A WELL STYLED LIFE

...style is more than what you wear, it's how you live your life

March 15, 2014

How To Organize Your Travel Wardrobe


It's an easy mistake to make. I made it for years.  

Over packing for travel. 
You plan what goes with what, the shoes you need, the special occasion needs, the accessories to take, and before you know it... you've got an enormous bag, or two packed for one week away. Then you start on your toiletries, which must go carry one if they're liquid, and you end up traveling like a Sherpa.

It took one too many a few lost and delayed bags to convince me that flying with carry on, was the quickest, least painful way to travel.

Taking a wardrobe of predominantly black clothes has been helpful, but using a Travel Wardrobe Chart also takes the guesswork out of it. 

Choose one base color to predominate your travel wardrobe.
Mine was black for this past trip, but yours might be blue, or red, or taupe. Whatever you have key pieces in, can be your base color. For example, I'm organizing my wardrobe for a trip to Mexico in a few weeks and my base will be white and taupe.

Pack mostly unmemorable clothes.
It's wonderful to own and wear distinctive clothes. I don't bring them when I travel which allows me to wear things several times and use my accessories to change up my look.  I'm typically an under packer now...unless I'm driving, then all bets are off and I pretty much bring everything.

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Wendy's post this week on her travel wardrobe, what she wore vs what she packed for her trip to the Magic Kingdom, brought up memories of my last trip and what I didn't wear.

Sometimes, like this time, it didn't matter how many clothes I brought, I ended up undressed.

On my trip to Vancouver last month, I packed:

coordinated accessories
No point in showing the black clothes, so here's the velvet scarf and suede gloves.





-Black Trench coat

-2 pair of black cigarette pants

-black skirt

-black tights & black fishnets

-black riding boots

-black ponte knit dress

-black cardigan

-2 black V-neck sweaters

-black fedora

-pale gray & pale taupe cashmere V-neck sweaters

-2 pair black flats & low heeled black dress shoes

-black jeans

-2 black, J Crew knit tops

-gray sweats...always hopeful I will be motivated to work out

-black workout shoes

-Teal velvet scarf and gloves & Teal Pashmina

-black patterned Hermes scarf

-3 pair black socks

I started to fill out this packing worksheet but decided it wasn't necessary... bad decision.

This was one of the tools I used with my clients, to organize their wardrobe for travel, simplify packing and remind them what to wear with what. There's a link at the bottom of this post to print a blank copy.


I should have finished filling it out...it might have prevented an embarrassing little wardrobe malfunction.



My little mishap happened the morning I was introduced to my husband's new boss.
We were staying at the Pan Pacific for his business conference. I'd tagged along to visit my daughter and generally relax.

Hubs rang the room and told me he was waiting in the lobby with his boss and I should hurry down to meet him. Dressed for a day of shopping with my daughter, I raced out of our room and hopped in the elevator.
I knew I'd have to go back for my umbrella, coat and handbag after this quick diversion, so I just brought my key. 

Elevator rides are strange. If there are other people aboard, we all seem to look up, to watch the elevator's progress... or we look down at the floor.
I looked down.

Hmm...when had I bought a black skirt with a lace edge?    That would be...n e v e r.
I was wearing my black tights, black boots, black V neck sweater, black slip and was nicely accessorized with my Hermes scarf and pearls.  I'd simply neglected to put my black skirt on.  Oops!

It's very easy to justify that black is always chic, practical, slimming, convenient ...and it is all of that.  If I hadn't been so anesthetized by all my black, or had been using my packing chart, I might have noticed the missing skirt earlier...perhaps before I left our room.
I doubt his boss even noticed my lack of skirt, but I was distinctly uncomfortable. 

              



On this trip, everything I packed got worn, some a little less frequently than others, but it all fit into a 19" wheeler bag and a small hand held carry on.

My handbag is always packed upright, inside the top of the handheld satchel. That gives me easy access to the contents, and can be considered my "handbag", if stopped by a snarky flight attendant.


I always wear my hat and largest footwear to travel in. Other hats, get packet upside down in my suitcase, surrounded and filled with soft clothing and scarves.

