WIW - dress rehearsal for my trip (long)

I am so excited - we are going on vacation in Portugal in 25 days - I can hardly wait. We have the simple things figured out already - like plane tickets, accommodations, sightseeing planing - but now it is time to address the hardest part - travel wardrobe!
So I have been agonizing over my travel wardrobe for a couple of weeks now and this is why:
- we will be away for 17 days including flights;
- it is early March so weather can be unpredictable - from dry and warm to cold and rainy;
- I need to be able to fit everything into carry on bag!
The last point really makes it hard but it is a necessity for me - mainly because we will be moving all this time, staying in one place for a couple of days and then moving again. The least I want is to lag a huge suitcase with me all the time. Add to the mix the local flavor - hilly walled medieval towns where you cannot even drive sometimes, old houses with steep stairs and no elevators, using trains and buses for moving around...small carry on is the way to go!
I definitely will be able to do laundry after the first 5 days but not sure I can do it for the next 10 days so I need to plan for at least 10 days of wear.
After a week of agonizing I decided to play a challenge with myself: I selected the things I planned on taking with me and decided to wear them for 2 weeks for work and weekends to road test. This was week one and this is what I learned:
1. I started with footwear because it will define the rest of my travel capsule. I need footwear I can walk in for 16 hours - cobblestones, uphill and all. - so it calls for my most comfortable shoes or boots. I have 3 contenders:
- tall black Blondo boots;
- brown combat boots;
- grey flat oxfords
I am taking 2 pairs only due to the luggage limit so I think it should be either tall boots and oxfords or combat boots and oxfords. I am leaning towards the combat boots because tall boots feel more limiting in bottoms selection: it is either skirts or skinnies.
So this is my first 5 days of rehearsal. I decided on 3 bottoms - skinny jeans, BF jeans and taupe slouchy trousers.
#1 felt OK. I am not sure about practicality of white sweater though but I hope I can wear it twice in the first 5 days and then wash it and wear 2 more times at least.
#2 I felt good about this one too except I am not sure if oxfords look OK with the trousers - they are close in color but not the same. What do you think? (python booties were really worn to work but they are not an option for the trip, they are no 16h shoes for me)

#3 This was a disaster. This Gap striped tee stretches like crazy and I don't feel good in it Also this jacket while comfortable knit has this ruched short sleeves which are a pain to layer under a trench or to layer over long sleeve tops. However I am thinking that BF jeans and boots may work.

#4 I thought to take my 2 BR non-iron shirts with me but I am hesitating now. They feel too short to me, especially with skinnies, I was pulling it down all day. I think I would need an alternative to shirts for this trip. I may still take this BF cardigan though...

#5 This felt OK but again this t-neck feels too short for skinnies. Is it?

I am limiting myself to 15 pieces of clothing - not counting underwear, socks, trench and scarves. So far the following verdict out of my experiment:
- I am definitely taking t-necks, maybe more than 2 if I won't take the shirts;
- leather jacket is coming with me, it makes me feel good :-)
- if you approve these oxfords with the taupe slouchy trousers then the trousers are coming with me
- animal print blouse and white sweater are big contenders, they both layer well.
- undecided on skinnies, BF cardigan, and grey jacket
- definitely NO to striped grey tee and this button down shirt.
- not sure how combat boots look with tucked in skinnies and BF jeans - thoughts?

I am going to continue my experiment next week as well: I think it is really helpful to get the sense of outfits I want to wear in advance and living the whole day in them. The only danger if I get sick and tired of these clothes before I actually go on a trip! :-)

Wow, that was a novel! If you are still with me thank you for the effort to read it!
I would appreciate any suggestions and advice you may give me - after all you may know my closet almost as well as I do by now :-)

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    LOVE #1. I also think the slouchy pants are fine with the oxfords. The leather jacket is beautiful, and you can wear it on the plane, for sure. Do you have any sleeveless black tops? I think this might make a good layering piece for warmer days, and you might be able to layer under it --- like a vest.

    I'm envious of your trip. I want to escape Illinois!

  • rae replied 5 years ago

    Definitely take the oxfords and combat boots! The combat boots look really good with the BF jeans IMO - very fresh, I think. I like the oxfords with the trousers, too. I do not think the yellow sweater is too short for skinnies, at least from the picture. Does it ride up? I love #1!

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    I think #1 $ #5 are great looks to build around. You will get more wears from darker pants or jeans than lighter ones & I agree with rae about the boots.

  • Mirp replied 5 years ago

    I agree with everyone else -- the combat boots are great; the oxfords look fine with the pants.

    I am in awe of your pre planned packing -- I may try it one day so I can travel light.

