Packing TipsI traveled to Santa Fe last week for an outdoor wedding…

There were so many concerns around what to wear, after all- Santa Fe is not exactly Tory Burch country.

Just the fact that it was to be held outside presented multiple scenarios – what if it is 110 degrees, what if it rains, how are the heels on my favorite strappy sandals going to take to grass stains?  Should I use a carry on bag? What a hassle – lugging a rolling box around the airport for connections is so bad for my tennis elbow. Should I check my bag – OMG –what if it gets lost then what do I wear to the wedding – travel Lulu’s? Maybe I should UPS my outfit to the mother of the bride’s house in advance – just in case she doesn’t have enough crap on her plate! Oh wait, she is actually designing and sewing the wedding dress – she might be a tad busy.

How am I supposed to enjoy the wedding if packing is such a stressful ordeal? Do you feel that way for every little weekend trip, business layover or even an over-night at your own summerhouse?

Listen up ladies, it’s all about having a plan, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Failing in the packing exercise could mean bringing too much, too little or totally the wrong thing.

My first memory of over packing was in the 80’s when I headed off to Europe with my brother for 3 weeks on a Eurail Pass. Lugged that big Samsonite baby a total of 2 days and we both ended up at the post office shipping 60% of the load back home. This was before Rick Steves wrote 500 books on travelling around Europe – although I probably could have figured out that cobblestones and rolling suitcases were not a good mix.

From that trip forward I never over-packed and also never found myself in need of ‘more’ than what my subsequent suitcases held.

This past January I went to LA for the Rose Bowl, packed for a 5-day trip and became a victim of Jet Blue/Boston weather, and ended up staying 11 days. Short of washing out a few things in the hotel sink, I had everything I needed for an additional 6 days! Learn to take only what you need! Nothing else. Pack light and pack smart.

I could go on and on about packing the wrong things like shoes that hurt your feet, clothing that is not warm enough or forgetting a beach cover-up and prancing through the lobby looking like a naked fool, however each person’s needs, requirements, travel plans, hotel accommodations are unique.

Some of you stay with friends (who might be the same size) like I did this past week. Some of you will be visiting grandma –no need to talk about the sharing options there.  So without getting destination specific, let’s talk in general here. You can always engage in a free consult with me for more specific how-to’s by scheduling that here.

Let’s start planning by distinguishing what you want to bring from what you need to bring. Often times we are forced to choose from our favorite things, so we bring all of them. Bad idea.

Let’s move through the top ten tips (and talk you down from the cliff) to get you mentally and physically prepared.

  1. Do your homework – check the extended weather forecast, check out venues for your events, check last year’s conference photos so you know how attendees were dressed, if it is a hosted event like a wedding check in with the host.
  2. Do an at-home reality check, if you wear your jeans or black dress pants an average of 3 times at home, don’t pack 3 pair of jeans and 3 pair of black pants for a 3-day trip.
  3. Create a wardrobe plan for each day of your trip, morning, noon and night. Write it down and then make it visual. Pull the outfits out and lay them on the bed or even better, on a small collapsible garment rack. Whenever anyone is packing in my home, the garment rack appears about a week before so we can accumulate the items as we think about them, or as they come home from the dry cleaners or emerge from the laundry room.
  4. Scrutinize each item. Do you ever wear it at home? Does having that 20-pound sweater justify carrying that 20-pound sweater in your suitcase?
  1. Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario – pack for the best-case scenario. Why lug a raincoat in case it rains? Bring layers of clothing instead (plus where have you ever gone that they don’t sell umbrellas?)
  2. When in doubt, leave it out. If you really don’t like it on the bed, you’re not going to like it on your bod!
  3. Take a reality pill. Pack the same for 2-weeks as you would for 1 week. You are not going to lug 14 days worth of clothing around the country with you. Can you spell LAUNDROMAT? When stuck in LA for those extra 6 days, yes I had to do laundry and yes I had to search on the outskirts of town because there weren’t any in Beverly Hills (shocker), but I survived.
  4. Stretch your outfits with accessories! One solid blouse or dress can be dressed up or down with different jewels or shoes. You do it at home, do it on the road.
  5. Pack only garments that can be color co-coordinated with everything else in your suitcase – think capsules! If there is only one red item in the batch and it requires red shoes that can only be worn with that outfit, get rid of the red! More about capsule clothing in next week’s blog.
  6. If packing for a 7-day trip, take note of everything you wear the week before. You’ll be surprised at how few things you made it through the week with and how many times you repeated the same items.

Last tips:

  • If you can’t imagine your life without the crown jewels, then don’t risk losing them on a trip – lock them up at home.
  • Don’t bring every gadget you own, seriously how much repetetive info can you look at on your iphone, your ipad, your kindle and your laptop. To say nothing of all the plugs that they require.
  • Don’t pack things you can buy there or use there. Most hotels have good-enough toiletries, hair dryers, sewing kits, etc.

Bag check – what was in my suitcase last week you ask?

–      1 pair of boyfriend jeans

–      1 dark wash dressier skinny jean

–      1 black ankle length straight leg trouser

–      1 Lulu Lemon crop pant for exercising, walking in the desert

–      1 pair of shorts – for lounging around the house

–      2 dressy T’s – one white, one graphic

–      2 tank liners, one white, and one black

–      1 sweater

–      1 stylish loose jacket

–      1 sleep shirt

–      Undies, bras – one white, nude and black

–      2 rockin blouses, one sleeveless, one long sleeve

–      2 rockin necklaces and some stacking bracelets

–      1 dress for the wedding – long sleeve so no layering piece necessary

–      1 flat sandal – for jeans

–      1 heeled sandal – for dress pant

–      1 strappy shoe for the dress

Recap –

–      The outfits: 3 pants, 2 T’s, 1 sweater, 2 blouses, 1 jacket, and 1 dress

–      The lounging and undies: 2 bottoms, 2 tank liners, 1 sleep shirt, and undies.

–      The peripherals: 3 shoes, 2 necklaces, and a few bracelets

–      Toiletries


Still struggling? Let’s talk! Sign up here for a complimentary 30-minute phone consult. We’ll chat about your travel plans, your closet, your clothing, your budget and whatever else comes up! I look forward to ‘meeting’ you on the phone!

Doreen Dove empowers women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. She is an image consultant, personal stylist and professional speaker. Her extensive background in all aspects of retail has uniquely qualified her to work with women of all ages and professions, coaching them to personal style success.

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