Before I type anything on the topic of effective packing habits, I must issue a disclaimer: I am not an expert. In fact, some (cough my husband cough) might say I am downright terrible at packing. And in some ways, he's not wrong. After all, it is an activity which usually takes any normal human no more than an hour, yet it often takes me five. (Or seven, depends if I am simultaneously watching Netflix). So when I looked at my crazy school/work/recruitment schedule for this week knowing fully well I'd be jetting off to Milan for a long weekend to visit my mom and sister, I realized I needed a strategy.
Step 1: Analyze the current state of affairs. Living in London has taught me that air travel within the UK and EU is very different from that in the US. In the US, I can bring a carry-on stuffed to the gills and a giant purse that virtually doubles as a second suitcase, and no one will bat an eye. On Easyjet or Ryanair? Not so much. Their baggage policies are limited to ONE carry-on item in total - no extra purse, no briefcase, no nothing. If all your stuff doesn't fit in one teensy-tiny rectangle on wheels, you can forget about cheap air-fair because the cost to check one bag is usually more than what you paid for the flight. (Do I sound bitter?)
Step 1A: Do laundry. There is nothing worse than packing for a holiday and realizing at the last moment that your favorite going-out blouse is in the to-be-washed pile rather than the crisp-and-clean pile.
Step 1B: Check the weather of your destination. This is important for obvious reasons.
Step 2: Start with staples. I decided to begin with pants, because I plan to be outside shopping and seeing the sites in Milan and one does not want to be caught in the public eye without pants. Also, it is still quite cold here (not Boston weather though, thank goodness), so skirts/dresses aren't really an option. I settled on my current three favorite pairs: my textured black leggings, my light blue jeans, and my dark, oh-so-soft worn in boyfriend jeans.
Step 3: Think about trends. With pants confirmed, I next thought about what kind of styles I'd feel like sporting throughout the weekend. When it comes to boyfriend jeans there are typically two routes I like to take: the big, comfy sweater + flats look, or a loose tee and blazer for a more structured menswear appeal. I quickly pulled both out of my closet and voila! Two full days of travel-wear done.
Step 4: Choose a multifunctional top. I found this really pretty white blouse while shopping the end of season sale at Zara recently, and haven't yet had a chance to wear it. It is a bit boxy in shape but still very flattering, and I really like that it can be dressed up or down. Paired with my light blue skinny jeans and flat cognac ankle boots makes it a chic air-travel outfit, while wearing it with my black textured leggings creates the perfect back-drop for a statement shoe.
Step 5: Add flair: Most people would tell you to stay far away from anything other than "basic necessities" when trying to pack light, but where's the fun in that? I maintain that the best (read: only good) part of packing is adding the non-essentials; the pieces that will make you feel extra special while out to dinner or at a show or even just walking down the street in a new place! This easily makes step 5 my favorite. Not wanting to completely overdo it however and ruin my very carefully thought-out packing list, I chose just two special items: a black, boucle-style blazer shot through with a gorgeous array of colors, and my mandarin-orange Brian Atwood pumps to match.
And that's it! Believe it or not, following this process today took me about an hour - which is hugely impressive when you consider my track record. While it might not be the most scientific approach to effective packing, I am pretty pleased with what ended up in my suitcase and even happier that everything fits in one bag! Now, what I will do about any new purchases acquired while in Milan is a different story...