Spring clothing pieces create a capsule wardrobe for stylish and easy travel outfits

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

TRAVEL STYLE

Wardrobe basics combine to create stylish and comfortable outfits for a spring vacation

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I really struggle with packing so decided that the simplicity of a spring capsule wardrobe could be the answer to traveling light and looking stylish on a spring getaway. 

I’ve scoured my favorite retailers, as well as my own closet, to come up with a simple yet chic collection of spring BFF’s (best fashion friends) – pieces that will carry us stylishly through a week in Paris, Prague or Pasadena.  I believe a capsule wardrobe can work for anyone. By choosing a combination of classic pieces, and adding a few accents, you can mix to maximum outfit effect this spring.

Even better, I’ve created this spring capsule wardrobe to fit into a carry-on bag, if you wish to travel light. I recently traveled with a carry-on to Europe and it was wonderful to not have to worry about a missing checked bag.

Finally, since these pieces are mostly versatile classics, you will turn to them again and again at home as well. 

25+ Chic Outfits with 15 Pieces

A woman wears 12 different outfits from her spring capsule wardrobe of 15 pieces. Colors are mostly navy, white, pink and a couple of black items.

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe - The Pieces

CROPPED JEANS ~ MAXI SKIRT ~ TROUSERS ~ BLAZER ~ CARDIGAN SWEATER ~ PULLOVER SWEATER ~  COTTON SHIRT (long-sleeved) ~ COTTON SHIRT (short-sleeved) ~ T-SHIRTS ~ TANK ~ DRESS ~ TRENCH COAT

MULE LOAFERS ~  SLIDE SANDALS ~ SNEAKERS

Susan Heinrich wears a maxi skirt and a navy blazer from her spring capsule wardrobe

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Color Palette

For spring, I chose navy and white. From there, I layered in colorful pieces: a dress and skirt in shades of pink, and a green scarf. I also added two black basics. That created a spring wardrobe with enough color to make it interesting but it was still easy to combine the pieces.

Does it have to be colorful? No. Color or neutrals — your choice. The one exception is a safari where it’s better to stick to neutrals. See What to Wear on Safari. 

To create a color palette, start with neutrals, then layer in color. Colors can vary by personal preference and the season. (If you’ve found your way here in fall, explore my Autumn Capsule Wardrobe for Travel.)

In the photos below, you will see the spring capsule with the navy and white items and then with the colorful pieces added in. 

A capsule wardrobe for spring starts with a neutral palette of navy and white. Pictured are a flat lay of navy blazer, denim jeans, blue and white scarf, white shirt, navy cotton cardigan sweater, striped sweater and striped mariniere tee shirt.
I started with navy & white
A capsule wardrobe for spring starts with a neutral palette of navy and white. Pictured are a flat lay of navy blazer, denim jeans, blue and white scarf, white shirt, navy cotton cardigan sweater, striped sweater and striped mariniere tee shirt. And colorful items include a pink shirt, pink patterned dress and green scarf
Then layered in some color

This concept can work with any color palette. Some other examples: brown and cream plus blush and forest green. Or black and white plus avocado and coral. If you have no idea where to start, pick a favorite scarf or patterned blouse — make those colors your palette. 

Spring Capsule Wardrobe - The Essential Pieces

1. The Cropped Jean

Cute, comfy and ready for long travel days — the cropped jean is a perfect staple in your spring capsule wardrobe. The warmer weather brings the chance to let our ankles show, but the jeans don’t have to be cropped; any favorite pair of denim will do. If you prefer a classic length my current favorite denim are the Way-High by Everlane; I just ordered them for myself.

The jeans in my capsule are the Emma High-Waisted Crop by Citizens of Humanity (pictured). They may be hard to find now, but similar styles are everywhere (and listed just below).

I like high-waisted jeans. If you don’t, pick a mid-rise pair instead. Jeans are very personal, so grab any favorite pair and let’s explore the many ways we can style them for our spring vacation.

