Friday, March 23, 2012

What to Pack When You're Packing

My cousins have commented more on my tidbits about clothes than any of the weighty topics of my posts, so I am going to be indulgent and vain. I am going to unveil what I pack and why and maybe a few outfit tips and tricks. I am in no way an expert or even a valid opinion of fashion, so totally disregard me if you are already bored (exit all male readers, most likely).

I wore a blazer every formal dress day in high school and complained like the rest of my uniform-clad peers, but I actually loved it. For one, I am always cold. I don’t travel without a jacket because I am certain that my natural body temperature is 4 degrees lower than that of the average human. Back to the point, when blazers became stylish again I totally attributed their popularity to my wearing them beyond prep school and into my college years.  Then the blazer boom hit and there were colors beyond belief. I am not going to go through all the colors and fabrics I have, but they all come in handy. Be it at work or over a top and jeans or a dress blazers look crisp and sophisticated year round. I love a good cardigan, but there is something a little more grown up about a blazer--plus I don’t want to fall too heavily into the teacher/cardigan look. I get that enough with my stretchy cord key ring. Wear a blazer on the plane, stick your boarding pass in the pocket, drap it over the top of your suitcase when you get hot. Pack another one in your bag of a different color or color scheme to mix it up. I am wearing an ivory colored blazer as I write this.  
Chunky necklace and white blazer

Maxi Skirts
Let me say this first, I am not very “hippie” in my style. So I avoided the maxi trend until they started popping up in gossamer looking chiffons with knife pleats.... and then Carrie Bradshaw* wore a bunch in Sex and the City 2 and I was sold. Same idea as the blazer, I am always cold so maximum coverage is optimal and they look awesome, especially with a button-down dolman sleeve top and big belt (thank you Olivia Palermo* for the idea). You can sit “criss-cross-apple-sauce” as my students say, which rocks. They are a great alternative to jeans in warmer weather and just break us from the jean rut we so easily fall into. That being said, always bring a pair of jeans when you travel (my favorite ones, $30 dark denim skinny jeans from Delia’s-- yeah, I have an eclectic closet). But the maxi skirt or dress (Splendid’s long sleeve maxi dress is like a giant nightgown made of really old, comfy tee shirts) is an awesome travel buddy. 
Maxi skirt/button blouse combo

Comfy dress
DVF Linnia Dress in cherry

Don’t get the maxi dress mentioned earlier with the “comfy dress.” The comfy dress is one able to be worn with sandals, flats, boots (in cooler weather), wedges or heels. It permeates casual cute-ness and dressy dinner with the change of a shoe. I have a pink one from Target that my friend Rachel loves to wear and actually might have stolen from me. I have a black/nude patterny one (patterny= patterned but subtly colored enough it acts as a neutral)  from Nordstrom ‘s junior department and a brighter colored one as well. Get one preferably that doesn’t need to be dry cleaned as that gets expensive and really annoying on vacation. Tide to go that puppy or steam it and you are ready to wear it again! 

Button-down Blouses
They are awesome, comfortable and chic. Get one in a thin enough fabric that you can wear it even in warmer weather and layer with a tank if it is cold.These can be found anywhere right now: Old Navy, Saks, Target, Zara***** and they make you look very put together. Make sure to be mindful of how starchy one might be when wearing with blazer on a trip as to not look too businessy, unless you are on a business trip, of course. Blouses are easy to pack so feel free to bring a bunch in all colors, patterns and fabrics. Denim is really in right now, so dig on back to 1994 and pull that shirt from the back of your closet.

Shorts, Skirts, Leggings

I like to have a pair of shorts on summer trips; usually white or denim, but a fun pattern/color if there is room. And a skirt, usually bright because it is easy to get stuck only bringing neutrals on a trip “because they go with everything,” make a bright color a neutral. Leggings are also a great idea, especially ones that can double for a work out and under a big button-down shirt (and I mean it covers your booty big). Make sure they aren’t too gym-looking, like the kind that are heathered or have racing stripes down the side or the 2-for1 piece doesn’t work as well. And be careful with denim shorts on that note, unless the Daisy Duke look is your thing. Pieces are great because you can mix them up a lot. 
I like dark denim, but lighter is a little more hip.

(Lots of) Jewelry
The easiest way to mix up an outfit is change the accessories. Jewelry is a fun, small thing to bring that can make a massive outfit change. I like to have: gold hoops, small white gold diamond huggies, pearl studs, canary quartz colored studs, big turquoise tear drop earrings, a few cocktail rings, long gold chain, colorful chunky necklace, silver and gold watch, gold bangles, another chunky necklace if you can fit it and my small gold cross and wedding ring and bands.  That comfy dress I mentioned? Totally different with gold hoops and my teeny cross, a watch and ballet flats than it is with a big ole’ chunky necklace and heels or the turquoise drop earrings and wedges. Bingo! Three different outfits. I have a great case by Jon Hart to organize and protect my stuff, but there are less expensive (and more expensive) jewelry pouches out there. And always, always, always take your jewelry in your carry on. That and a teeny bag of make up, your medicine, a tiny toothbrush and a ziplock to put liquids in.

I take a massive carry on because I am a travel hoarder and have lost my luggage a lot. I rarely check my luggage, if I can help it. That being said, you do not always need a 14inX14in bag everywhere you go once you arrive at your destination. Purses are relatively flat and you can always pack it and then pack stuff like underpinnings, socks, tee shirts, PJs in it. Purses, like jewelry, help change an outfit and are a fun way to change things up. I have a neon  cross-body satchel coming in the mail I am so excited to use for summer as well as a grey top handle Tory Burch and pink quilted Kate Spade bag with a chain handle. Like I said, they pack flat and can create organization in a suitcase, too. 
My "elephant" colored purse. Yes, I might have chosen the
color because it was called "elephant."

