What to Pack for Any Occasion

Staying Stylish on the Road: How to Pack

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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.

What to Pack for Any Occasion

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).

What to Pack for Any Occasion

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.

What to Pack for Any Occasion

While they’re casual (and comfortable) for tromping around the city during the day, I also don’t feel the slightest bit guilty entering a nicer bar or restaurant while wearing boots. The key is to invest in a good pair of quality leather that is both comfortable for long days of walking and also will endure all the elements like rain and snow.
What to Pack for Any Occasion

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).

What to Pack for Any Occasion
What to Pack for Any Occasion

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.

What to Pack for Any Occasion

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.

What to Pack for Any Occasion

Now that you know my secrets, what are your must-have items you take on any trip?

What to Pack for Any Occasion

This post is brought to you by Lyst.

COMMENTS
  • January 20, 2016
    Shawnna

    hey girl- love your post! Great ideas!

    • January 21, 2016

      Thank you so much, Shawnna!

  • January 20, 2016

    Our hall closet has 8 brightly colored coats jammed in it, so I totally agree on the coat front. Bright colors make all your photos pop- especially if you’re in a crowded place or the photo is taken from far away.

    also- leggings: YES.

    • January 21, 2016

      This is why we’re friends. #sisterwives

  • January 20, 2016

    Yes! Lots of layers. I’ve recently bought a few of these easy tunics from Amazon. They are a dream. I wear them with leggings, boots, a vest/cardigan and scarf. Instantly put together and it feels like you’re wearing pajamas!

    http://www.amazon.com/LeggingsQueen-Womens-Sleeve-Asymmetrical-X-Large/dp/B018J1E2IC/ref=sr_1_5?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1453314045&sr=1-5&nodeID=7141123011&refinements=p_4%3ALeggingsQueen

    • January 21, 2016

      Ooooh servicey! I like these. Digging the stretchy, comfortable looking material. My sister is a fan of Pika’s tunics—have you tried them? They were a bit too tight on the arms for me (side effect of a lifetime of sports/weightlifting unfortunately), but super cute and great fabric.

  • January 20, 2016

    Great tips thank you :-0

  • January 20, 2016

    If I had the money, I would also have a closet filled with multi-colored jackets! I really need a good red one.

    As for the “leggings as pants” debate… In my opinion, leggings can be pants ONLY if your shirt is long enough to mostly cover your bum. Otherwise I feel way too self-conscious!

    • January 21, 2016

      Ha! Well, I’m a slave to sales and outlet stores…I don’t think I ever pay for anything (especially a jacket) full price! The only thing I believe in investing a bit of money in is a couple solid pair of boots or two and a nice purse every other year. All the rest, all sales, all the time 😉

      And yes, of course, I don’t want anyone seeing my bum so you better believe all my tunics cover the cheeks!

  • January 20, 2016

    Wish I had read this before we left on our RTW trip! I feel like I’ve packed only functional and hardly fashionable, which I regret of course. I used to mock girls wearing leggings as pants as well, but now, when I see those girls, I sometimes wish I packed a legging and matching tops too.

    We are traveling to warm countries, so boots and a coat are not necessary for this trip, but I should have brought a neutral colored scarf, it’s indeed a multifunctional must-pack item!

    • January 21, 2016

      Functional isn’t bad! And you can pick up a cute layer or two on the road to make up for what you left behind 😉

      Packing for warm weather is SO different (and easier in a sense); when we went around the world on a ship for four months, we were chasing summer and I think I wore only sundresses that entire time. Send me some sun from your travels, please; it’s freezing here right now!

  • January 20, 2016
    Brandy

    I love reading what other people pack when they travel! Totally agree with you on leggings, especially Hue – I took one pair with me on a week-long trip to Italy and I ended up wearing them almost everyday. Also, maybe TMI, but they seem to repel odors. Despite walking around in them all day, they never smelled funky or like they needed to be washed (or even sprayed with Febreeze, though I still did it anyway).

    I need to invest in some colorful coats – yours are so cute! Also, what I love about coats is if they’re nice enough then it doesn’t matter what you wear under it – you end up looking really put together, which is nice when you’re taking a lot of pictures.

    • January 21, 2016

      You’re so right! I feel like I can wear those Hue leggings for days and they never smell. Have you tried Lysse? That’s my main go-to!

      And my secret with coats is they have to be medium weight; not too heavy because I often pile on layers and then get overheated walking around for hours on end. I get a lot of mine from the outlets (J. Crew or Gap for example), though I think that green one is LL Bean.

