Mighty Life List
Nov 20 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Headbands

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Yesterday’s cute headband was hardly the only one in Laura’s travel arsenal — this one is from Urban Outfitters. There’s something so Texan about all of her hair accoutrements; I kept expecting her to clip on a fake ponytail for fullness, or pull a wig out of her duffel bag. Then again, I’m the one who packed set of hot rollers for a beach vacation.

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Her dress is White House Black Market and I love the full skirt. So comfortable when you’re traveling.

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Also well suited to impromptu musical numbers. Do you get the impression that Laura has never worn a sweatsuit in her life?

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Her houndstooth heels are vintage, and are clearly a commitment to cuteness.

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Another simple sundress, this time from Target.

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Her scarf is also from Target, though her shoes are Gucci:

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When I was asking Laura about her clothing brands, I said, “Do you realize all of your stuff is either Prada and Gucci or Target and TJ Maxx?”

“That’s so me,” she said.

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Nov 19 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Accessories

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This photo makes me so happy. It’s the quintessential traveling-with-the-girls shot.

Anyway, here’s an example of how some very slight changes in accessories help you stretch your travel wardrobe. You can dress for a day of sightseeing, and then just make a few changes for dinner without packing a separate outfit. Laura’s Gap flats and her black sundress from Urban Outfitters both pack down to almost nothing.

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My lord, I love this hat from Urban Outfitters. I want to see her toss it jauntily in the air Mary Tyler Moore style. Laura Mayes, you’re gonna make it after all.

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Laura’s oversized vintage locket is from Uncommon Objects in Austin. She’s the only person I know who has actual photos in her locket. This makes me feel that she can be trusted. Laura would never read your diaries while she’s house sitting.

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Here Laura swapped the sunglasses and hat for a felt headband from Saks and a pair of shell earrings from Claire’s. The effect is slightly dressier, and now we can head out to share a bottle of wine. Let’s do.

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Nov 18 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Outfit 2

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Laura called this vacation her “planes, trains, and automobiles trip” because every mode of transportation was involved — including boats — and all of us dragged our suitcases along. Laura usually packs by stuffing a massive suitcase with anything at hand and then crossing her fingers. But with so many location changes she knew the steamer trunk would grow tiresome, so she made it a goal not to check her bag.

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Packing light for Greece was a particular challenge because she had a few days of business meetings in New York tacked on the end. I unfortunately didn’t get shots of her NYC outfits, but she managed to fit everything into a carryon by heeding my advice to pack all dresses and items that can do double duty. This is Laura’s swimsuit coverup, which doubles as a dress for daywear.

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Update: Laura said in comments, “Also, the dress/cover up was purchased from a street vendor in Cozumel. For about $4. I know. I hate my own guts.”

Tomorrow, one dress done two different ways.

Nov 17 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Outfit 1

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Speaking of The Industrious Laura Mayes, I took some photos of her outfits while I was in Greece so we’d have another perspective for the Packing Light series. Laura is an Emmy-winning writer, editor of the new Kirsty book, and fellow Broad Summit organizer. I love having her around, because even when she’s tired or having a rough time, she still seems joyful.

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See what I mean?

Laura’s earrings are from Target, and she stole the flower from a bush on the hotel grounds. I was scandalized.

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Laura also dressed up her ponytail by covering the band with a bit of hair. In case that seems like a Houdini-style achievement to you, here’s a quick how-to:

-Pull your hair into a ponytail like usual,
-take a piece of hair from your ponytail and wrap it around the rubber band until the end is on the underside of your ponytail,
-secure that bit of hair beneath the band with two bobby pins crossed over one another in an X shape. Note: You’ll want to tuck the bobby pins into your hair as you pin so they don’t show.

And voila.

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Laura got her dress at a vintage shop in Houston, and her sunglasses are Prada. Laura can have Prada sunglasses because she apparently doesn’t lose them every time she wears them like I do.

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This yellow cuff is from a New York boutique, and Laura keeps it in heavy rotation.

