Women’s Capsule Wardrobe for a City Break

What to wear on a City Break

  • Your clothing choices will depend on the time of year you visit and the likely weather conditions.
  • For hotter climes opt for shorts, skirts and short-sleeved shirts in cotton, linen or silk.
  • In cooler seasons you'll prefer trousers, long-sleeved shirts and jackets in thicker cotton, wool or cashmere.
  • Temperatures may vary a lot between inside and out – in summer buildings may have fierce air-con, whilst in winter they'll be toasty warm.
  • Clever layering is the best way to cope with changeable conditions – e.g. wear or carry a jacket, over a fleece, over a t-shirt.
  • Glamorous heels are great for evenings, but many European cities have cobbled streets that make walking more difficult. Opt for wedges instead, or some sparkly flats.
  • Remember there may be cultural obligations to respect if you visit places of worship.
  • Will any activities need special attire – such as swimwear for the hotel spa, or a smart outfit for attending the opera?
  • Pick a simple colour scheme of neutrals plus one or two statement shades. Make sure all your clothes co-ordinate so they can be mixed and matched.
  • Don't forget you will need an outfit to travel in – wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes where possible.
  • Download our complete packing list below for all quantities and a checklist of items.
  • Also see our City Break Capsule Wardrobe for Men

What we would pack for a City Break


T-Shirts or Vests

Pack simple tops in your favourite colours that will match your trousers and skirt. Team with a scarf or necklace on a couple of evenings, then wear by day for sightseeing. Depending on the climate choose from long or short-sleeved, sleeveless, or a mixture. We really like bamboo fabrics.

Suggested buy: Texere Hypoallergenic Bamboo Fiber Tee by Amazon


Casual Tops

A shirt (long or short-sleeved) in your favourite colour would tie in well here, and could be worn buttoned up or open over a t-shirt.

Suggested buy: Chambray Shirt by Joules


Evening Top

Pick a luxurious top for evening wear that goes well with your skirt and smart-casual trousers. Add shoes and jewellery and you're good to go!

Suggested buy: Lush Roll Tab Sleeve Woven Shirt by Nordstrom



Include for cooler months. A fleece is light and easy to carry in your day bag for when you need that extra layer.

Suggested buy: The North Face Womens Glacier 1/4 Zip by Amazon


Smart Cardigan or Jacket

A smart cardigan or jacket will dress up your outfit for evening – choose a colour to match or complement your tops and dress.

Suggested buy: Kate Spade 'Somerset' Cardigan by Nordstrom


Casual Trousers or Shorts

These should be practical for days out. Choose fabrics that dry quickly in case of rain. Styles with detachable legs are a good option for varied temperatures. You might opt for shorts instead for hotter climes, but trousers are good protection against the sun.

Suggested buy: Royal Robbins Zip N' Go Pant by Amazon


Smart-Casual Trousers or Jeans

A flattering pair of dark jeans works well, but depending on the climate you may want to swap these for a floaty pair of lightweight trousers. Dress them up for evenings with pretty shoes and a nice top.

Suggested buy: NYDJ Straight Leg Denim by Amazon


Skirt or Tailored Shorts

Flexible for day time or evenings. Loose styles in natural fabrics are good if it's hot. Choose thicker weights for winter, and/or add tights or leggings underneath for extra warmth.

Suggested buy: Eileen Fisher Linen Drawstring Skirt by Nordstrom



Choose something versatile that you can wear sightseeing, but also dress up to dine out in by adding accessories. These Karina dresses are very flattering and they pack brilliantly – no ironing ever needed!

Suggested buy: Audrey Dress by Karina Dresses



Some statement jewellery can really set off an outfit and takes up very little room in your case. Costume jewellery works just fine, and it's often better to leave your valuables at home.

Suggested buy: Multi Row Statement Necklace by Nordstrom



A ‘must take' item for any holiday as they are just so versatile: cover your shoulders at religious sites; add an instant touch of style to any outfit; put round you if there's a chill (or air-con) and keep cosy on the plane.

Suggested buy: Large Soft 100% Twill Pashmina by Amazon


Walking Shoes or Trainers

Most cities are best explored on foot, so you'll need some comfy flat shoes for all the walking.

These are super comfy: Gravity Sneakers by Hotter



If it's hot you may prefer comfy sandals to walk in, but do check that they are not too heavy or they could cause blisters. Sandals can be worn in the evenings too if you like, to add a bit of sparkle to your outfit.

Check these out: Play II Sandals by Hotter



Pack one stylish pair for evenings. If high heels aren't practical in the old town streets, low wedges or ballet pump styles are a good alternative.

We love: Pruce Ankle Strap Heels by Nordstrom



Essential for sun protection in hot weather, or choose a woollen style to keep out the cold and wet in cooler climes.

Suggested Buy: Packable Sun Hat on Amazon



The sun (or snow!) can be bright even in winter, and if you're out all day it can be a strain on your eyes – especially with lots to see.

Suggested buy: Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer by Amazon



Good sunscreen is essential in hotter climes, and don't get caught out on cloudy days either – you can still get burnt. Remember that water will reflect the sun's rays too. Choose a product with a high SPF (protects from UVB rays) and also look for the star or PA rating which indicates protection from UVA.

Suggested buy: SPF 30 PA+++ Water Resistant Sunscreen by Murad


Packaway Jacket

A light packaway raincoat is a good idea to carry with you on days out – it's ideal in case the weather changes quickly or you experience a sudden downpour. You can layer up underneath for warmth if necessary, or opt for a more substantial jacket in cooler climes.

Suggested buy: Charles River New Englander Rain Jacket by Amazon


Day Sack

You'll need a lightweight bag for all your sightseeing essentials. Our packaway day sack folds up into itself and fits easily in your suitcase when not in use. It's surprisingly roomy, showerproof and light to carry – even in hot weather.

Suggested Buy: Fold Away Day Sack on Amazon


Clutch Bag

Choose a simple clutch bag for evenings – the Baglett is light and easy to carry with just the right amount of room for your essentials. The strap can be detached and worn as a belt, too.

Suggested buy: The Baglett by Amazon