Winter travel can be magical, AND it is extremely important to know how to pack a winter capsule wardrobe. It’s cold out and you want to be cute and comfortable! If you’re like us, you’ve been waiting all year to finally break out those chunky sweaters again!
Packing light in the winter can feel more challenging than in the summer because of the naturally bulky clothing. At She Packs Lite, I firmly believe that you can pack light for any upcoming trip that’s on your horizon. Keep reading for inspiration. We have a sample winter capsule wardrobe for travel, plus pieces we think are essential to any winter capsule wardrobe.
Before your read on, here are some additional resources on ShePacksLite that you may find useful for your winter travel:
A 54321 Winter Capsule Wardrobe for Travel
Winter Travel Capsule Breakdown: The Individual Pieces
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5 Tops and Base Layers
The “5” in 5-4-3-2-1 is for 5 Tops. The tops I chose for my winter capsule wardrobe are from past seasons, so not available anymore. For your inspiration, here are some products that are similar.
Tops in This Winter Capsule Wardrobe
White Long Sleeve Top
A classic white long sleeve top is one of the essential items you should always have in your winter capsule wardrobe. A simple long-sleeve top is a great base layer and can be switched up depending on your outfit or the weather. They work with a variety of different outfits and styles so you don’t have to worry about them being too “last season.”
Striped Long-sleeved Shirt
I love the look of a striped tee. It layers well under almost anything so works as a base layer for a number of outfits in your capsule. You can wear under the button downs, sweaters, or even on its own for a classic look.
Long-Sleeved Solid / Waffle-knit Shirt
A long-sleeved waffle-knit shirt is another good base layer to include in your winter wardrobe. These are great for layering under larger winter coats and give you that great casual look when you don’t want to put too much effort into your daily outfits.
Basic Base Layers
Some other basic items that you should have in your seasonal wardrobe are some good tank tops and bra tops. You might not think of tank tops when you think of winter, but they are a great way to keep some of the cold out when you’re layering them underneath a chunky sweater that isn’t the best at stopping airflow. A knit bra top or tank top will help keep you warm without causing you to overheat when you head back inside.
Button Down Chambray Shirt
I bring a chambray shirt on almost every trip. They are great for layering or wearing alone. In the case of winter travel, you can put any of your base layers underneath. Or, you can wear it under a big chunky sweater with the collar peaking out.
4 Bottoms (3 Pants and 1 Dress)
After the 5 tops, I choose 4 bottoms, and for this wardrobe the bottoms include pants and one winter dress. 4 Bottoms are listed below. If they do not resonate with your personal style or the type of your trip, I have included some other bottoms you could swap in.
Bottoms in this Winter Capsule Wardrobe
Fleece Lined Leggings
I bring a pair of fleece-lined leggings instead of tights. Tou can wear them as tights under your winter dress. When you wear them with your boots, no one will know! You can also wear them as the base of an outfit with a slim profile and stay warm because of the fleece lining.
Boyfriend jeans are another classic pants option that will work great in your winter capsule wardrobe. You can pair these with different layers and top options, as well as different shoes. It’s just a good idea to make sure that your jeans don’t have rips in them because they definitely won’t keep you warm if the cold air can blow right through them.
Wide-leg pants are having a comeback moment right now and there are a lot of different ways you can style them, both in the summer and the winter. If skinny jeans have never been your thing, some looser-fitting wide-leg jeans may be just what you’re looking for.
Having a winter dress in your arsenal is a great option when you want to dress it up a little but still stay warm. If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking in cold weather, you might want to opt for a pair of jeans to keep the warmth in, but on days when you need to look a little more formal, a winter dress paired with some tights will get the job done.
Alternative Pants for your Winter Travel Capsule
Blue or Black skinny jeans
A basic pair of blue or black skinny jeans work great in the winter season because they pair well with almost everything and they’ll still be in fashion next season. A great go-to outfit that requires very little effort is a pair of black skinny jeans, an oversized sweater, and a pair of classic black boots.
