Holiday Capsule Wardrobe- What to Pack for a European City Break

Saturday 16 April 2016

So, 7 nights in a European city. A mix of travelling, sightseeing, dining out and walking. Plus a very active 6 month old that is still breastfeeding some! What can you pack to cover all of that?

In Part One, I shared my top tricks for packing light, so here I'm going to show you what I actually packed and how I built my hard working holiday capsule wardrobe.

The aim is that everything goes with everything else, so I stuck to three key rules to help me whittle down my stuff:

  • Pick a colour palette that includes at least one neutral. Mine was black, white, navy and tan. I do have one item that breaks the rule though..
  • Pack a multi-tasking hero piece. Mine is the fabulous Circle Scarf from American Apparel. It ramps up my outfit possibilities by three times!
  • Do the clothing countdown by using the 5,4,3,2,1 packing rule. That’s 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 dresses and shoes, 2 bags, and 1 hat/sunglasses/jacket.

Here's my holiday capsule:


The long sleeved tee

Breton stripe long sleeved tee - Boden

The monochrome mixers

Black drape cami - Topshop
Cream silk floaty cami - Topshop

The basic tops

White drape tee - Zara
Grey boyfriend tee - Topshop

Floaty camisoles in monochrome colours are fantastic staples to pack, and Topshop is definitely the place to look for inexpensive and on-trend basics. They can be layered over dresses or paired with shorts. I also take a soft grey boyfriend tee to dress things down and wear a draped white tee as part of my travelling outfit. My last top is a classic long sleeved Breton for chillier days.


The city shorts

White high waisted shorts - French Connection

The leather skirt

Black leather pencil skirt- Oasis

The luxe casual trouser

Grey silk joggers - French Connection

The blue jeans

Black stretch cotton jeans - Topshop

The weather in Italy at Easter is usually pretty mild, but not boiling, so I didn't want to go too summery with what I packed.

White high waisted city shorts can be dressed up with a strappy top or down for a walk round the lakes. I also packed my failsafe black leather pencil skirt. It's one of the cornerstones of my wardrobe, and a ‘power piece’ to me- I feel so confident in this shape.

I've also packed two pairs of long trousers- some light silk joggers - these are ideal as they bridge the gap between smart and casual and are so comfortable. Then a pair of black cotton jeans goes with any of the tops.

I'll also have with me a pair of grey cashmere joggers, these aren't for wearing out but just for relaxing in back at the villa. I call them my ‘comfies’ - sort of like pyjamas, although I  don't wear them in bed.


The Classic LBD

Black floaty swing dress - Zara

The Smart Casual Jersey Midi

Breton stripe jersey midi dress - H&M

The Wild Card

Lime cocoon dress - Whistles

Here, I've gone for three dresses that work for both day and night. An LBD is a must and I prefer a breezy, layered style with a relaxed fit. With flat sandals it's a day to night piece that gives possibilities.

I've also packed a Breton stripe midi from H&M in an easy jersey fabric. This piece can be dressed up with my sandals or even worn with my white canvas trainers quite easily.

Lastly - my one departure from my colour palette!- this lime coloured cocoon shift dress from Whistles. I love the shape and style of this dress, it's so simple and like the others can be dressed up or down. I guess the colour is the one exception to my rule! But because everything else I've packed is neutral, it still works with the other pieces.


The Day-To-Night Sandals

Black studded gladiators - Steve Madden

The Easy Flats

Leopard print loafers - Sole Society

The Casual Option

Navy flip flops - Havaianas

Shoes need to work really hard when you have limited space to pack. They're the bulkiest, heaviest items so the less you can bring the better! I've only chosen to pack two pairs of shoes, one pair of flip-flops and then I'm wearing one pair to the airport, so that does give me another option.

These studded black gladiators are practical and flat for day but dressy enough for evening. The leopard loafers give a closed toe option - and I subscribe to the opinion that leopard is a neutral, so I'm happy to rock it with any different pattern or colour.

The flip flops are for more casual days, trips to the lake and such but they give a comfy daytime option or even something to wear outside on the terrace in the evenings.


The Day Trip Tote

Slate Medium Le Pliage - Longchamp

The All In One

Grey Mini Mac - Rebecca Minkoff

For the bags, these two are complete multi-taskers and a couple of my all time favourites because of that.

This nylon tote is perfect to use for a day tote or a beach bag (there may not be beaches as such, but there are bathing lakes!). It also folds down completely flat which is great for travel. I love it because it's smart enough to carry shopping but casual enough to take anywhere, and the nylon finish is so durable.

The Mini Mac is also multi-use as its a cross body style, great for sightseeing trips, and the chain can be tucked away to use it as a clutch bag for evening. It's a great smaller sized day bag or something for the evenings.


Cream straw panama hat - H&M
Erika sunglasses - Ray-Ban
Brown leather belt - H&M
Swimming costume - Jantzen
Black boucle biker jacket - Great Plains
Dark grey circle scarf - American Apparel
Statement necklace - Zara

Accessories are your pick n mix, where you can add a little flavour to things or really change the feel of them.

I always pack a hat, and this cream straw Panama makes me think of holidays straight away. I've also packed a plain brown leather belt, and the grey circle scarf whose praises I sang about above (the belt works to transform it into other items as well).

I'm just taking one swimming costume. I'm not sure if I'll be swimming or not. We are staying by a lake and I know you can swim in it, but I'm not sure if I'll be going in - I want to have the option though. As it's not a beach holiday, I'm just taking one plain black swimsuit.

A statement necklace adds the wow factor to outfits and ramps things up for evening. It's an easy mood changing piece.

The boucle biker jacket is a heavier layer to keep me warm in the evenings or slip on top of things if it's a colder day.

Taking one pair of sunglasses is also tough, I love to take far too many pairs normally! So I've limited myself to this plain black pair of Ray Ban Erikas.

Of course, I'm also taking underwear, which for me is nursing bras, cotton briefs and thin stretchy cotton vests. I layer these under everything at the moment because they help me feed the baby more discretely. And the final thing is an oversized tshirt, which I will be sleeping in!

So that's my holiday edit. What are your key pieces to take away with you? 


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