  • January 21, 2016

    Really cool post Kristin!
    I love the colourful jackets and your boots. Please can I have them?!
    The must-have items that I usually take with me on my trips are:
    My windbreaker/rain jacket: It’s green so I stand out nicely!
    My socks: I take a variety of warm and pop/dot/strip etc. Colourful for any situation.
    A scarf: I have a few and they’re either made of cotton or silk. I can’t wear 100% wool either as my skin turns out in a rash…!
    One pair of boots: Either my Hilfiger black & blue leather or my orange ankle boots.
    My birkenstocks: I don’t like flip-flops and I live in Germany so….!

    • January 21, 2016

      A fellow wool-adverse! Love it. Even if it didn’t make me break out in hives, I get so hot, wool just wouldn’t work for me.

      I also usually take flip-flops with me no matter where, except in the UK (then I regretted it because I went to the spa and had no sandals or bathing suit to enjoy their amazing whirlpool!).

  • January 22, 2016

    I am the least stylish person when I travel. I look horrible in my pictures because I keep wearing the same stuff over and over. I really need to learn to pack properly!!

    • January 31, 2016

      You’re crazy! I think you always look great in photos =)

      For me personally, just having a pop of color here and there makes me feel like a million bucks!

  • January 22, 2016

    This is a very clever list of articles that should be in everyone’s suitcase. I like the coat – what am I saying – I love the colourful coat idea! I always struggle with too much neutral colour clothing, but a colourful coat would make the outfit pop! Thanks for the advice! 🙂

    • January 31, 2016

      Thanks, girl! I love to buy clothes but I rarely spend much money on anything (most of my shirts/jackets/dresses cost anywhere from $20 to $50) so I love to keep my wardrobe as colorful as possible…because I don’t wear anything designer, that allows me to have a multitude of cheap jackets and tops in myriad colors 😉

  • January 22, 2016

    I totally go for black (or navy blue) when I travel, then again I wear it a lot when I am not traveling either! It is great for layering and not showing dirt, just as you mentioned, and while you add colorful coats, I am all about the scarves – I have 100’s! It was a real chore to pick out the dozen or so I brought in the RV for the year. Leaving all the rest in storage made me really sad! I think I need to be wearing my Frye boots more, I guess I just don’t wear them frequently enough to get them comfortable, my feet are dying to coming out of them at the end of the day the few times I do wear them – it appears I totally need to change my strategy!

    • January 31, 2016

      OK, so I will fully admit that my mom gave me my Frye Campus boots two years ago, I wear them all the time and they are still not super comfy =( That said, I love how versatile they are but I have learned I can’t wear them out and about all day while exploring (hence why I usually swap them out for Tieks to give my feet a break!).

  • January 25, 2016

    Love these tips! I need to invest in some thicker leggings.

    • January 31, 2016

      I LOVE the leggings I have (I have like four or five of these Lysse ones that I wear daily), only I cannot for the life of me find anymore of them (ordered some Lysse recently and the style seems to have changed as they’re much more constricting), so now I might also need to find a new go-to brand =/

  • January 25, 2016

    Great tips! I try not to look slobby on a plane, and leggings/tunic/ballet flats are really great for that, but still super comfy.

    I am currently trying to figure out if I can do 2 weeks in Asia with just my carry-on…if you can get all this fall/winter stuff in a carryon, I’ve got no excuse, right?!

    • January 31, 2016

      Yes, you definitely can! Colder weather is much trickier/calls for more strategy, but for warm weather, you can get away with all sundresses and flip-flops 😉

  • January 25, 2016
    Jamie Wilson

    Love this blog. I will be making a mental note of this for my next adventure and sending this to my friend who is leaving for Italy soon! Can’t wait to read more!

    • January 31, 2016

      Thanks so much, Jamie! Great to have you =)

  • January 27, 2016

    Those are some good outfits and you have a good style. I do love your bold colored jacket, they fit you perfectly and they keep you worm 🙂

    • January 31, 2016

      Thank you, Linda! I am constantly oscillating between sweating and shivering so I always keep a jacket or thick cardigan layer on hand 😉

  • January 27, 2016

    I love those boots! 2.5 years of nonstop traveling and I am still mastering packing…

    • January 31, 2016

      Ha! I think it’s a constantly evolving process, right? Can’t say I’d be so awesome at it if I lived on the road full time. You have to be so much more mindful to cram everything into one bag that you need on an ongoing basis versus just a short week or two-week trip 😉

  • February 1, 2016

    Love your post I really like your boots

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