A capsule travel wardrobe—what to pack for your next trip: less, much less.

Travel wardrobe rail with 3 pants, 3 dresses, 3 tops

Travel wardrobe rail with 3 pants, 3 dresses, 3 jackets—too much!

For twenty-eight days away
two long plane flights
lots of writing
and one or two posh dos
into my little bag I packed
three dresses (nice in the heat)
three pants (one merino for the plane)
three pairs of shoes
three jackets, undies, and three tops.
I only need two of each.

What was I thinking?
I’m seventy-eight
and it’s not too late to learn
the pleasure of wearing the same old thing
day after day after day.
I am fond of that same old thing
and it’s comfortable and clean
so I disremember
the pleasure and the stress
of choosing choosing choosing,
How shall I dress?
What shall I wear today?

Is this maybe perhaps maybe
the way old age should be?

Cat looking forlorn beside a packed suitcase.

Ursula has an opinion. If she took out some clothes she could fit me in that case.

Travel note and photos from Seoul Art Space—Yeonhui, by Rachel McAlpine 

20 thoughts on “A capsule travel wardrobe—what to pack for your next trip: less, much less.

  1. Robyn Haynes says:

    Yes Rachel! You are absolutely right. Age has liberated us from Fashion and her ugly sister Convention. Lack of water taught me the world doesn’t end when we wear the same clothes over and over. Just think – no more decisions on what to wear every day. A quick sniff determines social proximity acceptability. The more days – the greater distance in terms of personal space.

    Have a wonderful time. People will be so distracted by your scintillating personality and will forget they saw you in that outfit yesterday … and the day before … and the one before that. 🙂

    1. I think you’re right about the more days the more personal space: never thought of it that way but you do need time to adjust. But Robyn, it’s hard to be scintillating across a language barrier!

    2. Scintillating is such a great word. I’m going to find a reason to use it today.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        I have it! Scintillating Susannah!

      2. Isn’t that the greatest word. It’s dazzling. :).

  2. Robyn Haynes says:

    Not for you. Energy transcends the language barrier.

  3. When I travel I always have the perfect apparel back home in my closet. Packing is difficult to say the least.

  4. lifecameos says:

    Been there done that ! Took far to much Korea for six months there. Took much less for 12 months in England, managed fine.

  5. First of all, I’m in love with Ursula, a dead ringer for Inky, I kitty I had.

    My two cents on packing…less is more. Think like a stewardess, oops, I mean flight attendant…so hard to be politically correct at 5 a.m., fold neatly and realize, you won’t need as much as you think. Jackie O the fashionista of her time, only packed one blazer, two pair of dark slacks, a few tops, a string of pearls for evening, and well, several pairs of dark glasses but, how much space do they take up, and she was JACKIE after all.

    Here kitty kitty.


    1. Impressive was Jackie. Such discipline. I bet Maria Callas took truckloads on every cruise. (I will pass on your compliments to a madam U. )

      1. I read how unhappy Maria Callas was her whole life, a reason to shop, to try to fill those Swiss cheesy holes, to quote Anne Lamott, that alas, never works.

  6. PS I love how simply you write, me visiting for the first time. Clean and spare is always my goal, not as easy as it looks. Have a safe, happy trip.

  7. It is a dilemma. Your little bag seems so welcoming it is easy to toss in something else. It takes a whole other outlook to wear the same thing every day. We tend to think everyone is looking at us and judging us on our wardrobe, when actually they probably have the same problem with dressing for a long trip.

    1. Ah but I don’t think of others judging me, Kay. I just enjoy variety. It’s probably true that most people do take pains over choosing what to pack for a long trip though, trying to anticipate all contingencies.

  8. I’m a pretty good packer, especially when I don’t need to plan for a lot of temperature changes, but I ALWAYS find that I don’t need everything I brought. I think you did quite well.

    1. Ah, thank you! I should say that out loud: I’m a pretty good packer.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    One of my high school teachers had several of the same dress. She had them made for her by a seamstress(she was a rather sturdy woman) and never had to decide what to wear. I am aiming for a similar approach.

    1. I have a friend who wears only black, white, or grey. But oh what classy clothes!

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I have yet to achieve class, but I have a friend like that too.

  10. I always overpack for trips. It’s something I’m struggling hard to form better habits because I hate heavy, clunky suitcases. Small and light is better; good for you. – Marty