The Chrysalis Cardi is one of my absolute favorite things that I packed for this trip.
It’s one of those “wear-it-different-ways” pieces of clothing, and I already know what you’re thinking. Because all convertible clothing fits into exactly 4 different categories:
- Zip-off pants, complete with several large cargo pockets that are capable of storing wallets, cameras, and baby kangaroos.
- A weirdly cut piece of fabric that has exactly one cute way to style it and “10 amazing styles” that make you look like you tied a pillowcase around your midsection with an old shoelace.
- A dress-like item with lots of “different” styles that actually look exactly the same, so it’s not really multifunctional and you’re not really fooling anyone.
- Something with so many straps and ties that it’s less of an article of clothing and more of a straitjacket. You will likely need assistance to get in and out of it.
It’s true. Multifunctional clothing is often synonymous with terrible clothing.
I know this.
But the Chrysalis Cardi is none of these things. In fact, it’s on my list of all the most awesome things that exist in the world, like electricity, Beyoncé, and peanut butter M&Ms.
Here are some benefits (as stated by encircled, the company that makes the CC):
- It’s ethically made
- It’s made from an eco-conscious fabric
- The dyes are azo-free and low impact
Here are some benefits (as stated by Bri, the person writing this blog):
- It’s cute and I don’t feel like a dirty backpacker while wearing it
- I can wear it in literally any place that I travel to – from Easter Mass in Vatican City to a music festival in the Netherlands
- It’s essentially a fancy Snuggie, which means that it’s super comfortable, but for some reason, I’m allowed to wear it out in public and nobody cares.
Okay, here’s the catch. At $128, it’s definitely a little pricy. But in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. And I’m saying this as a super frugal person who hates spending money on clothes. The Chrysalis Cardi is absolutely worth the investment.
Chrysalis Cardi Party! 🎉
This is not a party with cake and ice-cream. (Unless you have some in your fridge, in which case, GO GET IT.) This is an internet party where I show you pictures of me wearing the Chrysalis Cardi in some different ways and I tell you why I like it so much. Yay!
This is a super common way for me to wear the Chrysalis Cardi.
Because as a scarf, it’s really just a back-up blanket that I loop around my neck and nobody thinks that it looks weird. If I get cold during the day, I find a place to sit, bring my knees up to my chest, and wrap the Chrysalis Cardi around me like a snuggly blanket. People do think that looks a little weird, but I can’t hear their judgement when I’m enveloped in a warm cocoon of soft fabric and happiness.*
*Note: The Chrysalis Cardi is not actually soundproof.
Okay, so this is how I wear the Chrysalis Cardi when I want a more socially acceptable version of the blanket cocoon described above. I’m still filled with warmth and happiness. But I look slightly less like someone in the middle of a mid-life crisis or six hour Netflix binge.
I even wore the Chrysalis Cardi in cape form to Easter Mass in Vatican City. I am convinced that you can wear this thing (in some form or fashion) literally anywhere.
Even though this style is part of the name (you know, the Chrysalis Cardi), I probably wear it as a cardigan the least.
But to be fair, I’m just not much of a cardigan person. They make me feel like I should be classifying large, dusty volumes according to the Dewey Decimal system, or knitting a sweater for my cat.
Yes, this outfit is black on black on black.
Here’s a close-up so you can kind of see how the cardigan looks.
(And if black is not your style, the Chrysalis Cardi comes in other colors too.)
The Regular Dress
Pretty much any time the weather cooperates, I wear my Chrysalis Cardi as a dress. Because that means that I don’t have to be wearing pants. And that means that I’m a pretty happy lady.
Also, it reaches the tops of my knees! As a tall person who frequently tries on things that are supposed to be dresses but fit more like pajama shirts designed for small children, this is very exciting news.
(It also comes in petite and plus sizes!)
The One-Shoulder Dress
The Chrysalis Cardi can also be a one-shoulder dress. And when I wear it like this, it kind of makes me feel like one of the muses in the Disney version of Hercules.
Which subsequently makes me sing and dance for most of the day. (Not that that’s unusual for me.)
The Tunic Top
When the weather doesn’t cooperate, I wear the Chrysalis Cardi as more of a regular tunic, with leggings underneath. (Because leggings are stretchy and still better than actual pants.)