  • Jjsloane replied 5 years ago

    I love 1 and 5 - wouldn't change a thing. You look put together and chic. Good footwear choices. I agree don't take anything you'd need to iron. I admire your planning stamina!

  • Mona replied 5 years ago

    The oxfords definitely work with slouchy pants and the combat boots look great with BF jeans. From here on, I am sure you can experiment with lots of different tops. Why are hesitant about the BF cardigan? I quite like it with the button down. If the button down is too short, can you try with some other top?
    Also, I just pinned your first outfit. It is great.

  • moira replied 5 years ago

    Giving the wardrobe a test drive is absolutely brilliant!
    Since a lot of touring in Portugal involves churches and religious sites, you probably should have non jean options. I really like the oxfords with the trousers and that will be "formal" enough to be respectful.

  • Elizabeth P replied 5 years ago

    I think everything you've picked looks great, so the comfortable/happiness factor is something only you can decide, if you want to swap things out. I'm impressed, when I travel I end up with everything black!

    Agree with everyone on the boots and shoes. Have a great trip!

  • replied 5 years ago

    I love 1 and 5 in particular! I admire the planning you put into your travel wardrobes!

  • Diane G replied 5 years ago

    Definitely take the oxfords and combat boots. Love these looks you've put together. I agree with Mona , if you think the shirt is a little short ( maybe only a little to my eye) could you pair it with something else?
    Well done on some fabulous planning.

  • Emily replied 5 years ago

    #1 is my fave as well. I like the oxfords and combat boots, I think they work in the outfits you picked. I don't like them quite as much as the python booties in #2, but they still look good.

    I will be interested to see what you ultimately end up taking, your disciplined approach to packing is very impressive!

  • Kim replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, I found this link for packing a carry on pretty useful. Perhaps it will help you too. I may use it when I go to Europe in the fall...HA! Who am I kidding?? LOL


  • Elizabeth P replied 5 years ago

    Oh! I have a link too...

  • clearlyclaire replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, you are a brilliant strategist! I love the first outfit! I have that BR striped sweater in navy and it is definitely coming on my next trip. Only the BEST wardrobe items get to come along and that one rates because it doesn't stretch out of shape and can be washed out in the sink. And it can be layered over and under. The BB shirt does look a bit short. Good thing you gave the outfit a trial run. I think knits and T-necks that are proven (and don't stretch out) are a great idea. Do you have any rayon blouses/tunics that can be drip-dried? Your footwear and bottoms all look great to me; I love the leather jacket. You did such a great job packing for Paris that I know you'll end up with another brilliant travel capsule. Keep us posted! :)

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    I'm the last person to ask about packing for a 17 day trip in one carry on because I do NOT like to travel light. I must have options - and clean options. Sorry that I am of no help here.

    BUT!! That said, I think you look spectacular in all these outfits and you'll look fab no matter what you bring along, Sveta :). Please remember not to skimp on shoes. If your feet are unhappy - your trip is shot. Bring ALL the shoes you need. And check the weather till the last minute.

    I'm so excited about your trip!!

  • Kyle replied 5 years ago

    Wear what is comfortable and makes you feel fab, Sveta. Agree that 1 and 5 are amazing. Your ability to mix and match means you will be traveling in style. You have the ability to make an outfit fresh just by adding a scarf or changing a top. The oxfords work and if they are 16-hour shoes you should take them. I vote for T-necks over button downs. And, definitely layering is the way to go. I think you have this well in hand. Enjoy your trip.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, how wonderful. Portugal in springtime is beautiful, I hear -- I have never been there but a friend of mine has gone at that time of year and loved it.

    You are so smart to dress-rehearse this capsule!! I am taking notes for my own trip in March. I also have some thoughts based on my earlier travels this year.

    Now, to the outfits. #1 looks fantastic. I love the sweater with this top -- quite fun and unexpected. As to wearing white -- I'm unsure. I brought along my Lands End off-white sailor top/sweater to China and wore it ... CONSTANTLY. And I mean constantly! It was my very best friend! I only had one opportunity to do laundry. And it held up just fine. But it's a different kind of fabric than the BR sweater you are wearing. I own that sweater in blue. And the BR sweater feels softer and more likely to attract grime than the one I was wearing. So that is definitely a consideration.

    ETA Image below.

    #2 Oxfords definitely work with the pants to my eye. Great outfit. LOVE you in that dramatic scarf, and, of course, your gorgeous jacket. ;-)

    #3 I totally hear you on this one. Onwards!

    #4 So frustrating about the BR shirts! OH - I feel your pain. I am SO mad at myself for buying and keeping that too short Brookc Brothers shirt. I never wear it. People suggested I keep to wear with skirts, but i hate it so I need to send it away and get my proper size.

