Hi. I’m Daisy.
And if you’re new here, you might be wondering what exactly qualifies me to be telling you what you should (and shouldn’t) be packing if you hope to achieve the best, most practical and most versatile capsule wardrobe for your European vacation this summer.
Well, let me fill you in you.
Born and bred in Britain (before the horror of Brexit dawned upon us), I grew up vacationing in Europe; an easy hop across a small pond, by comparison to most other travel destinations.
Spending my childhood near London, it was a mere skip and a jump onto a plane departing from Gatwick, and I’d be touching down in the South of France two hours later; that’s less than half the time it takes me to drive from London to Liverpool.
Fast forward several years to present day 32-year-old me (my secret is out!), and you’ll find me taller, less interested in Pokemon cards, and with an infinitely larger student loan (thank you, vet school).
But perhaps more relevantly, you’ll currently find me travelling around southern Europe in a camper van (for just as long as Brexit regulations will allow me to), and not for the first time!
By camper van, I certainly don’t mean a vehicle of the mammoth machine variety that graces the American highways, with six individual bedrooms, a walk-in wardrobe and built-in juice bar.
I’m taking about this.
…with TWO people in it, one of whom is 6’4 and also competing for wardrobe space!
So, as you can imagine, by European summer wardrobe is minimalist by default.
Further qualifying me (perhaps in nobody’s eyes but mine) is my well-nourished and self-proclaimed fascination with minimalist wardrobes as a concept, in their own right.
It all started with one book; recommended by a friend, and (once eventually started) rapidly devoured: ‘The Curated Closet‘, by Anuschka Rees.
This one little book absolutely changed my life in terms of my relationship with clothes. Over the course of several weeks, I was able to drastically reduce the overall number of items in my closet, whilst simultaneously feeling like I had more things to wear than ever before. And, for the first time in my life, a clear and defined style that was my own.
Even more magic, they were outfits that I actually felt good in, and didn’t dig in to my armpits or groin, itch, chafe or ride up awkwardly whenever I walk up the stairs! Win!
Of course, your curated closet will be different from mine, and your perfect capsule wardrobe for summer travel to Europe will be different from mine, too!
But I’ve kept many of the principles of The Curated Closet in mind when creating the following article, saving you from reading this book if you don’t want to (although you really should; you won’t regret it! The Curated Closet Workbook too is a must-have, and goes hand-in-hand with the base book).
So, here goes: a capsule wardrobe blueprint, based of course on my ample experience of having very few clothes, and plenty to wear ;’)
You can thank me later.
Key Considerations – Planning The Perfect Capsule Wardrobe
1: Don’t skip on checking the weather forecast.
I’m making the assumption with this post that you’re heading to Europe in it’s summer months (June to September), and what’s more, I’m making the key assumption that you’re anticipating hot weather!
Of course, even Norway will frequently offer up days exceeding 25℃ (77℉) in July and August, but really I’m making the assumption that you aren’t going to be facing daytime temperatures much lower than this, and in fact that for the most part it’s going to be in the range of 25-35℃ (77-95℉), and sunny, with very little or no rainfall.
BUT it’s the weather. It’s not an exact science. And sometimes, it does weird things.
In fact, in my experience, the weather tends to wait until I have a holiday, barbecue or day-long outdoor excursion planned, and then does weird things!
So just in case you’ve angered the meteorology gods, check before you go. This will allow you to plan for freak rainstorms, or even the possibility of snow in some of the northern and/or mountainous regions of Europe.
2: Be prepared for the nighttime temperature drop.
Let’s take Morocco as an example. Yes, I’m aware Morocco is in Africa and not in Europe, however I am very stubbornly including it anyway (you can come for me in the comments section if you wish) due to it’s effortless accessibility by ferry from the southern tips of mainland Europe, and that fact that it offers a rich mix of African and European cultural influences.
Anyway – on to my actual point, which is that Morocco can easily surprise you with a nighttime temperature as low as 16℃ (60℉) even in the middle of summer.
Likewise, I’ve experienced nights in mountainous regions or mainland Europe such as the Alps and the Pyrenees where it is very much big-jumper weather in the evenings and overnight, right on the tail of days that were hot enough to skinny-dip in glacial lakes (side note: highly recommend!)
So, whilst it might not instantly cross your mind to be packing a jumper for your summer trip to Europe, I strongly recommend you check the expected nighttime temperature of your destination as well as salivating over the daytime max.
Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck sheltering in your hotel room with the air con off after dark, wondering why you deemed it necessary to pack six individual pairs of espadrilles but not a single fleece.
3: Remain respect of local cultural and religious norms.
As a single example, let’s take one of my favourite European destinations: the thriving city of Istanbul.
Anybody visiting this wonderful destination would be seriously shortsighted not to want to visit the Hagia Sofia. Of course, being an active mosque with a deep significance to many residents, it is polite and advisable to dress appropriately (no shorts or especially revealing clothing, and ideally – if you want to avoid a few indignant stares – wear a headscarf to cover your hair, if you are female).
Aside from this, I have come across many other monuments and tourist attractions that retain a similar religious significance all over Europe, and so it is never a bad idea to keep this in mind if planning to visit such sites.
Item One: the high waisted trouser
Personally, I prefer something loose and flowing; largely this is from a comfort perspective, especially when faced with the scorching daytime heights of Spain, Italy and Southern France. But if you’re more of a skinny jeans kinda gal, then these can work beautifully too.
Just be conscious of the heat, and err towards selecting a light (thin) and “stretchy” denim mix, for preference: think the return of the jegging.
Item Two: the maxi skirt
An absolute essential; versatile enough for daytime city sight-seeing and balmy evenings spent enjoying sunsets and local cuisine atop a roof terrace with a large glass of vino.
Avoid skirts that reach right down to the floor; opt instead for skirts with at least an inch or two of clearance. Trust me, otherwise you’ll be tripping over then all day, getting the hem filthy and/or torn and generally regretting the decision and shooting daggers back through time at packing-back-home you for making such an unwise life choice.
Likewise, skirts that are fixed around the hem can restrict your movement when walking and are best left at home if you are planning to do any amount of walking or touring of attractions on foot.
Top tip: avoid side-slit skirts for daytime wear, unless you enjoy rocking the single-leg tan next time you opt for shorts…but if you have the suitcase space, it never hurts to slip one in for post-sunset use, to instantly level up your evening wear look.
Item three: the comfy shorts
A personal favourite, and frankly what I spend most of my holiday wearing (generally switching out of them only because they eventually desperately need to be washed, if I’m brutally honest).
I’ve learned the hard way that denim shorts don’t usually work; they’re too hot, too restrictive, and they never seem to have a flattering waistline, for me at least.
For me, high waisted tie-top shorts that are otherwise loose fitting on the legs are the way to go. Your idea of the perfect holiday shorts might be entirely different, and that’s ok. But, as with every item on the list, comfort is key, and you should bear in mind the strong likelihood that you’ll spend days exploring on foot.
Pick something you can comfortable walk about it, for your capsule travel wardrobe.
Item four: the mini(ish) dress
The reason I have listed this as ‘mini(ish)’, is that the dress can of course be as mini or not-mini as you are completely comfortable with. If your idea of mini is knee-length, that can definitely be rocked just as successfully!
But I do recommend that you pack at least one dress that is knee length or above, for one key reason: it’s gonna get hot.
And hell, I highly encourage you to wear what makes you feel comfortable and cool in the heat. We all have insecurities of one sort of another with our bodies; it’s the nature of being human. But in my thirties I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to combat such insecurities is to prove them wrong.
Many a time in the past I would put on an outfit that I personally loved and felt comfortable in, only to change out of it into something more restrictive or coverup-y because I’m concerned that a minority of rude or judgemental people might think a certain way about me because of what I’m wearing.
Or that my body might not be that of a supermodel.
But you know what I’ve learned?
The happiest people don’t care.
And nobody is really looking, anyway. Not with more than a passing two seconds of vague judgemental interest, anyway.
If anybody has a problem with the way you are dressing, then that is their problem. Do not make it yours.
Item five: the crop tops
A frankly vital component of any summer travel capsule wardrobe to warmer climes.
As a rule (and according to my grandmother, so therefore effectively law), either one’s legs or one’s bosom may be flaunted at any one moment in time, but never both.
Of course, you don’t have to live by this rule. You do you! But generally, I find that I am most content with how my overall style comes together if I opt for “one or the other”, rather than both.
So, for example, if I am wearing a short skirt or shorts, I tend to opt for something simple on top which nine times out of ten is either tucked in or at least covering my midriff.
