Travel Wardrobe Capsule

One of the ways that I am “experimenting” this summer is to reframe my shopping urges. When thinking about how my life reflects my values this is one area where I struggle. I say I want simplicity in all areas of my life, and yet I routinely complicate things when I over consume, mindlessly shop, and continue bringing things into my home/life that I don’t need.

During this 120 day experiment, I put a restriction on myself to not purchase any new clothes/shoes/accessories. Day-to-day, this is no big deal. But tell me I am taking a trip to Hawaii, and all of the sudden I panic because, hello? Hawaii? Surely I have nothing that I can wear there.

In the past, I have always associated taking a trip or vacation with my “need” to buy new clothes. Sometimes that translates to one or two new pieces, other times, I have given myself over to the temptation to get a new mini-wardrobe for such an occasion.

I like to call this situation an opportunity to access my wardrobe and find contentment in the closet of clothing items I already have.


In an effort to use what I have AND (more importantly) pack lightly, I put together a small travel capsule using a black, white, yellow, and blue coordinating capsule. That’s:

  • 1 light-weight sweater (for the plane)
  • 4 pants/bottoms
  • 3 dresses
  • 6 tops (including a plain black and plain white tee)
  • 2 swim suits/coverups
  • 2 necklaces, 3 bags (large Kate Spade tote for carry on), & 6 pairs of shoes

(I did not photograph my pajamas and unmentionables but those will go in my bag too.)

I feel very confident that these clothes will get me through seven days with plenty of outfit options for a variety of activities. (Travel, including an overnight flight; pool & beach wear; sight-seeing; conducting a marriage retreat; and a date night or two.)

I seriously put these combinations together in about ten minutes and I was feeling pretty pleased with my options and potential outfits. I gave myself a mental pep-talk and said, This will do. You’ll be fine without buying anything new and shiny.

And then:

I went to Target to pick up my kids’ prescription Zyrtec at the pharmacy. I also needed to pick up some travel size/carry on approved toiletries. Ryan needed deodorant. Then before I knew it, I was doing my “loop” around the store to tempt myself make sure I didn’t need anything else.


I actually put these items into my buggy and rode around with them. I even rationalized with myself that my experiment technically only included clothes and that I could get so much wear out of all of these pieces and that I needed a new pair of gold earrings. I also convinced myself that since these were “buy-two-get-the-third-free” that’d I was getting a deal on some adorable accessories. Wouldn’t they look cute with all of that black, white, yellow and blue stuff I am packing for Hawaii?

I was ready to walk right up to the checkout and buy these two necklaces and pair of earrings. I was truly fighting an internal battle. You see, I am a consumer and a shopper. I was telling myself, it’s only $40. I can wear this with tons of stuff. I deserve this treat, I just turned in my grades.

But it’s not about the money. Or the wearability. Or the reward.

It’s about addressing a deeper issue. If I say my values are contentment, minimalism, simplicity, and being a good steward of what I already have, then I ought to seriously consider what it says about those values if I mindlessly toss more jewelry into my Target buggy.

So I resisted. I didn’t buy those adorable accessories. I wanted to. Man, I wanted to. But I didn’t. And once I returned home I realized I would still have fun in Hawaii without another tassel necklace or hoopy gold earrings.


Do you ever fight an internal battle between what you think you want and what you hope your values represent? I’d love to hear from you.

{Also, I read a book last year called The Power of Habit and it talks about Target in particular as it relates to the way they use data tied to your purchases to further incentivize more trips, more shopping, and more spending in their store. (Scroll to the bottom of the January Book Report post to read my review of the book.)}

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