OK, I’m not an actual expert on dressing like you’re a cool French girl (though I do read quite a bit about it). But it all tends to boil down to classic, understated, yet somehow badass and/or high fashion. Similarly, capsule wardrobes tend to be minimalist dreams of all neutral stuff that manages to look casual and expensive at the same time. I admit, I do not have a capsule wardrobe. I really, really like clothes, and I admit, I’m still working on figuring out a wardrobe that combines athletic with edgy with pajamas. But when I travel, it does boil down to a fairly limited amount of normal clothes since my running and cycling kit tends to take up the bulk of my suitcase space.
Anyway, I think I’ve figured out how to get that capsule-chic vibe, if you will. It started when I started to plan for this year’s time in Europe with the team—we’re in dorm-style housing (not high fashion or badass), and the washing machines are very, very European. Tiny, and without an actual dryer that us in the US are used to. There are dryers but they’re more like electronic clothes-wringers. Needless to say, my cheap leggings did not go over so well last year, since everything needed to air dry after being “dried.”
That meant when I packed for this trip, I packed like I needed things to be air-dryable while holding their shape, or hand-washable so I could skip the washing machine completely. The result? Way less synthetic/cheap fabrics than I used to own. I brought my new cashmere sweater from Grana (pictured above) that handwashes and dries super-easily. I brought my merino wool baselayers that don’t stretch in the wash. And I brought my Lululemon leggings, which seemed like a huge extravagance when I bought them, but considering I can rotate through two pairs and never deal with stretch issues after a single use (unlike Target leggings, which stretch about five minutes after putting them on), they’re well worth it.
Once I packed all of that, I realized that my bag was almost entirely black-white-and-gray, and very nearly a capsule-style wardrobe. I even had a Breton-striped top, so I assume a French girl would approve. (I am lacking my cool leather jacket because frankly, sport/outdoors-wear was a lot more important than fashion for this particular trip).
But what it boiled down to was that I was packing like I had to hand-wash and air-dry everything. And that kept me limited to only nicer, higher-performing clothes, and kicked out some of the junky stuff like stretched-out leggings and misshapen sweaters. In the US, it’s easier for us to get away with having a ton of stuff that’s wear-once and must-be-dried-to-hold-shape stuff, but you can’t do that here.
So maybe that’s the secret? I know from now on, when I shop, I’m thinking about how it fits into this idea—especially since we’re traveling so much and spending so much time on the road. The more I can hand-wash in a sink and air-dry on a clothesline attached to the van, the easier it is.