Susan in cropped jeans and a black shirt, and holding sunglasses
Susan Heinrich wears a cropped jeans and a pink shirt from her spring capsule wardrobe
Susan in jeans and a classic trench coat
Cropped Jeans & Trench

SHOP

For a tapered crop, I like Boden’s High Rise True Straight Jeans, which come in several colors. I own several items by Boden and love them all. 

It can be hard to order jeans online. If you prefer to try them on (very helpful for me), I suggest Madewell. They have many styles in store and are relatively well-priced and often have sales.

Levi’s are another great option, I own three pair and they are typically under $100. For an ankle length — great for spring  — I have my eye on the Ribcage Straight Ankle Women’s Jeans.

BUDGET PICK: This well-priced pair by Land’s End comes in white and two denim washes: Women’s Recover High-Rise Straight. 

2. Lightweight Trousers

Lightweight wide-leg trousers in beige

After your jeans, this piece will be fundamental to your capsule wardrobe. Choosing the right trousers is important because they have to be comfy enough for wearing all day, and stylish enough to dress up in the evening. 

My wide-leg trousers are by Rag and Bone. They are a couple of years old but I am listing several options below. This is where a search of your closet might produce something that could work. Any lightweight pants in a neutral color, that you feel good in, are a winner. 

If you’d like to buy something, I am listing a few ideas below. 

Susan Heinrich wears trousers and a striped t from her spring capsule wardrobe
Trousers + Striped Tee
Susan wears pieces from a spring capsule wardrobe - beige trousers and a black tee and blue scarf. She has a Cuyana tote bag over her shoulder.
Trousers + Black Tee
Susan in trousers, a white shirt and green patterned scarf
Trousers + White button up

SHOP

Everlane make quality, well-priced items. My current favorites are the Way-High Drape Pant. I bought them in the Sandstone color and they work with sneakers and a tee, or I can dress them up with a blouse. The fit is very flattering and they come in two lengths. I am 5’6″ and ordered the 30″ inseam which is the perfect length for me. If you are taller you could go with the 32″. 

Their Tencel Way-High Taper Pant in Ash Brown would also be lovely for spring. They look like dress trousers but are lightweight and machine washable. 

I also own three pants from Athleta, all fantastic for travel because they feel like yoga pants but look like trousers.  The Brooklyn Wide-Leg Pant is very similar to the style to mine. They will be your new favorite travel pant. 

Spring Capsule Wardrobe - Trousers

3. The Maxi Skirt

A pink pleated maxi skirt

I take a maxi skirt on almost every warm weather trip. I like the simplicity of it and think the style is flattering on many women. This is a great piece for dressing up in the evening but is also cute and comfy for a day of sightseeing with sneakers and a tee.

For my spring travel capsule color palette I picked a bright skirt. You could also select a neutral skirt — solid bottoms can simplify combining outfits. I am also loving green for spring and have ordered this A-line style from Boden to try out, the Isabella Skirt.

Any skirt that you like can work as long as it goes with several of your tops and either of the sweaters or the blazer. (Examples in the photos below). 

Susan is in a spring travel outfit using the skirt in this capsule - it's paired with a black tee and she is wearing sunglasses and sneakers.
Susan is in a spring travel outfit using the skirt in this capsule - it's paired with a white tee, navy sweater and she is wearing brown slide sandals.

SHOP

The skirt pictured is by Lucy of Paris from a few years ago.

Quince also has a very nice Washable Silk Midi Skirt that my friend has and loves. The lilac or the navy would be nice for spring. I own many items by Quince; the quality and prices are great. 

If you prefer something more sporty, I like Athleta’s Stride Midi Skirt, violet or black. I have many Athleta pieces I travel with. 

