Mighty Life List
May 9 2011

Packing Light, New Orleans

As you know, I’m all about the carry-on luggage. A carry-on and a backpack can get me through almost anything, mostly because carry-ons will hold way more than most people think, especially if you’re going somewhere warm. Here’s what I packed for New Orleans.

The denim skirt is thrifted and the striped top is Urban Outfitters. Anna Beth Chao only weighs like three pounds, so you can fold her right down into the exterior pocket of the carry-on. I take her everywhere. Chao and champagne.

The silk scarf is vintage Vera, and the aviators are from Anthropologie. When I wear them, I like to ask people for their license and registration at regular intervals.

There was a cocktail party that first night, so I wore my vintage fringe happy dress, which requires zero ironing. I take it everywhere.

These are my fallback shoes, which operate on the theory that if you’re a woman over six feet tall in heels, no one notices what you’re wearing anyway. I need a new pair, because I’ve had these for nearly a decade. It’s impossible to find stable, comfortable, unreasonably tall shoes, but it’s time. Help a sister out, Internet.

The next day was my presentation. I like to be totally comfortable on stage, so I went with this simple navy shift from H&M and swapped the belt out for a striped scarf. The orange travel flats are Tieks, and I also wore two square glass orange rings, because I like to be matchy matchy like that. You’ll see those below.

A group of us went to dinner later that night, and I wore a romper I got at Forever 21 for 16 cents. Cheap prices for disposable clothing is why I continue to shop there, even though they purposefully play music to annoy people my age. You’ll have to more than blast Avril Levigne to drive me away from prices like this Forever 21! Actually, I love that “What the Hell” song, so I’m golden. I am bopping in the aisles, Forever21.

I wore the romper with very basic open toe black flats from H&M. I don’t have any full-length shots of this outfit that you haven’t already seen, so I’m cheating by using a shot from New York. There are, however, several shots of me looking naked at dinner:

“Oh, don’t mind me. I put a dinner napkin on the chair before I sat down.”

This is my impression of cruise director Julie McCoy. Can you feel me setting a course for adventure?

The skirt is from Buenos Aires, and the tennies are knockoff Bensimons, which I got on the cheap at the now-defunct Martin and Osa. I need to replace those badly, but can’t bring myself to spend $50 on a pair of slightly more awesome canvas Keds.

Scarf is another vintage Vera tied as an ascot. The button-up shirt is from The Limited, which makes great shirts for business travel because they aren’t 100 percent cotton, which means they have stretch to them and don’t wrinkle nearly so easily. My glasses are Dolce and Gabanna.

That night I wore an American Apparel dress for my reading, with the same heels we talked about earlier.

As you know, I like to take jammies that I can wear as clothes in a pinch. This time, I packed this grey romper, also from Forever21, also 16 cents. The cashmere sweater is from the Alameda Flea Market.

I stayed a couple extra days with Anna Beth, so I revisited the navy shift for lunch at Commanders Palace. Here you can see the aforementioned orange rings, which I got from street vendors in Buenos Aires:

I also wore my stripe top again, this time with a little black mini from Urban Outfitters:

And a scarf from H&M:

Again, I failed to get a photo of what I wore on the plane due to exhaustion. I know this makes you rabid, so I’ll say I wore a short cotton mini-dress over tight jeans with the gray striped sweater, a blazer, and the white sneakers.

And that’s it, team.

One day soon I’ll do a post about what I wear on planes to maximize comfort and go from cold (San Francisco) to warm (everywhere else). Speaking of which, do you have a standard travel outfit? If so, spill. I could use a variation on the dress/leggings/sweater theme.

Also, keep an eye on this space, because I asked Roxanna from Everyday Treats to tell me what she packed for New Orleans. She always looks amazing, and she sent photos. Hooray, Roxanna!

40 Responses to “Packing Light, New Orleans”

  • mom101 Says:

    You know, that AA dress from the reading was fab. I don’t remember what anyone else wore that night but I do remember that.

  • Catherine Slye Says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to Forever 21…the not going for fear of being tortured is now over thanks to you. :) Thank you.

