Japan; a travel wardrobe

IMG_0129Ever wanted to know how to pack super-minimally for a 2 week winter-time skiing holiday?

Well it’s pretty simple.  In a nutshell, only pack one of each thing and wear the same outfit every day.  End post.

Hehe, not really, but actually not too far off either…  🙂   The above selection was mostly it!  I try to pack as efficiently as possible on any given trip anyway, but I think this has been my most streamlined effort so far!

Time away:
13 days

Where to:
Japan; one week in Tokyo, one week in Hokkaido

the middle of winter… hovering just above zero in Tokyo, like 4-14C; and plummeting well below in Hokkaido, with -13 at the top of the mountain to about-4C on a typical day.

Expected activities:
City walking, shopping and sightseeing in Tokyo; skiing and apres ski in Hokkaido  One day wearing a (hired) full traditional kimono on the streets of Tokyo!

Colour scheme:

good ol’ boring functional black and ivory; with splashes of bright warm colour to relieve the drab neutraldom.

japan travel wardrobeWhat I packed:

each item is linked to its original construction post…
from top, left to right;
shearling jacket
2 beanies; charcoal and ivory
charcoal gloves
lime-green arm warmers
mustard cowl
rtw ski jacket and goggles
3 tops (just under); charcoal LS twist topstriped Tshirtivory LS twist top

middle, from left:
cream knitted jumper
2 jeans; ivory flaresblack corduroy
rtw ski mittens

(at right) snow boots
scarlet knitted cardigan

lower row:
gold handbag
grey suede shoes
blue thongs
rust bathers
2 prs knitted socks + socks
khaki leggings, black tights

Not pictured; my summer nightie, toiletries bag, selection of underwear

My daily outfits:

ahem, rather unexciting! but shown here just for funsies…


Hehe, it’s pretty easy to pick my favourite day! obviously the kimono day, out with Yoshimi!  I’m currently brewing a separate post with my thoughts on the experience of being dressed in, and wearing, a traditional Japanese kimono…


My primary aim here was to PARE BACK while still ensuring I would be comfortable and warm.  See, I needed suitcase space!  Tokyo remains one of the best places for fabric shopping I have ever experienced, in all my years of sewing… and I intended to take full advantage. And I’m pleased to say that I think I was very successful… I went over with barely two thirds of a suitcase and came back with a bulging one; mwahahaha.

So, going Minimal … how did it go? well, fortunately; very well I think.  I was a initially a bit worried that I’d gone too far, I’ve got to admit;  a few moments of angst, when I had to restrain myself from tossing in just one more top, just one more scarf, just a few more pairs of socks and tights.  I’d left myself with very few back ups.  Like, what if there were a food disaster??  what if I was too cold??  but I was determined to cut down! and went as lean and mean as I dared.  I thought of this as a little experiment, in a way; wanted to see if I even could do it.  I knew we’d have washing facilities after the first few days, which helped a bunch!

My snow boots took up the most luggage room, along with my hand knitted woolly cardigan and jumper.  My woollies may have been bulky but they are light, and were a fabulous insulative layer for underneath my ski jacket and took away any need for commercial thermals!  My 3/4 sleeve cardi was perfect for the less cold days and the cream jumper was a star on two particularly cold days, virtually no wind gets through that thing!

I hired ski pants in Hokkaido, so that was nothing.  My shearling jacket is pretty bulky too, but I wore that for each travelling leg so it didn’t get “packed” so to speak.

I allowed myself two pairs of jeans; I wore the black cords a lot, washed them on skiing days when I wore my hired ski pants, and saved my ivory jeans for the leg home.  I’ve done this before, keeping something aside just for the trip home.  I don’t have a rational explanation for this, but putting on one thing that’s fresh and different just mentally “re-sets” me out of holiday mode, and gives me a good coming-home feeling.

On another note; it’s funny, I hardly ever wear those black jeans, except for when I go away when I choose to take them a lot!  I have no idea why I’m not keen on them at home as well…

Only 1 pair each gloves and arm warmers, each worn on a daily basis.  1 pair leggings, 1 pair tights, which I alternated through on skiing days.  The tights are from last winter and are practically worn through in the heels, so I’m thinking of chopping off the feet and transforming them to leggings, to keep for thermal purposes.  In the past I’ve chucked out a lot of me-made tights that have worn through the heels, but now I’m thinking that was pretty wasteful.

