I’m in New York about once a month lately for work and pie, so I thought I’d give you a peek into how I pack for variable weather, and a trip that encompasses both business and social elements. Because I like to pack everything into a single carryon and a laptop/camera bag, I tend to plan my outfits beforehand.
These are the quick snapshots I took for my last trip. They were taken for personal reference so I could just look back at my phone to remember how I wanted to mix and match everything. That’s why there are no fresh flowers and globe collections in the background. Still, I recognize that not everyone is this
anal meticulous, but most people don’t loathe checking bags as much as I do either.
Spring in New York is easy for me because it’s exactly how I dress in San Francisco. Two factors are at play: 1. I need to go from business in the day to drinks at night without stopping by home. 2. I need to prepare for a chill when I’m outside, and the heat of a crowded bar at night. And as I shed layers, I’d like to carry minimal crud around.
The outfit above is how I’d leave the house for a day of work.
Silk scarf, vintage
Cashmere sweater, vintage
Rock crystal necklace, gift
Navy mini, Zara
Royal blue flats, Target
If it’s warmer than I expect, or if the sun comes out mid-morning, I can stuff the tights and scarf in my tote.
And then, whuuuut? I find myself at bar in Greepoint that weirdly has steam heat and a surplus of cute guys. Voila. Orange tank is Mossimo brand from Target.
Same concept, different outfit.
Hand-knit cap, thrift (again, whoever gave this up is a monster)
Cashmere cardigan, L.L. Bean
Handmade safety pin, Etsy (no longer available)
Cotton skirt, purchased in Buenos Aires
Navy Tights, Target
Warm bar or restaurant, and the sweater goes in my purse or over my shoulders. Obviously, I can lose the tights and the hat too, but after 8 hours of hat-hair, and the probability that I haven’t shaved my legs? That’s a last resort. This yellow tank top is also Mossimo for Target, which makes the best long tank tops for tall girls.
It was supposed to rain while I was there, so I wore this warm wool coat on the plane. I can wear it belted or loose, and it works with all of the outfits pictured here.
Silk scarf, Hermes
80s Wool Coat, thrifted
Cashmere sweater vest, thrifted
Brass necklace, ALT Summit gift bag
Same navy skirt from Zara
Grey tights, Target
Elf booties, Vintage
Here are the bones of this outfit, and I can take it down even further by removing the sweater vest. Stripe shirt, H&M.
This is what I wore on the plane. It looks sort of hobo here, but I actually wore it with the belt.
White T, Zara
Black pants, Gap
Flats, Urban Outfitters
Here’s how the outfit looks without the coat. The grey long-sleeve T-shirt is Gap Body, and it’s the best thing ever. I’m about to order it in every color because it’s so soft and layers so well. Cozy.
Here’s the same Zara T-shirt without a layering , which I paired again with the unstoppable Zara skirt. In reality I ended up wearing it with the black pants for solo brunch with my favorite novel. The vintage-style half bra beneath is Anthropologie (pervert).
So those are my layering tricks. You’ll note that I dress almost entirely in color blocks, with print coming in as an accessory or base layering piece.
How do you make your wardrobe stretch when you’re traveling somewhere with temperature swings? I’m all ears.
So this is (almost) everything I packed in my carry-on for the press trip I took to Oahu. There was also a photo of me in a bikini that I took with my cell phone the hotel bathroom mirror. As you might imagine, it was a little… much. So this is everything I packed for four days in Hawaii except the photo of me in a blue bikini with ruffles. If you’ve already seen me naked, I will totally send that to you. Otherwise, use your imagination.
For trips to warm places, I try to pack mostly one-pieces (dresses, rompers) because they pack smaller and you don’t have to waste any time worrying about whether you’re packing stuff that matches everything else.
I wore this dress to travel, with a yellow slip underneath so my skin doesn’t show through the perforations. It’s poly, so you can pretty much roll it into a ball and it doesn’t wrinkle, and it also unzips all the way down the front, so you can layer it over things in interesting ways.
Here’s a full shot of the dress, which I also wore on our tour of the Turtle Bay Resort where we were staying. I look so happy here because the dress cost six bucks. I’m genetically unable to shut up about that.
I wore this to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the dress is Urban Outfitters, and the sweater is thrifted. I’ve since shrunk the dress to half its original size, so look for it as a shirt in future posts.
This romper is by a San Francisco designer whose brand I forget, of course. (She’s in the Mission, tiny shop on one of the numbered side streets between Valencia and Dolores. Anyone?) Anyway, it’s an oddly functional piece of clothing. I can belt it, wear it with tights and a long sleeve shirt, add something with a collar to switch it up. It’s become a bit of a uniform, but ultimately it’s a romper. For romping.
There, that’s better.