  • avb Says:

    Maggie, for the rest of us 5’9″ and over, can you share whatever low heel shoe suggestions come in? Especially if they are for big foots.

    x avb

  • robyn Says:

    i find i just don’t have the patience for F21. maybe i go at the wrong times {ie, when all the kids are out of school and crammed into the aisles} but i always get stressed out at the lack of organization/concern for us elderly folks {read: those actually over 21}, and end up leaving empty-handed.

    however, everyone else i know gets AMAZING deals there as well, so i may have to suck it up and go back in.

    no standard travel outfit to speak of, though. mostly i just wear my Toms for comfort {and to gross people out when i walk through security barefoot} and bring a cardigan because planes are always cold!

  • debbie Says:

    Love these packing light tips. I am a fellow light packer and I cannot get over how much use I’ve gotten over this carry on from ebags a while ago: http://tinyurl.com/3spq8ss
    I’ve packed four weeks of clothing into this sucker! It’s also good for weekend trips. It’s expandable and amazing. Best travel purchase ever.

  • Barb @ getupandplay Says:

    I usually wear comfy black lounge pants then something nicer up on top (so I don’t look like complete hell), like a sweater or cute hoodie over a fitted tee. I really like wearing things with pockets, I find it so convenient. And I love layers for everyone, especially while traveling with children.

  • Tamara Says:

    I covet your rings! I realized this week that I spend more regularly on a plant, or a meal, than almost any item in my wardrobe. I have that same one bag rule. I’ve had some unfortunate experience with checking bags when I was bringing culinary wonders home with me from trips…like cheese.

    Travel musts for me are all about making flying less crummy, like earplugs, something removable if its too hot/cold, slip off shoes, and something to drink more than apparel. A toothbrush, contact case, and lipstick are always good too. Something to put my hair back in if I become a frizz monster.

  • Becky Says:

    Okay, I really want a picture of your open packed carry-on because damn! I can’t believe that all fit in a carry-on!

    You look divine in every outfit.

  • Heather B. Says:

    You and AB have just inspired me to do something about my closet. Thank you. Also? More stripes!

  • Lynn Says:

    Moi: 5’11″. My new shoes that I love so much that I keep ‘em out just to look at them: http://www.zappos.com/naya-airena-dark-venom-tan-leather. Soooo bee-yoo-tee-ful, they make my size 11′s look dainty!

    When flying, I start with the classic soft black pants and something sleeveless. This gets topped off with something lightweight with sleeves and cap it off with one of the ruanas I got at Kohl’s for only $6. They’re big, they’re comfortable, they’re a jacket, they’re a blanket or a pillow. If something gets spilled on it, it’s patterned and it won’t show. If something really bad happens, it was only $6 and I will throw it away when I get home.

  • jen Says:

    black comfy heels from camper http://www.zappos.com/product/7673895/color/3

    watch for them to occasionally appear on overstock.com

  • NicoleT Says:

    Travel outfit -
    dark jeans (because I always want to pack a pair, and then I have more room; these can go dressy or casual)
    loose jersey top (T-shirt or the like, I usually do short sleeves because I’m always hot after security and baggage)
    a sarong worn as a scarf (because it is multifunctional – tie it to make a sling for the kiddo, use it like a light blanket on the plane, wear it around shoulders when we get there for a bit more warmth)
    sneakers/comfy shoes
    comfy socks (I love PowerSox, they have a bit more arch support and stay up when I take off my shoes)

  • Megan G. Says:

    Especially if it’s an early morning flight, I seem to specialize in wearing whatever will make me look most like I got caught in a wash-day clothesline in a mad sprint to the airport. Definitely skews random.

  • Lynne Says:

    I was in New Orleans for a week last summer. I thought I just bought the bare bones, but wow, did I ever overpack.
    I too have avoided Forever 21 like the plague. I think I will have to brave it -16 cents??????

  • Kevin Says:

    I love your packing light series… but I’m wondering if there are any of your fashionable guy friends who could show how men can pack light? It can be seriously tough with all the bulk and size 12 shoes etc etc. Am I just making excuses and being a persnickety gay man who packs for a weekend like he’s staying for a month? Probably.

