Packing Tips for Vacation Leave: Repeatable Separates

This is the third part of my travel series, written while on a two-week exploration of Portugal and Spain.  

One thing I do without fail every time I travel is overpack. It’s just the way I’m made; how do I know I won’t need a full arsenal of accessories or ten different pairs of pants while I’m separated from my wardrobe for two weeks? Over the last few years, however, I’ve learned firsthand the travails and consequences of overpacking, especially since you will never have space to pack anything you shop for while abroad. Below I share some simple style ideas for vacation outfits using basic separates, and some tips to avoid overweight luggage and stuffed suitcases:

L-R. Plain white shirt, dotted jeans and low-heeled sandals in the Cromlech, near Evora. Polka dotted top, navy shorts and the same shoes in Evora, Portugal. The same white top, navy scalloped skirt, beat-up gray flats in Avila, Spain.

Clothes: bring separates that are easily repeatable. No one will ever know if you wear the same thing again. A white shirt tucked into a flowing skirt has a completely different effect from wearing the same white shirt tucked into jeans, worn with a blazer. Best of all, you can wear them separately when it’s warm, and layer them on when it gets cold. Some notes on separates:

  1. Choose tops and bottoms that are less likely to wrinkle. For bottoms: lightweight denim, leggings, and tights are great, but avoid satins, silk/silk finish and structured fabrics, as they crease most easily. For tops, choose basic cotton tops with a stretchy blend.  For this trip, I made the most out of my white v-neck, which has made so many appearances on this blog that it’s practically a cornerstone. Also present were my trusty navy shorts, blue skirt, and soft blue jeans.
  2. Repeat, repeat, repeat your tops OR bottoms, but not necessarily both. I don’t really like to think about my tops, so I pretty much rely on my basic black and white v-necks. I do, however, love bottoms, so I brought this assortment with me: 1 lightweight skirt, 1 pair of shorts, 2 pairs of pants, and 2 pairs of tights. This already makes for a lot of combinations.
  3. Do emergency laundry by throwing 3-4 items in the sink and submerging it in a simple bath gel solution (or detergent, if you can find it). Rinse, Wear, Repeat! We were lucky enough to stay in an apartment that had a washer/dryer, so I was able to do laundry. If you can’t, tip #3 is a great way to get clean clothes in a jiff. Just make sure those clothes weren’t too dirty to begin with.

A Quick Aside on Shoes. Bring only two pairs: one matching warm colors (brown, gold, beige or camel), and one matching cool colors (black, silver, navy or gray). If you wear a lot of warm colors, then just bring 1-2 pairs of brown shoes. I think I’ve learned that if you don’t have too many choices, you’re forced to be more decisive when it’s time to pick outfits in the morning.  

Rinse, Wear and Repeat with Pride: Basic Black Blazer

I previously wrote about my favorite navy skirt and how it has become one of my wardrobe’s defining pieces. I’m obsessed with the blouse-tucked-into-skirt combo because it requires so little time yet looks like a lot of thought went into piecing the outfit together.

Similarly, one of my favorite “recipes” is the blazer+dress pair-up, which is a gift that keeps on giving. Keep Reading

Rinse, Wear and Repeat With Pride: My Prized Navy A-Line Skirt

Given my obsession with skirts, it’s easy to guess that my closet is teeming with them. Actually, I only have a few key pieces in classic shapes that I rinse, wear and repeat with pride. One alternative to the beloved black pencil skirt is an A-line shape in a basic but more unexpected color, like navy.

I consider this deep blue skirt from Plains & Prints to be one of the most wearable, versatile and comfortable garments in my closet. The navy color is easy on the eyes and is less severe than black; at the same time, it’s just as easy to pair with virtually any color or texture, for either full-on corporate looks (look 1) or more casual ensembles (look 2, look 3, or look 4). Keep Reading

Tips and Tricks for Things: 2 Become 1 Part 2

Last week I wrote about turning the other half of a lost earring into a pendant. I thought this was a good idea to reapply to other lost odds and ends; I actually lost the other half to this earring four years ago when I was a freshman in college. Keep Reading

Tips and Tricks for Things: 2 Become 1

This pair of long, dangly Eiffel Tower earrings has been one of my favorites for the longest time, so I was quite upset when I lost the other half. Desperate to save it, I had the idea to turn the surviving earring into a pendant.  Keep Reading

Tips and Tricks for Things: Necklace Holder

The best and worst thing about shopping is that we are forever convinced that we need something: “I need the perfect pair of black pumps”, “I’ve really got to stock up on basics again”, “Tim Gunn says I need a trench coat!”. This is great when we’re celebrating a promotion or about to get a raise, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’ve probably already got what we need; it’s just lying around at the back of our closets gathering dust. They need to be brought to the surface.

I tried to test this theory on necklaces, my one addiction. I am forever looking for unique pieces to add to my modest collection, always believing that I only have a few (try twenty), wearing only the ones at the top of the pile, the rest lost in the cacophonous cavern of tangled chains, buried under socks and tights, or saved for a special occasion, then promptly misplaced.

Below, my simple two-step plan to curb my necklace-buying addiction and maximize what I already had in my closet

1. Determine your bottleneck.

Bottleneck: according to dictionary.com, “the place or stage in a process in which progress is impeded”. What’s keeping you from using everything you have multiple tmes? What is triggering the “I don’t have this yet, let’s go out and get it!” reflex in  your head?

For me, it was a lack of visibility. Out of sight, out of mind. When you only have five minutes to pick out a necklace at 6:30 in the morning, who would want to choose an accessory out of this mess?

Other bottlenecks you may experience: overdependence on a single type of item (i.e. thirty little black dresses), overabundance of trendy items which are hardly worn/used, stocking up on things that don’t fit your lifestyle (i.e. does your day job really entail wearing a different cocktail dress every day?).

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