Belts give a lovely, put together looking touch to almost any outfit. Cinch in the waist of a dress or shirt, make a bathing suit cover-up an outfit by belting it. Basically belts bring out the feminine figure the way we want and can pull an outfit together, literally and figuratively. I like my leopard print one, dark brown basic one, black chunky high waisted one and a silver skinny one. Belts are easy to pack, don’t hold back here. 

Excellent use of leopard belt
My most beloved, most cherished, most important piece to an outfit. I pack too many shoes by Joe’s standards and too few shoes by my mother’s. I like to have the following:
      Flats: most often worn on a flight because I don’t like my toes out on airplanes. If I do wear sandals, I bring socks in my purse. Easy to pack, some can even fit in my purse themselves, so Audrey Hepburn.******* Black, nude, metallic, leopard print, neon-- ballet flats are awesome. J.Crew and Tory Burch are great about having a jillion different colors, and if you feel like maxing out your credit card and smiling at your feet while your husband yells at you, Chanel invented the ballet flat.  

      Nude wedges/heels: summer means espadrille wedges, but if there is a chance or plan to go to a nice dinner to to da club (or bar, whatever) or church, a heel is a good choice. Nude makes your gams look miles long and goes with everything. I also love bright colored shoes and will bring a fun bright color if I can, but if pressed for space, the nude wins. I put them in bags (they usually come with), put tissue in them or same stuff as purses, and pack them at the bottom since they are heavier than clothes. It sounds really Beyonce glam of me, but I rarely travel without heels as something may arise that calls for a fancier outfit. Dresses, jeans and nowadays, even shorts go way up on the outfit scale with some heels. 
Less expensive versions available with almost
any shoe designer/company
Sandals/Boots: for summer/spring and fall/winter respectively. Though sandals like rubber flip flops may be necessary in a place with an iffy bathroom. I try to wear my boots on the plane if I am bringing them as they are heaviest and take up the most space. If they must be packed, same rule as purses and heels-- stuff them with other items. Tory Burch Miller sandals are a favorite of mine, silver gladiator ones from Forever 21 are also a good touch (take note: metallics make awesome accessory neutrals).
Tory Burch Miller Sandals in gold, love.

Sunglasses: I take an aviator style and a big plastic style. Aviator ones fit better under hats but I like the Audrey Hepburn/Jackie Kennedy feel of the big plastic black ones my sister gave me.

Travel steamer: ours is from Berings, about the size of a water bottle. My friend Michael turned me onto this and it rocks for very obvious reasons.
Plastic zip lock bags, big and small: for whatever you use bags for, which is anything and everything
Tide to Go
Phone charger

Also: Jeans (as mentioned), tank tops (one light, one dark), extra undergarments, colorful scarf that covers stains or acts as a blanket on the plane, extra shirt(s) you can wear with any of the bottoms you packed, socks, and a coat if it is winter. Wear the coat on the plane as to save room in your suitcase.  Leather jackets are great too because they don’t wrinkle and look very cool with jeans or a dress. I also recommend the classic khaki trench in questionable fall or spring weather. You get to look like Ingrid Bergman* and bundle up if the temperature or rain drops.

This is a cloche hat, mentioned above.
Very F. Scott Fitzgerald and awesome.

Extras: Bright heels or wedges or leopard print ones, more jewelry, colored jeans (all over the place as of late and I am obsessed), cocktaily dress, bathing suit and color-up (but one of those dresses or shirt/dress or just shirt combo can work great) striped sweater, hat(s)-- straw fedora or cloche for the summer, wool fedora or cloche for the winter.
My orange shoes, previously posted from afar on "The Flying Corgi"

Pack liquids in a checked back in a big Ziploc as to avoid an explosion on your carefully chosen blazers, dresses and denim shorts. Hang things that need to be steamed upon arrival if possible. If the steamer is unavailable or ridiculous to you, hang items in the bathroom so the steam from the shower can soften wrinkles. Pack in outfits. Clearly this is what I do, but it makes getting ready on vacation much quicker. Hanging clothes up after you have worn them will also extend their wearability on your trip.

Because a girl always has her wants in mind, here are a few that my suitcase would adore to carry...

I don't own a white/cream/ivory bag. This one  has modern detailing, like the stitches, with a nod to the classic with its shape and chain strap.

Tory Burch Marion Saddle Bag. I love that it is called a saddle bag
and has the saddle stitching 
Kate Spade Orchestra Hall Necklace, Norstrom
Neutral colored chunky necklace. Would be fun with anything, really.

I love the texture of these shoes and the color is a great shade. Polly destroyed my J.Crew nude flats, which are also lovely... or they were lovely, at least.  The hat below is so feminine and nostalgic. I love the twenties and the clothes from it. Chanel started many of the trends that we see so often today and don't even realize. This hat is a perfect example of how Coco herself was tired of pinning giant, feathered hats on her head and designed the much smaller, more wearable cloche hat.

Tory Burch Prescott flats

Cloche hat from
Dreaming big....
YSL Muse 
I love this bag. It comes in every color, I personally like the chocolate brown (pictured below) or black because this is a classic you won't be trending out anytime soon. Shove an extra pair of shoes (like Prescott flats!) or an iPad or make up bag in there and hit the road, Jack. It is amazing. I shan't muse on about it much longer (pun intended), as it is far, far from a reality in my closet. Enjoy drooling as I do. 
YSL Muse

* Carrie Bradshaw, protagonist and narrator of Sex and the City and a soulmate to myself in terms of her shoes, her writerly insight and her brave fashion choices.
*Olivia Palermo's entrance in to my world started with The City, but I am not sure where she actually got her start. She seems like a total bratface

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