  • melanie Says:

    My standard travel uniform is a maxidress, cargo jacket and slip on wedges. I pack a pair of knee high socks in my purse (the louder and weirder the better. one flash of those bad boys and your neighbor will be discouraged from in flight convo, if you so choose). The maxidress acts as a blanket if you curl your legs up. The slip ons make getting in and out of security a breeze. I opt for wedges rather than flats because I am short and sometimes my legs get tired from dangling in the seats (no joke). And the jacket of many pockets helps me keep my ticket, a snack, my earbuds and gum handy. Now that I have outlined it, I sound like a walking train wreck, but I swear it is cute (ish)

  • Amber Says:

    Hey Maggie! Please post how to dress when flying within the next 17 days. I’m going from CA to Thailand on an overnight flight, and have no idea what I should wear. Thanks!

  • Jet Harrington Says:

    Love your packing light series!

    And for those stable, comfortable, unreasonably-tall shoes, my go-to source is Boden. I’m not even kidding. These are fabulous! Every season they come up with amazing, stylish choices.

    Airplane clothes are dictated by length of trip – anything over four hours, I start to lose my mind a little, so I can’t wear anything binding or tight, not even a bra, and my temperature goes up and down like a manic see-saw. I usually wear black yoga pants, with whatever my heaviest shoes are (regardless of security hassles) so that I don’t have to pack them. Then I top it with a brightly-coloured yoga top (there are so many cute ones now, at lululemon, lucy, and title 9), a cardigan that I ditch as soon as I sit down, and a pashmina that serves as my layering system.

  • Tamara Says:

    Maggie, I really hope our paths cross IRL someday. I think of you every time I respond to something/anything boring with a creative/silly idea that makes it more amusing for me. Reading this blog has conditioned me to do this. Your writing has changed my brain for the better.

    Thank you,
    Tam

  • Desiree Says:

    Thank you for the scarf as belt idea, and for introducing me to AB Chao!! I haven’t adjusted too well to living in the south, but now I’m determined to scour Austin for southern women like her so I can force them to be my friend.

  • amie Says:

    I love this series so much. I know Lindsay Ferrier irl, and she speaks so highly of you that it makes me so hope for a meeting someday!

    In practical topics, I’ll say that I finally took the plunge on Tieks. They were 30% off and free shipping over the winter holidays, so I went for it despite my tragically high-maintenance feet. And I LOVE THEM!!! They are perfect. No blisters. I’ve worn them for walks of more than two miles with zero problems. This is unprecedented, for my cranky feet.

    So thank you, Maggie! And to everyone else: buy Tieks. They sent me extra flower bows because they didn’t have my favorite color. Their shoes will not eat your feet. You can walk in them for a long time. They RULE.

  • Susan Says:

    Wait…so that ruffley blue tube top with the black bottoms is a Forever 21 romper?? Why can’t I ever find two-toned rompers!!

  • Rebecca Says:

    Because I’m also a fan of the carry-on, I try to determine which shoes/clothes will be the bulkiest and wear those on travel days (i.e., that’s the day I wear my jeans, bulkiest slip-on shoes, and any sweater or jacket. I also wear layers so I can adjust for warmer outside or airport temps, and the fact that I’m always (always) freezing on a flight. Bonus if I can figure out how to make more room in my bag by wearing extra clothes.

    I’ve never (never) (NEVER!) found anything for sale for $0.16. I’ve been in Forever 21, and like you, braved craptastic music for an inexpensive military-styled coat I loved. It was a good deal, but also a good deal more than $0.16. Is this a regular occurrence? Or was there some special sale?

  • Roxanna Says:

    Aw, thanks Maggie!

    I just wanted to say that I love your cruise director look — it suits you well, you know, since you’re always looking for fun.