Wool trousers are a great way to give yourself a little bit of extra warmth in the winter while still keeping it stylish. Wool pants often come in some fun and interesting prints, so they can be an easy way to spice up an outfit without having to add too many accessories.
Cropped Blue Jeans
Since you’re more likely to wear boots in the winter, cropped jeans work great so you don’t have to roll up your regular-length jeans too many times. Cropped blue jeans with a smart pair of Chelsea boots is a very stylish outfit that will make you fit right in among European locals.
So I changed this winter capsule wardrobe up a bit here, normally we have 3 dresses. I am not a huge winter dress wearer so I swapped the dresses for additional base layers for layering and additional winter capsule wardrobe options.
Sweaters in the Winter Capsule Wardrobe
Oversized sweaters have definitely become more popular in the last few years. They are great versatile items in your wardrobe because they can be dressed up or down depending on your mood. As the cold weather approaches, make sure you have some cozy sweaters that you can layer with other pieces.
A basic black turtleneck sweater is a great way to create an effortlessly chic look in the colder months. Invest in a basic, well-fitting turtleneck and we guarantee that it will become something you wear on a regular basis. Plus, there’s the added benefit ofextra warmth in your neck which can make a big difference on cold days.
Belted or Long Cardigan
A belted or long cardigan can be a great way to add dimension and layers to any outfit. If you’re going to be outside a lot during your trip, you might want to opt for a heavier winter coat. However, if you just need something that will give you a little extra warmth in a place that isn’t very cold, these are a great option.
At She Packs Lite, we follow the rule of three when it comes to shoes in your travel capsule. And winter is fun because we get to wear BOOTS! As a native Minnesotan, I get excited in the fall because I get to take my boots out. For the sample capsule we chose two pair of boots and a pair of sneakers. Similar to the We like all of these shoe options a lot for a winter wardrobe, but it’s important to choose shoes that work well for what you’re planning on doing during your vacation.
Shoes in this Winter Capsule Wardrobe
Chelsea boots are low-fitting boots that work with all kinds of pant fits. These boots are a classic for any fall or winter wardrobe. Chelsea boots are one of those quality items that match with any outfit, and they’re an easy way to look stylish without a lot of effort.
Knee-high boots are a popular option for footwear in the colder months because you can wear them with a ton of different outfits. Many people like to pair them with a pair of skinny jeans, but you can also use them to keep your legs warm if you decide to dress it up and go with a skirt or winter dress look.
White street sneakers are something that we mention in a lot of our other travel posts and travel capsule guides. You can usually find basic white sneakers for a great price and you’re sure to get great use out of them. These are a great option if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, but if there’s snow in the forecast, you might want to opt for a warmer, waterproof choice of shoes.
Shoes to Swap for your Winter Travel Capsule
Combat boots aren’t for everyone, but if you’re someone who likes to keep your outfits a little funky and functional, a pair of Doc Martens or combat boots are a comfortable way to do so. These boots work great with more form-fitting pants and they’re a good way to protect your feet from the elements.
Again, flats won’t keep your feet very warm or dry, but if you need a statement piece or a cute pair of shoes for dinner, flats are a good go-to. Another great thing about them is that they take up very little space in your bag so you’ll have room for other clothing items that might take up a little more space.
Warm Winter Boots
Having a good, reliable pair of winter boots is essential, not only for traveling but for everyday life if you happen to live somewhere that gets snow regularly in the winter. High-quality boots are usually a bit of an investment, but as the holiday season is approaching, you might be able to add some warm winter boots to your wishlist and be able to use them for years to come.
2 & 1: Various Accessories
When we think about accessories in the wintertime, it’s not all about the fun jewelry and sunglasses that often accompany summer wardrobes. For one, any jewelry that you wear is probably going to get swallowed up by the various layers you have on in a given day. However, there are a few accessories that you should make essential components in your winter wardrobe capsule.