I like to wear it this way with a little bit of an asymmetrical hemline, and a little bit looser than the dress.
The X-Back Halter
This is how you wear the Chrysalis Cardi as a shirt. When worn this way, it has lots of ruching and roughly 3/4 length sleeves.
And I think it must make me look more like a Real Adult than my typical merino wool tshirts. Because employees at museums ask me less frequently if I’m eligible for a student discount when I’m wearing the Chrysalis Cardi like this.
It has a criss-cross X in the back. Hence the name.
The L-Back Halter
Note: This is a thing that I made up.
One time, I decided to slightly alter the X-back halter, by shoving one of the sleeves further down my arm. This is how I managed to look somewhat festive (and probably more like a college student again), to go to a music festival in the Netherlands.
Yep! Just add a pair of fun earrings, a fishtail braid, and a face tattoo, and you’re ready to sip Heineken in a grassy park while listening to bands singing in a language you don’t understand.
And like the name suggests, shoving one sleeve further down your arm changes how the back looks. Now it’s more of an L-shape. (The X that you see is not actually part of the Chrysalis Cardi.)
The Maxi Skirt
Okay. This is another style that is NOT officially sanctioned by encircled. You will not find a video on their website showing you how to do this.
But one day, I was wearing the Chrysalis Cardi as a Snuggie, and when I stood up from the couch, it slipped down to my waist. It definitely seemed long enough, so I used the matching strip of fabric (that comes with the CC) to tie it around my waist.
Ta da! Maxi skirt.
This is another favorite style for me. Mostly because of the no-pants thing (see above). But also because I basically just tie a piece of fabric around my waist and pretend like it’s a real skirt and nobody can even tell the difference.
It’s like having an inside joke tied to my body all day.
When I’m not wearing my Chrysalis Cardi as an article of clothing, you can frequently find it draped around my body in blanket form. I have circulation issues, which means that my body temperature is roughly on par with the climate of a subzero ice tundra. (Even when it’s not actually that cold and normal people are not shivering or covered in goosebumps.)
So the Chrysalis Cardi keeps me wrapped in warmth while I sleep on airplanes, buses, and trains. And for that, I am forever grateful.
I have worn this amazing piece of fabric in more than 10 different ways, in more than 10 different countries.
So yeah. I’m pretty much obsessed with my Chrysalis Cardi. And I’m not afraid to shout it from the mountaintops!
It is AMAZING for packing light. It’s versatility is one of the main reasons I can get away with having a single 30L backpack for a 9 month trip around Europe. (See my full packing list here!)
But I think it’s also just amazing in general. And yeah, it’s $128. But it’s also 8 to 10 essential outfits/accessories. So that’s really like $12-16 apiece. Which is a steal.
So if you are a traveler, or a capsule wardrobe haver, or if you just like multifunctional clothing that is also really cute, please do yourself a favor and go get you one of these beautiful cocoons of warmth. I guarantee it will be the best piece of clothing you own.**
**Note: I do not actually guarantee this in any way, but there is a high probability that this will be true.
COUPON CODE UPDATE! 07/28/2017: Take $25 off an order of $100+ with the code “Wanderer25” (Code valid for 30 days)
PS – I linked to the encircled website (many times over the course of this post) with my referral link. If you buy one of their products (including but not limited to the Chrysalis Cardi) after clicking through from my blog, I will get a small percentage of the sale for hooking you up, at no extra cost to you.
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Jessica MolinariJuly 5, 2016
You are adorable!
BriJuly 5, 2016
Thanks, Jess!! I always think about my mini Christmas fashion show at your house when I wear my CC 🙂
BaPalJuly 6, 2016
You wear well in clothes travel and blogs/Thanks Auntie Baba
BriJuly 12, 2016
Thank you! 🙂
JuliaJuly 11, 2016
I love you chrysalis cardi. I have two. Love your post. What is the jacket seen in the scarf picture? It looks cosy too.
BriJuly 12, 2016
Glad you enjoyed the post! And YES, I’m obsessed with my CC. I definitely want another one! The jacket in the scarf picture is the Ibex Freya Full-Zip Cardigan. I really like it too. Looks different when worn zipped vs. unzipped and has been a great medium weight for chilly (but not cold) days
SamNovember 28, 2016
Do you have a picture of the jacket unzipped? I’d like to make sure it’s versatile enough before buying…Thanks!
