+ Three Ways, + Tips and Tricks

Three Ways: The Packing List

Women are notorious overpackers.  I once went on a three day trip with a woman who brought two full suitcases.  Her explanation?  “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”  

Frankly, that’s garbage, a refuge for women who are indecisive.  If you plan stylish outfits in advance, there’s never a good reason to pack more than you need.  If I were headed out of town for a three-day weekend, this is what I would pack.

Shoes: Sofft Casoria Flat Boot ($119) and Michael Kors Josie Peep Toe ($160)

Outerwear: J.Crew Wool Blend Townhouse Trench ($350)

Tops: Cambridge Cable Zip Crewneck ($78) and Saint James Meridien T-Shirt ($95)

Bottoms: AG “The Ballad” Jeans ($168) and Hue Super Opaque Tights ($14)

Dresses: Temperley Barbour Gold Sweaterdress ($398) and Malene Birger Twist Jersey Dress ($223)

Handbags: J.Crew Biennial Satchel ($348) and Leopard Portfolio Clutch ($36)

Accessories: Lovequotes Scarf ($88) and Tory Burch Split Plate Earrings ($95) and Concrete Jungle Bangle ($98) and Gold Druzy Ring ($182)

The trick to packing light is to pack everything in one neutral color palette.  It’s either black/grey or brown/navy, not both.  (Black/grey is easiest for most women.)  

With these fifteen pieces, you can make three casual outfits and one bonus outfit for dinner out.  And you won’t dislocate your shoulder lifting your suitcase. 

And if you want to have a fail safe, pack one extra shirt to go with the jeans OR one extra dress to wear with the tights.  One extra outfit choice, not five extra, is all you need.

Now, let’s make some outfits out of these pieces, shall we?

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  1. Stoves48 says:

    I think these are good suggestions but not sure why you care about how much other people pack. I'm an over-packer because I don't know what I'm going to feel like wearing on a given day and I like options. Might be garbage to you or a sign of indecision but I don't pack to suit anyone but myself. Seems like such a nit picky thing to get annoyed about. Good suggestions but the judgment could have been left off.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. what she said says:

    Totally agree with Stoves48. Also rolling up clothes neatly saves tons of space in a suitcase. My father was in the military and he swore by that trick–it's amazing how much extra space it adds. Same goes for stuffing smaller items inside shoes.

    And these were posted in the incorrect order I believe, no?

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. Nina says:

    This is an awesome post! Please do one of these every season.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  4. Kat says:

    Great post but I'm a little surprised to see the dresses included. I love dresses but they're kind of limiting – once you wear the dress, it's done, whereas packing separates like a skirt and/or dress pants would give you more options. That said, the color palette rule is spot on. And it's okay to pack more accessories – they're small and can pack a lot of punch while taking up only a little room in a suitcase.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  5. LS says:

    Seconded! I needed this! It would be great to see these for each season and/or for a longer (1-2 week) trip?

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  6. LM says:

    I second LS's suggestion! Packing light for 3-4 days is easy for me, but when I go over 7 days (and I have to be business appropriate for 5 of those days), squeezing everything into a suitcase seems next to impossible.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  7. R says:

    I bought the AG ballad jeans this year – a bit of a splurge for me, really as I usually try to find branded name jeans from last season at Nordstrom Rack/Off Saks, etc. However, these are simply the greatest jeans. I wear them ALL THE TIME. They fit perfect and are uber comfortable. Lucky for me, gilt just had some AG jeans so I ordered a pair of true bootcut at a much better price. Again, super. I highly recommend.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  8. aileen says:

    Great post – this is the principle that I followed for my recent 14 day trip to Europe. With 11 days vacation and 3 days work, I managed it all in 1 carry-on suitcase and a large tote bag. (Full disclosure: I am very petite, so each individual item doesn't take up much room., but I was still very selective in what I brought) I was tired of the clothes that I brought by the end of the trip though!