Leather Purse or Backpack
Choosing a good bag is key. In the winter when you may get caught in rain or snow, a suede bag is probably not the best choice. Snow can not only ruin a bag but its contents if it gets too wet. Leather bags are naturally pretty waterproof, so they’ll protect your personal belongings and match with almost any outfit you pair them with.
Infinity Scarf or Wool Scarf
If you live in a cold climate already, you know that a warm scarf is a must for the winter. A nice wool scarf is both functional and stylish and is, therefore, a great addition to any winter wardrobe. Scarves are a great way to accessorize while still keeping warmth in mind, and they can be an easy way to let your personal style shine through bulky coats. I love infinity scarves and usually bring two.
How many times have you gotten your necklaces tangled in a turtleneck before giving up and taking off all of the jewelry you had on? Jewelry can be a great way to accessorize in the warmer months when more of your skin is exposed, but in the winter it can just make things more complicated. Keep your jewelry options to a minimum in the winter and save the bold necklaces for the summer.
Boot toppers are a fun addition to any winter wardrobe. You wear them tucked into the top of your boots and they peak out. You can add a pop of color or an alpine pattern to make any outfit a little more fun.
Beanie and Warm Hat
A beanie or another kind of warm hat is another must-have in a winter wardrobe, especially when you’re traveling. We lose a lot of heat from our heads, so if you’re braving the cold to see some local architecture or historical monuments, you want to make sure that you’re staying warm. A good beanie will keep your head warm and hide a bad hair day if you’re having one.
As you might be able to tell, a lot of our winter wardrobe accessories have to do with function more than style. That’s true; making smart clothing choices in the winter can make the difference between a great trip and a miserable one. If you feel like your outfit needs a little pop of color, pick a colorful pair of gloves that will give your outfit a little something extra.
1 Piece of Outerwear for your Winter Capsule Wardrobe
Finally, you will need a good coat for your winter capsule wardrobe. Depending on your trip and the needs you need to fill for warmth and weather, we recommend one of these staple items for your next trip.
A camel coat is a great choice for a coat in the wintertime, and they often come in a lot of different fits. If you prefer your coats to be a bit longer to help shield you from the harsh wind, you’ll have no problem finding one. A camel coat has a way of making an outfit look instantly put together, so it’s no wonder why they made it on our list.
A wool blazer is another way to make yourself look put together and professional no matter what setting you’re in. A plaid wool blazer not only works amazing when you’re traveling, but you can use it to accessorize when you get home and have to go back to the office.
Heavy Winter Coat
If you need warmth, there’s no other way to go than a heavy winter coat. Something heavy and hooded works great at keeping you warm and comfortable during your travels. And, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside you will want to be warm and cozy.
Trench coats are a classic outerwear choice so if you got one last year, it’ll work this year too. When you pair a trench coat with a well-fitting pair of jeans and some cute boots, you’ll look effortlessly chic. However, they do take up quite a lot of room in bags. If you plan on bringing one on your next trip, we recommend wearing it on the plane to help save space.
FAQ: Winter Capsule Wardrobe
Still have some lingering questions about creating the perfect winter wardrobe capsule? Keep reading to find out how you can pack light no matter what the season is.
Does a capsule wardrobe change every season?
A capsule wardrobe does change every season, especially when your climate changes. Make sure to take the seasons into account when you are creating your travel capsule wardrobe. For example, your summer travel capsule will be very different from your winter travel capsule. The weather and activities you will do on your vacations will be different meaning you need different clothes.
What pieces do you need for a winter capsule wardrobe?
If you use this guide, 27 is a great number! You have a fixed number of clothing items per category to ensure you’re not overpacking. These items serve as a good base. With this base you can switch up items if you plan on taking more than one trip this winter.
Do capsule wardrobes work?
Yes! Every trip I take I plan a capsule wardrobe. I even use them at home. I even plan out an approximately 50 piece capsule each season. It does take a couple of hours at the beginning of each season. That said, the rest of the season getting dressed is a breeze! I only choose quality items that I feel good in, so I feel confident. Getting dressed is easy, and it is fun to find a couple of trendy items each season for a little extra pizazz.