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Whether you’re going to Mexico for a wedding, India for self-discovery or France for self-indulgence, you need a wardrobe that works for you. Travel isn’t just an insular, personal experience – it’s an interpersonal journey where you continuously meet strangers and make first impressions.
The age-old problem with packing for travel is how to cram a cohesive set of outfits into a single bag or suitcase. Many have tried the piecemeal approach, attempting to pack five or six distinctive outfits. But that methodology leaves you with an overstuffed bag, and paints you into a corner look-wise.
A better way to pack is to devise a capsule wardrobe. Instead of thinking in terms of separate outfits, consider free-floating articles of clothing that all work harmoniously, no matter how you mix and match. Here are a few tips for packing a men’s capsule wardrobe.
Mind Your Materials
Travel clothes require two main criteria: appearance and function. You want high performance everyday clothing that looks great, keeps you comfortable on the road and lasts a long time between washes. Perhaps the best material to meet these demands is merino wool.
Merino looks great – check. Its fine-fibred structure is soft and comfortable – check. And, best of all, it’s sweat-wicking, breathable and antibacterial, which means it stays fresh even after a week or more of wear. It’s the natural choice for travel capsule wardrobes, especially for tops, shorts and base layer articles.
Choose Neutral Colours
The goal of a capsule wardrobe is to ensure that all your clothing articles play nicely together. That’s hard to accomplish with bright oranges, bold greens and sultry purples in the mix. Consider surrendering the loud colours for neutral colours like grey and black or muted colours like sesame beige, sage green and dusky blue.
Layer for the Weather
As mentioned, merino wool is your best choice for the base layer. You can also find merino wool articles for your middle layer, like sweatshirts and hoodies. Mix things up with regular wool for an outer layer, or functional articles like a Gore-Tex shell or slick, Nordic PVC rain jacket. Add muted denim jeans or casual chinos to round out your bottoms.
When you travel, you need wardrobes to fit various contexts. You might be lounging on the beach one night, then heading to a fancy restaurant the next. As you select each article for your capsule, ask yourself: will this look good in casual and semi-formal occasions? Baggy articles tend not to fare well in more formal circumstances, whereas stiff clothes don’t fit neatly into informal contexts. Find articles that have a timeless, restrained look that straddles the line between casual and sophisticated.
A Sample Capsule Wardrobe
Using the tips above, here’s a sample capsule wardrobe for men’s travel:
- Two merino wool t-shirts – one grey, one sage green.
- Four pairs of merino boxer briefs – black
- Four pairs of socks – black
- One pair of merino wool shorts – black
- One pair of denim jeans – classic dark blue
- A wool sweater – beige
- A rain jacket – grey
The particulars – like the number of garments and individual colours – are up to you to decide. But the sample above should give you a rough guide for crafting a compelling, cohesive capsule wardrobe that wows when you travel.