Travel Capsule for UK Summer Trip?

Hi Everyone!

B and I are headed to England the last two weeks of August! We'll be spending most of the trip visiting his family outside Manchester, and 2-3 days in London on our own for a little sight seeing. I'm really excited, because this will be my first trip to England and my first time visiting a place outside the US. Of course my first thoughts were on what to wear. ;)

I know the weather can differ quite a lot between northern and southern England, and that the weather can vary a lot even during the course of one day. Also, Londoners wear a lot of black (is that true?). I don't own anything black. :( If anyone can give me any more guidance, that would be great. I live in Texas, so "hot" weather to me means anything above 90. 

I used Pinterest to put together a potential travel capsule, but I'd love some feedback from YLFers who are in England or have visited during the summer. 

My goal is to take 3 bottoms, 3 shirts, 3 "toppers" (layering pieces), 1 dress, 3 pairs of comfortable walking shoes, my trenchcoat, umbrella and 1 handbag, plus a few small accessories. That makes 7 outfits that I plan to wear twice each (we'll be able to do laundry while there). The hitch is I do not want to buy anything new just to take to England, especially things that I would never wear here in Texas. The trip is going to be quite expensive, and we just don't have much to spare for clothes. The items below are all things I already own (or close approximations). 

So, does this capsule seem okay? Again, most of the things we'll be doing are really casual--visiting family and touring museums and hanging out at the pub. We won't be attending fancy dinner parties or theaters or really nice meals out (maybe next time). :)

P.S. If any YLF peeps will be around London at the end of August and have time, I would love to meet up for lunch and a little browsing/shopping. :)

Here's my Travel Pinterest board if you're interested in seeing the actual items I have.

Thanks again! :D

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • bj1111 replied 11 years ago exciting! I see great cohesion in your capsule. Love the neutrals mixed with orange and coral.

    I think a more relevant question is what constitutes cold in Austin. To me you may want to add a sweater or jacket/coat to the mix. The uk has been really cold even for the uk this spring summer.

  • Ana replied 11 years ago

    Thanks, bj1111! That's a good point. I'm taking my red trench coat for rainwear/cold weather and it will fit over any of the three toppers I'm taking. Cold to most Austinites is anything below 65. :) 

    Maybe I should take my navy and white striped turtleneck sweater from J. Crew as a backup? That's my "winter wear" here in Texas. Right now it's hard to imagine and plan for anything besides 100 degrees, tons of humidity.  

  • Joy replied 11 years ago

    You have put together a fabulous travel capsule that looks like it will provide variety and layering possibilities. Can you layer your denim jacket under the trench? BJ has a point about the weather. I suspect you could be going from hot and dry to quite cool and damp. If there's room, a light weight wool sweater may feel good.
    ETA: and be sure all your shoes can get a good grip walking on wet cobblestones. ( However I think August is a fairly dry month)

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 11 years ago

    Even in August you won't get Texas-hot type weather in either London or Manchester. (I just totaly jinxed it and they'll get a heatwave.) I would definitely consider adding a trench and/or sweater if you can. I like your plan for the sets of clothes as far as amounts, especially if you'll have access to laundry facilities. You might want to think about the fabric of everything, how it washes and wears and wrinkles. Knits are packable and don't usually wrinkle. I really like the combinations you have and how everything goes together. Are your shoes all super comfortable? Very key.

  • Debra replied 11 years ago

    What a great little capsule, you are just going to look fantastic and have a great holiday.
    I always throw in a thermal singlet if I'm worried about being cold so I don't have to wear bulky layers :)

  • Ornella replied 11 years ago

    Great capsule and it has summer vibe. I'd add one more long sleeved top and/or one piece of knitwear for layering. It can be surprisingly cold and non-summery in August.

    Also, a piece of closed footwear- you don't want wet feet if it starts drizzling.

    As for the color scheme, perhaps people who come from the outside cam make more objective observations, but I'd say don't worry about it a all. Even if some scheme stands out, in London especially you won't stand out - they have seen it all and everyone has their own space. Besides, you can only stand out for being so chic and stylish.

