packing lessons

Sadly I do not, yet, have a royal packer. I happen to be the absolute worst when it comes to packing, and all those summers spent weekending in Sag Harbor have had no impact on my efficiency. First there’s the issue of dresses, which need to be long enough to cover my cooch in a seated position. You’d be amazed how many women are oblivious to the sit-down try-on in stores. They end up sitting on some lounge seating one night in a bar giving everyone a tour of their triangle. This won’t do on morning shows.

How many pairs of shoes does a woman bring for 2 weeks on the road? How many times do I repeat the same outfit? I’m completely inept when it comes to these things. Each time I travel, I swear the next time, I’ll bring hardly a thing. I’ll let my hair air-dry and bring nothing more than running shoes, gold strappy heels, and a single pair of espadrilles. Inevitably blisters form, and I’m always left in search of a pair of shoes that won’t touch wherever the blister has formed. I know there are low maintenance women out there, women who bring one wrinkle-free black dress and a pair of flip-flops: I appeal to you. What should I bring? I’m actually asking for lessons. There will be television and radio interviews and of course each afternoon and each evening there will be book readings. I’m giving a talk at DePaul University (open to the public) about the blurred boundaries between being an at home mother and a full-time writer, the boundary between public and private lives lived in blogs, the boundaries people cross on blogs, especially when it comes to judging the life and choices bloggers make. There will be dinners, drinks, and lots of airport time. Ok, packing suggestions would be exceptional…



  1. Well – because you asked – here are a few things I do…

    1) basics. Black and/or white skirts – pants – dresses.
    2) fabulous accessories that will make anything look good. Pack 'looks' that will enhance the basics. Jewelry, scarves, watches, lipsticks.
    3) work shoes and play shoes. Pretty shoes for TV and readings – but comfy attractive shoes to get you there. Moleskin for blisters- but don't wear shoes that will give them to you.
    4) work out clothes for the gym so you can unwind at the end of the day, a swimsuit for the hottub and comfy jammies that make you feel fabulous.
    5) hotels have hair driers. Don't lug one.
    6) bring your own pillow (if it squishes really small) or at least your own pillowcase. Less likelihood of getting sick.
    7) noise machine to help block out unfamiliar hotel sounds and candles or essential oils so the smells are comforting and familiar
    8) a basic sweater, jacket or a coat – airplanes are cold, tv studios are cold – fatigue makes you cold
    9) underwear that makes you feel sexy and confident. Dress from the inside out
    10) slippers – don't forget the slippers.

    You're going to be amazing…we'll be watching and sending all the best from here…

  2. Something I do is lay everything I want to bring out the day before I need to pack and then go through it the next day, sometimes with someone's helpful input, and take out what I really don't need. This usually really helps in terms of taking out the stuff I would normally throw in, but never wear. I also roll everything which helps it fit much, much better.
    Another thing I've done for a trip when I really couldn't afford to over pack was a contest with my Mom to see who could wear all of their clothes- I think I ended up not wearing one item, but it helped me really plan each outfit.
    Also- band aid blister block is a miracle worker for those shoes we all b-ing that give us blisters.

  3. – cleanser, cream & toothpaste etc. in travel sizes
    – laundry detergent in travel size, so you can wash your panties and instead of bringing 14 with you, you probably are able to take only 9
    – your favourite shoes. 5 pairs..not more. just the stuff you would really wear in Austin as well. it's about being comfortable.
    – hello?! go to the hair dresser in case you have a very special occasion coming up. because you're worth ist!

  4. Here is my fail-proof advice for packing, stated with the usual disclaimer of take it or leave it.
    First with a glass of wine and a room emptied of childrens' and menfolk, gather all of your dresses/pants/skirts/tops/jackets that make you feel like a million dollars. Then seperate those into three piles. Radio
    and print interview.- Book signings.- TV.-
    For the Radio and Print, wear something that you find chic and causual, pairing fabulous comfortable shoes with it,no need to kill you feet when no one is watching. Also bring a light jacket or sweater, as Radio stations are usually freezing.
    For TV , once you pick your outfits, (avoiding of course, white, red, green and beige as they do not translate well to TV) try the ensembles on, take a chair and sit before a mirror. Check out the crotch shot and make sure and move around, as you are a very exspressive speaker. This is the place to wear your "No Walkie" heels as you can bring a pair of other cute shoes to change into after. Avoid to many layers. For your book signings, pack the outfits that best represent your style. Your Loyal fans are coming to see you and hear your reading. The most authentic you is what will be appreciated the most. Not what you think you should be wearing,but what you love to wear.

