I recently returned from a trip to Ireland with my boyfriend, and as I was preparing for the trip one of my biggest concerns was the dreaded packing. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love clothes, but when you can only bring a few of your darling skirts, dresses, pants and shoes it can send your brain into a tizzy! And not only did I have to pack all my outfits into the cruel, tyrannical one allotted checked-bag limit, I still had to consider outfits that would work in the colder Ireland weather that would be comfortable to be walking around all day in, while still looking “cute”. I didn’t exactly want to be on the Irish mountainside in purple stilettos and a cocktail dress, did I? Hmm, maybe next time.
Also being a lifelong sufferer of the disease vanity, I tend to over-concern myself with how I’m going to look in pictures, because these are my precious twenty-something memories dang it! Combine all of these things with the fact that the reason for our impromptu trip to the land of green was that so I could meet and mingle with 100 of his relatives at his family reunion, one of whom is Senior VP for a certain huge fashion apparel company, and I was ready to lose it!
But I took a deep breath, and I got to planning! My method with some modifying should work for any person on any trip! Here is what you do:
1. Check the weather, no more than a week in advance, at your destination for the duration of your trip. Keep in mind average temperature and making note of any possibilities of inclement weather such as rain or snow. Jot this information down and try to have an inspiration in mind for the feel that you want to have while you’re on your trip.
My whole inspiration for Ireland was a relaxed chic. I wanted lots of flats in case we were climbing mountains and hills, but tried to keep things feminine by adding in a lot of skirts, leggings and scarves.
2. Know yourself. Think seriously about what temperatures you can handle, and what clothes you’re most comfortable in for those certain temperatures. Then start looking in your closet and drawers for piece possibilities.
3. Open up a spreadsheet software of some kind. I personally suggest using Google Docs because you can access this document with any web connection and with smart-phones, which really comes in handy. Start making outfit notes into the spreadsheet. I organized mine with headings such as “Tops” “Bottoms” “Shoes”, etc. Here is a screencap of part of my spreadsheet so you can see what I mean:
Just start making notes on certain items you’d think you might want to wear, and then you can see how many clothing items you have of each type by using the title categories.
4. Add in another column called “Outfits”, and try to match each item in your spreadsheet to make outfits. If you have all your outfits made with items left over, leave those items out and do not pack them in order to save space.
5. After you have made several outfits in the spreadsheet, open up a new document and make a column for the temperature and weather each day. Match the outfit type to the most appropriate weather day. Make sure there is one outfit for each day, or more if you need, like if you’re going out to eat, etc.
Here is what mine looked like:
6. As an added organization, if you have a smartphone that has a calendar option, put each outfit description into your calendar, so you remember what exactly you wanted to wear each day. Even if your phone isn’t a global phone, you can still look at your calendar, so this is really helpful.
Here is how it looked on my Google Calendar:
Since I knew what outfit I would wear each day, including the shoes and accessories, it was easy to pack items into my suitcase in piles by type, then laying the shoes over top of everything, and stuffing leggings and scarves into the top pocket.
When you look at the weather and really plan your outfits and promise to stick to them, you don’t end up packing a bunch of items that you think you “might wear” that become items that just take up precious space.
When we got to the airport I was one of the only people in line who didn’t have to hurriedly take items out of my checked bag and stuff them into my carry-on because the luggage was over-weight. I even had 10 lbs to spare.
And without further ado, here is what I wore:
Day 1: Leaving for Ireland. Since it was nearly 100 degrees in NY but I knew it would be in the 60s when we arrived in Ireland, I made sure that my outfit could work in either temperature when altered in some way.
When we left, I wore a cream tank top with a light tan corduroy mini skirt and flat heeled brown boots. I brought in my carry-on grey leggings and cream over the knee socks and a thin long sleeved brownish cardigan that I changed into in the airport bathroom when we arrived. The outfit looked cute in both ways, and the flat boots were easy to walk in, but still looked feminine and fashionable with the skirt.
Day 2: Another day of trying to be comfy chic! Tried out a new pair of jeggings from Pac sun, with a loose off the shoulder knit sweater from American Eagle, and a printed scarf also from American Eagle and grey Converse.
Day 3: This was supposed to be one of the colder days, so this is when I planned to wear the blazer I packed. I wore a green tank underneath it in case it became hot, and wore purple leggings with my denim skirt and tall brown flat boots. I felt really fashionable and I stayed warm and comfortable.
Day 4: This was the day of the reunion. No one ever mentioned what the dress was supposed to be for it, so I had a really hard time with picking an outfit for this very important day. Another factor I had to consider was, the senior VP cousin had kindly gifted us each an argyle sweater at Christmas time that she said we should wear on the trip to Ireland. But she never said which day, so I planned it for the day of the reunion and to go with two different types of outfits depending on the feel of things.
If the event was a fancy dress code, I was going to pair the sweater with a cream BCBG dress that I had, and wear a low heeled cream mary-jane shoe and cream tights to keep warm. If the event was more casual I was going to wear a denim mini-skirt, with a cream tank, and the sweater, the cream tights and either the mary-janes or my grey converse. I dressed up in the latter outfit and went downstairs to the lobby of the hotel to test the waters. My dress matched everyone else’s and I received compliments, so I didn’t change into the BCBG dress. I stayed with the Converse, which ended up being a good thing since I got to go onto an Irish farm and play with sheep!
Day 5: This is the day we left, but before we did we woke up at 5:00 am and climbed to the top of a mountain near our hotel. I didn’t know we would be doing that, but my outfit worked for this and for the plane ride home. I had on knit tights under my denim shorts, which was a new trend I was trying out, but that also doubled in keeping me warm while still in Ireland, but that could come off easily after we landed in NY where it would be hot again. I wore a long-sleeved hooded knit top with a white lace trimmed tee, a cream scarf and my grey Converse again. Converse are really great vacation shoes!
So think ahead about the weather, pick out outfits and organize them, try to minimize the amount of shoes you bring (it is hard, I know!) by trying to plan outfits with pieces and shoes you can reuse as much as possible, and don’t bring more clothes than needed and you’re on your way to a light, fun, relaxing vacation! Bon voyage!