    #5 GORGEOUS!!!

    Okay. My thoughts: Have you looked at the weather reports? I am concerned that what you are bringing might be a tiny bit on the too warm side for this trip, and you might need some lighter layers as well. You will be walking, moving about, And so I agree with Beth Ann that perhaps a few sleeveless tops could be useful. I actually had a sleeveless modal turtleneck in China that got some use under my knit jacket. I would also for sure bring a knit jacket or your boyfriend cardigan. There may be days that feel too warm for the leather, yet when you will still need coverage and some amount of "coziness." I would also consider how well you can layer any sweaters and jackets you are bringing. Does the BR sweater work under whatever other sweater or jacket you'll have, etc. I found a plain charcoal merino turtleneck to be a huge boon to me on my trip -- it played the same role as my striped cotton sweater on the cooler days. It layered over and under my topper and tops, and I could change the look with scarves.

    I think it's a great idea to bring a bunch of scarves. They don't take a ton of room and they do make you feel as if you are wearing something different.

    I would also make sure you have at least a couple of items in a colour that makes you feel really happy. I brought my fuchsia knit jacket and wore it ALL the time -- it was perfect for comfort and for "fun."

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Oh - I just read Angie's comment. And I have to agree. I used a regular suitcase (not a carry on) and brought FIVE pairs of shoes for 3 weeks, and it was the BEST decision I made. Honestly. SO so worth it. Admittedly, I was travelling to two different climates. And had many different activities (from climbing the Great Wall to dining in relatively fancy restaurants to orphanage visit.) But even for going to London for a week I am considering 3 pairs of shoes.

  • Zapotee replied 5 years ago

    wow, first of all i'm super jealous, in a good way.

    I am a very simplistic packer, especially for leisure trips. For me, it is all about the pictures! I have realized that in the colder months, my emphasis is in these things: I must bring a killer coat, scarf, gloves, hat and boots, along with a killer bag. Why? Because I will spend lots of time in my outerwear and most importantly, my photos will likely be taken with the aforementioned on. I also like to be low contrast. In all likelihood I will be standing next to nature, landmarks, i just think it makes for cool photography.

    After I'm set with the outerwear aspect, depending on my shoes, I pick a "uniform" of two or three silhouettes, that I know work. I then select pieces that would mix and match. I then take an evening item, a pair of dressy pumps or booties, a clutch and some accessories...

    From what you have shown here this is what I would do:

    Grounding pieces:
    Combat boots+ Leather jacket
    Edelman booties+ Cream belt.

    With those two separate pairings alone, you are guaranteed to have a harmonious outfit no matter what. Think of whatever top and bottom, add those two ( either combat and jacket or Edelmans and belt) and you'll see the outfit will always work.


    The skinnies in #1
    The BF's in #3
    A pair of black skinnies
    One more denim item

    then: Thinking you could do laundry once:

    2 layering sweaters
    2 turtlenecks
    I crew neck or tee
    1 buttondown
    1 oversized top
    1 scarf
    1 statement jewelry item

    Optional: one blazer

    Undies, PJs, socks, flip flops, bras and I'm done...

    The number of shoes is a personal thing. Just be aware they do add a lot of weight. Before you go, make sure that you can lift you bag up and above your head. You are likely to have to handle your bag in and out of planes and possibly trains. Make sure you can lift it for the overhead bins. I do travel with a carry on size bag that I check in and a tote. I also bring a nylon lesportsac bag inside my luggage so I have room to bring back goodies. So, I leave with my luggage and my tote and come back with luggage, duffel and purse. The luggage is checked in always, and the duffel and purse are with me.

    ETA: Adding pictures of Lil Zap's grouping - black coat, bright bag and gloves and mine, tweed coat, black boots and purse. It was a warm day so I left my scarf. The kid did a cool job with her grouping, I will leave this pics up for a few hours only. As a matter of fact, she forgot her gloves and I happened to have back up ones in orange lol.

  • Raisin replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, I'm happy you're doing this now because I have a trip to Croatia coming up in April and want to see what you come up with! I love all your outfits, and I think I would choose the oxfords. To me they look great with all, and I would find them comfy. I'm going to try to do a post on what I pack too. I will pack lightly as well, just a carry on!

  • Raisin replied 5 years ago

    Zap, I like you packing philosophies. You and your daughter are gorgeous!

  • Tina.b replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, I love how much thought you have put into this! All your options look fantastic in my opinion. I always bring way too many clothes on vacation, but I feel I need options. I would consider another pair of shoes if you can swing it at all. Maybe some comfortable sandals.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Zapotee, you and your daughter are both gorgeous! I remember that photo of you in your tweed coat. But hadn't seen her coat and accessories. Love the red!!

