The Gap-Year Capsule Wardrobe Guide

Posted on 9th Jun 2017 in Advice, Travelling Abroad

Before you set off on your gap year, it’s important to understand the benefits of packing light. 

If you can fit all you need into a backpack, there’ll be no getting to each airport two hours early to check in your luggage or dragging a bulky suitcase from hostel to hostel with a big sign saying ‘tourist’ on your back.

While it might seem impossible to fit everything you need into your carry-on luggage, if you follow a few simple rules you’ll manage it no bother. To help you out, we’ve listed a handful of items every woman’s gap year capsule wardrobe should be based around. Follow these rules and you’ll be able to pack light and still be ready for any occasion. 

Plenty of plain tops

If you're about to set off on a gap year, your wardrobe needs to be adaptable. By making a handful of plain tops its foundation, you’ll be able to layer up with a jacket and some knitwear during the colder months without having to worry about clashing colours. 

Black, white, and grey tops will go with absolutely anything, making them the perfect choice to travel with. As they’re timeless, there’s also no danger of you looking back on your holiday photos in years to come and thinking “what was I wearing?”. 

Of course, there’s no need to stick to neutrals — just make sure the colours you pick match everything else in your wardrobe. Go for black jeans, shoes, and a black jacket and you’ll be able to wear tops in any colour you like. 

Comfy jeans

A quality pair of black or navy jeans is the only pair of trousers you need for your capsule wardrobe. Denims in a darker shade show up the least amount of dirt and stains, making them ideal for travel. In an interview with Fortune, Levi’s CEO and President Chip Bergh actually revealed that you should spot clean jeans with a toothbrush and only put them through the washing machine every now and then. Follow his advice and a pair of jeans from a quality brand like Levi’s or True Religion will be the only bottoms you need alongside a few pairs of shorts or skirts. 

Versatile footwear

You’re going to spend a lot of time on your feet exploring the sites your destinations have to offer, so it’s important you have a comfortable pair of shoes to wear every day. You can’t go wrong with a pair of black trainers here and, with the athleisure trend showing no signs of going anywhere, you’re sure to look bang on trend with a pair from Nike or Adidas. 

If you’re planning on enjoying the nightlife your destinations have to offer, you’ll need a pair of dress shoes as well. Again, black is your friend here. Flats will take up less room in your backpack than heels, and they’ll also be more comfortable to explore the city in. However, if you can’t part with your favourite pair of heels, then we’re sure you’ll be able to make room for them in your luggage. 

If you’re looking for some new casual and dress shoes for your travels, order them from the range of women’s footwear at Charles Clinkard and receive free delivery. 

Smart sunglasses

A pair of sunglasses should be one of the first things you pack for your gap year — and not just because they look cool. This summer essential protects your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, stopping your retinas from being damaged and wrinkles from developing around your eyes.
However, before you pack that cheap and cheerful pair you picked up at the airport before your last holiday, it’s important to realise that not all sunglasses are created equal. Make sure to buy a pair that are clearly labelled as blocking 100% of UVA and UVB rays. If your current shades don’t fit this bill, pick up a pair of Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarers, which will not only protect you from the sun in style but also fold up and fit in your pocket when you no longer need them, making them ideal for travel. 


So, there you have it: the starting point for the perfect gap year capsule wardrobe. Add some knitwear and a jacket if you’re travelling in the colder months and shorts, skirts, and sundresses if you’re travelling in the summer and you’re sure to be prepared for any occasion. You'll have plenty of room left for our pick of the ten essential items for your gap year, too.