I'll show you how I physically organize and pack my bag next week, as I prepare for my holiday to Mexico.

 

Using these wardrobe sheets will allow you to pack less, with more efficiency. Seeing your outfits grouped on paper also gives you a visual aid for easily pairing your separates in creative new ways.

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Ever have your bags not arrive with your flight and immediately need to board a two week cruise It's torture so fun to spy your bags, jammed into the back of a speeding car, trying to catch up with you in every European port...just as your cruise ship is departing for the the next port of call.

How are your packing skills?

Here's a link to download a printable , blank worksheet for you to try out the next time you travel.
Just print multiple copies, depending on how long you will be away.


48 comments:

  1. Where have I been!
    Have I not visited since your new blog header? I LOVE it!
    Thank you for your wonderful advise, today! I shall be pinning it!
    I am smitten with your Hartmann luggage ensemble.

    Such a beautiful image of you above the tree tops on the gondola at Blackcomb!

    Have a great weekend!
    withLove!

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    1. Thank you. It was fun to make the header. I'm so happy I didn't crash my whole site putting it up:))

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  2. That's so funny about your slip skirt. You are very organized indeed and how pretty and happy you look in your hat and teal scarf. Great tips and you're right, I always think about taking special pieces but rarely do because they are distinctive and usually good for single wearing.

    Traveling light is one of my favorite subjects. Remembering a sore shoulder or arm from lugging around heavy luggage or almost knocking someone's head from losing my balance trying to heave a bag into the overhead keeps me going for minimal packing and keeping to a color scheme is key. Guess I'm more visual so I use polyvore for virtual packing, like my navy and taupe or navy, red and purple sets that show possible combos. It was a mad mess of piles on the bed before I used polyvore packing :)

    Can't wait to see what you're planning for your Mexico holiday!

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  3. Great advice, Jennifer, and the new header pictures are just perfect! I must contact you and find out how to do that. You're so Blog savvy, and I'm pretty clueless. BTW, ma chère, I love the outfit you are wearing in this post and the lipstick color is gorgeous on you. How do women get by without a great red lipstick? I have no idea.

    Hope to be in touch before you leave for Mexico.

    Cheers, dear friend, xoxo, M-T

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    1. I'm so glad you're back to blogging, dear friend!! I missed you. Pale lips wash me out, love a pop of color!!

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  4. Such a timely post. I'm getting ready for a business trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, home one day and then off to Shreveport LA. I'll be driving to the Lake and flying to Shreveport. I'm definitely going to pencil in my wardrobe on your Travel Wardrobe Organizer Spreadsheet. Thanks so much.
    Lizzie
    www.northsideofthecountryroad.com

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  5. Too funny about the missing skirt. I am sure you were the only one who didn't notice. I love your new banner and had to watch all your pictures on the left side. I have packing fairly down pat although sometimes I take too little and get tired of it after a few days. I do use polyvore also to visually "see" it all..a very useful tool. Looking forward to more from Mexico.

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  6. What a great idea to create a chart!

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  7. What a mishap! But it sounds like you weathered it with style and grace. You are super organized and I will be printing that worksheet, thank you so much for that. We're going to England for 3 weeks in June and I must not bring too much stuff, which I always do!
    Gorgeous picture, you are stunning and you have beautiful eyes!

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    1. You're so sweet Dani, thank you. Three weeks in England sounds fabulous!!

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  8. I'm sure the slip skirt looked tres chic. He probably assumed it was Dolce and Gabbana .

    Love the organized approach to packing. I have my black jersey travel wardrobe that goes everywhere. I agree that carry-on is best. Your bags are very smart looking!

    And thanks for posting the packing list. That will come in handy!

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    1. A black Jersey travel wardrobe is so smart!! That would make packing a breeze. The bags are so old, but I'm comfortable with them and they are small enough that even obscure, teeny airlines accept them as carry on.

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  9. Jennifer, Great tips. I love the chart idea! That's the best. No matter how organized I am, I still forget one or two important essentials. Also love the purse in the carry-on idea too. You look so cute in the hat. Great picture!
    Going to pin this to my Travel Style board on Pinterest. Happy weekend and I can't wait to read about your Mexico trip!
    xx Kim

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    1. Thanks Kim! I think starting a travel board on Pinterest is a brilliant idea. Thanks for suggesting it!!xox

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  10. P.S. Forgot to say, I love your new header!

