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How I packed a hand luggage holiday capsule

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Hey Lovelies,

If you follow my Instagram you will know I took a trip to Mijas, Spain last month with my fiance Dave to start planning our Spanish Villa wedding for 2020.

Ever since sharing I had packed 6 days into a hand luggage case with a peak of my mini capsule holiday wardrobe, I’ve had many messages and conversations about how stressful people find packing. Especially ‘what to pack’?

And the truth is, it all stems back to the basics (as I always say). Not having a Style Code, co-coordinating and functional wardrobe to start with, therefore trying to pack a miniature version of it can look and feel like chaos.

However, packing is a great place to start and is why I have created this Step by Step guide sharing how I packed my capsule into a hand luggage case.

It will hopefully help to de-stress and minimise your packing life by starting with the basics. Then who knows, it may even transcend across your whole wardrobe?

I hope you find this guide helpful.

Let’s get started...


First things first, go pull out your hand luggage case and try packing for 5-7 nights before reading this step by step guide.

You will learn a lot and be surprised at what you may discover about your wardrobe. It forces you to be as minimal and functional as possible.

You may find the following: Every outfit is an individual outfit and nothing mixes and matches. You need to pack copious amounts of shoes to go with your outfits. Discover what your wardrobe is missing.You have too much choice and can’t decide what to pack. Have a multi coloured and multi patterned wardrobe.

I personally discovered that I just needed some plain tees and vests to complete my packing for a mix and match capsule.

The thing I LOVE about packing is, it forces you to evaluate your wardrobe and highlight what you need or is missing. If you are someone who feels they need to pack as much as possible to create outfits and cover every eventuality then this blog is for you.

STEP 1: Choose a capsule colour base

Choosing a colour capsule is the first place to start, it’s all about mixing and matching to make more from less. Therefore packing colours that co-ordinate is key.

My Style Code formula is simple:

  • Choose 1 dark neutral

  • 1 light neutral

  • 1 accent colour/colour pop

  • 1 mixing colour

  • 1-2 patterns max

I chose Black as my dark neutral, Navy as my mixer, White as my light neutral and Emerald Green as my accent colour pop (obvz).

For my patterns I used block colours and Stripes along with a muted leopard tote.

STEP 2: Creating co-ordination is key

Coordinating separates are the key to a mix and match wardrobe, pair that with a capsule colour base and you are winning at wardrobe life.

In order to get more outfits from less pieces, you need tops and bottoms that mix and match all ways possible. This is how you can create 20-30 outfit options from 10 pieces and ultimately go away with less that gives you more.

I like to use a simple formula I call PLAIN, POP AND PRINT when colour co-ordinating separates.

For example... Take a plain top (black, white, navy), a pop top (emerald green) and a print top (navy/white or black/white stripe). This can also work for your bottoms.

Take away 1 cover up that you can wear in the airport and can transition from day/night. I took my Green Boden blazer, the ponte stretch fabric gives it a more laid back look for day wear but the colour and the fact that it is a blazer made it look acceptable into evening for smart casual. I wore this in the airport too to save room in my case.

If you do want to take a dress or jumpsuit, take a colour and shape that can be dressed up or down in a colour from your capsule. I recommend only taking 1-2 max as it is one item that is one outfit. I took a navy and green stripe dress as my ‘dress’ items for day/night but didn’t end up wearing them.

A navy dress or jumpsuit is a great example item to pack in a stretch material or a stripe shirt dress you can wear with trainers during the day and sandals on an evening.

STEP 3: Get your shoe/bag combo right

Pack 2 pairs of shoes and 2 handbags, THAT’S IT! Allow yourself  anything extra by wearing it to travel in if need be. Personally, I wore 1 of the 2 to save room in my case.

You will need:

A smart trainer and cross body bag combo: The cross body bag is most useful if it can be worn on an evening and during the day. The trainer needs to be comfortable enough to sight see in but look fresh, clean and cool enough to wear with a dress if need be. I chose a block green bag from Kin John Lewis and co-ordinated them with Adidas Stan smiths in white/green.

A tote/shoulder bag and elegant comfortable shoe: The shoulder bag tote needs to be relaxed and comfortable to carry, hold enough to use at the airport and look nice enough to wear for all occasions that may call on your travels. You could also use a backpack bag for this item. The elegant comfortable shoe needs to be easy to dress up or down for day and evening. This could be a flat or block heel sandal, wedge or ballet pump.

