Packing Party

There’s something so daunting about packing for a long trip. I always intend to get started a few days beforehand and plan each outfit meticulously but in the craze of travel prep, it usually ends up coming together at midnight the night before an early flight. I then lay awake wondering if I have everything I need. The problem with “packing scatter brain” is that you end up bringing more or less than you need and often times the wrong things. The best thing you can do to prep for a trip is take the time to pack right. Here’s how I did it for this week’s trip to NYC for fashion week…

Start by pulling everything out of your closet that inspires you for this particular trip and place them somewhere where they are visible – I like to use a garment rack. Pull more than you need – you’ll edit later. Once you separate those items out from the rest of your wardrobe, it clears the clutter from your brain and you can focus on just those pieces. Since packing space is limited, I always try to avoid any really bulky pieces that I know I’d only wear once (sorry, sequined sailor blazer). You can make your one-time statements with smaller things like a bright top or chunky necklace.

To pack jewelry, I like to roll each piece into a cloth napkin or scarf so everything is surrounded by fabric and protected from rubbing against each other or tangling.

Once you’ve separated the key players from the bench warmers, it’s time to narrow down and make sense of it all. Starting with the pieces you are most excited to wear, put together some specific outfits out of what you’ve pulled and take pictures of each one. Taking pictures will help you make sure you have enough outfits while you’re packing, and also serve as a “trip lookbook” that you can reference later. You can always go back to the closet if you need to. I find that I always wear multiple different outfits in one day when I’m traveling, so keep in mind that you’ll need enough for both day and night. You don’t need to style every single outfit (more power to you if you have time) but just putting together a few ensembles in their entirety will help you solidify your key pieces and maybe even cause you to choose something random you may have otherwise left out.

Next, create piles on the bed of the things that are definite, categorized by type. You can visualize all the ways to mix and match them and you may find that you don’t need to throw in any extra pieces that would end up not getting worn. Once you see that you have plenty of each type (pants, blazers, etc) you can start to eliminate other things and put them back in your closet. Then you’ll have your maybes still on the rack and the definites ready to be packed.

Now it’s time to start packing. Start by neatly placing your definites into the suitcase. Things that matter the least in terms of wrinkling can go on the bottom (underwear, pj’s, etc). I like to roll each item rather than fold – I find it creates fewer wrinkles. For the items that are a bit more fragile (anything silk), it’s a good idea to roll them in tissue paper. Even if they still get some wrinkles, it gives you a piece of mind that your nice things are safe and secure. Once you’ve packed everything that must come with you, you’ll know if you have any extra space to throw in one or two last pieces. Often times that top you throw in at the last minute is the one that ends up saving you from a fashion emergency.

A note about luggage: Most luggage comes in the same variety of sizes. The biggest are usually around 25″ or 29″. I actually prefer the 25″ because I know I can stuff it full and not be over the airline weight limit, but it still holds a lot. On top of that, I like to bring a duffle carry-on in which I can put my computer, jacket, and any minor spillover from the suitcase. I always make sure there’s some extra space to hold any purchases I make on the trip.

And with that, I’m all packed up and off to New York for a busy week of fashion. Hmm which outfit to wear first?





  1. ha! i adore you for including multiple iphone cases with your accessory pile – so perfect. safe travels!

  2. Great system. I always try to pack like this also :-)

  3. So awesome! I love the multiple iphone cases. I never think about that ;) You inspire!

  4. Can’t wait to see the outfit posts that result from what you packed! I’ve had black motorcycle boots on my wishlist since last winter and am dying to know who makes the ones pictured in the second outfit laid out (with one buckle)! Please share!

    via Emily

    1. thelifestyled 09/06/2012

      They are from All Saints! I obsessed over those and others in this post:

  5. Im one of those ones who makes a list, then slowly edits it. A week or so before I try everything on and may add or remove some things, and it gives methe chance to freshly launder everything before leaving. LOVE that jewellery idea, I think i need to start doing that x

  6. Great info! Bookmarking this post and using this system when packing for my next trip!

  7. this is so smart- and your wardrobe looks great! can’t wait to see photos!

  8. Lovely and interesting post!
    xoxo Caroline
    Check: Pick me an Outfit

  9. […] Learn how to pack like a pro from stylist Catherine […]

  10. On the second outfit post, there are black lace-up boots with a chunky heel – whats the brand/where are they from?

  11. […] stylist Catherine Sheppard shows you how to pack for a long trip. (PS: she has amazing […]

  12. hi catherine what camera do you use mainly? i just started my own blog and looking into getting a good one:)

  13. This is a FABULOUS post. I love everything about it, the pictures are great, the tips in between the pictures are helpful and you make it seem so simple (haha, but I have the same problems packing too :P).

    Thanks for sharing, great job!

  14. […] suggests  wrapping things in tissue to prevent wrinkling.    image {via} image {via} So today I will have my computer on, looking here and here for guidance while I pack.  I […]