I've just returned from a recent and long awaited trip to Florence with a very good friend, her daughters and my daughters. It was wonderful, I loved exploring the vintage shops and sightseeing with them and even wrote a blog about my favourite vintage shop!
As we were away for five days and had restricted baggage, I spent time thinking about what to pack to make the most of every item I took, and in this blog I'll be sharing my top five tips to get the most outfits out of a small hand baggage sized suitcase.
1. Start with the shoes
You can't build an outfit without the right shoes, and they generally take up the most space in a case, so start with finding shoes that are the most versatile for what you'll be doing and will go with the most outfits. Pack your shoes with the destination, activities and weather in mind. Florence is a sightseeing city and I knew we had plans to take in the sights, shop and eat out. It was pretty hot too, as Italy was in the grip of a heatwave. With this in mind, I picked out a neutral pair of sandals and a pair of converse to wear on the plane.
2. Use colour to your advantage
If you've had the benefit of colour analysis, you'll know how useful it is to have a palette of colours to work from to shape your wardrobe. The palette is designed not only to complement your natural tones, but also to all work together, and never is this more important than in creating what is essentially a holiday capsule wardrobe. We want to make the most outfits from the least clothing, so using a narrow and defined palette is the number one way to achieve that.
When packing I pick three neutral colours and two accent colours to base my holiday capsule wardrobe around, and I want all of these colours to work with my shoes. For this trip, I chose neutrals of brown, cream, and dark green with accents in peach and green. Hopefully you can see how easy it would be to mix and match the items below because the colours all work together:
3. Get the balance right
Often, when planning a capsule wardrobe clients can get stuck because they have too many of one thing (eg trousers). If you prefer separates, go for twice the number of tops to bottoms as a general rule of thumb. So, I'm taking two pairs of trousers in dark green and brown as well as a brown floral skirt and a green skirt. To mix and match I have 8 tops: a brown vest, a green vest, a green and white tee, a peach tee, a brown linen tee, a peach shirt, a brown and white striped shirt, and a cream floral top. Just from this combination of four bottoms and eight different tops, I can make 32 different possible outfit combinations. I have a green wrap as well, so if I include that, it becomes 64 different possible options - more than enough for five days!
If you prefer dresses to separates, that makes it less easy to create different outfits, but simpler in that the dress is a stand alone outfit in itself. With dresses, they only work once (unless you're travelling somewhere cooler and can layer them with jumpers, cardigans or jackets), so you might find you need to pack more. In the above scenario, if I took two bottoms, four tops (so half what I took) and four dresses, I would have only 12 outfit combinations. Even if I double the number of dresses and take 8, that would give me 16 different outfits compared to 64 outfits for the same quantity of clothing but as separates. If you love a dress, then that's the thing to take, but if you can go for separates, you will get more outfit combinations from the same number of items.
4. Make the most of accessories
I added a bag, a sun hat and a couple of necklaces and bracelets to my clothes. I never take anything valuable, just costume pieces that are versatile enough to go with any outfit and it won't matter too much if they get lost or damaged. I also have a silk scarf and a poncho, and these are great pieces to take as they don't take up much room in the case, but are really versatile. The poncho can go over a vest for an evening out, or can be worn as a scarf or rolled up and tied around the head or used as a belt. The silk scarf is big enough that with a few clever knots it can also be worn as a dress or sleeveless wrap. I love these kinds of versatile accessories to add some interest and that can be worn over other things I'm taking. Here's the poncho which is made by my great friend Jo from recycled Sari material:
5. Wear layers on the plane
Once the packing is all laid out, I like to pick out what to wear to travel in. Layers can be helpful in saving case space, but also because if you're flying it can often be chilly on the plane. I picked out the shirt and brown trousers and wore a vest top underneath and the green wrap over the top with green converse shoes. Once we arrived in Florence I could put the wrap away and wear the shirt open over the vest top.
There you have my top five tips for creating the most outfits from a flight case. Obviously you'll also need space in the case for toiletries, but I find decanting items like skincare and shampoo into smaller containers really helps save space.
I hope you've found this blog useful, and if you have any tips you'd like to add, please leave them in the comments below.