    As for wearing a outfit more then once, totally acceptable.
    As 3 Teens commented, the key is accessories. AND we all know that you have some rockin accessories.

    Try if possible to mix and match, remember to fold and roll you items military style as apposed to just folding, it helps with the wrinkles. Do not forget to bring chill-out comfy clothing and again 3 Teens was on the money with the sexy honey underwear. Nothing makes me feel better then when the girls are presented in their best gear. Don't give yourself to much choice with the shoes. Force yourself to bring only a few. There are indeed, Shoe Stores, should disaster strike.

    Just bring your smile and your bubbly personality and all will go well. Oh and a great lipstick/gloss.
    Good Luck!!!!

    Oh, Bee, just wait until you read the "packing for camp" section of Moose. You'll laugh when you see yourself in the pages.

  5. something like: (number of days you're there X the number of times you change each day) divided by the how many times you see the same people. So if every day you meet w/new people, you can repeat outfits more. That top you reach for way too often will make you happy in the hotel room, bring it. Shoes – after all your stuff is laid out, just make sure you have a shoe to cover every bottom/outfit. Then weed out duplicate styles.
    Good luck girl!

  6. i too typically stress out over packing and then, usually around the time that i freak out and consider bringing everything i own 'just in case', i come to the realization that i am not going to a third world country so i can just buy whatever i forget wherever i am going.

    buying clothes when you are away is so better than buying silly souvenirs because then when you wear them again it brings back nice memories of your trip. and you can also be all, "oh, i picked this up in …", when people ask you where you got that cute ___ .

    my advice is this: packing dresses is easier than packing outfits. bring a sweater. bring a wrap. bring at least two pairs of jeans that you love. bring cute flats instead of flip flops. and the two things that i always seem to forget are toothpaste and an umbrella so remember to bring those along.

  7. Get thee immediately to the nearest store that carries Bandaid products and get the Blister stick. Looks like a tiny deodorant, and I SWEAR TO YOU – YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ANOTHER BLISTER.

    That and Dr. Scholls inserts for open toe shoes ………….the pairing of the two is GENIUS!

  8. I really wish I could offer something brilliant. I'm here reading the comments for the brilliant ideas.

    I will wish all the best on this trip. And will be looking forward to reading about it!

    Problems with packing: When you're ruled by your moods, (different outfits for different moods. And who knows for sure what mood you'll be in) you always overpack.

    Some great ideas from Bee, 3 Teens and Adrienne. I love the basics with changing accessories!

    Have a fantastic trip Stephanie! :-)


  9. I've recently decided it's all in the accessories. Maybe because I'm sick of buying the latest and the greatest (I think summer clothes are more trendy than winter)never to be worn after that particular summer. Some chunky, funky costume earrings, if you have them, frame the face and look great. On TV, people barely remember what the person is wearing because after the establishing shot, it's usually a medium close up.

    My mother's theory has always been that if you wear the clothes and don't let them wear you, you make the statement of your choosing. I've learned it's true.

    When your makeup looks good, hair is done the way you like and a sincere smile is on your face, that's when women look best, IMO. (A friend was recently going to her high school reunion and obsessing over what to wear. What I remember about people is not what they wore, but if they seemed to be having fun. Yes, I realize you're not packing for parties, but the enthusiasm/joy you feel/project is far more important than the dress you choose, so long as the dress covers South Florida at all times.)

    DO NOT forget sweats or the equivalent for when the day is done and you're aching to feel cozy.

    All that being said, I'm leaving today for a mere 2 days and I'm bringing 5 pairs of shoes and enough clothing for every eventuality. Cold, rain, boiling heat and locusts. Clearly, I'm no help.

    If you learn any tricks along the way, please share upon your return. I will pull a muscle lugging luggage from my apt. to my garage. I know it's the locust garb that's going to weigh me down.

  10. I SWEAR by linen. Pants, shirts, dresses, skirts.

    But that is because I am allergic to ironing :)

  11. Hiya, just wanted to say i just ordered ur new book!Can't wait for it to reach me in the far shores of singapore!

  12. OMG!!! Moose has a "packing for camp" section? Really?? I SOOO wish I could see it now, as all I have been doing is stressing, shopping, returning, more shopping, and will soon be in labeling Hell – all in anticipation of packing my kids for sleepaway! UGH!! As much as I wish I had some advice for you, I am a terrible packer. No matter what, I'm sure you'll be fabulous. Most important – Have Fun!!!

