I used to travel a lot for work.  When I was a fashion designer, I would go to London, Paris and Milan twice a year (it sounds way more glamorous than it was) along with a several domestic trips peppered in.  Several years ago, I took to the road and would travel to ten cities a month about four times of year to make television appearances.

Thankfully, I never really needed to focus my packing efforts towards more corporate business attire, but I still needed to consider packing with a capsule mentality in order to be efficient.  Over the years, however, I have packed many clients for more corporate business trips and work with several clients who are constantly on the road.  Today I am giving some tips on how to create a business wardrobe capsule when you are a frequent flyer.

Business Wardrobe Capsule Tips for Frequent Flyers

In addition to some tips, check out a capsule I built and the outfits I created below using the pieces.

#1- Build a dark or black-based capsule

One of my clients who travels 3/4 of the year always hits the road with a black based capsule.  She does this not just because she likes the color but because black hides stains.  You don’t have to stick with black, just be mindful of choosing darker colors as the base neutral for your business wardrobe capsule for travel.  Also, consider always having a Tide Stick in your carry-on.

#2- Choose easy care and wrinkle free

The steam of the shower is a quick and easy way to work out the small wrinkles that often happen after clothing has been packed, especially if you are like me and try to avoid ironing at all costs.  But steam from a shower will only do so much.  Before you pack something new, do the wrinkle test.  Ball up the fabric in your hand and hold it for about five seconds.  If wrinkles form after heating the fabric in your hand it’s probably not a good idea to pack it.

#3- Create a capsule that can be changed up for day to to evening

You don’t want to pack extra clothes, but it’s important to think beyond just the business aspect of the trip.  I have made this mistake a few times where I have nothing to wear casually to dinner after work or don’t have the right shoes to wear.  What are your evening plans?  Will you have any personal time?   You don’t necessarily need to bring a whole new outfit, sometimes just packing a pair of jeans, jewelry or a more casual or dressier pair of shoes can change up what you have packed for the work part of your trip.

A sample capsule

business wardrobe capsule

Here is an example of a sample business wardrobe capsule I put together for travel.  With it, I can easily craft eight different outfits, which is likely more than the average business traveler will need.

You can also swap out pieces.  You will notice I didn’t include a suit.  These days, it seems more more more women are abandoning suits for sharp separate jacket looks.  However, you can easily take away a piece, like the dress or the pants, and swap in a suit or even just add a suit to the mix.  What is important is that the suit works with the rest of the capsule you have set so everything mixes and matches and you can break the suit apart.  In the case above I would add a navy one.

I chose the following pieces for specific reasons.

  • I like the blouse from BOSS Hugo Boss because it’s a style that looks finished without a topper piece but can also be worn under jackets and cardigans.
  • The navy Theory dress was chosen for it’s simplicity.  It can be layered with all the other pieces I packed
  • I selected the tweed BOSS Hugo Boss jacket in lieu of a suit.  Instead of selecting a solid navy blazer, this tweed will more easily work with the other navy pieces in the capsule.
  • The navy pants from Theory are a good basic that work with all the pieces in the capsule.
  • The stain glass Nic + Zoe cardigan, along with the soft blue tank work together and can be styled with the pants.  They can also be broken apart.  The blue tank can be worn under the tweed jacket and the cardigan can also be placed over the dress for a softer look.
  • Next, I thew in a pair of jeans to show how the jeans can be styled with the rest of the capsule to make the pieces more casual for downtime.
  • I chose two pairs of shoes, these basic navy pumps from Louise et Cie and nude flats from Sam Edelman.  In addition to variety, I selected two pairs because, if there is anything I learned from my days traveling in Europe for work, the worst thing you can do is wear the same shoes everyday if you are going to be on your feet.
  • I added three pieces of jewelry, all versatile and basic, this long necklace from Kate Spade, necklace from Bauble Bar and gold orb earrings from J. Crew.  None of these pieces are expensive.  It’s not worth it to travel with precious pieces you might lose.
  • Lastly, the bag.  Wanting to be able to use just one bag, I chose this tote from Smythson.  This bag can also serve as a carry-on tote for the flight.


business wardrobe capsule

These first four looks are all the outfits I put together using the cardigan as the key piece.  With the softer cardigan, these pieces look less corporate.

business wardrobe capsule

Here, using the tweed blazer, I created four more looks.  With the exception of the jeans outfit, the blazer makes the rest of the pieces look more tailored and conservative.
Keep it tight, keep the color palette cohesive, don’t forget your pops and accents, and get more with less from your business wardrobe capsule for business trips.