Whether you’re planning an epic vacation or studying abroad, the thought of living out of a suitcase for several weeks—even months—can be daunting. Worse, airline luggage weight limits, unpredictable weather, and too many different events and activities to dress for only complicate matters. But never fear. our fashion sense doesn’t have to suffer despite all these limitations.
Clothes You Can Mix and Match
There’s nothing worse than wearing the same twelve or so outfits over and over while traversing a variety of new sights. That’s why it’s important to pack tops and bottoms that you can mix and match. If a pair of pants or shirt can’t be a part of at least two different outfits, don’t bring it.
I love pairing blouses and shirts that have only one or two colors on them with different colored skinny jeans and sweaters. Layering also can turn one outfit into two or three.
Pick a Color Scheme
Having clothes you can mix and match is a lot easier when you stick to the same few colors. Likewise, the less time you have to spend figuring out what goes together, the more time you’ll have for sightseeing.
I tend to wear a lot of black, white, and gray, and match it with pops of color like red, blue, and teal.
Dress It Up or Down
Most trips will require both casual and dressy outfits. You’re also bound to engage in some activities where the dress code may be a complete mystery. To avoid any fashion emergencies, bring outfits that you can dress up or down just by changing a few pieces, such as the shoes and jewelry.
Shoes do a great job of setting the tone of an outfit. Sneakers for casual day to day stuff, Oxfords or sandals if you want to give your casual look a dressier feel, and heels or ballet flats for your dressiest looks. I love how Oxfords and a statement necklace can elevate an outfit and give it extra personality.
Layers, Layers, Layers
There’s no way you’re going to know what the weather is going to be like even a week into your trip. And seasonal averages are no guarantee that the weather won’t be abnormal. That’s why outfits you can layer are vital to being comfortable and prepared for whatever comes your way.
When I studied abroad in Bath, U.K., there was a heat wave for the first three weeks and we didn’t see rain for several weeks either. And let me tell you, British buildings were not designed to handle 80 degree weather! Fortunately, I had outfits that were comfortable for both those early hot days and the chilly, rainy London weekend later on.
Research Cultural Customs and Dress Codes
If you’re traveling with a group or participating in a specific program, a dress code may be provided. Or a specific event (like seeing a play) or place (like the Vatican) may require you wear specific clothes. And if you’re traveling abroad, it’s good to be aware of what clothes and manners are frowned upon. There’s nothing worse than being unable to participate in something because your outfit doesn’t meet the cut.
Spend a little time reading through information on the program, researching the different cultures you’ll be participating in and talking with people who have traveled there or participated in that program to get a sense of how to pack for your trip.
Comfort and Practicality Is Key
If it’s not already clear to you, it’s best to leave your 5-inch heels that look amazing with that one fancy dress at home. Most likely you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, whether around a city, a national park or historical area. You might even be hitting several different kind of locations in one day. So it’s important to make sure everything you pack (even your dress clothes) are up for a long trek.
During a weekend trip to Cornwall, I hiked along the coast, dined at several pubs, shopped in St. Ives, and toured a Victorian country house. Having clothes and shoes that were appropriate and comfortable for all settings made packing for this weekend getaway so much easier.
A Few Statement Pieces Go A Long Way
Less is more, especially when there’s a weight limit on your luggage. Fortunately, jewelry isn’t that heavy or bulky. Earrings and necklaces are a great way to add personality and color to an outfit.
Some of my favorite accessories are several pairs of oversized stud earrings that are fun colors and patterns. I also have a gold cobra necklace that works with a lot of different outfits and always makes a statement.
Getting your suitcase ready to go is often a struggle (thank God for expander zippers!). I always begin with shoes and my toiletries bag on the bottom, using socks to protect nice shoes and shoving underwear into the crevices. Then I add layers of rolled up jeans, camisoles, sweaters, and t-shirts. Bras and other miscellaneous undergarments can be slid into the pockets. Blouses, dress shirts, and dresses should go on top and be folded as little as possible. I also recommend packing a pair of pajamas on the top layer so you don’t have to dig through everything that first night when you are undoubtedly exhausted from travel and time changes. Also, ironing spray will eliminate wrinkles from your clothes without the use of an iron!