Packing Light: New York City Edition

15th April 2009

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.

75 thoughts on “Packing Light: New York City Edition

  1. Amanda

    OMG, please dress me!

    I love all your outfits but especially the first photo. It’s so….sophisticated and vintage traveling chick.

    What kind of camera are you using? It looks wonderful and these photos are coming out SO nicely.

    And finally on a funny note, my dad looked at me today and said, “you know, when your hair is up in a bun, it looks like a butt plug.” XD XD XD

  2. Amy

    I must know what products you use on your hair right now. It’s an emergency.

    Also, would you please buy me a wardrobe for BlogHer?

  3. Annika

    Are you available as a personal shopper? I mean, will you come to my house and fix my wardrobe? There is totally cake in it for you.

  4. becky

    Your hair should rule us all. And I love your outfits. I looked at, considered, and didn’t buy the circle scarf at Am Apparel, but now I think I need it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. annie

    You’ve got mad packing and dressing skills! You are the pulled-together woman I wish I could be. Alas, I am the woman in the holey track pants and messy ponytail sporting an applesauce smudge on my shoulder courtesy of my toddler son. Well, at least now I can blame it on my son, but I probably had a similar smudge pre-child.

  6. LizAndersonn

    Dang – world traveler, smart shopper, fashion icon. And you’ve got Debra Messing’s hair.

    I’d settle for kid crap from head-to-toe just to have your hair.

  7. Christian

    OK, OK, I’ll jump on the sycophantic “I love your hair” train. I have resisted thus far, but seriously! Those photos are like some Super Hair vortex just pulling me in. Thanks for the packing inspiration. I need to go buy a circle scarf now.

  8. beyond

    you were at the bowery hotel! how very VERY fancy of you… you look great in every style. and i want a circle scarf now.

  9. robyn

    i have this strong desire to be like you when i grow up.

    only, i’m your age.

    besides, i’m not really a skirt girl.

    awesome packing and outfit skills!

  10. KG

    Oh, I know…men and hats. My husband hates my cute ones. Oddly, he finds my Nike sweat-wicking caps “adorable”. Maybe it’s the accompanying spandex perverting his judgment, but still. Men are pretty freaking blind. You look AMAZING; more style than I could find in the whole of my closet.

  11. Megan

    I feel it. I feel the girl hate acomin’, fueled by the envy of your cleverness. I mean, who has the patience to shop *sucessfully* at thrift stores?

    But – I’m resisting, because it’s all too much. Adorable.

  12. sevedra

    Wow. That was so impressive. I must agree, you have fabulous hair! And you have fantastic clothes. I wear skirts all the time, but I am dumpy and they just don’t look amazing on me the way they do on you. I am making a shopping list for myself though. I need better clothes. Something that looks kind of tailored. Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  13. Marge

    I also just got home from 5 days in New York! EXCEPT…..You look so Colorful! EVERYTHING I took was BLACK except one pair of jeans and one rose colored floral top. It was the best packing job I had ever done. Wore almost everything. I had 4 pairs of shoes and wore them all. I wish I had brought a hat!! and a colorful scarf. I also forgot a workout outfit.

  14. elsie

    I am seriously in AWE of your packing acumen – traveling to NYC makes me packing crazed I want to take EVERYTHING cute that I own, and did I mention that I’m in AWE… seriously…

  15. Emmy

    How? I mean, how? How did you learn to dress like that and can you teach me? It is a rare day that I don’t look like threw all my clothes in a heap on the floor, smeared glue over myself and dived straight in. Whatever sticks is my outfit. I have such envy. Its going to bug me all day. How? Is it the accessories, the fearlessness with colour. French heritage? What, How?

  16. Pamela

    You already know that the moment I saw you, in outfit #1, I gushed with admiration. And now that I know what else you had in your bag of tricks, that admiration has turned to awe. Too bad “big girls” like me usually strike out at thrift shops! Anyway, AMAZING! But you knew that already.

  17. Lee

    Even with all this style/packing goodness I feel a little sad we didn’t get to see the Mighty Karate pose. Great photos!

  18. April

    You are crazy fierce, Miss Maggie! Please, please, please do a Mighty Girl wardrobe edition with Etsy finds, ebay finds, whatever! Too fabulous!

  19. Kari

    Impressive. If I have this right: 2 hats, 3 long sleeved T’s, 1 turtlenecked sweater, 1 cardigan, 2 skirts, 2 pants, 2 tights, 3 scarves, 1 wool wrap, 1 blazer, gloves, arm warmers, 1 leggings, 1 oversized white button down shirt boots and red purse. I would love to see a picture of the hiking backpack you used. I just came back from a trip and I was NOT efficient nor did I use an easy piece of luggage to deal with… This is a timely comparison in travel styles. Thanks for sharing!

  20. rachel

    Thank you for bringing some wonderful Doris Day color to NYC, I’m sure you made many folks happy with those bright colors. I’m trying to do the same with my bright red coat. Too many frowns around here (course I work near Times Square, so that may be partly why). Those boots are fantastic!

  21. Rebecca

    Okay, okay. I am inspired to pack light and chic (because apparently it can be done) from here on in.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  22. katie

    but your ADORABLENESS! where can i buy that?! can i get some on etsy?? :)

    LOVE the target long-sleeve t-shirts…i think i have one in every color (2 or 3 each in black and white)…i have to resist the urge to wear one every day. they go with everything and are so comfy!

  23. wn

    On my way to NYC in about a month….starting to contemplate wardrobe/packing (always my least favorite part of any trip)….AWESOME ideas and suggestions. When I grow up, I want to be stylish like Maggie Mason.