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Her patent red ballet flats are Gucci. Laura is another friend who tends to be serious about her shoes. I personally think it’s dangerous to wear “there’s no place like home” shoes when you’re vacationing in Greece, but Laura lives on the edge.

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For the record, this is how Laura responds when you’ve been barking orders at her as you photograph and then you say, “Now, dance, monkey! Dance!” She takes direction well.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss Laura’s Mighty-inspired packing strategy.

Oct 30 2009

Packing List Answers

There were lots of questions on the packing list post, so I thought I’d supply some quick answers:

How do you fit ALL THAT STUFF into your backpack??

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My backpack is like the TARDIS. It’s a Crumpler Barge, made to carry camera equipment and a laptop plus some extras. It’s big for a daypack, but I use it for work everyday as well as traveling.

I was wondering if you would share what brand of sunless tanner you use?

After much cross consultation with beauty magazines and very pale friends, I use Clarins Self Tanning Gel, which looks like this:

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A tube lasts forever, and after a couple of applications, people always ask if I’ve lost weight, which is American for “you look hot.”

I am curious — do you actually follow your toiletries list separately each trip? Or do you a keep an always-packed toiletries kit (with its own toothbrush, lotion, etc) and just throw the whole thing in your bag?

The latter. Though I do double-check against the list because I am anal. Also, I find it very satisfying to refill the little toiletry containers.

Why hand sanitizer only for foreign countries? The airplane is filthy enough, no matter where you go, no?

Before I had a kid, I only traveled with sanitizer in countries where I thought it would be tough to find public sinks, places where there’s a thriving street food culture for example. Now I carry a 20-gallon container with fire hose attachment, which I use to spray down the entire interior of the plane before I let Hank touch anything. On the advice of our pediatrician.

Is there a reason that the cuticle scissors aren’t grouped with the nail kit?

I don’t use them for my cuticles, I use them as scissors. Cutting tags off clothes, cutting out things to paste in my journal, makeshift weaponry should someone try to hijack the plane or use more than his alloted half of our shared armrest. That kind of thing.

Would you ever consider a make-up post?

My main thing is that I use Clinique’s City Block tinted sunscreen instead of foundation. It looks like this:

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It evens out my skin tone. Plus, I’m 1000 percent more likely to apply foundation daily than sunscreen, so it saves me from burning when I’m unexpectedly in the sun for thirty seconds or more. Or when I spend too much time in the glare of our refrigerator light.

What podcasts do you download?

This American Life. What podcasts do you download? I want to know more about good podcasts.

Sep 11 2009

Packing Light: Greece Edition

If you’ve been reading long, you already know the drill from my packing posts about New York and Puerto Rico. I don’t like to check luggage if I can help it, so I try to fit everything in a carry-on and my laptop bag. This is what I packed for two weeks in Greece. It’s eight outfits total, and my plan was to wear everything twice, but on different islands.

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This is my favorite vintage dress. It’s cotton and it has pockets, purrrr. Great for visiting churches when I’m traveling, because it covers the shoulders and knees, but it’s cool and easy to move in. I can also plop down on the ground without worrying I’m flashing everyone, so it’s good for traveling with the toddler too. The shoes are my navy saltwater sandals.

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Because it’s cotton, this dress wrinkles in the suitcase, so Bryan taught me a trick from his acting days. Head into your hotel bathroom with the dress on a hanger, turn the shower on hot, wet a washcloth, wring it slightly, and then pat the dress down. The little wrinkles will fall out with the steam, and the wet washcloth takes care of the big ones. I just put the dress on damp and let it dry on me, but you can also let it dry overnight.

The glasses are a drugstore purchase from years ago, the headband is an elastic 99-center from H&M. So useful, that I actually gave Melissa one when we were in Puerto Rico, because she lamented having lost the ones she picked up in San Francisco. You need one too. More on that later.

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This is a simple black, drop-waist dress that I got for $7 at a thrift store when I was in college. On the plane, I wore this with a pair of black leggings, my trusty slip-off gold flats (see Puerto Rico post if you’re curious about those), a pale blue cardigan, and my swimsuit wrap worn as a scarf (the wrap also doubled as a blanket). Again, I’ve failed you in photographing my travel outfit. Don’t think I can’t hear you cursing me from here.