Two pairs of socks.  Woollen socks don’t really get “dirty” like cotton or polyblends, but in any case I could wear a pair over tights, and then with the leggings the following day, so they were only against skin for a day at a time.  Sorry if that’s splitting hairs, but managing the wash is something this laundry maid thinks about!  In the past I’ve packed way more socks and tights than this, but my little 2prs-only experiment has taught me that cutting back can work out just fine.

Sleepwear;  I saved space by just taking my light little summer nightie; ‘cos you know what? Japanese buildings are heated so much that I’ve found winter jammies are just not needed… unlike winters here in Australian where you freeze since no one heats their houses.  LOL who’d have thunk it?!!  For some reason this gives me a lol.

The only things that hardly got worn, as in once only; my bathers and the thongs!  but that’s ok, they don’t take up much room  🙂

So that’s that! Everything that I took proved useful and was worn, some things every day! and despite my concerns that I could be going too minimal I actually never wished I had more to choose from.  This is kinda surprising for me, because I normally get bored with my clothes and need a lot of choice.  Although I think it’s a very good sign.  Maybe I should do a paring back of my whole wardrobe?!  hmmm  🙂


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17 Thoughts on “Japan; a travel wardrobe

  1. Always nice to see your wardrobe! 🙂 I like this one and I’m excited to hear more about the Kimono! Think you might have inspired to pack less for my upcoming holiday in island! 🙂

  2. I always love your travel wardrobe posts! What a well thought, minimalist wardrobe. Only one pair of each, hm. Probably I should try to be more minimalist when traveling, too. Your pics are showing us a well dressed and beautiful woman! For the leg home, I usually dress my jeans worn my first day trip. It is a nice idea to keep something fresh for going home. I am looking for your kimono post! 🙂

  3. I always managed really well packing for skiing. The main kit and then a fresh pair of jeans and undies! I know what you mean about wearing the same everyday. Jo x

  4. I enjoyed your post. Minimal travel wardrobes interest me a lot and this was a good one. Glad it worked out for you.
    My wardrobe is not particularly pared down but I’m beginning to think it might help if it was….Look forward to reading your thoughts

  5. Hi Carolyn,
    I’m a big skier have to say I am impressed that you could pack so light for a ski trip. My ski clothes would take up more room than everything you brought! Helmet, long underwear, ski pants, ski jacket, ski mittens, ski boots, skis poles —– needless to say I usually drive when I go skiing.
    Great job! Love your travel posts

    • Carolyn on 09/02/2016 at 1:00 pm said:

      thank you Diane! Yes, ski equipment is pretty bulky stuff! Since we hired such a lot of our ski gear; skis, poles, ski boots and pants; it’s a heckuvva lot easier to minimise the luggage! There’s no snow anywhere near here for literally thousands of miles, so any ski trip means a plane flight. Not many West Australians would think it’s worth buying the gear, unless you were REALLY keen. In which case you would probably want to live elsewhere! 🙂

  6. Heading for Japan in March so would love to hear more about sewing delights.

  7. Love seeing how you put cohesive outfits together. What a great mini wardrobe. Looking forward to reading about the kimono!

  8. Love seeing your travel wardrobe and even though it was minimal you still looked very fashionable and by the sounds of things quite happy with the selection.

    Can’t wait to hear about your day with Yoshimi and the Kimono.

  9. A very well thought out wardrobe. So glad to hear it was a success.

  10. I really envy your ability to execute such brilliant travel wardrobe planning. No chance of excess baggage charges for you! Well done Carolyn

  11. Mel on 10/02/2016 at 5:52 am said:

    Pwoar! Love a good travel wardrobe – plus ‘what worked and what didn’t’? Priceless!

  12. So impressive! I love your travel summaries. I’m mentally drafting a post for those that need advice regarding a me-made glamping wardrobe…..

  13. I love how you show how you pack. We moved from Germany to the United States this past August and had to live out of a suitcase for about 2 months. You so inspired me with your packing talents that I kept to just what was needed and didn’t have an extremely heavy and overloaded suitcase. LOL I must admit I was ever so happy once we received our shipment so I could stop wearing the same things.

  14. I always love your travel posts too and find I always look forward to knowing you’ll be publishing your write-up when you return while I enjoy your taking us along with you on your trips. Loved your pop on colors in the cowl, arm warmers and cardi. And that coat!!!! Love!!! 🙂

  15. I love that pattern making. It suits your figure and looks great with that necklace

  16. It’s always fun to see your travel wardrobe! Hehe, that’s about as much luggage as I usually take on a long weekend… I’d love to hear about your experience wearing a traditional Kimono!

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