These 11 Under-$150 Basics Would Make an Ideal Travel Capsule Wardrobe


(Image credit: @amaka.hamelijnck)

I actually just returned from a trip myself, and as someone who really struggles with packing, I had a stroke of inspiration while preparing for this particular trip. The trip was to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the itinerary entailed everything from hiking to dining at fancy restaurants, so you can see why packing would be a challenge.

While formulating my outfits, I found that the main thing I needed to purchase for the trip was basics. Nearly every item I ended up packing was a basic, and I used accessories to dress the outfits up or down. So I thought, wouldn't this be much easier if I had a collection of basics I pack for pretty much every trip (with some variations for the different seasons)? And even better if they're affordable.

So with spring and summer travel on the horizon, I'm making formulating a travel capsule wardrobe comprised of basics my goal. If your goal aligns with mine, scroll on to shop the versatile pieces that you'll be able to use to create tons of chic outfits, all of which are under $150.

Straight-Leg Jeans With Stretch

Without fail, the jeans I wear the most while traveling is stretchy, straight-leg ones. They go with all of my tops, and I won't be miserable wearing them on a plane or long car trip.

Retro Sneakers

If you want to look polished and on-trend while traveling but still be comfortable, take my advice and get a pair of retro-inspired sneakers.

Long Black Skirt

A long black skirt is seasonless and can be dressed down with flat sandals, sneakers, or ankle boots, and up with slingback heels (or any other type of heel).

A Packable Handbag

Handbags that I can't fit into my carry-on are a no-go for me when traveling. Opt for something non-structured and slim.

Black Leggings

Not only are leggings-as-pants back, but they'll also come in handy for any spontaneous activities or workouts.

Polished Tees

Tees for layering and pairing with everything—from jeans to shorts to skirts—are as essential as it gets.

Goes-With-Everything Jacket

Jackets and coats take up a lot of suitcase retail space, so I try to just stick to one or two for every trip. That means they must be extremely versatile, such as a trench or a black tweed jacket.

Non-Boring Black Dress

Black dresses are one of the few dress styles you can wear multiple times on a trip without anyone even noticing.

Walkable Heels

I always like to pack a pair of heels to wear for evening activities, but I seem to walk more than usual on trips, so that's something I always take into consideration.

Oversize Button-Down

The beauty of an oversize shirt is that you can layer it over a white tank, wearing it as a swimsuit cover-up, or tuck it into a pair of jeans—the possibilities are endless.

Polished Shorts

Shorts are essential for warm-weather trips. I skip the cutoffs and pack trouser shorts or long denim shorts instead.

Next up, eight always-popular items that'll be hard to find once spring arrives.

Allyson Payer
Senior Editor

Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.