And vice versa, if I’ve selected a maxi skirt or high waisted trouser or pair of jeans, I find that this can look great on me when teamed with a crop top, or a lower cut or scooped neckline.
Can we also just take a moment to appreciate the fact that, like me, you probably didn’t realise that the model in the photo above isn’t actually on the phone?
She just pretending.
Sure fooled me!
Item 6: the blouse
A evening wear essential for travel to Europe in summer; especially when the twilight temperature drops.
If you’ve opted for colourful or patterned trousers and maxi skirt, you might find it works best to select a plain blouse in a neutral colour: black, white, grey, nude etc. Likewise, if you picked plain single-colour items with which to clothe your legs, you may want to select a vivid, patterned or printed blouse, for contrast.
Since you’ve already got several short-sleeved items in the bag, it’s sensible to chuck in a longer sleeved blouse, in my opinion. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself overly reliant on your kaftan whenever the climate feels a little cooler.
Wait, did I just spoil the surprise?
Item 7: the open-fronted kaftan
I bloody love a kaftan.
Now, it would be naive of me in this day and age to include any form of kaftan on this list without showing at least some awareness of the fact that there is currently much open debate as to whether or not fashion items such as kaftans and kimonos are a form of cultural appropriation, and therefore impermissible for many people (myself included) to wear.
This blog never intends to offend. But it is my blog, and therefore a space for sharing my personal thoughts and opinions, which frankly I’ve never been shy about. So, these are as follows:
To my mind, it’s not really a kaftan if I’m wearing it, because for me no, it does not hold cultural or historical significance.
On my humble body, it’s just cloth. I’m including it because I’m trying to be anything that I’m not, or steal anybody’s heritage. I’m including it because it offers the perfect lightweight solution to staying a comfortable temperature (not too hot, not too cold) whilst holidaying in Europe.
In this context then, I am using the term kaftan loosely, to describe a longline open-fronted blouse, suitable for warmer climates.
It’s a search term, in effect.
“Open fronted kaftan” is infinitely easier to plug into google than “longline open-fronted blouse”, and will yield far more relevant results for the would-be summer holidayer.
I guess it becomes truly a kaftan when being worn by an individual for whom the term kaftan has a cultural and/or emotional significance.
Anyway, I’d be really interested to hear anybody else’s thoughts and opinions on this subject, and as always I welcome opinions that are different to my own so please feel free to share.
Item 8: the “basic” T-shirts
I highly recommend one white and one black or nude, because these will pair with anything….White and nude are the best choice really, given that black clothes absorb heat whilst white reflects it.
I’ve used the term T-shirt, but you could just as well swap out one of both of these T-shirts for vest tops for your personal capsule wardrobe, if that’s more your cup of chai.
Item 9: the sunglasses
Whether you’re aiming for Terminator vibes, Lolita-style cute-bordering-on-creepy, or Victoria Beckham circa the mid-2000s, sunglasses are an obvious necessity for a capsule wardrobe for summer in Europe.
Perhaps best teamed with a sunhat and oversized hoop earrings, sunglasses can elevate a look as well as preventing sun blindness thereby actually enabling you to see where the f*ck you’re going.
Item 10: the sunhat
Herein lies the most difficult choice perhaps, of the entire packing quest: wide brim, or bucket hat?
Many a woman has lost herself for hours in this exact inquiry; some have never returned.
The timeless chic of the wide brim has been competing recently with a newer contender. Fresh from the realms of kindergarten, we’ve witnessed the evolution of the bucket hat over the past few years into a firm hipster favourite.
Indeed, the bucket hat has become nearly synonymous with wanderlust in the eyes of many.
And so, I will step aside and leave you to decide (but, this being a capsule wardrobe, I here challenge you to select only one of the options):
Do you want your capsule wardrobe hat served classic, or fresh?
Item 11: the all-day sneakers
Here it is…I have officially betrayed my English roots.
Of course, back home we call them trainers, but I’m fairly sure in the States “trainers” are something you wear on your teeth (like an aligner), rather than on your feet.
So – sneakers or trainers, as you wish, but definitely pick something you can comfortably wear for the entire day, whatever shenanigans the hours may throw at you.
I once read that at the end of a good day’s holiday, your feet should be bare, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.
It’s almost perfect, but I have a small adjustment to this statement: your feet should be bare unless it’s because your shoes got too uncomfortable to tolerate.
Function over form with this one please, ladies. Future you will thank you for it.