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I think the dress is rayon, but it reacts to water like crepe — either way, it doesn’t really wrinkle. I bought the hat for 10 Euros in Santorini, because I didn’t pack a sunhat. Which was dumb. Be ye not so dumb, my traveling friends.

The purse is from Buenos Aires, the necklace is my favorite, a gift from Bryan purchased at Rare Device. I can’t believe I’m blanking on the artist’s name. One of you knows, I’ll bet. Let me know in comments, and I’ll update.

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These are the same shorts I took to Puerto Rico, they’re Rocawear. The shirt is a men’s undershirt, Hanes I think.

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The brooch is a long vintage silk scarf that I made into a flower shape and pinned to my shirt with safety pins. Because I am crafty.

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Oh man this dress is so good. Also vintage, and unfortunately polyester — the yucky kind. I got past it though, and it’s great for traveling.

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Bryan brought back the bracelet from a work trip to China. All my cool jewelry is from Bryan.

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The gladiator sandals were my main shoes for this trip. They’re surprisingly comfy, though buckled a little loose in this photo. They’re from Delia’s, which is a teen catalog that’s great for accessories and trendy stuff that you only need to last for a year or so.

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Speaking of trendy stuff that doesn’t need to last, here’s a $15 romper I bought for the trip from Urban Outfitters (Be careful, that site now has music! Ugh).

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I told you a while ago that I like to pack jammies that can double as outfits, and these were supposed to be my jammies. I ended up wearing them almost more than anything else, the knit was crazy comfortable. Action wear!

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The giant earrings are from a shop in Kentucky. They’re lightweight.

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Back to that headband. I keep it in my purse when I travel because my hair invariably starts to look scraggly with wind and swimming, or I get too hot to wear it down. With this, I can pull it into a ponytail and use the band to clean up the stray frizz caused by humidity. It’s easy to do without a mirror, and the result is casual, but a little more polished.

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This dress is by 25singles. The sleeves are constructed so I can push them to the front and back and wear a cardigan without any added bulk on my shoulders. Great for the city.

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Greece is all about jumping for me, apparently. Anyway, you can see here how the sleeves only attach at the top, so you can arrange the folds for more tummy or bum coverage, as you desire. Genius.

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The necklace is actually two necklaces from H&M, which I knotted together.

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Here are those shorts again. The tank is by H&M, and is much fuller than it appears in this photo. I actually decided it was a little unflattering on this trip, and probably won’t be wearing it again. Such are the perils of seeing yourself in photos.

The shoes were a blog rec by Elizabeth from Browner Brown. They’re $17 Saniya Pointed Toe Flats from Target, and they’re rubber soled. They didn’t give me problems on this trip, but have since given me pinky toe blisters. Great with tights though, and I love the color.

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The scarf is the same one I used as a brooch above. This time I looped it twice around my head, tied it on top, and tucked the loose ends under for an updated Rosie the Riveter vibe.

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This is another vintage find. That green band has crazy giraffes and other jungle animals in play, which is spectacular. Super comfy.

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The fish-scale belt is elasticized, I got it at a thrift store. The waist on this dress is a little high for me, so I like to define it a bit.

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Sunglasses were on loan from Laura, as an Englishman had accidentally absconded with mine the night before, thinking they were his girlfriend’s.

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This is my swim wrap, which I bought in Bali on my honeymoon. It’s essentially a large rectangle of linen with a random button and a random tie. I have to figure out how to wear the damn thing every time I put it on, but it’s great to travel with because I can also use it as a scarf or a blanket on the plane. It’s by Oka Diputra.

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The back gives you a little insight into how it’s fashioned. Button at the neck, tie at the waist. Supposedly you can wear it like fifteen different ways, but I have no idea how.

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Here’s my new La Blanca suit! I’m excited because I almost never buy new swimsuits. I may just be turning over a new leaf on that though. (Sorry this is a little blown out, my camera was on the wrong setting.) I got it on sale at Nordstrom.com. I like that it’s a sexy one piece, but I don’t feel like my boobs are hanging out. Also? Red! Which is the very best color for a swimsuit.

