Due to the nature of my job I am sometimes deployed for up to a month. While I still travel with a carry on bag, I admit that I break my own rules on trips like this. I could absolutely travel with a small capsule wardrobe – I just don’t want to! I take extra clothing and travel heavier just because I want more clothing choices. Extra clothing also means that I’m doing laundry less often, which is nice when I’m working long hours.
I extend my regular capsule by bringing the following items:
- An extra suit coat (If this were a business casual trip I would substitute a structured sweater for a suit coat)
- An extra dress
- Two extra skirts – I already have 5 shirts, so adding in bottoms actually makes more capsule combinations than bringing an extra shirt
- An extra necklace and bracelet
Navy and grey form the base of my business capsule, with a nod to the “color of the year”, emerald. I’ve explained the logic behind my clothing choices below. Some of the selections are sneaky double duty choices. The principles outlined below also work when on casual travel to more formal destinations, such as European cities. I’m still only carrying 14 items of clothing (excluding the raincoat). Not ultra-light, but not excessive either.
The base items of my travel capsule are the 3 piece navy suit and the cobalt suit coat. I have added in white and navy shell tops and a houndstooth check skirt to complete the formal part of my wardrobe. I added in the following items to push my wardrobe capsule into multi-function usefulness:
A cashmere/merino blend cardigan – I’ve selected a cardigan because you can wear it so many ways. Think about wearing it over the shoulders when it is warm, worn open when it is cool, and buttoned up when cold. The wool sweater is also acceptable for outdoors activities, if you ever get a day off!
A white travel shirt – A white button down shirt is standard wear for business trips. This one is a 3/4 sleeve quick drying shirt from Royal Robbins. It has roll-up sleeves for hiking, and a hidden pocket. It also looks great under a suit coat.
Grey travel pants – These pants from REI have a conservative cut and a conservative color. When worn with a pretty top and jacket they are acceptable for business casual. They are quick drying and convert to capris for outdoors activities.
Blue moisture wicking performance t-shirt – This pretty blue shirt does triple duty. Use it for running by combining it with the travel pants (in capri mode) and the running shoes. Pair it with a skirt for a casual dinner out. Wear it under a suit coat at work, or layered over a dress or white shirt (sleeves rolled up).
Black running shoes – The barefoot runners from Merrell are lacking the bright stripes, patterns, and clunky toes that identify most workout shoes. They almost look like Euro-style shoes. They are acceptable for business casual days when worn with a formal top.
Grey rain shell – The belted trench coat from Marmot has taped seams and is actually an outdoors jacket dressed up for the city. This jacket rolls up into a daypack for hiking, but the color makes it acceptable for work.
Grey Sleeveless shift – Grey is a softer color than black, yet still has a formal look about it. The neckline is slightly scooped, which allows me to wear a shirt under the dress for another look. The sleeveless nature of the dress means that I can wear the tops over it too, for more looks.
Patterned dress – I like this dress because it has so many colors in it, but the pattern is tiny. I can still get away with wearing this with a sweater or jacket for a business casual look. Like the shift, it is sleeveless. This means that I can wear other shirts over or under the dress for more looks.
Dressy ballet flats – The patent leather on these ballet shoes adds a level of formality that regular ballet flats don’t have. These shoes go well with skirts or pants, while allowing me comfort all day long.
Breton strip T-shirt – The striped shirt is a classic. It works casually, but also works fine under a suit coat or sweater.
Adding in a few muti-use pieces really expands the power of the capsule. I take extra time planning out my wardrobe, but I have plenty to wear when I get to my destination. My clothing choices work for business or play. How about you? What do you take on long-term travel?