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  9. b says:

    My family was big on packing light when we were kids so I was always taught how to wash and dry clothing in a hotel room quickly. Today, I try to pack samples of detergent, or a small travel bottle filled with detergent (you really dont need much for a sinkfull of laundry) and after the garment is washed, lightly squeeze the water out, lay it flat on a shower towel, and gently roll it up in the towel. Then you can lightly step on the towel to squeeze out extra water (no worries of your toes touching your newly washed clothes since it's wrapped up in a towel). Then hang it up to dry in the bathroom overnight. People get that when you are visiting you didn't bring your closet with you- no one is going to gasp in horror or judge you for rewearing the same outfit again. Therefore, I have no issue with wearing the same outfit (especially on airport travel days) as long as I can wash and freshem them up a bit.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  10. BB says:

    Love the suggestions. I'm a big fan of tights, especially in the winter. I just purchased the 'Plush' fleece-lined tights and they are so comfy, opaque and warm. Definitely would recommend adding it to the bag, especially if traveling to any colder climates.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  11. s-p-s says:

    Great post! As I prefer dresses, I'm usally bring several non-wrinkle jersey dresses in basic colors (navy, black, eggplant), with one clutch and heels, along with flats and a day bag. I'll throw in a few scarves and cardigans that coordinate but add some color, then wear any needed jacket and the heavier pair of shoes on the plane. Also, it's fun to throw in a piece of inexpensive jewelry (maybe a bracelet) that you rarely wear . . . it can become your statement piece of the trip, and will later remind you of your adventures.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  12. hillybilly says:

    nice. I'd add a pencil skirt in preferred color of choice.

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  13. KS says:

    LOVED this. Definitely one of the best posts I've read on your site, Belle. I was abroad in Spain for 4 months last spring and managed to pack everything in one standard checked bag and one carry on- I pretty much lived off the accessories I bought over there. Good thing Europeans don't care about silly “rewear” rules- they invest in classics and wear them over and over!

    October 25, 2011/Reply
  14. e says:

    They're probably posted in the “incorrect order” so that it's easier to see the pieces first, then how they can be combined into outfits. It's actually much easier to read this way. Settle down…or go start your own blog.

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  15. oedipa says:

    I'm also an over-packer because I don't know what I'm going to feel like wearing on a given day. Thanks for demonstrating such an easy and versatile way to give myself options without also giving myself a hernia lugging my bags around. I'd love it if this could be a seasonal feature, or updated to reflect travel to different locations.

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  16. V says:

    Personally, I love that the featured items (or similar sets) can fit in my carry-on suitcase (provided you're wearing one of the outfits plus the coat). No checked bag fees, the bag is near me at all times, there's less to worry about, and it's lighter and less of a hassle to lug around. Also, should anything ever happen to a less-packed and smaller suitcase, I'd be glad that less of my wardrobe had just been lost/ruined/whatever. I spent a (well-dressed) week in Rome with the contents of one carry-on suitcase (similar to this set, plus or minus a few items), and was very happy I took the time to think its contents through AND employ every packing trick possible. I never went “oh no, I don't feel like wearing ANY of this, I wish I packed more…” but I definitely went “thank goodness I don't have more bulky items to drag around” multiple times throughout that week. I'd rather have the latter peace of mind than distress over not having the EXACT outfit that I wanted to wear on a whim that day.

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  17. what she said says:

    Aw thanks! Gotta love that tried and true comeback zinger! I have my own blog (but prefer to not self-promote in the comments section) and noticed the order because I know that blogs show the newest entry on top. I just thought it was odd.

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  18. CynthiaW says:

    Wow – that's almost exactly what I packed for this three day trip. I added a pair of black pants, but I wore the second dress on the plan, so it works out about the same. I was hoping to figure out a way to add in work out gear, but the boots took up that room and it's only three days, right?

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  19. KC says:

    Love this! It reminds me of a recent long weekend trip I took with girlfriends to Chicago. Two members of our group checked bags, so we had to wait in line at the counter to get them checked, wait after the flight for the baggage to come around on the carousel, had to get an extra cab to the hotel because we couldn't get all of our luggage into one minivan cab, and then had to go through the same routine on the way home. Makes a weary day of traveling even longer.

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  20. Whitney says:

    Great recommendations on packing light, especially the bit about sticking to one color family! I also find that it helps to start the process by choosing the shoes I'll need first, and then building each outfit from there. I can usually do a week-long trip with a pair of black ballet flats, a pair of black pumps, and leopard-print or metallic flats. If I absolutely have to bring boots, I try to wear them on the plane to avoid taking up luggage space.

    October 26, 2011/Reply
  21. Deb says:

    Belle,
    I love this post. Would also be really interested in seeing your thoughts on packing for longer trips.

    October 26, 2011/Reply