  • Caro in Oz replied 11 years ago

    What Ornella said about the weather & the colour scheme. Love the capsule - the colours are fantastic.

  • rae replied 11 years ago

    I like what the others have said already (and I reallllly love your color scheme and trench). The only things I might add are to maybe switch one ballet flat for a bootie, and add a heavier scarf in addition to the silk one? That might come in handy on the plane, too. 

  • rae replied 11 years ago

    Oh! And do you have anything like a beanie or crushable hat? Just in case it gets cold and gusty. For some reason, it really seems to help keep the chill off even if you don't happen to have an extra layer to add jacket-wise. 

  • citygirldc replied 11 years ago

    I'm sure someone has mentioned this but layer, layer, layer. I went to London in June about 15 years ago and the temps were in the 60s and drizzly. Let's just say I didn't take anything warm with me and froze my butt off.  I actually had to buy a wool sweater from Bennetton.

    The temps can be so wonky so layering is key. Take an umbrella. Closed toe shoes are good. Socks possibly. A rain coat can come in handy.  

    That's my 2 cents. Enjoy London (I'm such Anglophile) and wish I was going with you.

  • Mochi replied 11 years ago

    No clothing advice (I was not brilliant at packing a travel capsule for Italy), but I hope you have a wonderful time, which you will!

  • replied 11 years ago

    Darn it! I'll be in Greece when you visit UK.
    Lots of good advice given so far and I can confirm that here in Blighty it can be anything from 60 to in the 80s temp wise. Layers are definitely needed and rainwear. Enjoy, sorry I'l miss you. It would have been a good excuse for a trip to London for me.

  • Suz replied 11 years ago

    What a brilliant capsule, Ana! Absolutely stunning, so well thought out, and so efficient! You are going to look amazing in every combination - I just love how cohesive it all is. 

    I agree with the advice to bring another sweater, perhaps, and consider trading a short sleeved top for a long sleeved top. It is likely to feel chilly to you. And socks would be great at least for when you are lounging around. Depending on the amount of walking you're going to do I might consider another pair of shoes as well. I know they always tell us to take less footwear (because it is space saving) but I have always found that more options equal happier feet, and happier feet equal happier travel. However, do keep in mind that walking 12 miles or more in a day is pretty typical for me when I am travelling and I tend not to wear traditional "walking" shoes but make do in  my more fashionable footwear -- so need to trade them out from time to time. 

    I'm with Ornella re the colour -- don't worry what others are wearing. Londoners wear it all. Yes, lots of black, but that is true in all northern urban centres. And far less true in summer than in winter. 

  • Rambling Ann replied 11 years ago

    Now, I run cold, but if it were 60 deg in the morning on a day that's going to 70, I'd be freezing my bum off in #2-4.  A pair of heavier tights might be the lightest cheapest thing to toss in the bag for an extra layer, and you could always slip them off if it warmed up. Moving from Houston to a four season climate, it's hard to explain why the damp and wind makes it seem so much colder than the thermometer tells me I should feel. Camis will help too, and might get you an extra day between washings for some of your tops.

    And a pair of wool socks. Head, feet and hands warm, the rest can equilibrate much better. Hard to imagine planning to be damp and cold when you are looking at 100 deg this time of year! Fun!

  • Ana replied 11 years ago

    Thank you so much for the feedback and suggestions, everyone! I really appreciate it. It's got my mind churning out a few new ideas. Like I said, it's hard to plan for weather that is so different from what I'm experiencing now. I'm looking forward to a vacation from the relentless heat, though. :)

    Everyone has such good ideas. Since t-shirts are small, I will probably take the t-shirt (it can double as loungewear in the evenings), and also take a slightly heavier, longer sleeved top. I plan to wear tank tops under every outfit for layering and now I'll pack a warmer scarf too. I'll also plan to take a medium weight sweater, and I loved the idea about tights. I don't have any tights right now, but I can probably afford to buy those as my one "travel item." I was thinking something like these sheer nude hose:

    And I also saw these that I think are so cute and would go with the tan skirt outfits, but do you think that would be too juvenile?

