My friend Ali and I spend a lot of time talking about travel - destinations, favourite restaurants, the people we've met along the way. We have a passion for the nuances of travel, to the point where the art of moving from place to place is almost as much of a preoccupation as the act itself. Our favourite topic? Packing. As aspiring minimalists, we both take a slightly weird amount of pleasure in packing light, and packing well (I've written about this before).
This doesn't mean that either of us subscribe to drab, functional dressing, or that we're OK with wearing the same outfit three days in a row. We are style-conscious women in our twenties, after all. But we both agree that here's a unique joy in carefully assembling a suitcase filled only with things you need and love, and embarking on your travels feeling lighter - physically and mentally - for it. If this mentality resonates with you, here are a few basic principles to consider when you next pull out your case.
If you want to look good, you need to go in with a game plan. Start pulling together a file or Pinterest board of strong looks, and use it to plan your own outfits. Do not preemptively buy stuff to achieve said looks (on which, more below) - think about the pieces you already own that might help you to achieve the desired vibe.
Then work out how many outfits you'll actually need. Will you be changing for dinner every night? Attending fancy events? Running around town and getting sweaty? Write down your final number and plan this amount of outfits only. You can always get creative with your pieces ('necessity is the mother of invention') if you run out of options once you reach your destination.
MAKE IT A CEREMONY
Packing often seems stressful or arduous. Don't let it be that way. Unless you're in a real rush, there's no need to throw a random assortment of crap in a bag and hope for the best. Instead, make the packing process ceremonious. Start with a super clean bedroom and make sure you have access to a clean, full length mirror. Pull all the pieces you think you might want to take from your wardrobe, and put them on your bed. Make some coffee, put on some music, burn some incense. Then assemble your outfits.
TAKE A PICTURE
Try each outfit on, with shoes, to check how it fits and feels. If you like the combination, snap a quick photo on your iPhone and add the items to the packing pile. If not, keep trying on different pieces until you do. Keep track of how many dressy vs. casual outfits you've pulled together, making sure you don't overdo it on either side. And make sure you save all the outfit images in one album on your iPhone - this will be an invaluable reference tool when you're in hotel room with ten minutes to get ready and no idea what to wear.
PACK YOUR PARTY PIECES
Packing light does not mean packing boring. A suitcase full of basics will make you look and feel drab. Obviously make sure you've got all your essentials covered - black skinny jeans, ankle boots, and cropped jackets are mine - then be sure to add statement pieces that you might not even wear at home. As Ali says: "Travelling is a fiesta", and you should celebrate accordingly! Bring small items that will pack a punch: statement jewellery, metallic camis, short shirts, cool hats, a colourful clutch. Whatever will elevate your outfit and make you feel glam. On which note...
A RED LIP WILL NEVER FAIL YOU
Make up is an easy, non space-consuming way to dress up your look. Even the most basic outfit will be party ready with the addition of a Ruby Woo'd lip and a pair of oversized hoops (or a plum lip and blush pink furry clutch, or an orange-red lip with a bold gold cuff... You get the gist.)
CHOOSE YOUR LUGGAGE CAREFULLY
This whole approach will go out the window if you're stuffing everything into a ratty, poorly constructed bag. Invest in a decent piece of luggage and watch your quality of life improve exponentially. You don't have to shell out for Rimowa - my favourite budget-friendly bags come from Muji and Eastpak.
DON'T BUY SHIT
If you find yourself compelled to run out and buy loads of new stuff before every trip, try to get that urge in check. Follow the steps above first, only buying extra items once you're absolutely sure there's a piece you need and will wear beyond your trip. Obviously you want to head off feeling good about your look, but it's far more rewarding to pick special items en route than it is to fritter all your spending money on crap before you even leave. Ensure you have a bag full of flattering basics with a smattering of glamorous additions, and you should head off feeling ready for anything. Bon voyage!