A few weeks ago, I was working with a client who isn’t a client I have blogged about before, so I am going to give her the name Ms. Elegant.  As you may know, when I blog about clients I give them aliases to protect their identities.  I decided to name this client Ms. Elegant because I find her to have such an understated peaceful way about her that is really quite rare these days. Even her voice has a delicate softness that matches her more demure nature.  However, this is not to say we don’t joke and laugh hard.  She’s funny, pleasant, open and just delightful.  It’s never a bad time when Ms. Elegant and I spend time together.

During our last session she told me about an upcoming ten day trip to Paris she has planned for October and she asked me to help her pack everything she needed in a carry-on.  A carry-on…for ten days.  Okay.  Not shy to a challenge, even after she held up a bag that was quite small, I was happy to help.  Within seconds of starting to lay out clothes on her bed I had her stylish capsule complete.  I did it so fast I looked like one of those rapid-fire Japanese hibachi chefs.

Stylish Capsule

With a few missing pieces left in the capsule, I snapped some quick reference photos for myself.  Originally, these photos were just for me, which is why they are so crude, but, after giving it further thought, I decided this would make an excellent blog post to show how to create a stylish capsule for international travel that fits in one carry on.  Below you will see what I have laid out, all which is very similar to the plan I set for Ms. Elegant.  Even if you aren’t heading to Paris for ten days, this stylish capsule will still give you some great ideas for creating a tight mix-and-match wardrobe.

Stylish Capsule for International Travel that will Fit in a Carry-On

Stylish Capsule in its entirety

Stylish Capsule

Here is everything that this capsule is comprised of.  Don’t worry if you can’t see it all clearly.  Below you will find larger images of all the pieces and why they were chosen.  After that you will see how I created more than enough outfits for Ms. Elegant’s trip.

Coat and Jacket

stylish capsule

Starting with the coat and jacket.  Ms. Elegant will be traveling to Paris in October when a blazer or light coat will be just fine.  Ms. Elegant owns a Burberry trench which seemed perfect to bring.  In addition to this I also suggested a navy blazer, like this one from Theory, for its versatility and ability to be worn as a jacket outdoors.  It’s chic while being quite functional.  Trenches aren’t just for rain, and a classic trench is very Parisian.


Stylish capsule

When creating this stylish capsule with Ms. Elegant, I started with a rust colored v-neck sweater, similar in shape to the gold style from J. Crew above.  Not being able to find the exact color that Ms. Elegant owns, I am using this gold one which will work for illustrative purposes.   The gold works beautifully under the navy blazer and helps further dictate the color direction that this stylish capsule will take.

Next, we grabbed a chambray dress, similar to the one above, that can be worn two ways.  She can wear it as a dress and it also works well over leggings.  With not a lot of formal plans, this is likely as dressed up that Ms. Elegant will need to get.

What my client also likes to do is put a turtleneck sweater under the chambray dress, so I chose this grey turtleneck from Majestic as a layering piece that can also be worn alone and under a blazer too.  The white button down tunic length shirt (similar to the above) was chosen after noticing how many skinny pants we decided to pack (I’ll get to pants next), plus the one Ms. Elegant owns is wrinkle free.  Lastly, I suggested some simple t-shirts in grey and white that can be layered under the blazer or worn alone.  The two above are from Theory.


Stylish Capsule

The first pair of pants to go in the capsule were jeans.  There was no doubt about that.  We chose a skinny pair, similar to this pair from J. Crew.  Next, we chose leggings, like the grey pair above, that she could wear under the chambray dress and with the white tunic shirt.  The last pair we added to the stylish capsule was an stretchy olive skinny pair, similar to the pair pictured above.  The style we packed worked beautifully with the rust sweater in Ms. Elegant’s capsule, just like this olive pair works well with the gold sweater above.  In addition, the white tunic button down looks really chic together with the olive pants.


stylish capsule

If you look closely at the photos of Ms. Elegant’s capsule, you’ll see that there are two scarves photographed.  These two scarves don’t match each other at all.  Concerned, Ms. Elegant asked me if this was okay.  I explained to her that you never wear two scarves at the same time and what’s important is that the two scarves work with the capsule, not each other.

These two scarves above, the one on the left from Pendleton and the one on the right from Bindya, look like they have no business being combined in one stylish capsule.  They couldn’t be more different.  However, as you will see, both scarves work beautifully with all the pieces being packed.  This is what is important.


Stylish Capsule

It’s not necessary to pack a lot of jewelry when traveling.  A few pieces will work just fine if you know what to bring.  Besides, Parisians aren’t really known for overdoing it on the baubles.

Working with the color direction the capsule started to take, I chose these pieces, one long pendant from Nordstrom with a hint of teal that complements the capsule, a shorter gold necklace from Cole Haan that is incredibly universal.  For bracelets I selected a Bourbon and Bowties agate stone bracelet, that also complements the navy and gold of the capsule, and a basic gold link bracelet from Banana Republic.  Lastly, for earrings, I added these Argento Vivo teardrop earrings and, for major versatility, these reversible studs from Stella & Dot.  On one side you can wear basic gold studs and on the other they are navy.  How perfect!  We never got to jewelry when working on Ms. Elegant’s capsule so I hope she is taking note.

Shoes and handbag

Stylish Capsule

These shoes were chosen based on the shoes that Ms. Elegant will be packing in her capsule.  First the booties from Cole Haan.  Perhaps not perfect for miles and miles of walking, but incredibly comfortable and will work well with the colors of the capsule.  Next, these Sam Edelman flats in nude.  While they are comfortable, Ms. Elegant actually owns a pair of Rockport flats that are really, really comfortable.  Unfortunately they are long out of stock and Ms. Elegant’s are pretty beat up.  I suggested the Sam Edelman style as an alternative.  Yet, knowing that they likely won’t be as comfortable as the Rockports she already owns, I also made the suggestion of comfortable loafers or slip in sneakers for long distances.  This pair from UGGs is really comfy and stylish too.

The bag I chose is from TUMI, known for being excellent for travel and really durable.  I picked this convertible style because it can be changed from a tote to a crossbody to a shoulder bag.  What few people would think to do is choose a colorful bag as their single bag for a trip.  However, take a look at the outfits below and see how perfectly it goes with everything.  A small stylish capsule does not have to be boring or lacking in color.

Now the fun part, take a look at the twelve different outfits I put together from this stylish capsule.  More than enough than Ms. Elegant will need.

White Tunic Shirt

Stylish Capsule

Here are three looks using the white tunic shirt.  If Ms. Elegant prefers not to wear a shorter blazer over the shirt, she can swap it out for the trench or just wrap one of the scarves around her if it is mild enough.

V-neck sweater

stylish capsule

Here are three outfits using the gold v-neck.  Not great with the leggings, but it can be styled many different ways with with the jeans and olive pants.

Grey Turtleneck

Stylish Capsule

Under a blazer, with the chambray dress or on its own, there are many ways this basic turtleneck can be styled and accessorized.

Basic t-shirts

Stylish Capsule

Using one, or both, there are a variety of ways these basic layering pieces can be worn.

Chambray Dress

stylish capsule

Ms. Elegant can wear her dress with bare legs and flats, with tights and boots and with leggings.  The key to packing a capsule is variety.

Of course, I could go on, but you get the general idea of how much you can get out of a stylish capsule when you choose the right pieces.  Always think to include one neutral base, one accent color, a bunch of complementing neutrals and accessories that harmonize and pop the pop shade.  I hope this helps you the next time you are packing for a trip or are just looking to get more with less from your wardrobe.  And, thanks to Ms. Elegant for allowing me to share some of our time together with all of you.