This is me in a ruffly dress from H&M, wielding a machete. Machetes are apparently still a thing in Hawaii.
Here’s the full dress with one of the vintage cardigans I brought. I used that sweater constantly, by the way. It was warm, but the breeze at night was a little chilly and there was some rain while we were there.
To save space, I try to pack jammies that can double as clothes if I need them. This is an Old Navy tank, and a pair of workout shorts from American Apparel. Can you imagine how bad the aforementioned bikini shot has to be if I’m willing to post this? Exactly.
Beach coverup! I wore this Urban Outfitters romper over my swimsuit when we headed down for surf lessons at Turtle Bay.
I got the sunglasses at a flea market. They’re made for shooting, and they feel heavenly because of those little side shades. Our trip lead, Mike, said they make me look like a 70-year-old man. I told him to get off my lawn.
American Apparel high-waisted side zip shorts and a random transparent shirt I’ve had forever. This shirt is an awesome suit coverup, so I wore it kayaking because I knew it would fit under the life jacket.
(Aside! Holy crap, have you ever seen a sea turtle? These sea kayaks had glass bottoms, so you could see them swimming around, and I didn’t expect to be so affected by them. One looked right up at me, and it was like I could feel my heart beating in my mouth. Please put “see a sea turtle” on your Life List.)
This is my American Apparel bikini top, which I bought for a trip to Jamaica. The bottom is super high-waisted, which is convenient if you have stretch marks from baby havin’.
You can also cover stretch marks with a lightweight scuba skin, which is excellent for snorkeling. And sexy times.
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.
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!
This is every item of clothing I packed for seven days in Dublin. I’m doing a campaign for L.L.Bean’s Signature Collection and they sent me a giant box of clothes, so I’m wearing a few of those items below. That means you can actually obtain some of these pieces, instead of cursing me when I tell you that everything you love was purchased at a vintage shop in 2001.
For example, this perfectly faded brown dress with polka dots? It’s L.L.Bean’s Silk Habutai Dress, and it’s so Little Orphan Annie. Except it’s made of heavy silk, but who says orphans can’t have nice things? Jerks, that’s who.
Anyway, as I mentioned recently, belts are a challenge for me. I’ve been trying to up my game on that front, so I bought a few from H&M and this is my first attempt. I felt so pulled together, ya’ll. The cardigan I’m belting here is also H&M, but it’s from the men’s section, which is where they keep all the good stuff.
The grey tights are Target, and the magic travel boots are from Argentina. They’ve gotten me through more trips than I can count.
Let’s get a closer look at those blue polka dots:
Hello, little buddies.
This is my travel outfit, hence the action pose. It’s a knit dress I got at a thrift store, worn with an H&M elastic belt and the aforementioned tights and boots. I also wore a grey sweater wrap that I didn’t get a photo of, but you can see it in my New York post from a couple years ago. It doubles as an airplane blanket.
I’m wearing the dress on the way back home too, so I’ll be washing it in the bathtub while I’m here. Airplane germs gross me out. Another reason to do a quick rinse:
This is the dress worn as a top. I’ve cleverly safety pinned the sides to the outside layer of my Express Ultra Skinny Stella jean pockets. You can also use extra large safety pins to do a gathering effect on the sides of your dress, which is slightly more labor intensive, but arguably more effective. There are those boots again. I love you, boots.
The necklace is also H&M, it makes everything a little more current. Unlike these killer sleeves. What’s up 1983? We miss your economy.
The circle scarf is H&M, and I love how easy it is to mess with proportions when you’re wearing it. Also, coziness.
These are my Rudolf Dassler PUMAs, which I adore, so of course they rub away the skin over my Achilles tendon. I’ve been trying to decide whether I strictly need that skin, so I’ve taken to tying them lower. This frees up a lot of extra lace, hence the creative lace tying. I like the way it looks, so I’ve been doing that with all my sneakers now.
This is a packing minimization outfit. We’re revisiting the cardigan, boots, and jeans.
I forget where the shirt came from, but I bought it because I liked the gathering around the neck and cuffs. You have to iron it like crazy though, and I only seem to have time for that when I’m on vacation.
The hat is hand knit, I got it at a thrift store where I get almost all of my hand-knit items. For the record, if someone hand knits you something and you send it to a thrift store? I’m pretty sure you need to go to confession, or sacrifice a goat or something. Or at least learn how to knit things that other people can then throw away — full circle.
I try to pack PJs I can wear as clothes in a pinch, so this is a tank top and cropped sweats from who knows where. I wear the tank under stuff for an extra layer if it’s cold. The comfy pants are nice if I get sick and want to be cozy, or if my flight is delayed and everything I’m wearing is coated in airport goo.
Chic librarian is my preferred look, so this is my favorite outfit for the trip.
