10-piece wardrobe for 10 days in Europe
When we planned our first trip to Europe, it quickly became clear that we wanted to restrict our luggage to carry-ons.
Once we arrived in Rome, we would be traveling by train to Florence, Venice, and the Cinque Terre. Our accommodations were often then via bus or foot from the train station. We probably could have figured out how to haul giant luggage around with us, but frankly, it just didn't seem worth the trouble. So, instead, I figured out how to pack for 10 days into a small carry-on bag.
**We always travel in shoulder season (spring and fall) so the weather may be chilly or rainy, but not extremely hot or cold.**
What I've learned is this: you really only need 10 basic pieces of clothing, all in black and gray so they always match with everything else.
- Leggings for warm weather or cold weather
- Long, stretchy tank tops for layers over leggings, under sweaters
- Long-sleeved base layer
- Long, flowy tank top
- Lightweight sweater
- A-line skirt or Tank dress to wear alone or with layers
- Long flannel shirt OR Chambray shirt OR White button down
- Jacket: rain jacket and/or packable down (I bring both just in case)
- Good waterproof trail shoes
- Flats or Boots for evening, depending on season/weather
Don't forget your socks and undies (bathing suit, too, just in case). Tuck in some accessories like scarves, hats, and headwraps to brighten it up, and you're ready to go!
The athleisure trend is the best thing that ever happened to travelers, because FABRICS MATTER! If you buy good performance pieces that are moisture-wicking and quick-drying, you can wear them over and over and no one's the wiser. They stay dry, they don't stink, they pack down well and don't wrinkle. They're practically magic.
UnderArmour is my favorite for all base pieces: leggings, long sleeve base, flowy tanks.
I recently fell in love at first sight with the Prana clothing line for skirts and dresses. Perfect for wearing absolutely anywhere. Add the Prana Diva skirt over your leggings and go to the opera. Throw a pretty scarf over the Prana Cali dress, and go out to dinner. They're beautiful, classic silhouettes, AND most pieces are manufactured using recycled fabrics.
To show you what this looks like on the hoof, here are a couple of photos from Ireland. I'm wearing leggings, a long tank, a sweater, a jacket, and waterproof trail shoes during the day. In the evening, I added a skirt (a Gap skirt I've had for ages), changed out my trail shoes for boots, and added a scarf for color. Done!
You'll see in the first picture that I've got on a blue shirt, because when you put these 10 pieces into your carry-on, you'll have extra room to add whatever else you want. The funny thing is, though, that I often come home with unworn "extras," having worn the 10 pieces over and over again.
For Andy, the key is a stack of t-shirts in good performance fabrics.
He mostly wears jeans in Europe, a good dark wash. He does love his Columbia hiking pants in that magical fabric that's super thin and packable and is never too hot or too cold.
If Andy gets super fancy, he'll put on a button-down shirt over his t-shirt, and change out his running shoes for a pair of desert boots for the evening.
If the Queen ever invites us for dinner, we'll have to upgrade our wardrobes a bit, but so far this has taken us everywhere we've ever wanted to go.