How to Pack Light This Summer

By Travelista Renae Virata for

When I traveled to Europe for one month, I was SO glad that I had packed light! Running up and down hundreds of steps to catch the only train to my next destination with a heavy bag... let alone more than one... would have seriously cramped my style. At the end of the day, I ended up with a medium-sized piece of luggage and one medium carry-on!

To be honest, I wasn't thinking of the crowded subways, the cobblestoned streets and lack of elevators in most major thoroughfares when I planned my trip wardrobe and how much luggage to bring. I was more concerned with the flight to and from (and extra baggage fees!). But my obsession with versatile and creative dressing forced me to bring as little as I possibly could without feeling like I'd forgotten something. So, how did I do it?

1. I WORKED AROUND BASICS. My everyday style lives by this rule, so it was easy to translate for a trip. And 'basics' does NOT mean boring - don't just try a plain tee, opt instead for a one with shirring on the sleeve or a keyhole detail.

  • Tops: A few tanks to wear alone or layer under, a few fitted tees (two long-sleeve, two short-sleeve), couple fun print blouses, a couple of sweaters (one long-sleeve, one short-sleeve), going-out top
  • Bottoms: Cargo pants that can roll up and down, mid-thigh shorts, dark jeans, a basic cotton flared skirt, a more tailored but still casual skirt, two pairs of leggings (I live in them)
  • Double-duty items: Tunic that work with leggings or alone, a shirtdress that can also be a "jacket," almost-cocktail dress
  • Outerwear: A simple 3/4-sleeve cardigan in a muted but fun color (mustard yellow went with everything I had!), a simple but chic nylon jacket, fun rain jacket to wear as an overcoat
  • Other: One workout outfit, swimsuit
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  • Think about shades. I had muted colors like a deep orange, mustard yellow, olive green, for example. You can choose from brights, pastels…as long as they have the same intensity.
  • Vary your neutrals. I selected a "rainbow" of neutrals so I didn't get bored - yet my colorful pieces still went with them! Olive cargoes, denim mini skirt, black flared skirt, gray cotton tunic, white shorts, black leggings.
  • Use prints sparingly and with care. The few pieces I had complemented the rest of my wardrobe. Small floral prints and stripes are always great options!
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3. ACCESSORIES, ACCESSORIES, ACCESSORIES! Not only are accessories so much fun, but they're a great way to individualize and vary your look.

  • Jewelry. Create, as the fabulous Rachel Zoe says, jewelry stories. A silver story, a gold story, a bronze story, a "natural" story…whatever your style. And go with what you were comfortable with back home to make it easier.
  • Scarves and vests. That extra layer from a great scarf or vest adds dimension and color to your outfit. And with scarves, you have multiple options on how to wear them! Make a tank extra special or add some panache around your waist.
  • Hats. One great hat can make a huge difference! Find one that is easy and foldable. Great for bad hair days, too!
  • Belts. Bring three - a metallic one, a thick one and a skinny one to tie your outfits together.
  • Purses. One muted metallic clutch (bronze or pewter, for example), a casual cross-body bag (wear on the plane, too) in a go-with-everything color (mine was olive green; one of my friends carries her burnt orange bag everywhere), and a tote.
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4. LAYER. NEED I SAY MORE? Okay, so I've only said it a million times! Pre-coordinate your items into outfits. Trust me, it is worth the investment of a couple of days to do it. Make a party of it with a friend (or better yet, email me and I'll be more than happy to help!). Some examples:

  • Floral dresses can go over long-sleeve tees or under a cute jacket
  • Short-sleeve tee or sweater over a blouse
  • Leggings under shorts, skirts, dresses and tunics
  • Vest over a shirtdress over a tank
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5. LAST BUT NOT LEAST - SHOES! I know, this is probably one of the worst parts about packing. Questions of 'What if we go here ' or 'What if we go there' run through your head, no doubt, as you scan your fabulous collection of footwear. Here are some rules I followed:

  • One pair of comfortable street sneakers
  • One pair of workout shoes (if you plan on working out or participating in major adventure activities)
  • A pair of metallic wedges - can be worn casually or for a nice dinner. Plus, as I've learned visiting many historical places, they work better on cobblestones, cracked roads and wooden planks
  • A pair of flat boots (in winter)
  • A pair of neutral sandals or flip-flops - gray or nude work with everything!
  • Two pairs of comfortable walking flats - different colors and ones that you know will go with everything (shorts, skirts, pants, dresses)
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  • Try to wear things, particularly bottoms, at least twice. Just air out if they aren't too dirty and steam in the shower to make them a little fresh.
  • Bring travel-sized containers of detergent to handwash bras, swimsuits and to beat stains out before they set.
  • Bring undies for everyday - and three extra!
  • Bring two neutral, one black, one strapless bras (for a one-week trip).
  • Roll your cotton pieces and fold everything else in squares.
  • Pack clothes first then tuck in shoes in between. Pack shoes in cloth or plastic bags.
  • Bring and use those super helpful space bags that don't require a vacuum - trust me, they work, especially when you add some shopping treasures to the mix.
  • If you'd like to go the extra mile, write out your outfit ideas! It's better to spend time at home doing this than on your trip when you could be out and about enjoying your vacation.

Use the My Stylist app on the homepage to know what to wear for the weather for your next trip and look for our next post to see a visual representation of a sample two-week packing list!

What tips do you have? Leave your comments below and share your fabulous ideas!

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