These are L.L.Bean’s Cuffed Cropped Pant. They are fantastic. I’d normally wear them with a chunky heel, but we’re walking on cobblestones in the rain here, so these are cheap, destroyable flats from Target.
The cashmere cardigan is from the Alameda Flea Market, the Peter Pan collar top was 99 cents on eBay, and the modernized cat-eye glasses are Dolce and Gabbana. The hair scarf is actually a belt from a polyester ’70s dress I got at a thrift store when I was in high school. Yeah. It’s time to clean out my closet.
Thanks to the team at L.L.Bean Signature Collection for sponsoring this post.
Next time I have a clambake, you are so invited.
A lot of you have asked me how I fit everything in one tiny carry on. One of my big tricks was a tip from Gwen, who suggested putting liquids in a see-through bag with a clip, like this one. It hooks on to the zipper of your suitcase, and it has changed my life. Life altering! You just pop it off at security, pop it back on once you’re through, and BAM! You have room for an extra pair of shoes in your bag. Bwahahaha.
Once I’m at the hotel, I empty that bag into the dopp inside my suitcase that has all my “dry” stuff in it. My dopp kit is easier to get into, and I prefer to have that on the counter.
I love to share hotel rooms with friends so I can see the little luxuries they take with them on the road. Lots of you ask for photos of my bag when I pack, so I thought I’d start by showing you my dopp kit. Here are some lists of what’s inside. If you see awesome stuff I’m missing, let me know.
Hair bands and bobby pins. As you can see, I like to contain things in sandwich bags. Makes it easier to find stuff and to restock.
A mini-container of John Frieda Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme for dry hair
A mini-container of Curls Rock Curl Amplifier for wet hair
Tweezerman mini tweezers, which are so tiny and precise, and less apt to get nabbed by security, though they are potentially very stabby indeed.
Baby oil to remove my long-last lipstick
Fashion tape— this is skin-friendly double-sided sticky tape, to tape clothes in place over cleavage or keep bra straps hidden. Toupé tape works too.
Benadryl, because I have food allergy issues.
A wide-tooth comb for combing wet curly hair.
Marvis travel toothpaste, I can’t believe how long this teeny tiny tube has lasted.
A lint roller
Gilette Spa Breeze razor — have you used this? It has little soap bumpers on it so you don’t need to soap up before you shave. Killer.
Natural hand sanitizer
A travel candle and matches
Panty liner to buy me a few minutes while I run to the drugstore for supplies if necessary.
Single-use eye drops — Love these. They save space in little purses when you’re going out, and I sometimes tuck them into my bra if I don’t want to carry a purse.
Handy-wipe — For washing my hands if I decide to go thrift store shopping.
Cuticle scissors, which I mostly use as real scissors.
Nose hair trimmer (ahem)
Jewelry I keep in the exterior zip pockets.
Face cleansing towelettes — I didn’t get a photo of these, but I travel with two kinds: pre-soaped ones that you wet to wash your face, and then the damp ones you can use to wipe off your makeup. I keep those in the night stand in case I realize I forgot to wash my face after I’ve already climbed in bed. I do that a lot.
Revlon Creme shadow in Pink Petal
The Naked Bee sunblock stick This was a Mighty Goods submission, so I’m testing it out and I like it so far. Makes it easier to get sunscreen onto Hank.
Burt’s Bees Peppermint Lip Balm, so tingly. This is the only lipbalm I use, and I have sticks of it everywhere. I even have one specially marked to soothe my nose and upper lip when I have a cold. There’s also a version with sunscreen.
Cover Girl blushes in Classic Pink and Natural Rose
A full palette of Maybellene Superstay Lipcolor, which never, ever comes off. I just made a lunch date with a friend for the specific purpose of teaching her how to apply it, and I don’t even care if that sounds nuts.
A lipstick I picked up at the airport and now hate. It’s that bright orangey red that’s so hip right now, but I can’t find a brand that doesn’t bleed, which makes me look like a pack-a-day circus clown.
A brush for blush and powder
Eyelash curler, which I never, ever use. Why do I pack this?
Eyebrow pencil, which I also never use. I have Yeti eyebrows.
Nosehair trimmer and tweezers, which I apparently photographed twice.
Perfume — the type varies because I like to associate trips with particular scents.
Clinique tinted sunblock, which I use as foundation.
Concealer with sunblock
Mini-container of DDF Daily Protective Moisturizer
Philosophy Help moisturizer. I use that so infrequently that I think I’ve had this tube for years. Which is… gross.
Neutrogena sunblock/moisturizer — I just use this as sunblock, because I have dry skin and like the extra moisture.
White eyeliner — I use it to put that little dot on the inside corner of my eye that’s supposed to make your eyes sparkle. Is that still a thing?