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  11. Great tips and advice, Jennifer! Were you on the Peak to Peak at Whistler? It's a lovely pic of you. I'm not traveling anytime soon. I've always been a light packer and in fact end up having to buy something while away to fill in a gap or two.

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    1. Yes it was. Between Whistler and Blackcomb. Quite a trip!!

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  12. Thanks for the form. It will be extremely useful. As you probably know from my recent posts I just took a carry on bag for my recent trip. In fact it was a bit too minimal. I thought I had packed an extra pair of black trousers but forgot them so my jeans had to go to the hotel laundry. If I had had the form I would not have left the the trousers behind.

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  13. Lovely new header and what a treat to see that photograph, what a glowing beauty.
    I find packing utterly depressing, I've worked out why though, because I work at home or in a field all day, I've never had many day clothes and holidays are about wearing clothes that you are seen in every day - working on that now, not that I'm much of a traveller anymore.

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    1. I'm so flattered Tabs, thank you! You'll need clothes for your birthday trio to California!! Hope to see you then.

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  14. Love this, but you know I even had the worksheet so what does this say about me????? How long were you away for this amount of clothing? I think the key is not to take memorable clothes, which are more often than not, not as match-able with other items in our closet (unless you are our Dani and everything goes together perfectly!) You look beautiful in that picture!

    Now this is a funny thing - I have the most gorgeous slip in black with this fabulous trim at the bottom (I think I posted about its beige twin last fall and found its black mate after Christmas for $7) and was thinking "I may wear that this summer as a skirt, it's so pretty!" so when I read your story I laughed out loud!

    The next time I take a major trip you and I are going to Skype and you talk down me down off the ledge....

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    1. Happy to skype you any and every day Wendy! Lingerie as outerwear or great, if you plan it that way. I was just shocked:)). I think you did very well on your trip. I was away two weeks this trip. xox.

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  15. Hey slip skirts are very sexy and I am sure no one noticed but too funny anyway! I will try and use this worksheet - so obvious really and a great reminder- how organized of you to have one and a great idea too!

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  16. Thanks for this post. I always thought I was a smart packer until I started reading blogs like yours about packing for travel. I too make a list with headings for day and evening and for weather and activity possibilities. My problem is that we rarely travel to one destination. We almost always move around which involves drastic changes in temperature and thus different wardrobe choices. Not to mention the requirements for different activities like hiking vs shopping or going out for dinner. Thanks to posts like this I am trying to pare down my list for my next trip. I will definitely print out your chart.

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  17. Simple and superb assistance. Many thanks.

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  18. I like your new blog header and the photos on the sidebar.
    Great thoughts on packing which I need to keep in mind for the future trip to Paris.
    Your slip probably looked like a chic silk skirt to anyone who might have noticed but it would have been an uncomfortable moment for you.

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    1. You know me well, Leslie. I'm loving hearing about your upcoming trip to Paris. Envious!!

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  19. I am a terrible packer. Terrible! Over the years I have gotten better. Making mistakes in life in general teach us things and packing for a vacation is no exception! When my husband and I went to Europe for three weeks for our 10 year anniversary, I brought an obscene amount of clothing and shoes. Schlepping that stuff around on trains and buses and planes for 21 days was a very good lesson. I am much better now but still terrible compared to someone who has their act together like you.
    I think I might try this chart of yours for a trip I have planned next month.
    Love the new header!

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    1. Thanks so much Adrienne. I am my own techy person, so get a cheap thrill every time I do something and my site doesn't crash and burn :-))

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  20. Jennifer! I love the header and your pictures are fabulous! Okay.. you are right;} we need this chart. Over or under packing is common. I've had luggage lost and it's horrible. Learning how to pack (tight) in a carry on is the way to go if you can. When I was in Europe last year I left extra space to pack my purchases. It was a good thing I did because I had lots of stuff. On the way back my luggage made several detours and I finally received it 9 days later... I was stressed! Hope you are enjoying the weekend! xxleslie

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    1. Delayed luggage is such a hassle. Smart to leave room for souvenirs:-)! xo. Thanks about the header.