    By "closed footwear," do you all mean a shoe that covers the entire top of my foot? I'm confused because all the shoes I'm taking are closed toe. The three pairs I'm taking are my most comfortable walking shoes (they all have padding and rubber bottoms). I'll have to see if I can find some shoes that would do all right in the rain. We haven't had a rainy stretch here in so long, I'm not sure if I have anything appropriate anymore. 

    Thanks again!

  • Carole replied 11 years ago

    So impressed with your capsule. You seem to have all bases covered and I love the color choices. The bag is perfect. Well done.

  • Diana replied 11 years ago

    I like your capsule!  I also worry that you might be cold though since Britain can be kind of cold and damp even in the summer.  I would add, at a minimum, a warmer scarf (like a lightweight wool or cashmere pashmina style, you can also use it on the plane), a warmer jacket that can layer under the trench (do you have a heavier knit blazer?  Something like the Gap academy blazer?  I find mine very warm), and some tights so you could wear the dress/skirt even if it's too cold for bare legs.  If you have a leather jacket, I might switch out the denim for it, since it'll keep you warmer and drier. 

    Also, is the trench water resistant?  I don't think you need totally waterproof, but a water resistant or at least quick drying one would be best. 

  • Ana replied 11 years ago

    Thanks, Diana. I'm planning to add a long sleeved t-shirt, scarf, and light merino wool sweater. I don't have a blazer as heavy as the Academy blazer. The one I'm taking a lightweight knit polyester blazer:

    I also don't have a warm leather jacket (only a short sleeved one), or a water proof/resistant anything, other than Wellies and an umbrella. My only other coat besides my trench is a heavy wool coat (that I hardly wear here) and a cream, dressy cotton coat. I might have a pair of gloves someplace... :( 

    Basically, I have tons of hot weather clothing, cardigans and a few sweaters that I layer over summer tops to get me through "winter" here. 

  • Lisa replied 11 years ago

    Wonderful capsule and some great advice here.  I adore that striped bag!  I did not find Londener's in all black, I associate black outfits more with NYC personally.  I think walking shoes are essential for travel.  And layering is always key because weather can change quickly.

  • Diana replied 11 years ago

    Hmm, see I worry about the heavy cotton items (denim jacket, and trench maybe, although I don't know what it's made of) because I find they don't do much for warmth when it's cold and damp.  They just get kind of ... clammy, and they take forever to dry if they get rained upon.  But layering something wool or thermal under and a warm scarf over will help!

    I've not been to Austin, but I think the weather is like SoCal (hot and dry), only hotter, right?  Very different from English weather which can feel colder because it's so damp sometimes. 

    ETA: do you have a gear raincoat/windbreaker, or running-type jacket maybe?  I know we're not fans of gear as regular clothes, but if it's really raining hard you might be glad to have it. 

  • Ana replied 11 years ago

    The damp thing will be hard. Austin is very humid (although not as humid as New Orleans or Florida). But we're in a major drought right now, so it doesn't rain all that much. When it does rain, it's a a super heavy downpour, but then it moves on pretty quickly. 

    I see what you're saying about the clammy/damp clothing aspect. That's a really good point. The trench is stretchy cotton. It will definitely dry overnight, but not in a few hours, if that makes sense. I'm not sure what else to do. No windbreakers, but I do have a packable canvas rain poncho with a hood that I've used for outdoor music festivals. It's about as chic as you'd expect (that is to say--not very). It looks like this:

    That *might* be a possibility. It's only slightly better than those disposable garbage bag coat things. Ugh, that makes me so embarrassed to think of wearing one of those in a cosmpolitan city! I'd almost rather just be soaked and cold. 

  • Diana replied 11 years ago

    On the other hand, if you're staying with family/friends, they'll probably have something you can borrow if the weather is really dreadful. 

  • Ornella replied 11 years ago

    Anna, quickly chiming in to say that by closed shoe I personally meant something like oxfords, so yes - the shoe that covers the top of the foot. If it starts raining, you'll be happy to have them.

  • Ana replied 11 years ago

    Thanks, Ornella and Diana! Let me think about what I might have. Maybe I can buy a cheap hood/rain hat, since a friend says that an umbrella might not be practical if the weather is really bad. 