This is my nail kit, and it’s mostly for touch ups. The cork bag was a Mighty Goods submission. I didn’t love it when I got it, and now I realize I was dreadfully wrong. Do you know who makes it? Let me know and I’ll update.
La Occitane Pure Shea Butter — I think I got this as a hotel amenity, but it’s great cuticle cream.
Revlon Strawberry Electric nail polish — I usually only paint my toenails and I think toenails look best in comparatiely garish colors.
Seche Vitte fast-drying top coat — You put this on while your polish is still wet. It gives an at-home pedicure the professional sheen. Also good for stopping runs in your tights.
That’s it! Typing all that makes me want to take a trip. Or head to a Sephora. What about you? What are you willing to squeeze into a mini tube so you can take it on the road?
I try to travel without checking luggage, and Packing Light is a series about what I pack to get that done.
I haven’t done a lot of winter suitcases, so I thought I’d do a post about what I packed to speak at ALT Summit. The jeans are from The Limited, and I need to imagine a gospel choir singing and Jesus rays breaking through the clouds as I type this next part: They were the first pair I tried on. I’m a size 8 to 10 in jeans, and the ones at The Limited have a perfect waist to bum ratio for my figure, so the waistline doesn’t gap. The boots are my magic Buenos Aires boots from the trip we took when Hank was a baby.
The undershirt is an acid yellow top I got at Old Navy in a frenzied stock up on layering pieces when they had the $5 sale before Christmas. I like to buy unusual colors so I can combine them with neutrals and have it look all artsy, which is what I’m going for with this grey Dolman sleeve sweater, also from a sale at The Limited (twenty bucks, baby!).
Laura took this lovely photo of me in my outfit for the “Old Hollywood” party. I took that to mean retro-Oscars, but most other ladies wore chic little cocktail dresses, which means I was grievously overdressed. Upside, I arrived after dinner and drinks, so I was mostly too illuminated to care much.
This is a cheap feather hair clip I often use to spruce up dress straps. It can add va-voom to the most mundane spaghetti strap number.
Update: I got the clip at a cheesy costume shop on the Haight, the one with all the wigs and spandex zebra print outfits. I looked for a similar one online but couldn’t find it. If you do, let me know and I’ll post a link in a later post. Also, this can get crushed in a suitcase, so I pack it in a hard-sided cardboard box that’s maybe three inches high.
My hair is getting too long for ponytails, it just tends to look scraggly, so this is my version of the quick updo. I twist back the front sections, then do a loose chignon in the back.
The shoes are a hand-me-down from my sister. I like the surprise lattice work in back.
I got the shirt and belt on sale at JCrew and I wear them both constantly. The cashmere sweater is a vintage Pringle from the Alameda Flea Market (twenty bucks!). The brooch is by Elefante, e a Vida, and I adore it. Miriam’s work is my go-to gift for beloved girlfriends, all of whom I’m pinning one by one.
I got this fake fur jacket years ago at a thrift store in Sacramento. It brings back amazing memories of having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on sunny winter mornings. My roomie at the time had a giant giraffe-print coat, and we’d wrap up so we could sit outside without waiting for a table. I swear I can smell mint tea every time I put it on, and it’s crazy warm.
Update: I wore the jacket and boots on the plane, so I didn’t have to fit those in the suitcase. Next time I’ll remember to include a shot of the case packed. I also roll my clothing to save space, though the long dress I just folded over and stored in a top panel of the case.
Leggings by H&M, as is the zip-front sweater.
These leg warmers are also H&M, and they are divine. They make it more feasible to wear leggings as pants, and you can really wear them with anything when you want to throw in a little trendy kick.
(Someone asked in comments what I’m wearing on my lips in this photo. I think it’s just Burt’s Bees peppermint chapstick.)
And finally, you must own one of these American Apparel circle scarves. I never take mine off, and there’s so many ways to wear it, I give a full-on infomercial to anyone who will listen. Sorry about that, Karen and Erin. But you love the scarf don’t you? I thought so.
This post is all about me refraining from “pot of gold” jokes. I humbly request that you admire my restraint.
I know you saw this headband coming — also from Target.
Is there a blogger left who doesn’t own one of Andrea’s Superhero necklaces? There should be a secret handshake. Obviously, Laura is wearing hers as a bracelet.
Her actual necklace features a Thoreau quote, “Live the life you have imagined.”
Laura’s glasses are from Urban Outfitters. I suspect Laura made an Urban Outfitters run before this trip. Fess up, Mayes.
And there you go. Pretty good for one little carryon, especially since we didn’t even touch on what she packed for New York. She probably just paired this with leggings and a scarf. Voila! Business casual.
Laura, thanks for your patience with my camera, and for your willingness to spit in the face of jetlag. You make things more fun.