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Thank you all for reading my novel and offering your suggestions in these trying times! :-)
    I need more time to digest all your comments, explore the links and do my homework. I hope to reply more in details later today!:-)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    I don't really travel so can't help you alot but my two cents' worth says oxfords and combat boots for footwear (better versatility IMO) and I think every single one of the outfits you posted look fab on you, in particular #1 and #5. I don't think anything is ill fitting or too short. If they are comfortable, that's a huge bonus.

  • moira replied 5 years ago

    Remember, when talking about shoes, you are not really breaking in the shoes, you are breaking in your feet for the shoes. New calluses. Get New Skin at the pharmacy. The second that you feel a blister forming, paint it on. Your feet will thank you for that. Be aware that your feet will swell when you fly, drink wine, have saltier food than normal.
    Also, remember that there should be some room in your bag for new purchases. Portugal will give you ample opportunity to buy sweaters, scarves and bags.
    Linens and other textiles. You HAVE to have room to bring stuff home.
    I usually bring along some disposable things. Old undies, T shirts, whatever, so that things get left behind as I buy stuff along the way.

  • Kiwichik replied 5 years ago

    I am so impressed with the amount of thought you have put into this and what a great idea to test drive everything before packing. I love Outfit 1. Outfit 2 - I prefer the slouchy pants with the oxfords. Outfit 3 what a shame the gap T didn't work out I really like you in it. Not feeling the love for, Outfit 4 - I agree about the shirt looking a tad short with the skinnies. Outfit 5 - Love this too. I think the top looks fine the way you have worn it with the leopard belt it looks almost like a semi tuck and that jacket is divine.

    I think combat boots and oxfords are the way to go shoe wise. Can't wait to see your next week of outfits.

  • siniestra replied 5 years ago

    u know i didn't look ur clothes cause i can't stop staring ur cheek bones they are beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!! or is a make up trick?

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    It is her real cheekbones...I have seen her in person and she is even more beautiful!

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    All of those look great. great The oxfords look great, so if they're comfortable they're a go. The dark jeans look most versatile. The combat boots look fab with jeans tucked in.

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 5 years ago

    I read this post a few days ago and perhaps because I was in the process of packing, I was thinking about it too much.

    Here is my dumb question:

    I get that it is much easier to be moving about with only one bag but why does it have to be a small carry-on? If you took a mid-sized spinner bag, you could still have the ease of travel but would have about double the packing space. I don't find it any more difficult to drag around a medium sized bag than a carry-on bag and have rarely waited more than 15 minutes for my checked bag. I suspect the extra packing space will save you far more than 15 minutes in hand washing time.

    Just a thought....

  • Zapotee replied 5 years ago

    Not Sveta, but often times where traveling multiple cities, you are using either trains or buses from one destination to the next. You cannot check your bag in either one. Also, you need to handle your bag yourself, which often includes raising it above your head to fit it in overhead luggage racks. The bigger the bag, the more you will pack, the heavier it would be. If you are just going to one city and back, I say travel a huge as you would like. A bigger bag is also harder to fit in European cabs and cars, their cars are generally much smaller and with much less trunk space.

    Also, not that it matters, but people travel really light in Europe, much more lighter than my version of light. I did not want to be the one with the mutiple bags or the big ole bag, holding everyone up.

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Zap is right. When I went to Paris last year I took a bigger suitcase because we stayed in one place for all 7 days. However this time we will be traveling by buses and trains and I would prefer my bags to be light and small. Also there are no elevators in older buildings so the size of the bag matters there big time. In addition there are places in my route where you cannot drive up and have to walk - uphill on cobblestones...And the last but not least: if both our bags are small carryons my hubby can carry both of them if needed - but not two big suitcases :-)
    I have read all comments and suggestions several times and have been thinking about all of them. It felt pretty overwhelming to response here so I will do another post with the revised capsule - believe me when I say that your help was INVALUABLE! Thank you all very much!!!

  • Sarah A replied 5 years ago

    I am late to the game on this but am super impressed with the test run idea. FWIW: I find light weight merino to be a packing girls best friend for travel tops. I have also found this website helpful in the past fr packing:


    I especially like the ideas/reviews there for easily carryable luggage if you do not already own the bags you are planning on needing.

    Ditto on #1 and #5 outfits lovely and oxfords look good with the trousers.

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Thanks Sarah, it is a great site, I have it bookmarked!

  • catgirl replied 5 years ago

    You are so insanely perfect in these outfits! And I can't believe how organized you are! I bow down in awe.

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