How much packing space do you really need? Short answer: not that much. Long answer… we'll get on to that. First, let's pose a question: what percentage of your wardrobe do you think that you wear on a regular basis, say, within the last year?
Many people give answers around the 60 per cent mark, but the truth is that most of us are only utilising about one fifth or less of our wardrobes. A 2018 survey of 18,000 people from 20 countries found that people in the UK use just 27 per cent of their wardrobe - meaning three quarters of our clothes go virtually unused - while US citizens neglect an estimated 82 per cent of their threads.
With these statistics in mind, it's likely that if we pack for a holiday in the same way that we shop, we'll end up bringing more clothing than can possibly be worn in the span of a trip, be that two days or two weeks.
How to decide what to bring
Deciding which items of clothing to take on a trip can be difficult. Holiday like a minimalist with these four tips.
1. Separate your clothes
Before you so much as look at your suitcase, you should identify the 27 per cent of clothing that you actually wear and separate it from the 73 per cent of your clothing that never sees the light of day.
2. Leave the "maybes"
Only pack items (clothing or otherwise) that you will use frequently. There is no room in the minimalist traveller's bag for just-in-case items or dresses that you haven't worn in two years.
3. Pack for the weather
After removing the maybes, take what remains and divide it by season, axing the items that are not seasonally appropriate for your destination. A third of your wardrobe is likely to be unsuitable for your destination's climate.
4. Pick your favourite three
Now that you've narrowed your clothes down to seasonally appropriate items you'll actually wear, the next step is to select your favourite three of each. Pick out your favourite three shirts, favourite three dresses, favourite three trousers. (You can be more liberal with underwear.) Why threes? You can use any number really (provided it fits into your bag), but I've found that having three of everything provides more than enough outfit combinations (27 to be precise) to keep you from feeling bored with your wardrobe. Still not sure which three items to pick? Read on…
Tips for creating a versatile travel wardrobe
Now that you have a selection of weather-appropriate clothing you love, it's time to assess your options in order to choose the best three of each item.
1. Balance plain and patterned clothing
Counter bold, vibrantly patterned pieces with non-patterned items. Busy garments may be difficult to pair with other highly patterned pieces, so have some of both.
2. Choose a colour theme
Choosing a colour palette will maximise your wardrobe's cohesiveness. Chances are your pieces already have a certain theme, so this shouldn't be too difficult.
3. Pack versatile pieces
Refrain from packing garments that can only be worn with a certain jacket, for instance, or other items that are difficult to match. Pack pieces that can be easily paired with a range of items from your wardrobe.
4. Take advantage of accessories
Throw in an accessory or two for added variety - a light cardigan, a couple of pieces of jewellery or a hat. Accessories add character to your travel wardrobe and can be used to give the same outfit a brand new look.