BriNovember 28, 2016
Yes! Hopefully this link works in a comment… https://thetravelmedley.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/ibex1.jpg
Carrie AndersonJuly 11, 2016
May I ask how tall you are? I’ve been debating for a while over which size to get! I’m 5ft 8in and wouldn’t want the dress to be lower on the knee than you have it, but suspect you’re taller… I’d love for it to fit in all the styles as it does on you actually!
BriJuly 12, 2016
Hi! Of course! I’m 5 foot 10 and 1/2 inches 🙂 On the enCircled website, it says that the model in the video (showing you all the different ways to wear the CC) is 5’9″ and she is also wearing the regular size, just to give you another point of reference. Also, I DO sometimes wear mine a bit shorter! I fold the fabric of the dress just a little bit before tying it. When I do it that way, it hits me at about mid-thigh. Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] and I can send you a picture/better description of what I’m talking about! Good luck with your decision making 🙂
Carrie AndersonJuly 12, 2016
Thanks for your reply! That helps a lot. Nice blog piece by the way – really useful to see the CC worn different ways. Hopefully I’ll pin down that decision soon!
AshleySeptember 5, 2016
I just discovered this magical thing and I am seriously considering shelling out the $130. Thank you for such an excellent review!
Just a quick question if you don’t mind – but how tall are you? Just want to use your actual photos as a guide 🙂
BriSeptember 5, 2016
Omg yes, the Chrysalis Cardi truly is MAGICAL. Glad you enjoyed the post! I’m 5 foot, 10 and 1/2 inches tall (with my height mostly in my legs, rather than my torso).
On the enCircled website, it says that the model in the video (showing you all the different ways to wear the CC) is 5’9″ and she is also wearing the regular size, just to give you another point of reference!
Let me know if you have any other questions!
ErikaFebruary 17, 2017
I was so glad to read your review! I heard about this cardi and wondered how it could fare in summer weather and on tall gals! I myself am 6 feet so seeing your pics have really helped.
We have a trip to Europe planned this summer, so I’d love something like this for the airplane/train and evenings. I think you’ve swayed me!
BriFebruary 20, 2017
Tall girls of the world, unite! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the review! The Chrysalis Cardi is def great for travel days, and amazingly versatile for different temps & levels of formality. I wore it ALL THE TIME in Europe. I hope you enjoy your CC & have a blast this summer!
Pauline ElyMarch 24, 2017
This is a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.
BriMarch 24, 2017
Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Amanda MastrellaApril 23, 2017
I was wondering how it’s held up over time?
BriApril 24, 2017
Hi Amanda! My CC is still going strong!
Now that I’m not traveling full-time, I do try to wash it on the gentle cycle (though that wasn’t always possible before), and I’ve always been sure to hang dry. But I’ve worn it about a bajillion times over the last year, and I haven’t noticed any fading, and there aren’t any worn spots/holes. One of my snaps barely started coming a tiiiiny bit loose – probably because I’m super rough on my clothes – and I used an internet tutorial to reinforce it with some black thread. Good as new! Still buttery soft, still my fav travel accessory.
SonamDecember 19, 2017
what are the pants/leggings you are wearing in most of the pics? they look really comfortable
BriDecember 21, 2017
Hi!!! I’m wearing the Outerboro Women’s Motile Breeze Pants in most of these pictures! https://www.outerboro.cc/products/womens-motile-breeze-pants?variant=947688489 – you can also see my full packing list here if you’re interested: https://thetravelmedley.com/2016/12/12/bri-backpack-longterm-travel-europe/
JenApril 18, 2018
How long does it take to line dry? Thinking about buying one for a backpacking trip to Asia, but a bit concerned about it refusing to dry in the humidity
BriApril 24, 2018
As long as it has ample room to be hung up and spread all the way out, mine has always dried overnight. Though to be fair, I’ve never tested it in the high humidity of Asia… so I can’t say for sure. Overall, the dry time is better than cotton by a lot, but not as good as merino wool.
PS: If you find an adorable multi-piece shirt/dress/poncho/skirt made of merino wool, PLEASE tell me. In the meantime, I would definitely look into getting some tees and tanks for your trip! Woolly and Minus33 are both great options for ladies. https://thetravelmedley.com/2018/02/16/woolly-womens-merino-clothing/ ❤️
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