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Sudoku Packing Method (3×3) Explained

Sudoku Packing Method (3×3) Explained

Want to understand how to use the Sudoku Packing Method, sometimes called the 3×3 Capsule Wardrobe method, to create the perfect travel capsule wardrobe? In this guide we will walk you through the sudoku packing method with explains so you too can travel light no matter the destination.

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What is the Sudoku Packing Method (3×3 capsule wardrobe)

So what exactly is the Sudoku Packing Method, otherwise known as the 3 x 3 method? Well it is a packing technique that aims to reduce the amount of clothing you take on a 1 week vacation.

Benefits of the Sudoku Packing Technique

The benefits of using the Sudoku packing technique are: 

  • you limit the amount of clothes you pack and prevent overpacking.
  • you think about how your items work together to create a capsule wardrobe as all items can and will be worn in multiple outfits
  • depending on how time of year you are traveling, you may be able to use the sudoku packing technique to condense your clothes to be Carry On Only (or as it is call in some circle COO).

How to Use the Sudoku Packing Method

The key to using the sudoku packing method is to consider everything you pack as part of a capsule wardrobe. 

A Capsule Wardrobe, and the 3×3 method embraces the philosophy of “pack less wear more” as in, pack fewer things but be able to wear them in several styles and outfits.

The key to using the sudoku packing method requires you to lay your clothes out as a grid before packing and considering each as part of multiple combinations.

Sudoku Packing Method
How to use the Sudoku Packing Method

Below its the 3 x 3 grid diagram that shows how each item of should be laid out. It operates under the premise that every outfit has 3 components which are:

  • Bottoms i.e. Trousers, shorts or skirts.
  • Tops i.e. t shirts, tank tops, blouses.
  • Layers i.e. cardigans, jumpers, hoodies, jackets.

The lines below show how you can get at least 9 outfits out of nine items that will look different in every photograph you take on your vacation.

Sudoku Packing List Capsule Wardrobe Example Diagram
Sudoku Packing List Capsule Wardrobe Example Diagram

When using the sudoku method we recommend laying out each component piece as shown on the grid below as this can help you put together your wardrobe visually.

Below we will tell you the things you need to consider when putting together your sudoku capsule wardrobe which includes:

Color Palette

How to make a travel capsule wardrobe
How to make a travel capsule wardrobe

Choose a color palette and stick to it as that way more items will go together. A lot of people think this means that you have to stick to quite a neutral or even a black and white color palette.  But this is not true.

If this is your first time putting together a capsule wardrobe this can be an easy way to put together your capsule wardrobe but can look a little boring in your travel photographs. 

If you like monotone wardrobes or sticking with pastels or neutrals then feel free to do so. However if you like a splash of color feel free to add it carefully. Keep your bottoms plain and add a splash of color in t shirts for instance.

For information on how to pack a minimalist capsule wardrobe check out this post.

Lay out your clothes as per the diagram

To make sure that everything works perfectly together be sure to lay out your clothes exactly as we have shown below.

The key to the sudoku packing method is that it is a visual packing method. Therefore lying everything out before travel is key.

Don’t pack anything that you won’t wear at home because you won’t wear it on vacation

Chances are if you don’t wear an item at home that you won’t feel comfortable wearing in on vacation. Therefore stick to pieces you know you love. Otherwise you may find yourself buying items on your vacation.

Don’t pack anything that needs a lot of care

As you will only have 9 items of clothes with you you will want to make sure the items you pack don’t need a lot of care and attention. 

For instance, although linen is lovely and great for hot weather vacations, but it takes care. For instance you need to know how to pack linen so it doesn’t crease and may need wrinkle spray or even an iron or clothes steamer at your destination. 

I personally don’t want to have to iron every morning of my vacation so stick to items that don’t need a lot of care i.e. cotton. 

Bring the right weight for your travel 

Be sure to remember the weather at your destination. In Summer this means packing lightweight breathable fabrics for summer for instance cottons while in Winter you will need heavier weight items.

For more travel essentials for women check out this post.

Examples of the Sudoku Packing Method

So how does the sudoku packing method / 3×3 capsule wardrobe work in real life. Below are some examples for different types of travel destinations.

Now obviously there are local sensibilities to consider i.e Dress codes and what not to wear items in individual places and the season. Also the 3 x 3 packing list doesn’t include shoes and accessories so you will need to factor this into your packing list.

If you want to try another packing method that includes shoes and accessories you may also want to check out our guide to the 5 4 3 2 1 packing method.

Sudoku Packing Method in Winter 

Winter Travel Capsule Wardrobes are always the hardest to pack for as they tend to be heavier and thicker.

However if you want to use a sudoku packing method for winter travel we recommend it looking like:

  • 3 Bottoms – i.e. Jeans, Wool Trousers, and Thick Skirt with Tights
  • 3 Tops – i.e. Blouse, Long sleeve r shirt and jumper
  • 3 layers – i.e. 1 coat, 1 hoodies and 1 thick sweater

Sudoku Packing Method for beach vacations

  •  Bottoms – shorts, skirts and cotton trousers
  • Tops – Tank top, T Shirt, and lightweight blouse
  • Layer – Light Jacket, think cardigan and light hoodie.

Sudoku Packing Method for city breaks

  • 3 Bottoms – jeans, cotton trousers, skirt
  • 3 Tops – tank top, t shirt and blouse
  • 3 Layers – Jacket, Cardigan and a sweater

FAQS about 3 x 3 Capsule Wardrobe Technique

Do you include underwear in the 3×3 capsule wardrobe packing technique?

AS underwear takes up very little room in your suitcase or your carry on it really doesn’t need to be restricted in the same way of other clothes so it isn’t included in the 3×3 capsule wardrobe method.

Do you include accessories in your sudoku packing list?

Personally I do not include accessories in the sudoku packing list. I recommend trying to limit the accessories you take with you to things that you can wear on you when boarding a plane, cruise or other transport method. 

For example it is always a good idea to wear hats or attach them to your carry on bag to reduce the risk of it getting damage in your case. 

And I always carry my pashmina with my on an airplane as it can get cold and this is a useful extra layer.

Do you include shoes in your sudoku packing list?

No, I do not include shoes in my sudoku packing list. I would try and limit your shoes to the ones you wear on the plane or when traveling and one other pair where possible.

Can you use the sudoku packing Method for longer vacations? 

You can definitely use the sudoku packing method for longer vacations however this would require you having access to laundry facilities. 

The Sudoku packing method will get you 9 outfits from 9 separate pieces of clothing so should work for a weeks vacation easily. However for longer vacations you may need to wash certain pieces during your vacation.

Do you have questions about using the sudoku Packing Method that we haven’t covered? Please leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer it as quickly as possible.