  24. misstraceynolan

    Maggie Mason. Fashion Icon. Who inspired me to go buy a circle scarf on my lunch break.

    FYI. My boy fails to see the charm in my cutest hats as well. Loves a ball cap on me though. Interesting trend…

  25. Denora

    The picture of you sitting cross-legged on the bed? I had to look at like 4 times because I thought you tossed in a picture of Debra Messing, and I could not figure out what she had to do with your fantabulous wardrobe. I want to be you when I grow up.

  26. Lulu

    I think I’m enjoying the exuberance of the comments as much as the post that prompted them. If only every morning could start out with such positive, stylish, happy vibes…

  27. Kris

    Love that the sandwich board you’re standing next to says HOT HEROES! Anyone who can pack that well and manage to create some super cute outfits and look adorable is indeed a Hot Hero!

  28. dgm

    I love the way you wear color like you’re winking at your audience. And what a fierce Blue Steel you do there on that hotel bed!

  29. Aisha

    I wish I looked so awesome when I went out. I normally just look like my knit collection blew up on me.

    I hope I can look half as awesome whenever I travel next.

  30. Jen DW

    Ok, your fabulousness has convinced me that as soon as I can go shopping for postpartum clothing, I’m hitting the thrift stores (which I haven’t done since college). I suspect that the SF stores may have better stuff than down here on the peninsula, but I’m gonna try!

  31. Yaz

    I bow down before your fabulousness. I think I need to to takes notes cause it boggles the mind how you rock the the thrift store finds and with minimum luggage space.

  32. Trisha

    You are amazing. Do you really look like this all the time? Or did you pack a vintage fashionista in your bag?! Either way, YOU ROCK!! Wherever did you find those boots – so stylish and they look comfy. They look like I could really walk NY… uh, I mean, YOU could walk NY….
    Oh, and I’m totally having my sister make me some arm warmers… perhaps some of your other suggestions too… SO. COOL. :)

  33. Andrea

    Seriously you need to be tapped for a lifestyle show for our generation. You are both darling and fabulous!

  34. Ami

    This post just made my day. Your style is unbelievable and your photos kill me. You are like a storybook character. “In this 8th book of the series, Maggie and her yellow hat go on a trip and she manages to soften the tough, unforgiving big city and win the hearts of doormen everywhere.” You look comfy, adorable, unique, interesting.

  35. bluejeanamy

    I’m so glad you posted this! I was drooling over your outfits in the flickr stream, thinking they’d be perfect for crazy SF weather too — and now I know how you made it happen. Love that these are all affordable things put together in thoughtful ways.

    You = foxy.

  36. Bonnie

    I write about vintage style and beauty, and am always going on at length and ad nauseum about the days of yore, and how style was better then in every way.

    Your style really shines with the qualities I find so lacking in current times: you seem to really know your taste and work with what you’ve been giving (and you’ve been given plenty, lady!), you’re frugal and thrifty, and you put a lot of thought and creativity into combining all your things in new ways.


    Those asterisks are because I felt like giving you five stars.

  37. leesavee

    LOVE THE BOOTS!!! Love the hats, too. And boys are always wrong about hats. It’s as though scrotum = no ability to understand how cool hats are.

  38. Bea

    I travel quite alot, but I’m sure I have NEVER looked as stylish as you. Kudos, because that’s quite an impressive look, no matter how many bags you took on board.

  39. samantha

    i wish i’d run into you when you were here! it would be a cool meeting, not at all awkward or creepy. also, i would have said how awesome the yellow hat was. and just so you know… it was 71 degrees and sunny today!

  40. Journie

    OK……so I’ve always thought you were a lovely woman – intelligent, witty, something to mold myself (and any daughters I may someday have) into, etc. But when did you suddenly become so smoking hot too? It’s been creeping up for the last couple months, but the picture standing on the hotel bed really clinched it. What gives?

  41. linda n

    My god woman! You are just beautiful! You wear clothing wonderfully, you have amazing style and the hair…well, I dye mine to be something close to the wonderful color that you seem to have been graced with. The photo standing on the bed is very Grace from Will and Grace (in a good way, in case you hated that character – I loved Grace Adler!)

    Personally, my one pair of shoes would probably have ended up being my 6 year old, very-worn-in-and-comfortable Doc Martens. I LOVE them and can’t live without them. And walking all over NYC…well, they would save me from a week of post-city blisters!

    In short, you rock! Go you!

  42. LoriHC

    1. That neck warmer is brilliant. I carry a scarf with me everywhere (unless it’s *guaranteed* to be over 80 degrees) because my neck is always cold.

    2. I too have long arms and a long torso, and I concur re: the Mossimo shirts. They were my great discovery of a couple summers ago, when the predominant fashion choices were belly-baring girly Ts and WTF, is this a dress or a shirt? Ts.

  43. sunny

    You have perfect timing. (okay this was two weeks ago) but I’m flying to San Francisco in two weeks and need to pack lightly. I refuse to pay to check a bag. So I ordered this brighter-than-I-thought-it-would-be cerise+white rolling duffel and was going to get a black moop bag. yeah – turns out I am blonde (for real and in personality sometimes) and forgot to select the black bag. I’m getting a rosewood bag. all good. BUT I’m going to have to wear head-to-toe black on my flights to and from SF so I don’t clash with the red tote and cerise duffel.

    Wait, why am I commenting? Oh yeah – I will be in SF exactly five days and need to figure out precisely what I’ll need. I’m going to print out this post, study it, and make a packing list from it.

    Well done. You looked amazing. *bravo*

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