Despite having previously worked at a fashion magazine, as a traveler I was always a function over fashion kind of girl. But over the years, I have learned that it’s not impossible—in fact, hardly—to have both.
When I travel in groups, my companions are always in awe of the number of ensembles I manage to fit into a standard-sized carry-on. So when Lyst asked me to share the few key pieces that I never travel without, I was more than happy to divulge my secrets to packing light (while still looking cute).
1) Black leggings. I’ve become that girl I used to mock, the one who thinks leggings can be worn as pants. (Truth bomb: They totally can!) And with an increasing number of options, I’ve found quite a few brands (like Hue) that make great leggings that are every bit as thick as any pair of slacks I own. Though I’ve always worn black minimally when at home, on the road it’s my go-to: It masks any spills or dirt and is versatile enough to wear with anything. In cooler months, it’s not uncommon that I’ll go on a five-day trip and wear leggings the entire time (I usually pack a back-up pair in brown and swap them out each day).
2) Neutral-toned boots. My boot collection is embarrassingly expansive—admittedly occupying an entire closet in our strapped-for-storage house—and I love traveling with a sturdy pair of rust-colored boots (that I’ll also wear on the plane to save space in my bag) to pair with both brown or black or anything in between.
3) A bold-colored jacket. Let’s be honest, do you really want to look drab in all your vacation photos? The answer is no! Like my boot supply, I have an entire closet brimming with every color of coat imaginable (sorry I’m not sorry). On each trip, I’ll pick just one to take with me depending on the weather and setting (e.g. my green jacket was a nice contrast to the blue Washington coast, while my yellow one really popped against the muted buildings of England and my red was perfect for the moors of Scotland).
4) A long, medium-weight scarf. While my boot and jacket collections are extensive, the number of scarves in my closet that I actually wear is not. Thus, I have a few go-tos that can also double as blankets on the train and rotate them out on each trip. I’m allergic to wool—and also prone to getting overheated, always—so I often choose a moderate weight scarf like this one with a pattern and a mix of color and neutral tones.
5) A casual tunic or dress that can transition from day to night. My wardrobe at home may err on the dressy side, but I rarely pack anything fancy when I’m traveling. Instead, I try to keep everything in my suitcase something that’s wearable for all occasions: a nice balance between casual and going out-appropriate if you will—that way, I can wear just one outfit per day and don’t have to run back to my hotel and do a quick change if it is not convenient (and often it isn’t). A medium-weight knit tunic (or dress) usually fits the bill and—bonus!—doesn’t wrinkle.
Now that you know my secrets, what are your must-have items you take on any trip?