One of my favourite things about this blog is the cool people I’ve met because of it. One of those people is my friend Cat, who volunteered way back in the day to be one of my closet makeover guinea pigs. She lives on the West Coast now, so we don’t get to see each other nearly enough, but I’m always game for any style challenge she throws my way. This time: packing for a 2-week trip to 3 cities, each with its own travel agenda. First up, 3 days of sightseeing (and cute boys-spotting) in Boston. Next, a week-long work conference in Ottawa. Last, but not least, a girls’ weekend in Quebec City. Ok, I’m officially jealous.

But, as Cat pointed out, packing for this latter day grand tour is not all that straightforward. My girl wants to look stylish, cute, and occasion-appropriate in each city … while carrying as little luggage as possible. Alright, challenge accepted.

Since Cat and I don’t live close enough for us to pick her travel capsule pieces from her own closet (over the requisite few – or not – glasses of wine), and since I don’t Polyvore, we decided that the easiest alternative would be for me to create a sample travel capsule using pieces from my own closet, which she can use as inspiration. She promised to take photos of the actual outfits she ends up wearing on her trip, so you’ll be getting a two-for-one dealio.

But first.

Here’s my take on a multi-tasking travel capsule.

Plane Outfits

Cat is flying to Ottawa first, for an overnight stay, before hearing out to Boston. On the first leg of her flight, she wants to look stylish and professional, just in case her seat-mate is a cute junior exec type. Girl plans ahead. On the other hand, her (long) flight home is more about comfort – she’ll likely be all cute-boy-ed out by that point.

plane outfit; travel capsule
Plane outfits

I included a trench in the travel capsule, which I’d suggest Cat take with her on her flights, just in the event if inclement weather. Carrying it on the plane means it won’t take up extra space in her baggage allowance. I also included a lightweight, cotton scarf both for practical reasons (extra warmth for cold nights/mornings or plane travel, can be used as a light cover-up in place of other toppers) and style (colour pop!).


Cat’s sightseeing itinerary means comfortable footwear is a must. Late summer weather similarly mandates breathable natural fabrics, like cotton. Since Cat doesn’t want to check any luggage on her flight to Boston, I went with a 9-piece capsule-within-capsule, which she can easily pack in a carry-on bag. (The rest of her luggage will be waiting for her in Ottawa at a friend’s house.)

travel capsule; conference travel capsule packing
Boston, Days 1-2

A couple of evening options (the blue cardigan works with both, if the temperatures demand it):

travel capsule; conference travel capsule packing
Boston, nights 1-2


Conference style is generally business-casual, so that’s I aimed for. The blazer is optional; a black cardigan can substitute in a pinch. I added the toppers because, while Ottawa summers tend to be extra hot, conference venues are frequently AC-ed within an inch of Antarctica. I would suggest silk or cotton tops for layering to help with the temperature swings. Ponte pants and skirts pack well, and look polished. Ditto for cotton or silk jersey dresses. Bonus: no ironing needed.

travel capsule
Conference, days 1-3

I would pick 3 main colours as a capsule palette, with 2-3 accent colours, which makes it easier to mix and match things. I ended up creating 21 outfits from 17 clothing pieces, but there are probably another 10 or more outfit options in there.

travel capsule; conference dressing; conference style
Conference, days 4-6 (oops, numbering fail)

Conference after-hours means lots of socializing, so I put together some dressier options (including at least one cocktail party outfit should the opportunity present itself).

conference style; travel capsule; conference travel style capsule
Conference nights 1-3
conference outfit; conference travel capsule
Conference Nights 4-5

Quebec City

Similar outfit criteria apply here as in Boston, so these outfits are more or less interchangeable. I did aim for more European chic (less all-American prep) vibe, but … I’ll let Cat decide if I succeeded.

travel capsule; weekend travel capsule
Quebec City weekend

I didn’t include bags in the outfit pics (quelle horreur), but I’d take two: a versatile, mid-size black one (mostly for the conference), and a neutral cross-body (for everything else). Like so:

travel capsule bags
Travel Capsule bags I’d pack (predictable, c’est moi)

The basic travel capsule packing list looks like:

1) trench
2) jeans
3) shorts
4) “fancy” dress (can be dressed up or down; ponte or other non-wrinkling fabric)
5) casual skirt (cotton)
6) work skirt (ponte; solid colour other than black)
7) work dress (ponte or cotton jersey; solid colour other than black, or print)
8) work pants (ponte; black or other core neutral)
9) blazer (black or other core neutral)
10) solid colour cardigan
11) solid colour cardigan
12) casual stripe top (cotton)
13) casual basic top (cotton; solid colour)
14) casual statement top (cotton; fun print)
15) dressy basic top (silk or cotton; solid colour)
16) dressy statement top (silk or cotton; solid colour or print)
17) evening top (go crazy)
18) walking flats (black or other core neutral)
19) conference day shoe (dressy flats or comfortable heel; black or other core neutral)
20) evening shoe (comfortable heel; black/core neutral or metallic)
21) day sandal (flats or low wedge)
22) conference bag
23) cross-body bag

And voila: 3 cities, 1 suitcase, one multi-tasking travel capsule. Think it’s gonna work? If you’ve got other tips for Cat, let them fly in the comments. And stay tuned for Cat’s real-world take on this travel capsule.

4 Comments on Three Cities x 1 Suitcase: Multi-Tasking Travel Capsule

  1. I OBVIOUSLY love this post!!!!!!! What a fantastic job you did, and so thorough. 🙂

    I would have packed less but that’s because my going out clothes at night are some of the same pieces I’d wear to a conference or casually.. 🙂

    Excellent post. Will definitely link to this in a future SSS roundup <3

  2. I know this post was to give clothing travel tips for your friend but it give me lots of ideas for my own closet, so thanks for that. You always have great clothing combinations, I wish I could put my outfits together so effortlessly!