more! I can hear her reproaching me now. :- )

  2. A capsule is the ONLY way to go! I do it a little differently – I prefer pants that roll up into capris, and I also like skorts as a culturally superior replacement for shorts (Athleta Whatever Skorts are awesome). I prefer at least one “cold weather” top – either a button down shirt with roll up sleeves, or a 3/4 sleeve scoop neck t. I like to bring a fine weave silk long john top and a pair of leggings in case the weather turns foul. I also bring a very light rain jacket.

    • Thanks for stopping by – I definitely got a good deal of inspiration from your blog!

      Good thinking – you could definitely get more uses out of pants that double as capris, but one of the things I didn’t want to do was buy an entirely new wardrobe for this trip – I tried to make do with what I had! If I were more like my mom, I would probably bring a cold weather top as well – but I tend to be on the warm side and can tolerate chilly weather fairly well. I think between a shirt, sweater, and jacket I’ll stay warm enough for the most part.


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