4. Cotton Cardigan Sweater

A navy cardigan sweater is a classic addition to any capsule wardrobee

To V or not to V, that is the question. I chose a navy v-neck cardigan for this spring capsule wardrobe, but a crewneck is equally nice as a versatile staple. I like that a v-neck is the perfect shape for a statement necklace without fussing with the buttons and neckline. My sweater is from Banana Republic and I’ve had it for years. Several options are linked below. 

SHOP

J. Crew Factory has a classic navy crew neck cardigan that is well-priced: Classic Cotton Cardigan Sweater

This one at Banana Republic Factory has a deeper  V than mine and is also affordable: the Forever Cardigan in Preppy Navy.

And this lovely relaxed-fit cotton cardigan by Everlane, the Organic Cotton Cardigan, comes in three colors.

5. Pullover Sweater

Striped cotton sweater for spring travel

What says spring in Paris, or anywhere else, more than a striped sweater? It makes a statement, yet stripes are a classic. I might even call them a neutral. If you aren’t as striped-obsessed as I am, pick any sweater you like. It only has to work for daytime in this capsule, but if you want to go with something more versatile that you can dress up, that works too. Make sure it goes with either your trousers and/or skirt as well. 

SHOP

I am wearing the Leontine sweater by the French brand Sézane. It’s available in multiple colors; if your favorite is out-of-stock, check back as Sézane restocks frequently. Madewell also has a lovely striped sweater, perfect for a spring wardrobe, and it comes in two colors: the Conway Pullover Cotton Sweater.  It is an oversized style, so size down for a more traditional fit. 

For more French style inspiration, you might enjoy my story: French Wardrobe Basics.

6. Blazer

A navy blazer is a staple in a spring capsule wardrobe for vacation to Europe

Since my spring capsule wardrobe was created around a navy and white palette, I chose a classic navy blazer. If I am traveling to Europe in spring, I am packing a blazer. If you were going somewhere warm, you could opt for linen instead, navy, white or beige are all nice. You could also pick a blazer with a bit of pattern, but in that case I would choose a solid skirt that works with it.

SHOP

I like the classic fit of J Crew’s Going-Out Blazer in Stretch Twill and it’s available in sizes 00-24, in classic, petite, and tall. 

If you are headed somewhere warm, or it’s later in spring,  I love the pale color and relaxed fit of the Classic Relaxed Blazer in Oyster, by Reformation. 

For a linen option check out Quince’s European Linen Blazer. Three gorgeous colors and it’s only $70! I bought their linen shirt and really like it. Quince makes stylish products at great price points and I own several other items from them that I am very happy with.

7. Short-sleeved Shirt

A white short-sleeved roll cuff shirt is a staple in a spring capsule wardrobe for vacation

Another workhorse of the spring capsule wardrobe, the short-sleeved button up shirt. This piece should be ultra comfy and breathable, keeping you cool through a day of sightseeing or lounging with a good book and a great view. There are lots of high-tech breathable fabrics that will whisk away any hint of perspiration, but I also love classic cotton. I bought this shirt  which is part of Banana Republic’s new Heritage line, a return to their roots as a clothing for adventurers. Adventure is always in style! 

SHOP

The Banana Republic Essential Roll-Cuff Shirt is sold out. Here are some similar options. Quince has a European Linen Short Sleeve Shirt which comes in seven colors. Similar to the one I am wearing, it’s a relaxed, boxy cut. 

I also love this option from Everlane: The Short-Sleeve Box Shirt, in a classic neutral for any spring capsule wardrobe: white, black, slate blue, and ReChambray blue (made from recycled cotton), and this one from Madewell: Signature Poplin Camp Shirt.  

8. Long-Sleeved Button-Up

Long-sleeved black cotton shirt, a capsule wardrobe essential

I love the look of a long-sleeved shirt rolled up; I think it is so versatile for spring travel. I was imagining a trip to Europe when I planned this wardrobe and chose black. But you could go with any solid color that works with the rest of your capsule wardrobe. I also love a striped shirt for spring!

