My friends know me as an impossibly light packer. I can leave for my university’s reading week with only my back pack and be completely fine! I have always packed light, and I hate packing more than I need – only because that means I have to lug it around everywhere with me! I don’t fancy that much.
Therefore, when I left for in Saguenay, Québec, I lived out of a carry on and a Roots backpack, and that easily sustained me for a full 3 months! I know that most people have a really hard time packing light because – oh no! What if I really need this and I don’t have it?! Don’t worry, I have those thoughts too when I’m packing. But while I have yet to really miss something while abroad, I have experienced over-packing many times! If you can pack thoughtfully, you won’t experience that nagging “shoulda-woulda-coulda” feeling while on your trip. That’s why I am here to show you my secrets on how to pack everything in a carry on and still have many answers to that constant, daily question “What do I wear today?”.
1. Start with neutrals
Chose a good base palette to mix with. Neutrals include beige, white, black, gray and brown. These items go with any other colour (including themselves) and are the key to being able to wear every top with every bottom! If you can keep your shoes and bags in this category, you are golden!
2. Add 2 colours
My favourites to add are red and blue. I’m not sure why, but that is a combination I always gravitate towards. Look and see what colours are most prevalent in your wardrobe. If you have a lot of green, you obviously like the colour a lot and will likely want to wear it often. Make this colour one of your two choices.
3. Keep a good balance of textures and fabrics
Take a look at the combination I have above. The tote and clutch are woven, one top is crocheted, another is patterned, a third is chiffon and the sandal is metallic. This is a good mixture of texture, pattern and shine. When added with colour, the clothing’s texture, pattern and shine are what make an outfit interesting. White t-shirts may be versatile, but it is the quality of the white fabric (is it lacy, chiffon, shiny, leather?) that will make the shirt fashionable. Check through your packing list of clothes and replace more simple ones with others that fulfill at least two of the four qualities.
4. Get items that can do double duty.
The peplum top above can be dressed down for a café lunch, or dressed up for a dinner out. Don’t pack an item that can only do one duty. Skirts are an easy way to dress up an otherwise more casual top, as can the right jewelry. If you are only bring a few items, you want to make sure that they can perform under every circumstance and potential surprise.
Jet Set Brunette Tip: Blazers are another great way to make an item more versatile for a formal occasion. Worst case scenario, if you are brave enough you can even wear the blazer with nothing underneath should you need to go somewhere high-fashion unexpectedly.
5. Be realistic
I feel like I really shouldn’t need to say this but a quick walk down Toronto’s famous high-fashion Bloor Street would argue that I do – pack practically! If you are going to the beach (or even to an outdoor wedding) don’t bring spiky stiletto heels unless you really want to aerate the ground. If you are going somewhere cold, bring sensible boots. If you know it is going to rain 8/10 days you are in London, England…you guessed it, find yourself some cute wellies. You can still be fashionable and practical, but just because you just HAVE to wear that cute new dress you got at Winners, doesn’t mean the ski resort is the best place to try it out. If you are improperly dressed, not only are you going to look funny to those around you, but you are probably going to feel miserable too (I’m looking at you Victoria Beckham!). Don’t ruin your fantastic trip over something so silly.
So how much can I really get out of a carry on?
Surprisingly a lot! Using the 15 items above, I managed to get 15 totally unique outfits! That’s right – 15 for 15!
Add two dresses, a swim suit, a sarong and a cover-up, and you are set for over two weeks at the beach with only 20 items!
The art of packing light is not something you can learn overnight – even reading a million posts like this won’t make you an expert. But give it a little practice and you won’t ever have to hear your boyfriend complain again when you bring two huge suitcases to the cottage for three days.
Do you like reading these kinds of packing tips?
Let me know in the comments below and I might add some more in the future!