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Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to Pack Light and Have a Large Travel Wardrobe

I know that packing light is a challenge for a lot of ladies. I used to want to take my whole closet, too, but then I went to Europe and had to carry all my crap around town with swollen, angry feet, up and down subway stairs. I could barely pick up my bag and some nice guy helped me drag it up the steps at one point. I had to wait at the baggage carousel for two bags when we arrived and I basically felt like a slave to my luggage. Over the years, I've steadily whittled down my travel wardrobe to just the essential pieces and one fun piece that can be versatile. Today I want to show you how I packed for my upcoming trip back to London and Paris. I have packed three pairs of pants, five tops, two tanks for layering, a scarf and some fun jewelry. This is in addition to the outfit I'll be wearing on the plane. 

Because we are traveling in the fall, the weather can be unpredictable, so instead of a pair of sandals that can work as walking shoes and dressy shoes, I broke my own rule and am taking a pair of heels. Shooties that are comfy, will keep my feet warm and also look great going to the theater, afternoon tea and other dress up activities. (You can click on all these pictures to see them bigger.) I am also taking my favorite boots that are rollable (similar to these), so they take up way less space in my bag. they are waterproof, snowproof, warm and keep my feet happy.

This first outfit is my plane outfit. It consists of a stretchy Hudson Jeans (mine are from the discontinued travel collection, but these are similar), a pair of ballet flats with enough support that I can walk all day in them a breezy tank and a warm cardigan. I'll be packing a second pair of jeans in a lighter wash for a more casual look. Since the look will be similar, I decided a second picture was overkill. (My second pair are James Jeans Skinny "Jeggings".) I am also packing a pair of black James Jeans skinny jeans because they are comfy, but can also be dressed up, and a pair of black ponte pants with faux leather and zipper detailing for dressing up. Leather is really big right now, but really unaffordable. Faux does the trick, plus it breathes and is animal-friendly. You could also go with fancy leggings, but for colder weather, I chose something more substantial with the same look. See how my striped shirt can go with all my pants, and I can layer it with another tank and accessorize it.

Now, onto the tops I'm packing: I found this fun pink faux wrap top at Lucy on sale. It has strategic ruching and is thin enough for warmer days, but can also be layered with a tank and cardigan if needed. I like that it can be casual with jeans or dressed up with some nice pants and shoes. I'll probably even throw on some fun jewels.

You can't travel in the cool weather without packing a sweater of some kind. I am not a fan of big bulky sweaters and they don't pack well at all. I also learned my lesson from last time I packed heavy sweaters that they are not good for unpredictable weather. If it becomes unseasonably warm, they are basically useless. This is why layering is a great travel concept and it helps to think in those terms when packing. This Splendid sweater from Piperlime is sold out, but you can find a similar one here on Saks. It has a nice stretch, so the sleeves can be pushed up. It also looks great with a tank underneath and isn't too bulky to wear with a coat. I like the pop of color, as it can also be casual or dressy.

I love this drapey top from Lucy. It's sold out now, as I buy much of their items when they are on sale, but you can find similar ones other places. It has a bit of a cowl neckline, long sleeves and is lightweight. Again, this works in cooler weather, but also when the temps creep up unexpectedly. It also makes it easy to layer with a cardigan. Plus, with the black, if I spill anything on myself, it'll be tough to notice. Ha!

It's true. I have a lot of black in my travel wardrobe, but you can mix it up with other colors. I like some darker colors, because they can be pretty versatile and dressed up with some jewelry. This twist top was my choice to go with my black jeans and and ballet flats, as we will be going to Disneyland Paris' Halloween party and instead of packing a whole costume I will only wear once, I picked up some easily packable accessories in order to go as a cat burglar. Easy enough, right? of course, it also works with boots and dress up pants for a night on the town.

Generally, my bonus item of choice dressing up would be an actual dress of some sort. I am really trying to pare down my wardrobe though and knew I would only wear a dress once, maybe twice, so it would take up space in my carry-on that I needed. Besides, I already have those booties taking up valuable room, so instead of a dress and tights, I opted for a fun peplum top with some sparkle that would go with all the pants in my bag. While this isn't available from the shop I bought it from anymore, you can get something just as cute and versatile from Piperlime

I only added my Travelon expandable bag to the top after these clothes were in the way I wanted them

Our toiletry bag fit on top of the shoes and we were good to go

In case you think I brought another suitcase, here is a pic of our luggage at the airport
So, as you can see, with 6 tops and 4 bottoms, I can pretty much make 24 outfits (or 12-18 different looks), which is way more than I need for a 2-week vacation. Both rental apartments I'm staying in have a washer/dryer, and I'll be picking up a few things along the way, too, so I'm not going to be hurting for variety or clean clothes. The pic above shows our bags with both mine and Eric's clothes in two carry-on bags. One is for clothes and toiletries and the other is for the spillover stuff, like shoes and electronics. This is how we have traveled for a while now. We share a big carry-on and small carry-on and never check anything. Guys are so much easier to pack for, since they take few items and wear 99% of them. That said, you may see a future post on what I packed or him and how he mixed and matched the items.


  1. Great packing advice! It's similar to how I pack except I can never pack without at least one dress! I also have the same carry on suitcase in gold. Great traveling minds think alike!

    1. I turned a friend onto the Delsey carry-on as well and she has it in blue :) I would have packed a dress this time around, but it was going to be pretty cold and I knew I probably wouldn't wear it. Usually, it's on my list.


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