  • rachylou replied 11 years ago

    That's a great travel wardrobe! I'd throw in a heavier sweater too. And socks.

  • Glory replied 11 years ago

    What an exciting trip - great capsule and I love how you have pinned it all. 
    The weather is the difficult part because it might be damp and cold but it could also be very hot at that time of year. I lived in Europe for several years and always struggled to figure this out.
    I would consider adding a tshirt which could be in a neutral and used for layering if cold, or on its own if hot. A tank top could act in the same way.
    I am not sure about the white blazer in terms of keeping it clean while travelling, and blazers take a fair amount of space. I also like the suggestions above about shoes and being able to wear them in various conditions.
    Have fun

  • Mander replied 11 years ago

    Up here in the frozen north, 65 is high summer!  London is usually
    warmer than Manchester, so you might feel a bit cool.  But if you are
    going to be in town and visiting family I think it's likely that you
    will be able to either find a fairly inexpensive place (Primark,
    Poundland, Tesco, H&M, etc.) to buy a hat, scarf, long-sleeved
    t-shirt, or a goofy rain poncho if you get desperate, or that you will
    be able to borrow something a little more heavy duty.

    I think just about everything I would add has been suggested by other people.  Can you put waterproofing spray on your trench, or would that ruin it?  I think I'd stick with it, since it's the most stylish and versatile, and if it really starts pouring do what the Brits do -- go inside!  ;-)

    I actually bought myself one of those goofy plastic rain bonnets several years ago, because I have yet to find a packable rain hat that I like.  They are ridiculous and very old lady, but about the size of a sandwich bag and very effective.  Someday I am going to get one of these ones made from recycled umbrellas:

    Have fun!  PM me closer to the time; if you are anywhere near me we can meet for a coffee or some such!

  • rachylou replied 11 years ago

    I've always gone with a trench coat, which has served me well. But, I must admit, there are always times when I really feel the cold. For the odd downpour, I've decided those fold-up drugstore rain coats do just fine.

    My personal quirk is needing to cover my ears when the wind kicks up. I take hats or scarves. Hats work better than scarves, but scarves seem easier to me to carry around. That and cold feet. I should start sticking heavier socks in my bag.

  • Suz replied 11 years ago

    An umbrella (small packable) could help in a real downpour. That's what I'd bring. (That's what I did bring for my own London trip a few months ago, and I did have occasion to use the SLEET!) 

    Also...a small note of warning...things that might dry "in a few hours" in a less humid climate could take a very long time to dry in a more humid climate. 

  • Mona replied 11 years ago

    You have a great capsule going on here. I agree with some of the suggestions above about taking an extra sweater and a pair of extra shoes with you. I went to London last September and the weather was just fabulous. It did not rain even once but again it is highly unpredictable.

  • Ana replied 11 years ago

    You all are bringing things up that I hadn't thought about. I went ahead and ordered the polka dot tights, and I will probably order a plain nude pair as well to go with the dress. I'll go ahead and take an umbrella and also maybe a packable rain hat. I think we'll mostly be indoors, but commuting on foot, of course. 

    Thanks for the replies, everyone! This is so helpful. Sorry for the late reply. 

  • Mander replied 11 years ago

    Oh, one thing I just thought of: if you happen to have one of those Asian style folding fans, you might want to pop it in your bag. I sometimes carry one in the summer because a lot of places aren't really designed for unexpected hot weather and it can be very nice to fan yourself in those situations!

  • Lantana replied 11 years ago

    Ana I haven't read the responses so my apologies if I'm repeating stuff.
    I was in the UK last year in August. My capsule was very, very similar to yours and perfectly adequate. The only thing different was that I had a lightweight kind of gauzy cardigan, black and a little dressy looking, that rolled into a tiny space in my handbag. It was a) a little more coverage if I needed it and b) could make a plain outfit a bit dressy.
    The other item I packed was a lawn caftan that I used for sleep and leisure wear. It was really handy at the end of a long day tramping or driving to be able to flop into something unconstricted.
    Manchester was my base too, coincidentally.

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