SHOP

Pictured here is the Banana Republic Oversized Cotton Shirt, which I wear in my capsule. If you prefer a more tailored shirt, the Tailor Fit Easy Care comes in black, navy or white.

If you prefer linen to cotton, I own Boden’s Linen Shirt and the quality is fantastic. I’m linking to a pretty navy; it also comes in white. And this Quince Linen Shirt, as I mentioned. Boden is slightly softer but I like them both. 

Finally if you also love stripes, I’ve just ordered this Cotton-Button-Up in the Ecru/Camel from Sézane. It comes in many fun colors for spring.  I will update this with my thoughts once I’ve tried it.

9. Tee Shirts + Tank

Three t-shirts in a stacked pile: white, black and striped, are staples of a spring capsule wardrobe

You can decide how many t-shirts you need, perhaps depending on whether you have access to laundry and how warm it will be. I chose 3 tees for my spring capsule, a white, a black and a striped, as well as a pink tank which you will see in the outfits below. 

Most of us have t-shirts in out wardrobe. If you need a new one, my striped tee is by Boden. I also have t-shirts by Vince, Madewell, Banana Republic and so on. I am linking a few options below. 

My pink tank is by Athleta. I am linking a similar one below. 

SHOP

Reformation makes a soft and well-priced classic: Perfect Vintage T, which is a relaxed fit, and I have the Vintage Classic Crew Neck by J. Crew in three colors. It’s nice quality, and the fit is just relaxed enough. 

For stripes, Boden has a fabulous Short-Sleeved Breton T.

10. Spring Dress

A pink chevron patterned dress with black straps, by Loft

This is the one thing in your spring capsule wardrobe that doesn’t have to go with the color palette. A dress is a stand-alone piece; it can be any color or pattern.

You should love it and feel comfortable, and make sure it works with at least one pair of shoes and possibly your cardigan or blazer for layering. But you could also wear your trench coat if it’s chilly.

I picked this pink chevron patterned dress because I liked the colors for spring and the jersey material makes it easy to pack – it doesn’t wrinkle!

It’s from Loft in 2021, the Chevron Dress Flounce Pocket, so I am linking a few other dresses I love. Note: that if you do purchase this specific dress on resale somewhere, you will need to wear a stretchy “tube bra” over your regular bra because it clings a bit at the chest. 

SHOP

I love Sézane’s Alani dress. Shirt-dress styles are classic. I own several and wear them often. For something colorful, Boden’s Linen Kaftan Maxi comes in two pretty options, a solid coral and a stripe, in sizes from 2-22. I own one dress by Boden and would happily fill my closet with them. They are well-made and comfortable.

If you prefer something sleeveless, Athleta’s Santorini Midi Dress travels well. The name references the island of Santorini, and this would be fabulous for spring in Greece! (I was in Greece in mid-May last year, and it was very hot. I wore light dresses every day.

Susan Heinrich sits outdoors at a Paris cafe in fall wearing a trench coat, wide-leg jeans and blue pointed-toe flats.

11. Trench Coat

If you don’t already own a trench coat this could be the piece you invest in, especially if you are headed to Europe in spring. The classic trench is versatile and a true wardrobe staple.

The one I am wearing in most of the photos was 10+ years old, by Tori Burch, so I recently purchased the Sézane Scott Trench Coat.  (I am wearing it in Paris in the above photo.) I am thrilled with it. It’s the perfect weight, the fabric is beautiful and it’s a classic cut. And Sézane ships free to the U.S. on orders over $200.

This timeless style will forever be available from a variety of retailers. The old-school original was made by Burberry in 1916, so I’ve included it below, as well as a couple of budget-friendly alternatives. You could go with grey or black but if your style inspiration is the same as mine, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, then choose tan.

SHOP

For a short style, consider the Comfort Stretch Trench by Quince. I own several Quince items and am very happy with the quality. And prices are great. This piece is $99 at time of writing. 

