handmade clothing, capsule wardrobes, and living out of a suitcase for 10 weeks

travel capsule wardrobes

4 bottoms
5 tops
3 dresses
6 “top layers” (sweaters, over-shirts, etc)
2 coats

That’s what my suitcase currently contains.
(Along with tights, toiletries, undergarments, computer, camera, etc.)

Traveling is kind of like a baggage-limit imposed capsule wardrobe experiment.

While NYC is bitterly cold, I’m spending the rest of my winter in the Bay Area, and Pacific Northwest, where it may be rainy, but at least it’s above freezing.

So, I’ve been dressing out of this suitcase since December 21st (when I moved out of my beloved apartment), and will be dressing out of it at least until I move back to NYC at the beginning of March (and possibly for awhile longer than that).

When it’s all packed away in a suitcase, it feels like a very small wardrobe for 10+ weeks.

But when I think about it, my self-made wardrobe project wardrobe ended at about 30 pieces by the end of the year-long project – but for most of the year, I had a much (much, much) smaller wardrobe.

It’s 20 pieces of clothing, which break down into:
2 coats (1 boiled wool, 1 light canvas, neither handmade)
2 pairs of jeans (1 black, 1 blue, neither handmade)
3 black tank tops (2 handmade, 1 store-bought)
2 reconstructed graphic t-shirts (both black)
2 plaid button up shirts (1 handmade Archer, 1 store-bought)
3 dresses (all store-bought)
2 skirts (both handmade)
2 sweaters (both handmade)
1 sweatshirt (store-bought)
1 light chiffon cropped jacket (store-bought; but actually passed along)
tights & socks in a variety of thicknesses
underwear, bras & pjs

When compared to the self-made wardrobe project, dressing out of a 20 piece wardrobe for 10 weeks will be easy.
(There are even multiple pairs of jeans!!)

However, getting to those 20 pieces of clothing was pretty heartbreaking. Packing away my pirate skirt, and black & white vine print skirt, (either of which would have single handedly taken up 1/4 of my suitcase space), with the knowledge that I wouldn’t get to see them again for months was kind of depressing.

And it was depressing in a way that packing away my entire wardrobe, for the self-made wardrobe project, didn’t feel like at all.

Creating a traveling capsule wardrobe felt a little bit like picking favorites, and a little bit like loosing the pieces I couldn’t take with me (even though they’ll obviously be there when I get back).

Unlike this time, with the self-made wardrobe all my clothes got packed away indiscriminately – and as I found out when I unpacked them, without even sorting them.

But packing for this trip involved packing away clothes that I love, want to have with me, and would love to be wearing – but am not, due to size constraints. (See again, one skirt being able to take up 1/4 of a suitcase.)

I guess I didn’t quite realize how much I loved those pieces, until I was faced with not seeing them for months. You would have thought that after a year, I would have been thoroughly sick of them. Apparently, putting significant amounts of time into your clothing makes you pretty damn attached.

And as it turns out, I ended up with an almost 50/50 handmade/store bought clothing split in my suitcase – even without the pieces I’m missing the most.

11 store bought pieces (all bought pre-self-made wardrobe project)
7 handmade (all made during the self-made wardrobe project)
2 reconstructed t-shirts (which are kind of both handmade & store bought)

I have with me: my Versio sweater, my boring black sweater, my graphic silk circle skirt, my grey maxi skirt, 2 handmade tank tops, and my 1st Archer button up shirt, (plus the two t-shirts).

Which is certainly a not-too-shabby number of handmade pieces of clothing.

You may also like

bits & pieces, and a sweater body
all in all a quite week of knitting
keeping this short and sweet
spinning yarn, and editing words

2 Responses

  1. Laura

    This is lovely, and I admire your self-restraint. However, I am in the Oregon coast right now, where I can’t help but be worried that neither of your coats sound like enough protection from our rainy PNW winter! There may be a solution, though: there is a business in Albany, OR which sells lots of water-resistant and waterproof fabric online. It’s called The Rainshed. : )

    1. Holly

      Thank you for the concern Laura! I thought about that while I was packing – and also thought that bringing 3 jackets was a bit overkill. I figure I can borrow a raincoat for the rainy Portland leg of my adventuring.
      The Rainshed looks amazing though! I guess Portland is the perfect place for a fabric shop specializing in rainproof fabrics. 🙂 I’ll definitely try to check it out while I’m there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.