Capsule Closet Series

Warm-Weather Vacation: 1 Carry On – 30 Outifts

I may be a little nutty, maybe a little cheap, but I downright refuse to pay for checked luggage when I travel. Flying with just a carry-on bag does limit how much I can bring, but I actually like the challenge of seeing how many outfits I can create with what is in my carry-on.

We went to Belize a couple months ago, so I thought this would be the perfect time for a carry-on capsule closet post. I know many of you head to warmer destinations this time of year, so I hope you’ll find this guide helpful too!

Packing for a warm weather destination is really easy, because if you choose the right pieces and materials, you can fit a ton into just a carry-on and a large purse. Athens is a little cooler this time of year (highs hover around 67-70 degrees), so I will be doing another one of these posts to show you exactly what I packed, the outfits I wore, and the pictures of the looks in real life.

How to get everything to fit:

The first rule is to have the right luggage. I recommend a hard case carry-on that makes the most of the dimension restrictions for carry-ons. Almost every airline will allow a 20″ suitcase and a very large purse. This is my go-to carry-on (we have it in black too, but I love the rose gold). It is hard case, so it protects your belongings and it has lots of compartments. See my review of the suitcase HERE.

Equally as important is the purse you decide to bring. Use the biggest tote you can find. For me, this typically is where Zach packs my laptop, large DSLR camera, jewelry, makeup, belts and sometimes he even lines the bottom of the tote with flats and lightweight tops rolled inside of them (he is seriously so good at packing). I typically use this bag (the one featured in the collage) or this one. The second is what I typically use if we are going somewhere cold, because it can fit a ton, is really great quality, and is very affordable for how luxe it looks.

Finally, the last piece of getting all this to fit is what you actually wear to the airport. Wear your thickest materials (think denim, knits, belts, your bulkiest shoes and any hats). You always should layer, not only because those airplanes can get insanely cold, but it saves so much space in your luggage. I always wear any hats I’m bringing, partly because I don’t want them getting smashed and partly because they’re kind of a weird item to pack (bonus points for it covering up slightly dirty hair and making it easier to sleep on the plane).

Here is your packing checklist:

My packing strategy for the most outfits possible:

1. Pack a lot of lightweight blouses and tees. Not only are they comfortable and versatile, but they take up almost no room in your suitcase. Button-up blouses can be layered and used as a third piece as well.

2. Don’t skimp on accessories. The right watches, necklaces and belts can make all the difference and they take up minimal room. My go-to formula is:

  • Shoes: 1 cognac, 1 black, 1 pop of color
  • Belts: 1 cognac, 1 black
  • Necklaces: 1 silver, 1 gold
  • Watches: 1 mixed metal, 1 gold and 1 black (or silver, depending on what I pack)
  • Sunglasses: 1 black and 1 tortoiseshell. If you have room, pack a metal (like gold or silver mirrored)
  • Bags: 1 cognac, 1 black and 1 pop of color (make sure one bag is huge, to carry on the plane. The other two should be smaller)

3. Don’t pack many dresses. They simply aren’t as versatile as bottoms and tops are. But, for diversity, I always include 1 or 2 (mostly T-shirt styles, because they are comfortable, versatile and take up the least amount of room).

4. If you are going to a warm weather location, only pack 1 pair of jeans or a third piece (like a blazer or jacket). Make sure to wear this on the plane.

Planning for your trip and what days to wear what outfits:

This is where my type A side totally kicks in. Typically as I’m packing, I list out the days that we are going to be there, note any cooler or warmer days or activities (like a nice dinner, beach day, etc. that would affect the way I dress). Then I make sure pieces that are styled many different ways never end up being back-to-back days and are as spaced out as possible. I also make sure the dresses are equally spaced out to break up all of the separates.

I find this makes your vacation 100% more enjoyable. You are not worried about finding something that looks cute or going impulse shopping because you have “nothing to wear,” and it just makes life a lot easier. Who wants to be stressed on vacation? With a little planning ahead, you can relax and enjoy your trip while looking fab every single day.

About The Capsule Closet:

Long story short, after years of traveling and living out of suitcases while studying abroad, working out-of-state internships and more, I became an expert on creatively styling basics with a limited amount of pieces, all while never repeating a single outfit.

Like many others, before I created a capsule closet, I had a wardrobe overflowing with clothes and still had “nothing to wear.” This is where my Ultimate Capsule Closet Checklist comes in. After years of editing, styling and seeing trends come and go, these were the pieces that pulled their weight and never really went out of style.

Once I created The Ultimate Capsule Closet, I felt inspired, stylish and chic with much less effort. Looking stylish while traveling was much simpler and I got rid of 90% of my closet (and didn’t miss it at all).

Hope this all can inspire you this week. If you replicate one of the outfits, make sure to #CSScapsulecloset so I can see!

As always, thank you for reading.

Read The Ultimate Capsule Closet Checklist

Print the Ultimate Capsule Closet Checklist HERE

  1. I always really struggle to pack for warm weather Holidays due to living in ENGLAND and not being used to the hotter climate. But, with this checklist I reckon I will have it sorted for my next holiday and now i can’t wait to get packing! I love the idea of making sure you pack accessories as this is something I always forget despite the huge difference they can make to an outfit!

  2. Abigail Wrote:

    Love this post – this is also how I pack. Do you have one for cooler temps, or in-between (spring) season?


    • Brenna Wrote:

      Hi Abigail,

      Not yet, but I’m working on one right now for my upcoming Iceland trip. Have a great day!