I chose my Karen Millen muted leopard and black tote, co-ordinated with my Boden low block heel almond toe pumps as you can see below. They also looked great mixed up as long as my outfit was co-ordinated for it to work, for instance trainers with the tote and cross body with the flat pumps.

STEP 4: Invest in a mix n match bikini

Choose a mix and match bikini that allows you to create 4 looks from 2 bikinis. The colours must co-ordinate for it to work. I chose a black and white stripe Bravissimo bikini and a black co-ordinating bottom. This meant I wore the same top with both bottoms to create a varied look. You could do this with a full black bikini and full stripe bikini like I did to mix and match tops and bottoms.

STEP 5: Keep accessories simple and minimal

You don’t need a box full of H&M bracelets, necklaces, earrings and 3 different belts to co-ordinate with all of your bags!

You need a few simple pieces in ONE jewellery colour that can work day-night.

I recommend:

  • 1 pair of sunglasses that go with everything day or dusk.

  • 1-2 signature earrings that can work day or night.

  • An ear jacket works great as you can wear the stud during the day and the full jacket at night.

  • 1 necklace1 watch and/or bracelet

  • 1 belt that co-ordinates with your capsule with a buckle in your jewellery colour.

Wear them at the airport to save any extra packing or stuff them in a ring box inside a shoe or sock in your case.

I took my tortoise shell Gucci shades, 1 silver diamond stud set, 1 green droplet earring, my silver Pandora bracelet, a silver Pandora ring and a black leather belt with a silver ring buckle. THAT’S IT!

STEP 6: Get effective with your packing

ROLL your clothes and pack them tight. If you have no idea how to do this I suggest you pop on an episode of Mary Kundo on Netflix for some pro tips and demo’s.

FILL every gap in your case where possible, stuff your small skincare or makeup bag into shoes/trainers. I filled my Stan smiths with my jeans belt, accessories box and stuffed my cross-body bag with may skincare cosmetic bag.

BUY all of your travel essential miniatures from Boots at the airport. To save room in my hand luggage I bought a bag of products at the airport I could carry on the plane and then throw away at the end of our trip to save room. I bought mini shampoo/conditioner, shower gel, mouse/hairspray, SPF and cotton pads for removing my makeup etc.

CHECK your accommodation has a hair dryer in the room to use and avoid packing yours unnecessarily. Many also already contain mini shower products too which may mean you don’t need to pack or purchase any at the airport.

MINIATURES where ever possible are obviously essential for any products, skincare and makeup.

STEP 7: Pack a mini makeup capsule

It’s time to do exactly the same with your make up as you just did with your clothes.

Find a small/medium makeup bag, imagine this is your hand luggage case for your clothes and only pack what fits in that makeup bag. It will force you to be logical, creative and savvy with your makeup products.

Keep it simple and find a day/night look.

Knowing your Style Code capsule makeup look is essential and how you can switch it up at night. If you find yourself needing to pack lots of products for different looks in to a huge makeup bag then you will definitely need a ‘Capsule look’ to simplify life.

Your makeup for some can become like packing your clothes if you love it and have lots of it.

Here are a few tips to keep it small and simple:

  • 1 of each product is all you need with multi-purpose uses

  • Compact/travel makeup palettes are great for travel

  • Switch up your evening with a lip colour

  • Travel sizes and samples

This is whole other blog in itself so I will cover this in a separate blog in full soon.

STEP 8: Book the right facilities

Booking the correct facilities for yourself, depending on where you are going of course is helpful. Having the means to wash and dry your clothes in case you need to use or wear them again is really helpful.

You don’t have to do this if you are going on a big summer holiday of course but if you are ‘travelling’ or like us, trying to keep it as simple and cost effective as possible then I highly recommend it.

We stayed in the loveliest AIR BNB accommodation for only £40 per night and had our own means to cook when we wanted or go out for food, chill in our own private and sunny court yard, wash and dry clothes if need be.

And that’s it!

I hope you found this useful?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and see any results from your packing or shopping below… DO SHARE!

Thanks for reading.

Helenlee xXx

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