A similar option and price point is the J. Crew Classic Trench: available in tan or navy, sizes 00 to 24. 

And if you want to channel Audrey Hepburn and splurge on the ultimate investment piece, or just explore a trench treasure trove, you can see Burberry’s current collection here: Burberry Trench Coats.

A row of colorful belts on display at Sézane Paris. Several shoes and boots are also pictured just below.

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Shoes

If you told me you start planning any capsule wardrobe with shoes, I would tell you that you are brilliant. The right shoes solve most problems that come up when planning the essential pieces to take on your trip: The problem of space in your luggage, the problem of comfort and practicality, and in the case of Europe, cobblestones aren’t especially forgiving. And of course, the requirement that you like how it all looks when you head out the door.

Susan Heinrich sits on the patio at Les Deux Magots in Paris. She is wearing sunglasses, light trousers, a striped button up shirt and sneakers.

Shoes for a Capsule Wardrobe for Europe

My basic rule of thumb is no more than three pairs of shoes on any trip and this is especially true if you are packing light, say a carry-on for Europe. The shoes will change with the seasons and destinations, but the criteria will not. 

At least two pairs of shoes you can comfortably wear and walk in, all day. I say two because even the comfiest shoes can give you blisters if you walk in them long enough (I was recently reminded of this in Paris), so you need a second pair to alternate. A third pair can be more dressy, say for evenings. You’ll find more tips on comfortable shoes for Europe in Shoes for Paris Travel. 

I had Europe travel in mind when I selected these for spring travel — a mule-style loafer, a sandal slide, and a pair of sneakers. All of them are comfortable, stylish and work with multiple outfits.

12. Loafers (Mule or Classic Style)

Mule style loafers, one in pink, one in tan

Are these mule-style loafers the MVP of this spring capsule wardrobe? Chic, comfy and well-priced – I think they are! They are inspired by and a nice copy of the classic, the Gucci Princetown

Every time I slipped them on with one of my outfits, I instantly felt more put together. I did end up exchanging the pink for the tan. I think they will take me right on through fall in Europe! (I’m planning a fall trip to France). And there are several other color options as well.  I love the white for summer. 

SHOP

BCBGeneration Women’s Zorie Mule Loafers  are comfy and stylish and come in five colors; I have them in beige. These Women’s Linnie Tailored Mules by Sam Edelman are very similar, slightly more expensive. 

Tory Burch makes a chic style, the Jessa Mule, which comes in black and cream.

13. Sandal Slides

A flat slide-style sandal in a chestnut color, resembles the classic sandal by Hermes

A flat slide-style sandal in a chestnut color truly goes with everything you’ll wear this spring. Dress it up, keep it casual. I love these, no accident considering they resemble the classic Oran sandal by Hermes.

Mine are from Target. I never buy shoes from Target because I don’t buy a lot of shoes. So when I do, I typically invest in shoes made to last. But rules are made to be broken and when I saw these I grabbed them. I have been pleasantly surprised, they are so comfy and have held up well with considerable wear. Mine aren’t available this season but you can get an even nicer pair – the Alibi by French Sole.

Or if you are in a position to splurge on Hermes, well, I won’t tell you not to. They are also linked, because when do I ever link to anything from Hermes?!

SHOP

Alibi Sandal by French Sole, available at Tuckernuck in classic Cognac (pictured above), and white. Or if you want the designer version, consider the Hermes Oran Sandal (sigh).

Everlane’s Day Crossover Sandal has a similar feel and comes in a lovely cream and taupe. 

14. Sneakers

White canvas Esplar sneakers with a blue accent, by Veja

Any sneakers will do for a spring capsule wardrobe, and don’t worry about being under-dressed. Even in Paris women wear comfy running shoes to elegantly speed along the cobblestones.

Since it was spring and I was ready for a new pair, I chose the Esplar Canvas Sneakers by Veja.

