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If you’re like me, your Instagram feed is probably blowing up with pictures of tropical destinations and friends or bloggers frolicking on white sand beaches and turquoise oceans. Finding myself immersed in a summer-like trance made me think that traveling is the perfect opportunity to test drive owning less. While traveling only with a carry-on is appealing, a full-size suitcase still limits your wardrobe choices to only what you need, so why not use your traveling circumstance to live with less?

To get you started, here are some of items I always bring on vacation (not necessarily these, but something similar – however, I’m loving the sustainable options below), along with tips on how to style them to get the most out of each piece. It doesn’t take much; a belt here, a scarf there, swap shoes – a whole new outfit is born.

The shirt dress:

 

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photo c/o: hm.com

I NEVER leave for a warm weather vacation without a shirt-dress. Like, EVER. If there is one piece of clothing that you wear on the plane in case of lost luggage, it should be a shirt dress. This neutral print number from H&M is great because it will work with any colour scheme, but the best part is that it works with both a dressy sandal and sneaker. Wear it open and unbuttoned over shorts, over jeans, over trousers, with a sweet cami underneath (bring about three camis so you can repeat this). Then wear this same combo with only the top button done up at the collar – it’s a totally different vibe. Throw it over your swimsuit for a cover up. Wear it closed over jeans or pants if cooler, then belt it and roll up the sleeves for a different look. Wear it as a dress – belted and then not. I hated permutations in math, but I feel like I just listed about 1,685,934 different combinations. Switching out shoes, adding a hat or scarf creates an entirely different ensemble as well.

A day/night dress:

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photo c/o: Zady.com

In real life (ie; when I’m not on vacation), I hardly ever wear dresses. But on vacation, a hard working dress like this Zady number means I don’t have to stress about whether i’m chic enough for a certain venue. Clearly this dress passes any sartorial test because of its simple, minimalist yet feminine design. (It also means you don’t have to worry about being rejected from churches or religious sites because of the below-the-knee hemline and long sleeves – bonus!) Wear it with sneakers and a backpack for day, then swap it with a sandal and cross-body for night. It looks great paired with a denim jacket or scarf but truly stands on its own.

Sneakers

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Never underestimate the power of a comfortable shoe when traveling. Lucky for us, the athletic trend is still going strong so we can explore limitless landscapes in stylish footwear. These Veja sneakers are made with Tilapia – yes, you heard correctly, and wild rubber. The simple yet rich design wears well with a dress as well as denim cutoffs. I always travel with a covered shoe/sneaker vs. a sandal, even in warmer climes, because I’ve never loved the feeling of having my feet exposed to city dirt, and I like to know that if I randomly have to climb some rocks, or countless steps (you never know what you’ll run into on adventures!), I don’t want to be limited by my footwear. If your vacation is strictly beach; then opt for a sandal.

A solid heel: 

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The only heel I’ll bring on vacation is one I know i’ll be able to wander for hours in, in case there are some interesting side streets or evening adventures ahead. These Coclico sandals are expertly hand-crafted and can stand plenty of pavement-pounding. I have a pair of their cut-out wedges (approx 4 years old) and can say from experience that the elegant, simple design combined with quality and comfort make these shoes a staple in any wardrobe – the dark neutral tone and chunkier heel adds an edge when worn with a dress, or a pair of light pants.

A silk scarf:

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photo c/o roundplussquare.com

In order to get the most out of your travel capsule wardrobe, the basics should be neutrals, but this fun silk scarf is where the colour boost comes in. Wear it tied tight around your neck a la neckerchief or choker, wear it loosely tied around our neck, as a bracelet, anklet, as a headband or tied onto your purse or backpack for extra flair. The message behind this Round + Square bandana is great too.

Denim shorts: 

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photo c/o: etsy.com

Denim shorts are a summer classic, and since I’m always cold (even in hot weather), I like the texture and traditional look of a great denim cutoff. Wear them with your shirt dress (the long over short silhouette is a great proportion play), simple tee or cami. Sneakers go best, but they would also look killer with a chunky heeled sandal and the shirt dress on top.

A basic tee: 

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photo c/o: hm.com

A basic tee is so …. basic. But when traveling, it’s a great staple – wear it with shorts and sneakers, add a silk bandana and trouser to dress it up, and don’t forget to tie it at the waist or make a tiny sleeve roll once you’re tired of wearing it like a normal tee. Like the cami, bring about two or three neutral colours to swap between. The options are always endless, it just takes some very minor tweaks to make a basic feel new again.

A cami (actually, two or three): 

 

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photo c/o: hm.com

Because camis take up almost no space at all, you can afford to bring three of your faves; I always recommend neutral colours so they work with everything. They’re great layering pieces – under the shirt dress with shorts or pants, under a denim jacket with silk trousers, or best worn on their own.

A fun cross body:

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photo c/o everlane.com 

I’m not one for purses – in real or vacation life. But a pretty cross body makes you feel grown-up and lady-like when you’ve been living out of a suitcase, and comes in handy when you want to be hands free. It’s also a fun way to add colour and spice up your neutral travel wardrobe.

A gorgeous backpack:

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photo c/o jmbcanada.com

Ok so right now, this doesn’t look like a backpack, but that’s because it’s both purse AND backpack. Which, when traveling (and in daily life, I haven’t stopped using it since I bought it two years ago) comes in SO handy. I swear, this bag is a fucking miracle when you need to be functional and fashionable and worth EVERY penny. As both purse and backpack, it fits my laptop, ipad, DSLR, travel docs and extra underwear when i’m on the plane. I swear. It’s bananas. Because of the rich quality of leather and slightly edgy hardware, it looks just as good draped over a silk dress, shirt dress, or hanging out with cutoffs and a tee. Best part? It’s made in Canada.

Chic trousers: 

 

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photo c/o: Zady.com

Ok, so officially these are joggers, but with the high quality cotton and modal blend, they pass as trousers on vacation, because it’s 2017 and people wear pyjamas in public. So, you know. I love that you can wear them for day with sneaks, a simple tee, cami, and/or shirt dress (or swap out the shirt dress for a denim jacket if you’re cold), and then throw on a pair of heels and wear all the same combinations for night. Truly, there is no simpler styling trick than swapping out a pair of shoes to elevate a look.

A hat:

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photo c/o: etsy.com

If you don’t want your face to burn off, a hat is key. I prefer a ball cap, but a fedora – like the vintage one I found above on Etsy – makes so much more sense stylistically as it works with everything.

A denim jacket: 

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photo c/o: etsy.com

I mentioned that I’m cold all the time, so I always bring a denim or light jacket with me. A denim jacket is the most versatile though, especially given denim’s ubiquity, it’s totally acceptable to wear it out, on the plane, with dresses, or pretty much anything. I would wear this with the silk joggers, over the shirt dress styled any way, and over the silk dress … it’s another great chameleon that will work with anything.

And that’s it! Add underwear, a bathing suit, your toothbrush and passport, and you’re good to go! Relax, enjoy your vacation and get ready to apply the creative styling juices you developed with your small capsule travel wardrobe at home with the rest of your closet. Maybe it will result in a purge of items you realize you don’t really need … either way, bon voyage and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks as always for reading, xo





Read the comments.


  1. Dominique says:

    Omg. The Zady dress. I’m a sucker for those buttons. And my Levi’s shorts are my FAVES. Great round up!


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