  13. I completely understand the packing dilemma! I always bring way too much and wear maybe half of it, despite my attempts to condense, condense, condense before I leave. My newest find: space-saving bags specifically suited for travel. I just bought a 4 pack and can not wait to use them for my trip to San Francisco next month. Now I can still bring way too much in terms of clothes and not have to worry about running out of room for shoes! Genius!

  14. One multi-use jacket. Mix & match pieces in basic colors. Minimize the shoes if possible. Jewelry etc. easy to pack, minimal space taken. Remember you have to be able to carry your luggage. And they charge extra for the 2nd checked piece now.

  15. I am really no help as I always pack way too much.
    I always like traveling with a few really nice jackets that go well with dresses, skirts, pants and jeans. I also like to keep it simple with choosing just one or two colors to go with all the black and white items. Also, love cardigan(light weight cashmere or really nice cottons) sweaters to be worn alone with tanks underneath, over dress shirts, tshirts etc. or just around shoulders as an accessory I guess.
    Also, I agree with Shannon- get the space saving bags. If you don't end up using them they are great for the beans.
    Have a great time. Can't wait to see you and what you are wearing!

  16. Yeah, minimize on the shoes–they weigh most. And I usually try to wear the heaviest/bulkiest/most wrinkle-prone stuff on the plane (as long as it's pretty comfortable) to keep it from taking space in my suitcase.

  17. I travel all the time, and HATE when I pack too much and end up not wearing half of it.

    Depending on the trip, I pack black and white, or denim. Or if it's a longer trip, I'll check two bags, with the black and white, and the denim. I don't make up outfits with the black and white, because everything matches with everything else. I've got denim blouses and skirts that are casual nice, jeans, denim sandals even. Throw in a few t-shirts, which will also go with the black and white, and I'm done. Then in my carry-on, I pack black and/or white dress (heels) shoes, 1 pair of black/white sandals, and the denim sandals for everyday. Also, I wear those water shoes for everyday comfort times, and they are lightweight and can be squished. That bag goes overhead in the plane and can also hold various accessories. It also holds the spare outfit in case the luggage gets lost – for me that means pajama/lounge pants, decent shirt, panties, sports bra, and socks. My purse holds the band-aid blister stick, the travel-size stuff in the stupid zip-lock bag, wallet, etc., and call it done. It's really worked well since I've adopted the black/white/denim system!

    Good luck, and have fun.

  18. Oh yea – the space saving bags? They're great, but a pain in the ass in the hotel when you have to re-pack, PLUS they make your suitcase weigh too much. Like $75.00 extra too much. BTDT.

  19. On the book tour map, Tag 3 is supposed to be Borders Books on Preston in Dallas; the map shows a completely DIFFERENT incorrect location.

  20. I travel often and one of the things I do is write a list of events on a spreadsheet and then put an outfit under it.

    Agreed with everyone re the black – pants, skirts and jackets.
    Then I recommend you pick two colours you like the best and wear them mostly. That way most colours will co-ordinate.

    A couple of pretty dresses – dresses are easy… usually less crushable AND they take up less room than pants.

    I'm in Australia and we can buy shoes from pharmacies/chemists/drug stores. They are SO comfortable and yet look fashionable. My favourite pair of travelling heels is from a chemist – they feel like you're wearing no shoes. When you're travelling, this is essential.

  21. I'd pick whether I want to go with black or brown toned items, which would narrow down your packing and make more things go with each other. Anything metallic would be good because it's so versatile, gold shoes go with everything!

  22. I travel a lot for work am convinced I have it down to a science now! I write down everything I'm going to need – one column for toiletries, another for random things (camera, ipod, etc.) As I put them in my bag, I I cross them off the list and highlight the things I will be throwing into the bag the morning of the trip. For clothes – although it's fun to have choices, it makes your life easier to schedule ahead of time what you will wear on certain days, and what outfits you can re-use later on in the trip. Black pants are the best bet, as well as a variety of accessories since they don't take up much space. And I'd defintely recommend getting a travel bottle of Downy wrinkle release spray – it works well on wrinkled clothes and can also be used to freshen up something you have already worn – and it smells way better than febreeze! Good luck!