SHOP

My sneakers are by the French brand Veja; the style are the Esplars in canvas. It may be unavailable but you can explore all their cute styles here: Veja Store. Mine are canvas, but I find leather are easier to keep clean. 

I also love this style by Cariuma in white or peachy-beige. This brand from Brazil is both comfy and eco-friendly with lots of fun styles for women and men

And for an affordable pick, you can’t beat Classic Keds.

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Accessories

15. Scarves, Belt, Statement Necklace

Accessories for a spring capsule wardrobe: a green scarf, a blue scarf, a sparkly silver necklace, and black belt

With the right accessories, your capsule will feel much more varied. I always travel with scarves, and included two of my favorites here.  Mix in one fabulous belt by Sézane, and garnish with a pretty necklace which makes it easy to dress up for evening. My necklace is a souvenir from a trip to India. Anything fun will do! 

SHOP

The Artemis Belt by Sézane comes in many wonderful colors and the lack of holes makes it really versatile — it can be worn higher or lower. Try belting it overtop of a button-down shirt as I did for an evening outfit. 

Capsule Wardrobe for Spring in Europe

Evening Outfits

Our spring travel capsule has to work for evening as well. I am showing you three outfit options here but I think we can stretch it to six evenings for a week away. 

I would wear the dress twice –  with or without the blazer. And I could also pair the skirt with the black long-sleeved shirt and necklace. If I had space (and I did when I packed it all in a carry-on) I would tuck in an additional lightweight blouse that I would wear in the evening with the trousers.

Spring capsule wardrobe evening outfit - dress and a navy blazer
Dress + blazer & belt
Spring capsule wardrobe evening outfit - maxi skirt and a navy sweater
Maxi skirt + navy sweater & necklace
Spring capsule wardrobe evening outfit - light trousers + black shirt and belt
Trousers + black shirt & belt

Tote Bag for a Spring Capsule Wardrobe

My tote bag is the Class Structured Leather Tote by Cuyana. It’s a traditional tote style with an open top. I do travel with it, and use it at home to carry my books to French class, to meetings, or to work at a coffee shop. Cuyana also has totes with a closed top, the Easy Zipper Tote.

Cuyana totes are pricey. For something similar for less, I like Quince’s Classic Leather Italian Tote. It’s available in four lovely colors, including classic black and cognac. 

Susan Heinrich carries a tan tote bag by Cuyana, with two additional photos of the outside and inside of the bag

Sustainable Clothing Brands for Capsule Wardrobes

Many of the brands listed here make sustainable production a priority. Athleta, Boden, Sézane, Reformation, Amour Vert and Veja are all certified B Corps. To earn B certification a business must meet high standards of performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits to sustainability and supply chain practices.

Everlane, a great source for well-priced basics, gets high marks for sustainability in many areas, but isn’t B Corp Certified. You will find the name of the factory a piece was made in, in each product listing when you click on “More detail”.  

 The bigger brands mentioned here, such as J. Crew and Banana Republic are making strides toward sustainability, but have a long way to go. Some of their products use sustainable materials. I own many J.Crew and Banana items which I’ve purchased over the years. And I am making an effort to purchase from small sustainable retailers, going forward. That’s why I’ve included them here; I hope you’ve discovered some new brands. And you have a favorite sustainable clothing brand, please share in the comments below. 

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Have I convinced you that a spring capsule doesn’t have to mean boring basics and that there are endless combinations to choose from when you create your own capsule wardrobe color palette? The right combination of pieces will be easy, comfy and stylish. Try not to fret too much over this jacket or that sweater… the goal is simply feeling good and enjoying yourself on your spring adventure! 

Bon voyage!

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About - Midlife Globetrotter

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re here. Can we talk about midlife? I reached my late 40’s, realized my kids were growing up, and adventure began calling in a new way: big travel adventures as well as everyday ones. I want Midlife Globetrotter to be a place where we explore how to add a sense of fun, freedom and meaning to these precious years. Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and all that’s ahead.

Susan

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