What to Pack: A Capsule Jewelry Wardrobe

By Maria Novajosky

In Italy there is a saying, e` dolce far niente, which translated loosely means how sweet it is to do nothing. The saying has absolutely nothing to do with idleness; rather, it’s about pausing to live life to the fullest and appreciating the moment you are in, without conscious thought of yesterday or tomorrow.

It’s also about simplicity, an ongoing theme in my life. Whether it’s cooking a meal for my family which includes simple, yet wholesome ingredients, purging my closet of too much or packing only a carry-on for a recent trip to Italy, it’s all about simplifying and not allowing stuff to get in the way.

This is why I love the ongoing trend of the capsule wardrobe as it celebrates the concept that less is more. I plan a capsule wardrobe when transitioning to a new season, and I pack a capsule wardrobe in my ongoing goal to only use a carry-on when traveling. But just when I thought I had this capsule wardrobe thing down, it took a trip to Italy last year to help me realize I needed to apply the same concept of the capsule wardrobe to my jewelry.

You see, the night before we left for our 10-day trip to southern Italy, I realized I had packed a ridiculous amount of jewelry. Because I knew I would be mixing and matching outfits, I was bringing different pieces of jewelry for each separate outfit. That was a LOT of jewelry which was not only bulky, but also heavy. So it got me thinking: Why pack a fancy jewelry organizer with too much when a small pouch of just enough would do?

In other words, if I could mix and match my outfits, why couldn’t I do the same with my jewelry?

I could, and I did. Now, for every trip I take I use my 2x2x2 formula when packing. Starting with a watch (my jewelry of choice) and after considering the type of trip (sight-seeing in NYC or hiking at Lake Tahoe) I pack the following:

Two watches, two bracelets, two rings.

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I know you’re thinking, “Whaaaat? That’s it?” But consider this: just like a capsule wardrobe, capsule jewelry can give you plenty of options. For example, one day you can wear only the watch, the next you can wear the watch with the bracelet, or that evening you can wear all three together.

You can also bring two watches that coordinate with each other such as an all gold one and one with a brown strap. This way, their coordinating rings and bracelets can be mixed and matched; in other words, you can use the bracelet and ring (or both) which you brought for Watch #1 and pair them with Watch #2.

Now are you starting to see the possibilities?

It’s very liberating to travel with just what you need, whether it’s with clothing or jewelry.

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Of course, the 2x2x2 formula can be customized to your personal style. For example, I choose not to include a necklace since I prefer to wear scarves, and I don’t bring earrings because I don’t like to wear earrings and sunglasses together, but you could choose to incorporate both in your formula.

But wait, here’s the absolute (hand’s down) best thing about using the formula: you can always supplement by purchasing jewelry as a souvenir! Oh, yes. And since you didn’t bring too much jewelry to begin with, you won’t feel guilty for buying that artisan cameo ring you found at a Naples market, or the watch from the island of Capri, or the leather wrap bracelet engraved with the “Our Father” in Italian which you found in Rome.

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Ultimately, in the hurricane of our busy lives, e` dolce far niente is about finding the eye of the storm and letting the world go on without us. It’s about lingering over a morning cappuccino, driving in the country and going wherever the road leads, and yes, even wearing a black maxi and accessorizing with a simple, elegant watch.

La dolce vita – the sweet life, the SIMPLE life is ours for the taking. You have to be willing to let go, but in the end you will discover that you have more than you’ll ever need.



Maria Novajosky is a wife to an engineering husband, a mother to three sons, a freelance writer, and a lover of all things Italian. Her life is a blend of frothy cappuccinos, Italian Renaissance art, light sabers, Sunday dinners with i Nonni, and every Christmas 700 homemade tortellini. The summer of 2014 she stood in front of a Caravaggio painting and decided to sponsor and organize a Girls’ Trip to Italy, and exactly one year later 23 women traveled with her to Rome and the Amalfi Coast. You can visit her blog.