Inevitably, when people (ok, not people, women) find out what I do for a living they will of course ask first about the travel but at some point they’ll ask about how I live this way, and really, how I pack. How do you decide what to take? (you obsess) How do you fit everything? (just barely) How do you deal with the climate changes? (still figuring that out).
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you know that I like style and clothes and fashion and I like looking nice and feeling nice and pencil skirts and soft lounge wear and fancy dresses. This makes packing more difficult. If I could stand to wear just jeans or sweatpants and t shirts outside of work then I’d be set and we could probably take one less bag (well… maybe), but I’m not like that so it’s harder. But I’ve gotten better. But I’m still learning. And I wish I could give you a step by step process, but my process is still developing and changing (as it does every time) so I’ll just tell you what I did this time.
Shoes are heavy, and it would be so easy to take them all, and yet I’d regret it in a minute. I have 8 pairs including my cabin flip flops and my gym sneakers. Other than that: 2 pairs of boots (grey and black), 2 pairs of flats (grey and flesh-toned), and 2 pairs of heels (black and flesh-toned). Oh and my work shoes, which I do not count, but I guess that makes nine. Maybe that sounds like a lot to you, and I probably could have left my grey boots, but I thought long and hard and already left behind leopard print flats, grey ballet flats, and some awesome purple heels that really do go with everything, I swear. So… come on, I edited.
But the shoes. They speak to you. They tell you to pack skinny jeans, not your bootcuts that will be too long with everything since you’re not bringing wedges. They tell you not to bother packing accessories or clothing that won’t work with grey, black, or flesh tones. They tell you to focus on black, greys, and rich colors (not pastels). They tell you which purses to pack (not the brown one), and how many socks to bring (more than usual since you’ll be wearing boots a lot).
And so that’s what I did. I let my shoes speak to me, and then I pulled out everything I thought I wanted to take. And then I started making outfits. And if I couldn’t use something in at least 5 combinations (or something like that), then I left it out.
Some of the clothes I brought…
And by the end my outfits were all grey, black, and navy with just a little bit of purple and teal thrown in there. And so I decided that if I needed some more color for an outfit I was going to have to throw on a scarf or a belt (of course most of those are teal or purple too… but no matter, those are my favorite colors, so that works for me).
And at first I worried that I wouldn’t have enough variety to suit my clotheshorse ways, but I think this might be better. I can wear everything with everything. Plus lately I’ve really been loving just wearing all neutral colors anyway. I feel more sophisticated, which feels right for our itinerary (Europe, New England, Canada). And if I really need more variety I just grab my teal cardigan or one of my twelve scarves (always bring more scarves than anything else, except maybe underwear, you won’t regret it).
And not to get too philosophical about clothing, but I read something recently about how too many choices can make us unhappy because we’re worried about making the right decision. So maybe less choices with my clothing will make me less likely to worry about the right outfit, but just pick an outfit, because I’ll love them all (that’s the truth, I didn’t bring anything I didn’t love).
So yeah, maybe this will help you when you have to pack for a long vacation or even a short one. Let the shoes speak, pick stuff, pick less stuff, and don’t be afraid of a lack of choices. Except scarves, have lots of scarves. And I’m realizing that maybe it’s ok if I apply this same idea to my closet.
So I will always have lots of shoes. And don’t forget the scarves!
There’s your incentive to buy more shoes. And to talk to all of them.