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dos and don'ts for packing light

dos and don'ts for packing light

I know it can be hard to figure out what you’ll actually wear on a trip and I know what it’s like to feel that you need extra stuff “just in case”, so here are a few tips to help you minimize what clothing you bring on your next trip.

Don’t get complicated. The simpler the look, the fewer pieces you’ll need to bring. For the most part, everything you bring should go together. All the tops should go with any bottom. The outer layers should match all the pieces they’ll go over. The more minimal the color palette, the more easily everything with go with everything else. Stick to neutrals with one or two colors as accents and choose one color (usually brown or black) for all of your accessories.

Do remember that it’s all about accessories. Those simple pieces you’re bringing can go from day to night with a shoe change and the addition of some jewelry. A white top and slim jeans or a lbd can go with a cute sneaker during the day for seeing the sights and you can throw on a cute flat or sandal with a heel for dinner.  

Don’t take new clothes. I’ve heard from many clients that they feel an urge to go shopping for new things just before a trip. They feel like they don’t have what they need or that what they have isn’t good enough. However, a trip is not the time to try out new looks. Even though you may feel a bit boring by keeping it simple and tried-and-true, it's better than feeling self conscious about something you’re not sure really works.

Do remember that you can rewear your clothes. In fact, I generally assume that I’ll wear everything I bring at least twice. If everything goes together, that means there are lots of possible combinations. A loose rule I use is to bring as many clothing items (not shoes, accessories, or outerwear) as there are days in my trip, plus or minus a layer or two. Four days? Four items: two tops, two bottoms. Six days? Six items - maybe 3 tops, 2 bottoms, and a dress. Ten days? You get the idea….

Don’t pack last minute. I know no one really means to pack at the last minute, but somehow it just happens. When at all possible, plan ahead. Count the number of days you’ll be gone, check the weather, look at what activities are scheduled, and note how many outfits you’ll need for dressy occasions. I’ve created a quick little worksheet for you to download that will help you get organized, see end of post.

Do keep a toiletry bag packed at all times. Even if you just travel a few times a year, this is worth it. It’s many less things to worry about forgetting and you can just grab it and go.

Here’s what I brought on a recent 4 day trip to visit my sister in Atlanta: two tops, a cardigan, leggings, jeans, sandals, boots, and a scarf (pictured are similar items, not my exact pieces).

mindful closet: how to pack light

Since I wore leggings, the black tunic, the cardigan and boots while traveling, I had hardly anything in my suitcase and was able to fit all of Matteo's stuff in with mine. I had plenty of combinations available to me for travel days, going out to dinner, and walking around town. 


minimalist travel packing


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notes on nashville

notes on nashville

My husband traveled often this summer, leaving me home alone with a fussy toddler for a couple of weeks, so it was my turn. I thought about asking some friends to go on a trip with me, but to be perfectly honest, being social can be draining for me. If I really wanted to relax, going alone was the way to do it. I decided on Nashville, since I’d never been there, the food and shopping seemed good (two of my favorite pastimes), and it was a relatively easy drive from St. Louis. Mr. mindful closet called it my “all-reclusive” vacation.

(clockwise from top left) Imogene & Willie, trying on Rick Owens at UAL, Mas Tacos, pasta at Rolf and Daughters, pants mid-construction at Elizabeth Suzann, more trying on, tacos at Mas Tacos, a cute house in Germantown, Rolf and Daughters. 

(clockwise from top left) Imogene & Willie, trying on Rick Owens at UAL, Mas Tacos, pasta at Rolf and Daughters, pants mid-construction at Elizabeth Suzann, more trying on, tacos at Mas Tacos, a cute house in Germantown, Rolf and Daughters. 

As soon as I got into Nashville, I headed for 12 South, the hipster-y area of town, and Imogen & Willie, the hipster-y-est store of all.  Imogene and Willie is in an old filling station, as most hipster places in Nashville seem to be, so it was a cool space. I’ve heard about their denim for years, but was slightly disappointed when I realized that they ONLY carry denim. Since I’m not in the market for a $300 pair of jeans, that was a pretty quick visit.

Next I walked down to White’s Mercantile. Cool stuff, nothing I needed. Tried Local Honey (vintage) - my 20-year-old self would have loved it. Next on my list was United Apparel Liquidators. Jackpot. Designer and couture fashions at more than 75% off. I had a great time searching through designers from Rick Owens to J. Brand. Ultimately, I didn’t buy anything for myself, but I will definitely go any time I’m in a city with one of their stores. Other places I looked but didn’t buy: Buffalo Exchange, H. Audrey, and Draper James (so not me, but paradise for prepsters!).

In between stores, I ate. Loved the hot chicken I had at Edley’s BBQ (my first choice, Hattie B’s, was closed when I tried to go). Went to Mas Tacos Por Favor - meh. I like the tacos here at La Vellesana on Cherokee better. Had a lovely solo dinner at the bar at Rolf & Daughters, amazing pasta and really beautiful space. Also grabbed coffee and a (delicious) snickerdoodle at Dose Coffee.

My last stop on my way out of town was at Elizabeth Suzann. I’ve blogged about my love for these clothes before, but hadn’t ever purchased anything because there’s no way to try the clothes on before you order. I wrote in advance to get an appointment to see the workspace and showroom and try on samples. Lydia, the “Head of Customer Experience”, gave me the tour and hung out with me while I tried on clothes for an hour. It was inspiring to see a business that started from scratch, created all their own systems, built up a loyal following, and seems to be honestly invested in their employees’ well-being. And on top of all of that, the clothes are really, really good. I ordered the Harper Tunic and the Artist Smock. Because none of the clothes are produced until an order comes in, I have to be patient and wait until my items are made and shipped. That in itself goes along with the philosophy behind the brand - these aren’t clothes to be bought on a whim and tossed after a few wears. They’re investment pieces that are classic, easy to wear, and long-lasting. I seriously can’t wait.  

Have you been to Nashville? What are your favorite shops and restaurants?