  • Tina Says:

    That Julie McCoy look had me cracking up! I don’t know how you do it. I just love your packing light mad skills. I am also in AWE of how you find things at Forever21??? I am only 5’3″ and everything I try on lets my naughty bits fall out everywhere. I do love their cheap craptastic jewelry though!
    I second the other post on the maxi dress. I usually do one with a jacket or cardigan over and a scarf I can use for multiple things. I will be traveling to Alaska this summer, so for the first time I will be going from sweltering heat to very cool…not sure how I will pull that off. Plus I need to be ready to hang out on a boat or with a moose. Or so they tell me. Heels are good for that, no?
    Best,
    Tina

  • Katrina Says:

    Maggie, that AA dress is so fabulous, and I have a Groupon there I need to use up. Is it this Oversized T-Shirt Dress: http://www.americanapparel.com/rsa0338.html?cid=29&utm_source=onlinestore&utm_medium=women-dresses&utm_campaign=women-dresses? No? Do you happen to remember a name? Thank you!

  • Heather Says:

    I wear jeans and birks, a tank top and a cardigan. Then I bring socks and a scarf in my carry-on. No matter WHAT season it is, that scarf will keep me a great plane temp.

  • Kate Says:

    It always makes my day when it is time for you to do a packing light post! Love those orange rings.

  • Stella Says:

    Damn, I find things at sales for .25 but you beat me. Forever 21 rompers at .16? I tip my hat off to you, ma’am!

  • Lauren Says:

    My travel standard is comfy jeans, a grey camisole or tank, a long, lightweight, 3/4 sleeve, black cardigan, and my Keen Madrid ballerina flats in a dark teal. Everything I wear on the plane is comfortable, easy for going through security (I almost never get asked to take off my cardigan), and all of the separates work well with other items I tend to bring along for travel. Otherwise, I tend to wear the same outfit on the plane ride home. I also keep a grey pashmina in my purse at all times. Great for using as a pillow or blanket on the plane, and great for moving from one temp to the other or dressing an outfit up a bit later in the day.

  • Looziana Girl Says:

    I see that you enjoyed an Abita Strawberry beer – my favorite! I hope you enjoyed your stay in the funtime capital of our great state :) I’m sorry I missed your visit.

  • Tricia Says:

    As always, a fabulous packing post.

    But seriously I don’t know how you get all that stuff in your bag. I would LOVE a video of you getting it all together and in the bag.

    My go to semi-heels are “me too” black patents. Super comfy.

  • Melissa Says:

    Even though I’m not the world traveler that you are, I love this series and your style! I’m scared of rompers, however :-)

  • valerie Says:

    http://www.zappos.com/rsvp-rain-cushioned-by-foot-petals-black-satin

    these are the best heels I have EVER owned. they survived a 20 block trot (in the rain I might add!) through the streets of new york. my feet did not hurt and I wore them again the next day! you cannot go wrong with these AND they are gorgeous.

    (love this post by the way and I am a long time fan :)

  • Nicole Says:

    I’ve found no unreasonably tall heels as comfortable and stable as Fryes. Since I can rarely bring myself to pay full price, eBay and the shopbop clearance are my friend.

    Here’s to my fellow “over 6′ in heels” ladies!

  • Annia Says:

    You look so beautiful and happy in all these photos. Digging the clothes, too. xx

  • Heidi C. Says:

    A friend just recommended Miz Mooz shoes. She said they are amazingly comfortable. I checked out the website and they had some pretty cute heels that weren’t too high.
    http://www.infinityshoes.com/search/?cats=new-arrivals%2Fwomen&limit=72&itemsPerPage=72

  • Vinterjakke Says:

    I really like your article here, very nice written. I surfed it from my htc with no problems at all. I will bookmark your blog and return when i want similar reading. Regards Jeseryn Lander . FI

  • BOSSY Says:

    Love this. Always. Bossy is so Carry-On, even when she’s not flying! (Bossy packed everything she needed for a 6-week cross-country road trip in one small carry-on.)

  • Holly Says:

    I almost cannot believe I have never browsed through the Forever 21 website. I also have never stopped into one of the stores, primarily because we don’t seem to have one here, but their stock is pretty awesome. So I proceeded to spend way too much money upon reading this entry and following the link to that romper. Thanks for that.