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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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weekend trip packing

weekend trip packing

Last weekend, I had the chance to visit both of my sisters in Atlanta. We had a great time, did lots of shopping, and ate so much good food. (If you're in Atlanta or planning to visit, we ate at Fritti, Leon's Full Service, and Two Urban Licks, and I would recommend them all) I always want to pack lightly, but especially didn't want to lug around a heavy suitcase in my current state. I traveled on a Friday morning and returned on Monday afternoon.

similar, but not all exact pieces I own

It was still chilly in both St. Louis and (less so in) Atlanta, so I took plenty of layering pieces. I would normally have taken a slightly sleeker boot, but I just wanted to be comfortable, so the Dankso booties were it (only available on eBay at this point).

What I packed:
1) lightweight cropped trench
2) draped black tee
3) leopard coat (worn on plane)
4) printed top (worn on plane, you can see the actual top I wore in this post)
5) drapey black cardigan (worn on plane)
6) white long sleeved tee
7) black leggings (worn on plane)
8) lightweight black scarf (worn on plane)
9) Converse
10) dark skinny jeans
11) Linea Pelle Dylan bag (carried on plane)
12) statement necklace (this one is Stella and Dot-no longer available, I just layered a few)
13) Dansko boots (worn on plane)

Since I wore 7 out of these 13 pieces on the plane (including the heavier pair of shoes), my bag was pretty light. Here's what I wore on the plane and to dinner out the first night:

travel plane outfit mindful closet.jpg


For a day of shopping and eating:


weekend trip packing casual outfit.jpg

That night, I changed my top and shoes and added a necklace for dinner out:

weekend trip packing night out outfit.jpg

A second day of walking around town, including, um, more shopping and eating....

packing for a weekend trip casual outfit converse.jpg

And on the flight back, I wore the exact same thing as my first travel day.

Some photos IRL:

how to pack for a weekend trip mindful closet
mindful closet - how to pack for a weekend trip
how to pack for a weekend trip

What makes this so easy is that I had two basic outfits that I could tweak a little bit for various occasions. I definitely don't think for a four day trip that you need more than that, and I felt like I could have easily gone a few more days without needing anything more. Essentially, those two outfits were a flowy top and leggings and jeans and a tee. For traveling I layered on a scarf, sweater, and coat to my top and leggings, but it also stood on its own for dinner the night I got in and activities the day I left. By just changing the top layer and my shoes, the jeans and tee worked for casual day activities and nights out as well.

What do you think - did I pack enough or too much?


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packing for summer travel

packing for summer travel

Inspired by Lauren at Seventeenth and Irving,'s packing prowess I thought I'd document what I packed for a quick trip out to California over Memorial Day weekend. We rented an amazing apartment in Laguna Beach with a view of the ocean through VRBO.

From top left: thrifted jeans, Gap maxidress, Gap trench, H&M tee, Old Navy tee, Vince leggings. (There are three things I neglected to photograph: the scarf, cardigan, and boots worn on the plane.)

Along with those base pieces, I brought these accessories and special event items. From top left: Converse, my outfit for the wedding I was attending, Need Supply necklace and Baublebar necklace, thrifted cross body bag, Longchamps tote for the airport and the beach, Target swimsuit, Jeffrey Campbell shoes bought secondhand, Dr. Scholls sandals.

From top right: the first layer of rolled clothing, my carryon bag, and the final layer.

This is what I wore out to dinner the night we got in.

And this is what I wore for a day of exploring Laguna Beach. Up next: a few photos of me actually in the clothes!