What is Wardrobe Fatigue and is There a Cure for It?

Surely you’ve heard of jet lag, culture shock, cabin fever and other travelers’ afflictions but, have you heard of wardrobe fatigue?

Wardrobe Fatique defined (by me!):  When you’re are on a trip and you are sick and tired of everything in your suitcase!

Sound familiar? If there’s one thing I know about travel planning, it’s that, most of us agonize and fret over what clothes to bring: What will I wear? What should I  pack?  I need new (fill in the blank) for this trip! And often we obsess for weeks, if not months, in advance…often until the last bag is checked! (OK, guilty as charged!)

Despite your careful planning, at some point during and certainly by the end of a trip, as you put on that pair of pants again or that top (that you used to love) again…did a little moan or whimper escape from your lips? Or, have you ever sworn you can hear your suitcase and its contents moan or whimper, too?  Ah…wardrobe fatigue

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actually vowed to toss, if not burn, every single piece of clothing in my suitcase when I got home! At the least, after unpacking and washing I do not want to even set eyes on them for a very, very long time! Definitely wardrobe fatigue

Confession (just to make you feel better!): I consider myself a very good packer so for my month long trip to Italy last June, I made my list, and followed every single guideline here. What was impossible to plan for or anticipate was an unseasonable heat wave…and I mean a HEAT wave! Well, I simply couldn’t wear about one third of what I brought so I did a lot of hand laundry, more mixing and matching, and well, you’ll see me in the same garb in a lot of photos. So, talk about wardrobe fatigue!?!

Now that we know the symptoms, what is the cure? Well, I cannot guarantee you will never experience wardrobe fatigue but I do know that if you follow my “prescription” carefully,  you will definitely minimize the symptoms! But first…

First Things First: Start with These 6 Basics 

#1 Where are you going?

#2 What will the weather be like?

#3 How are you traveling (car, plane, train, cruise, tour, etc.)?

#4 Length of your trip?

#5 What types of activities will you be engaged in?

#6 What size and how many piece(s) of luggage can you bring?

 Victoria’s Prescription: A Dozen TipZ You’ll Thank Me For!

#1  Do you have a packing list? Make one, use it. (At the end of this page, I have an excellent one that you can customize and use!)

#2  How many “outfits”/changes will you really need? C’mon…be honest…

#3  Take out everything you’re thinking of bringingmixing and match = “make outfits”. Now, how many outfits can you create from the minimum number of pieces? Does it match up with #2?

#4  Everything you bring should be versatile and be able to be worn several times. Leave out anything you will only wear once or even just a few times. (Personally, I want to be able to wear everything for a minimum of ¼ – ½ of the days of the trip.)

#5  Pick a simple palette with one basic dark color as the foundation for your travel wardrobe. Black, brown, navy are classic and perfect.

#6  Minimize accessories: You don’t need to be matchy-matchy, coordinated all the time. Use a few versatile colorful pieces such as shawls or scarves that are practical, easy to pack and great accent pieces.

 #7  Wear and toss along the way: Bring clothing/accessories you were thinking of donating/tossing anyway. No, not your holey, stained jeans but t-shirts, nightgowns, undies, sox, and slippers are a few items you can wear and leave behind. I even wore a pair of shoes that I was ready to donate on an international flight and left them behind at the first hotel.

#8  Think separates and layers: Consider that you will wear pieces a lot more than you think you will, especially pants and skirts. They also require less laundering.

#9  “I’ll buy it when I get there.” No no no! If you’re really going to need it, bring it with you. This is especially true for essential pieces such as shoes. Don’t wait to “shop for the right pair”!

#10 Less is more! Don’t pack to the max!  Remember the adage, “take half the clothes and twice the money”? It’s true! (One of my bad habits was “squeezing in just one more” when I had a little room. Trust me, resist the temptation!)

#11 Once the last zipper is zipped and you’re on your way, no more fretting! Make the best of it and leave a little room in your suitcase for those goodies you “have to have” and collect along the way.

#12 Remember: No one else notices or cares! Besides, you’re on vacation, you’re not going to see these people again!

The “Top 10 Test”: Can You Say “Yes” to Every Article of Clothing? (No Cheating and No “Maybes”!)

#1  Is it comfortable?

#2  Is it practical?

#3 Is it versatile?

#4  Can I mix and match with my color scheme?

#5 Is it coordinated with other separates?

#6  Is it easy to pack?

#7   Is it wrinkle-free or resistant?

#8  Is it easy to launder?

 #9  Is it appropriate?

#10 Could I live without it if it got ruined or lost?

Now, you’re all set!  You will amaze your fellow travelers with your savvy, versatility, and creativity…and your wardrobe fatigue will be reduced to no more than a little sigh!

More Great Packing Advice:

Packing Checklist from TravelSmith

The Art of Packing

Packing – Don’t Forget

Packing – Don’t Bother

The Savvy Traveler


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How do you plan your vacation wardrobe? What helpful suggestions can you share?

11 Responses to What is Wardrobe Fatigue and is There a Cure for It?

  1. Sandra says:

    Such great advice and invaluable ideas!! Packing is absolutely the only thing that makes travel a headache to me because I love to go so much…unless it’s hours and hours of flight delays. Thanks again, Victoria, for being right on!!!

    • Postcards from Travel PiZazz says:

      Sandra, Thank YOU for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Packing can be one of the biggest challenges and headaches of travel – hoping my advice and ideas continue to help make your travel planning easier and more fun! Safe travels! Victoria

  2. Cheryl says:

    This is GREAT! So true and such wonderful insights.

    • Postcards from Travel PiZazz says:

      Hi Cheryl – Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed this one – I knew it would have to resonate with a lot of us! Enjoy and safe travels, Victoria

  3. Orana says:

    Hi Victoria! Well, I had never heard of wardrobe fatigue as I´m sure you invented it! But my oh my can I relate! I will promptly write up a post on my blog about it. Just about a year ago we left our house of 7 years behind to come and live in Asia, I was 3 months pregnant so I only brought along my tummy friendly clothes which are now my nursing clothes….my everyday clothes!!! I cant even think of anymore combinations, I´ve done them all and many times! I crave the days I leave the house without the baby and can wear my new jeans and nice fitted top and a real bra! so yes, i have to say I am in a chronic state of wardrobe fatigue. I have to do a play on words and say that all these clothes I brought are like my travel fatigues, cause they are almost like a uniform now.

    • Postcards from Travel PiZazz says:

      Hello Orana and thank you for sharing!
      I thought I had “invented” the phrase “wardrobe fatigue” but someone had written about it many moons ago. However, it came upon me on a recent trip (as I mentioned in my blog) when, due to weather changes, had to switch gears. It’s almost funny that I’m wearing the same separates in almost every photo!:D You just have to get really creative! How about a few little accessories to cheer you up? If all else fails, change your hair or paint your nails! 😀
      Stay in touch and please feel free to refer to my blog. It’s fun that, no matter where we are or our circumstances, we can relate!

  4. Suzette says:

    Your packing list won’t open…

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