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  21. Thank you for sharing this plan sheet. We make two to three lengthy trips to visit family in the Midwest each year and it is so easy to take my entire closet to make sure I am prepared for any contingency and all weather changes. This will help give me direction for the up-coming spring trip. You were so confident to meet the new boss in your slip, which by the way seems to be an obsolete clothing item these days. Good for you. But just curious - did Hubby happen to notice?

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    1. Hubs did not notice, but howled with laughter when I admitted it later.

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  22. Your blog is looking so cool! I like it. I will be using your chart for a big trip this summer. I have no plans on carrying more than what will go in my carry-on and tote. This will help keep me organized.

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  23. oh that is so funny! i always err on the side of packing too little and getting bored with what i've brought. but from many conversations about this topic even well seasoned travelers do the same. packing is hard!

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  24. I once was an infamous over-packer. I learned the hard lesson of planning and efficient packing a few years ago on a trip to Sweden. Love the chart. Thank you for sharing your organization.

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  25. Hilarious! And having met you, I know you absolutely have both the charm and the aplomb to have carried out that meeting, in your slip, so graciously and elegantly that none would have doubted the skirt was a deliberate, expensive choice. . .

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  26. Very funny about the slip! You have great aplomb to have pulled that off, even inadvertently. After years of overpacking to Mexico, I finally one year spread out all the clothes I'd actually worn, photographed them, printed it our and tucked it into my "travel drawer." The actual garments may change from year-to-year, but the colors and types of clothing stay the same. Good luck on your packing for Mexico and I'll look forward to seeing that post!

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  27. Isn't it often the case that the most mortifying moments in real life make for the best stories afterwards? Your slip story is definitely one of those! Such terrific advise in this post especially to pack unmemorable clothes. That is exactly my modus operandi when traveling and then I just pull out a new scarf or necklace to freshen up the look. Happy trails!

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  28. These are such amazing tips and you're so right about the lost bags and learning the lesson traveling with a carry on bag. That list idea is SO organized. I'm still so bad at packing because I forget to plan looks that can mix and match so your idea about unmemorable clothes is perfect. Hope no more malfunctions happen. :)

    xoDale

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  29. thank you for the chart -- I am traveling soon and it will be helpful. I kind of do this in my head, but it will be so much easier to have it written down. Even when I think I'm packing minimally, I always have more than I need. Lovely picture of you.

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    1. Thank you! Yes I always think I'll remember but it's so much easier to have it written down.

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  30. YOU TOO got a new LOOK!BEAUTIFUL HEADER!
    I have to say I am a pretty good packer………and this past weekend went down to SCOTTSDALE,Arizona with a carry on!Wore everything with the exception of the white pants!TOO early I decided even for SCOTTSDALE!Spring is almost here and I cannot wait!You will look VERY put together on your trip down SOUTH!It takes time to pack………..to be WELL STYLED!

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  31. Anyone who packs teal gloves cannot be a humdrum packer:). I keep a worksheet like yours, in my head, and am prone to walk around my house chanting, "Shoes, socks, underwear, pants, shirts, jackets!" I find if I start from the ground and work up I am less apt to forget anything.

    I love the story about your slip. Priceless.

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  32. Jennifer dear-how did I miss this post? I'm happy to be here now. You've created such a comprehensive list for packing. Love this tool. I think I do best when I write it all down and then do some visual combining before it all goes in the suitcase. Once I start adding things on a whim it's endless-forget it! Thanks for sharing the list template and I looooved your story about the missing skirt! Oui! LOL. Looking forward to doing some packing next month ;)
    xx, H

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  33. Great tips, Jennifer. I like to make lists for EVERYTHING, so I definitely appreciate the chart. I like to pack light, and agree with you on packing a base color or two which can be changed with accessories. What I do love is to dress up a bit for the trip itself, comfortable but elegant. I LOVE the blue scarf, your beautiful smile, and your new header too.
    Have fun in Mexico...then come back and tell us all about it.
    xoxo's

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