  23. I agree with Sara. I used to travel a lot for work, usually for 2-3 weeks at a time. If you can stick to just black, or just brown it's amazing what you can get in a suitcase. For the summer, I'd go with the browns/beiges. Also, make up your ideal list of 'this is what I would bring if I could bring everything' and then start eliminating. The first outfits to go are the ones that require a specific pair of shoes that only go with that one outfit. For two weeks, no more than 3 pairs of shoes in the suitcase and one on your feet. One daytime purse and one nighttime clutch. Don't panic about the wrinkles, any half decent hotel will have an iron (now if they only had half decent blowdryers!).

  24. First timer!

    Get yourself a pair of basic black Kenny Cole, Nine West or Steve Madden sandals, no toe thong strap, similar to a slide on Barbie shoe. With a slight wedge, you can walk miles in them, nary a blister and they work denim capris to dresses.

    btw…I do not work for, but whole heartedly support the shoe industry.

  25. Stretch jersey everything- it doesn't wrinkle. BCBG, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Diane Von Furstenburg all make a multitude of clothes in this forgiving, non-wrinkling fabric.

    Shoes- Cole Haan with Nike Air. I have three pair- the most comfortable things EVER. And I'm not a heels girl, so these help immensely when I need to play dress-up.

    Good luck!

  26. This is less for long trips than for short ones, but as I also have the seven pounds of curly hair to accomodate when I travel, I have found this site to be ridiculously helpful for all toiletries besides those for keeping my hair under control. Because 3oz? Not nearly enough for my 'do.

  27. Gotta say it: Linen is disasterous. All is EVER needs is to be ironed. As soon as you put it on it needs another run under the iron. I hate it.

  28. Why pack at all? Why aren't people dressing you?

    You need a publicist. I'd offer, but I'm in over my head right now doing the job for other people.

  29. Oh Stephanie, I was so looking forward to seeing you this Friday in Coral Gables, but my fiance surprised me and reserved tickets to the Sex and the City opening for me!!! What could I do? We know you will be "fabulous" though and I wish you the best of luck. I cannot wait to read your book.

  30. I'm an over packer, so I'm not help on what to bring. My one input is to bring ear plugs. Ear plugs will drawn out all the hallway and unfamiliar sounds of outside.

    I buy the cushy/foamy blue or pink ones from the pharmacy.

    I use the ear plugs every night to block out my husband's snoring. ;-)

  31. I haven't read everyone's comments but I do travel frequently and here's what I do:

    I choose one color palette – black, navy or brown family, choose one – then pack basic pieces in the base color, and add a couple of pieces of color to spark it up.

    For my last spring trip it was brown and went like this;

    brown knee length straight skirt
    brown/offwhite patterned skirt
    beige jacket/blazer, lightweight
    dk brown silk twinset
    lt beige twinset
    dark jeans
    2 3/4 sleeve t shirts nice enough to double as shells (green, off-white)
    orangey peach pashmina
    brown higher heeled shoes
    beige lower heeled shoes
    gold ballet slippers (for flying and slippers at hotel)

    Add some jewelry and that would do it. I got a week by mixing up the above – breaking up the twinsets, wearing the blazer with both skirts and jeans. I packed it all in my rollaboard and put my jewelery and ziplock of toiletries in my laptop case. I ususally only pack one blazer and wear it on the plane to save room/wrinkling. I also keep my pashmina on the plane.

    Also, make your laptop case double as your purse while flying, and pack a crushable purse to move into when at your destination. I use my laptop case without laptop as a tote (it's a feminine laptop case from Jack Georges) when I am shopping or carting around business papers at my destination.

    I always end up mailing things I pick up on my trip – presentations, handouts, etc – back to my office before I leave so I don't have to haul them home. Hotels are very helpful with this, but it's cheaper to pack a pre-addresssed fexex envelope.

    I am sorry to admit I never pack workout wear anymore. I have learned that I generally have a dinner every night, and the first meetings are too early for me to work out before. Saves room anyway.

    Hope this helps!

  32. I say bring it all – even the stuff that got ruined in the wash. Because? You never know. That's my motto. (that and wheels on my suitcase)

  33. Thank you, Stephanie, so much for posting this query. I too, am an 'over-packer' and have trouble organizing for trips. These comments have helped me as well. :) Love it!! Much appreciation for it all…

  34. This web site is actually quite sophisticated, but for some reason it does not display properly when trying to view on my Nintendo Wii. If it helps, the console uses the Opera web browser and am forced to using the console for accessing the Net whilst my PC is away being fixed.

  35. I agree with the above post. Personally I cannot understand why you would not want to make an effort in this regard anyway. Only the other day, at work we had exactly the same conversation and came to a similar decision

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