Our friends over at Real Simple Magazine published a very handy set of packing tips from the pros. Since packing for our long overdue vacation is on the forefront of my to-do list today, I am making sure to keep this list close by and hope you will find it helpful too.
Disclaimer: I, personally, will not follow most of this and pack my normal day and night outfits since this is a personal vacation and not a business trip! BUT, I will make sure to embrace the theory of having core basics to build around. Actually, no I probably won’t, as you can see from my pre-packing pic below; but I will definitely make sure to think about it!
Decide what you’re taking. And, just as important, what you’re not. These streamlining guidelines will help, whether you’re bound for a beach or a boardroom.
Follow a simple formula. Pack three tops for every bottom. Generally, pants and skirts take up more room than shirts, and when you wear them multiple times, no one is the wiser, says Justin Klosky, the founder of the Los Angeles–based organizational-consulting company O.C.D. Experience. A weeklong trip, he says, shouldn’t require more than six tops, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one dress, and three bras. “Choose staples you feel most confident in so that you’ll be less inclined to bring alternatives,” says Lesley Grosvenor, a cofounder of Clothes Up Style, a wardrobe-advising service in Los Angeles. Then, for a handy reminder about all the other stuff you’ll need, from floss to batteries, print the vacation-essentials checklist atrealsimple.com/packingchecklist.
Stick to a color scheme. “Start with two neutrals for your core basics and add two to three fun shades that coordinate,” advises Alan Krantzler, the senior vice president of brand management at Tumi, a travel brand. A dark palette hides stains and easily sails from day to night. If that feels too uptight for your jaunt to Margaritaville, try a breezy mix of white, navy, red, teal, and pale yellow. Or “plan your wardrobe around one shoe color,” says Judith Gilford, the author of The Packing Book ($15, amazon.com). You need only three pairs—sneakers, flats or sandals, and heels or wedges.
Be a lightweight. Not all clothes are worth their weight. Leave behind pieces with bulky linings or heavy embellishments. Think thin and opt for pants made of polyester-rayon or acetate-spandex. Also, stretchy jeans or jeggings can take up half the space of regular denim. Control temperature with layers, says Heather Poole, a flight attendant and the author of Cruising Attitude ($15,amazon.com). She piles on tees, tanks, and cashmere cardigans instead of bringing thick sweaters or a hefty jacket. (If you’re traveling somewhere cold, keep reading for a clever tip on transporting a down coat.)
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Lighten your load further with multitaskers—which don’t have to be those girl-explorer zip-off cargo pants. T-shirt dresses, leggings, tunics, and maxis take you from sightseeing to dinner. Let yoga pants moonlight as pj’s, or use your cover-up in place of a robe. New York City–based designer Yigal Azrouël favors sarongs, because you can tie them multiple ways as a cover-up or a stylish wrap at night. If possible, wear a garment for the dressiest occasion early in the trip, when it’s less likely to be dirty, says Poole. For instance, one tank can stretch for days: Pair it with a skirt and heels for dinner on Saturday, capris and sandals for shopping on Monday, and shorts and sneakers for a Tuesday hike.
Embrace the accents. Satisfy your craving for variety with little things, like fun belts, bold jewelry, and printed scarves. “Chunky, colorful bracelets and necklaces draw the eye so people don’t focus on the clothes,” says Alanna Richman, the owner of Alanna Bess Jewelry.
Choose fabrics wisely. Blends containing nylon, elastane, or polyester beautifully resist wrinkling. Prefer something more natural? You’ll have the most luck with wool, Lyocell, or modal. Cotton mixed with polyester or spandex will also hold up better than 100 percent cotton. Anything with texture (crinkled gauze, ruched jersey, seersucker) or a busy print helps camouflage fold marks, says Los Angeles–based stylist Nicole Chavez. When in doubt, scrunch the material in your hand to see if it crumples easily. Keep in mind: The longer clothes stay stashed in your suitcase, the deeper creases get. For quick touch-ups, pack a travel-size (and TSA-approved) bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser spray ($2 for three ounces, at drugstores).