Sunday, February 27, 2011

10 Days, 2 Countries, 1 bag

Mr. Suitcase and I are off on an adventure next week. Part of the the fun for me is to see how few things I can take to wear. A couple of years ago while traveling a fellow traveler pulled me aside and said "You are the best dressed woman on this trip with the least amount of luggage." I had to laugh and tell her "Thanks, I probably have the least expensive wardrobe as well, all my clothes come from the thrift store."

I do like a challenge.


So since then her comment has become a goal. Look put together; take very little. It's not magic, here's how I do it.

10. That's the number of garments I'm packing.

2 pairs of pants
2 cardigans
3 sleeveless tops
1 pullover
1 t-shirt
1 light trench coat or other outerwear depending on the weather at the last minute.

These items are in addition to what I'll be wearing on the plane.


Now I'm not really one for shlepping around in over sized clothing and in some countries dressing a little more like the locals (which means making some effort) can get you treated noticeably better in shops and restaurants. I'll be leaving my jeans and tennis shoes at home. I may not always act like a grown up but I'll admit I enjoy dressing like one. 

Here are the rules to packing light and maintaining a sense of style:

  • Pack only neutrals.
  • Every item must be able to be worn at least 2 (but shoot for 3) ways.
  • Layer clothing to adjust to changing temps and situations.
  • Leave the bulky items at home.
  • Opt for scarves instead of jewelry.
  • Don't take anything you couldn't stand to lose.
  • As much as possible pack fabrics that dry quickly if they get wet; avoid wool and 100 % cotton.
If the power was out in your hotel and you had to get dressed in the dark, could you? Rule # 1 is any pair of pants/skirt, shirt, cardigan, and scarf should be able to be put together without anything clashing. I avoid at all costs packing anything that makes me think "If I take that I have to take this."

Every item should look great paired with any other or on its own. If you leave your hotel in the morning when it's chilly and are visiting an outdoor site in the warmth of the afternoon sun you need to be able to adjust. Plan on peeling clothes off and then adding them again in the cool of the evening or for dinner.

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Layers of thin knits are a better choice than big space consuming items. They also don't wrinkle and are comfortable. Looking great when traveling isn't worth sacrificing comfort for and I believe you can have both.

Scarves can change an outfit instantly and can be worn and used in a variety of ways. They take up little room and make security checkpoints easier to navigate. No one wants to be behind the woman who has to keep taking jewelry off and going back through the metal detector again. I do take earrings but leave them off until I reach the gate. 

Anything that goes in my bag is expendable. Nearly the entire wardrobe (with the exception of a pair of black pants from a Marshall's clearance rack) was purchased at my favorite local boutique (Goodwill) and nothing cost me more than ten dollars (those black pants). Many of the scarves I paid less than a dollar for at garage and estate sales.

You want fabrics that breathe and are comfortable. If you spill something on you or get caught in the rain, you will not want something that takes hours to dry.

Pack an over-sized scarf. You can wear it as a scarf, throw it over your head Grace Kelly style in bad weather, wrap it around your waist for a sarong by the pool, put in on over leggings to wear to dinner, , make a triangle and tie the corners over your arms and behind your back for a shrug, or tie the corners together at your neck and around your waist for an instant sexy halter.

Toss in a swim suit (just in case) and a cover up that can double as a sleep shirt, lingerie, socks in case it's cold, one (ONE) extra pair of shoes, a spirit of adventure, and you're all set! 


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