And that’s it! Here’s a shot of my suitcase.

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I had so much extra room, that I decided to throw in my rollers, which was ludicrous. I used them twice and they made my bag heavy, which is a Packing Light fail.

You can also sort of see that I packed two things that didn’t get much play, a yellow turban purchased in Puerto Rico, and a white men’s button down to wear as a coverup (I wore it for sleeping instead). The red and white striped thing is an adorable $10 beach bag from Walmart, which I used a couple times as a shopping bag, and to carry home Hank’s gifts without crushing them. I also had a pair of black flip-flops, which got a ton of use.

Regrets? Well, the stupid curlers. Come on, Maggie. Also, I should have worn a sunhat on the plane. It took a while to find a reasonable one, and I don’t totally love it. Also, in retrospect, I would have thrown in three or four more evening dresses. We tended to wear casual clothes during the day, and dress things up at night. It would have been good to have a few more in the vein of my 25singles dress.

Also, I would have stuffed my busy husband and my cranky toddler in, because as fun as it is to travel with girlfriends, I missed those guys.

I was in Greece because Intel is sponsoring my Mighty Life List. Next week, I’m going skin diving in the Arctic Circle! Stay tuned.

Apr 15 2009

Packing Light: New York City Edition

So this is every item of clothing I packed for five days in New York. My goal was to fit everything in my hiking backpack (plus a little rucksack for the plane), because unwieldy luggage really affects trip quality. I hate dreading the subway stairs, or sleeping through my first day because I’m exhausted from lifting my suitcase.

I wore one outfit twice, and everything fit neatly in my hiking backpack. I brought two pairs of shoes so I could change things up if my feet started to hurt, but only ended up wearing one.

How To Pack Light for a Trip to  New York City | Mighty Girl

How crazy cute is this ducky yellow hat? I know! Bryan hates it, because he is blind. Anyway, the skirt, sweater, and hat are all thrift store scores, and the neck warmer was a gift from a friend who got it on Etsy. The gloves are from Ann Taylor and I got the purse in Argentina, which is also where I got…

The magical, one-pair-of-shoes-for-this-whole-trip boots! They’re a metallic navy blue that goes with everything. I’ve actually made out with them. They taste like gumdrops.

This is me, Zoolander style, in a layered look that worked well for New York’s freakishly schitzo weather (Rain? Snow? Hot Sun? The hell, New York. You’re lucky I brought magic boots.) Everything I’m wearing here is also thrifted, except the hat, which is H&M. I’m wearing a long-sleeved turquoise tee, a sweater with a surprisingly warm silk scarf tied as an ascot, all under a corduroy blazer. In retrospect, the cardigan was a little bulky under that blazer, but I was nice and warm.

Beloved JCrew Red Pants! I’m showing incredible restraint in this photo, as it’s practically impossible not to do karate poses in these. Paired with a black turtleneck sweater and fingerless arm warmers, which were hand knit with love by a stranger (thanks again, Etsy). This look is matchy-matchy, but I’m pretty Doris Day about wardrobe matters, so I like it. I got the heavy wool wrap at a little boutique in Vermont when I was preggo. Best maternity to regular wardrobe transition ever, plus it doubles as a blanket on the airplane.

Nothing is hotter than posing alone in front of a mirror in your hotel room. Do you feel the heat? There’s the blazer again, this time with vintage wide-leg jeans and a circle scarf from H&M. American Apparel also makes circle scarves, and you should get one, as they are crazy versatile.

When I take the blazer off, I pull the scarf down around my shoulders over this long-sleeve tee I got at Target. That tee is awesome, by the way. I have monkey arms and a long torso, and Mossimo makes proportions just right for me.

These are my jammies. In a pinch, you can pull your hair into a ponytail, belt the shirt, and wear this out with flats. Or you can just watch Top Chef reruns in your hotel bed while you cram mini-bar chocolate in your mouth. It’s perfect for that.