The Good Ick #19: Pack Better
The Good Ick #19: Pack Better

I don’t like bragging, but... I know how to pack. I’ve nailed it, but it has resulted from a lot of hard work. Putting in the time. I do hear the violin playing because let’s be real, packing for a vacation is not that bad. But, in all seriousness, getting better at packing is a good thing. To get you to where I am now, know this as the first step: eliminate the notion of packing individual outfits. Every item in the suitcase must be connected to all the other items in some way. A standalone item that can’t play with the others is just rude. It’s also costly when it adds up to excess baggage fees. Can you only make one or two looks out of a piece? If not at least two, think hard before letting that piece make the cut. Especially if it’s a bulky item.

Here’s the secret to mixing pieces effectively in the luggage: keep with a thoughtful color story that’s executed in wildly varied textures. The differences in surface and feel add dimension and richness. When you’re traveling, this allows you to have loads of variation without over-packing. See below? The good neutrals, a mix of color, but each having a character of its own:

illustration of fabric swatches

The second step is to understand the terrain, temperature and tone of the locale to which you’re headed. Think back to when you’ve been uncomfortable on vacation. It’s often not because you didn’t have “the best outfit” it’s usually because you felt out of place. You showed up in black sharply tailored pants in a place known for fluid white easy dressing. Good outfit, wrong vibe.

To help you out, I’ll break this down by general categories and be as illustrative as possible. Let’s look at three settings: City/Urban, Country/Lake, and Beach. The flora and fauna, the foods, the ground on which you will walk, all of these play a role in what should make it in to your 50lbs or less bag. Or better yet, carry-on if you have packing superpowers. Carry-on can get me to a solid 4-day trip max, anything longer than that, I yearn for a bit more creative experimentation on the trip and need the variety.  I also like a bit of room to take home a few memories.

illustration of a city, lake, and beach

Let’s start first with the urban city. Lots of tall buildings, often land locked, the temperature can get quite hot with no breeze. To complicate things, moving in and out of buildings means a constant shift from sometimes oppressive heat to unrelenting air conditioning. The ground is either pavement or cobblestone, and most people around you aren’t there for the pleasure of it. Many are busy, trying to hustle past you to a meeting when you’re just trying to take in the sights. It’s fast paced, and a lot of activities take place indoors in museums, concert halls and dining.

The considerations of what makes it into the bag: something perfect for evening and pieces that can go to dinner and go sight-seeing without looking underdressed or overdressed in either environment. Elements, like a cardigan, can slip on and off easily depending on the level of Freon or lack thereof. And shoes that won’t get stuck in cobblestone or can keep up with a lot of pounding.

illustration of urban city with clothes beside it

The first decision I make is what items come with me on the plane. It must be comfortable enough to sit for long hours and relaxed enough that a few wrinkles won’t make it feel shabby. I also like to make sure the bulkier items make it with me on the plane leaving space in the luggage. This is how I’m headed through security:

illustrated woman standing by a suitcase an an airplane flying overhead

I’ve also got travel socks in my pocket as my toes tend to freeze on the plane. And anyone who’s traveled in their Beryens knows that the travelers behind you will thank you when you breeze through security with these comfortable puppies.

The rest of my bag is designed to not only work together, but also to leave space to pick up something special - or two - on my trip. There’s always a clothing item or accessory I’m drawn to that will make me feel a little more present in the place I’m visiting. Whilst I’ve shown six outfits below, I’m confident there is another solid 12 I could create. Maybe even more.

six illustrated women

When visiting the country/lake, coloration becomes important. When traveling to an area, I crave feeling that I’m a part of the environment. It makes sense that what makes it into the bag has a big nod to the surrounding colors - rich browns of the trees, the midnight blue of a lake, the orange of a sunset.

illustrated country lake with clothes

Everything has an extra level of ease to it. The shoes are flatter. The pockets a bit bigger. Somehow feeling not too “extra” but undeniably chic sets the perfect tone for this vacation locale.

ten illustrated women

Micro Jersey Shirred Crewneck Top, Italian Sporty Nylon Pleated Short, Tissue Cashmere Cardigan, Pontdexter Sandal, Harlow Jersey Tube Top, Eco Poplin Strappy Top, Identity Stripe Pencil Skirt, Eco Silk Cape Dress, Enzyme Washed Summer Denim Dress, Drapey Suiting Asymmetrical Pleat Stella Pant, Harlow Jersey Slim Short Sleeve Shirt, Italian Sporty Nylon Side Shirred Circle Skirt, Vintage Cotton Pull On Cargo Godet Skirt, Vintage Cotton Cargo Convertible Pant, Cropped Baby T-Shirt, Ali Lace-Up Short Sandal, Eco Poplin Lantern Skirt

And then there’s the beach. This destination is always one of caution to the Creative Pragmatist. It’s the locale that tends to cause some of the most packing angst. We all want to feel effortless; I mean there’s literally sand beneath our feet. But our other adjectives - modern and classic don’t often intuitively play in the heat and one can tend to default to pieces that are more one-dimensionally bohemian. Anything one-dimensional leaves me not feeling whole - stylistically speaking. I’ve worked long and hard to create the perfect beach assortment that speaks to CMC but is perfectly at home whether you’re in Malibu or Ibiza.

illustrated beach with clothes

And getting this right means that the beaded necklace and the woven basket purse that you picked up in the local stalls will feel right at home with what you’ve packed. No feeling like you’re in costume. Feeling just like yourself, on vacation, present in the space you’re in with your personal style intact. And that’s great.

ten illustrated women

See? All your style. Your personal style. In different locales. Put together simply. Happy travels.


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