Item 12: the beach sandals
For me, the real priory here is picking something that won’t give me blisters. You know, the ones right between your big toe and it’ neighbour?
They’re the worst.
If you really wanted to, you could actually swap out the beach sandals on this capsule wardrobe list for a pair of crocs. I won’t judge you.
I mean, I would have judged you a couple years ago, but since my crocs stocks (satisfying little rhyme there) have made me a nice little bit of spending money over the past 2 years, I’ve become firmly converted.
Anyway; pick something that won’t make your feet raw, that you don’t mind getting wet, and that you can easily de-sand. And don’t stress too much about how they look. On the beach, literally nobody cares, and your feet will be bare 90% of the time anyway.
Item 13: the fancy sandals OR wedges OR heels
Here a girl’s priorities really come to light.
For me, it’s the fancy sandals, all the way. Mostly because I am fully incapable of walking in heels, my hobbit feet are too wide for wedges, and I have been known to severely sprain my ankle due to falling out of the passenger seat of a stationary vehicle (yes really).
But if you are somebody who can survive an evening in heels, on indeed possess dainty fairy feet that slip without protest into espadrilles, then by all means go with one of these options instead.
I won’t be (outwardly) jealous.
Item 14: the jewellery
Personally, I tend only to wear earrings (currently many of them!) on a daily basis, and these are incredibly low maintenance since them live permanently in my ears.
In fact, my most beloved and pricey gold helix rings are physically impossible for me to remove without undertaking some rather sketchy activity involving some form of metal cutters, as they have been installed in perpetuity by my piercer back in Liverpool; a conscious decision made due to my ungodly habit of losing everything I love.
Nobody is stealing these without cutting my ears off, and on consideration I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.
If you wish to take more than just earrings on your summer jaunt to Europe, that’s OK…but I would suggest not taking anything that will break your heart (or your bank balance) if you lose it in the ocean, drop it from the top of the Eiffel Tower, snag it on a jet ski and so forth.
Accidents happen…they happen to me, anyway.
Item 15: the swimsuit(s)
Two max, you hear me?
This is a capsule wardrobe, so I’ll repeat that one more time for the basic b*tches at the back (love you all):
I think the best possible optimisation of swimsuit space is to include one “active wear” swimsuit (that you can actually swim in without flashing your boobs and/or butt cheeks), and one “bad ass” swimsuit (for feeling fine whilst lounging).
If you’re only gonna bring one, you’ll have to decide which of the above is more important to you.
Don’t come for me if you choose unwisely and a nip slip results :’)
- High waisted trousers x 1
- Maxi skirt x 1
- Comfy shorts x 1-2 pairs
- Mini or mini(ish) dress x 1
- Crop top x 1-2
- Blouse x 1
- Basic T-shirts x 2
- Kaftan x 1
- Hat (wide brim or bucket) x 1
- All-day sneakers x 1 pair
- Beach sandals x 1 pair
- Fancy sandals or wedges or heels x 1 pair
- Jewellery (minimal and not expensive)
- Swimsuit x 1-2
The Outfit Combinations
Add jewellery and/or hat to any outfit as desired, and don’t forget to slam a swimsuit and towel in your day bag!
- High waisted trouser + crop top + beach sandals
- High waisted trouser + crop top + all-day sneakers
- High waisted trouser + basic T-shirt + beach sandals
- High waisted trouser + basic T-shirt + all-day sneakers
- Maxi skirt + crop top + beach sandals
- Maxi skirt + crop top + all-day sneakers
- Maxi skirt + basic T-shirt + beach sandals
- Maxi skirt + basic T-shirt + all-day sneakers
- Mini(ish) dress + all-day sneakers
- Mini(ish) dress + beach sandals
- Comfy shorts + crop top + beach sandals
- Comfy shorts + crop top + all-day sneakers
- Comfy shorts + basic T-shirt + all-day sneakers
- Comfy shorts + basic T-shirt + beach sandals
Add jewellery to any outfit as desired.
- High waisted trouser + crop top + fancier shoes +/- kaftan
- High waisted trouser + blouse + fancier shoes
- Maxi skirt + blouse + fancier shoes
- Maxi skirt + crop top + fancier shoes +/- kaftan
- Maxi skirt + basic T-shirt (tucked in) + fancier shoes
- High waisted trouser + basic T shirt (tucked in) + fancier shoes
- Mini(ish) dress + fancier shoes +/- kaftan
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