pack hacking: how to get the most out of the least

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I cannot pack for shit. I’d like to say I’m one of those women who could take off at a moment’s notice, but that moment would be fraught with hysteria, hair creme, too many undergarments, and not a single sock. Blisters and shopping would ensue at said destination. And dammit, I doubt I’ll ever be the type to bring a sole carry-on item for more than a fortnight.

I’m rockin’ the Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc and am in desperate need of a fan for my closet. The boob sweat happening here is remarkable, way more impressive than any outfit I’ll be assembling for this last minute trip out to LA. I’ll be there Tuesday (Tuesday Night), Wednesday (Wednesday Night), Thursday (Thursday Night), Friday (Friday Night), and I’m heading back home on Saturday (Airplane Outfit). All this plus my bag of tricks (curling iron, new make-up bag filled to the brim, sunscreen, Infusium). Lest we forget the prescription sunglasses, laptop, laptop bag, clutch or some such handbag, books (one copy of Straight Up and Dirty), and of course, anti-persperant. Do I wear a pair of jeans on the plane and pack another? I so much prefer dresses and skirts, and yet I cannot bring myself to zip up a leather skirt in this weather. And the dresses seem to also say, "trying too hard." But what they should say is, "trying not to sweat." I’m having an intense love/hate with fashion magazines right now. In terms of seasonal style, this period in fashion transitioning is akin to growing out your bangs.

This is the most fashionable time of the year and also the most indecisive. In 85 degree weather, one hardly has cause to wear a knee-length cardigan, never mind belted, to a creative meeting. It’s not lost on me that I’m "the creative," so they don’t expect much. Or maybe this was only true in advertising, when I strolled in at 11AM (in either an outfit I’d be embarrassed to be seen in, in my own hallway, or some thong-braving, cleavage-heaving, I don’t have time to go home and change before I go out tonight ensemble). How do these, "give me twenty minutes," women pack for a trip without laying out each potential outfit, complete with proper foundation garments and appropriate, wow-factor, accessories? If I hear one more "micro-jersey black dress" suggestion, I’m going to tell ’em what a Jersey Turnpike is.

Typically, now that "after work" consists of giving my kids a bath, I’m in pajamas. When I’m heading out for the night, that night will consist of jeans, heels, a girly top, and sometimes a little sweater to combat mall weather. And what, I must ask, does Tim Gund (because isn’t Tim Gunn a hugable Gund?) really mean by "sweatsuit alternative?" I know he means comfort but not something with TexASS emblazoned across my ass, but I must say there’s nothing comfortable about my jeans, and all my pants are long enough to be worn with heels, not flats. Oh how I wish Tim Gund would whisk into my life and tell me when exactly I should be wearing my trench coat in LA.

I feel so out of season. Sweating like a man doesn’t inspire me to dress for fall in plum cashmeres, burgundy button-ups, or black lace frocks. I need fashion and packing guidance. How to get the most out of the least.



  1. Wouldn't we all love a little help from Tim Gun? I know I would, as I am terrible being a girly dresser, shopper or packer!

  2. Just shift the fall clothes to winter in Texas and you have it! We rarely have winter, except for a few weeks in Jan/Feb. I'm further north (Dallas area) so we maybe have 6 weeks of winter weather and get snow every couple of years for a moment or two. Life in Texas doesn't correspond to fashion seasons.

  3. I feel for you, Stephanie. I've never traveled anywhere without having to find the nearest mall to supplement my less-than-stellar packing skills. Good luck.

  4. Less is more. Pack the accessories, but don't take more than one pair of jeans. You can buy anti-perspirant and such at the airport after you get through security (which will get you through security faster). TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOP WHEN YOU GET THERE.

  5. I think that women who claim they can pack in 20 minutes notice are lying. Or extremely low-maintenance. I guess it depends on the destination. I do my best packing when I start brainstorming a few days before and start putting clothing I think I want to take on a bedroom chair or in the suitcase. Then the night before I lay it out on the bed and put it together with accessories. As for jeans, you need to have a pair of jeans tailored for both heels and jeans. Next time you buy jeans, buy 2 pairs, and take a pair of heels and flats with you when you have them tailored. Since you are going from a hot climate to another hot climate, I would say dresses and cute shoes. Oh, and dress EVERYTHING with a scarf. I am a big scarf person–the women in my family have always worn scarves and I am so pleased to see that it is a trend. Of course, I too have the problem of sweating when it is hot and going to and fro, so maybe you can wait to put on the scarf when you are inside.

    I adore Tim Gunn. He really is a model for modesty, kindness, and fashion perspective.

  6. yo wtf,

    isnt u ever heard of UPSing the shiite suitcases ahead so u aint gotta drag it on no plane??


  7. This is so entirely me. Except in reverse. I am always cold. Always. So when everyone is FREAKING OUT because it's summer and we can all wear ten square inches of fabric and call it an outfit – I'm pouting because I'm still wearing jeans and a long sleeved top. I love fall because I can wear all kinds of warm things and no one can say a damn thing about it. Ha.

  8. Stephani, I just bought your book this week =Moose -loved it, my Grandaughter was over and ( she's 15) and overweight and took it home with her, I have been reading your Blog from day one and I have really enjoyed all -I would love for you to Autograph the book-are you by any chance comming to L R Ar any time soon

  9. Just an FYI – LA is hot as hell right now, but it cools down in the evenings. Not sure if it is as hot as Texas, but it's been in the 80s, early 90s. Then again, it rained Saturday – so be prepared for that. Have fun out here!

  10. you know what you need, Stephanie? You need a couple of pairs of pants (maybe one pair of jeans and one casual-but-not-jeans) that go with ballet flats. Oh, and obviously you need ballet flats.

  11. Just use fall colors in summer weights. Think J. Crew pleated tees. They are wonderfully light and come in muted tones like weathered stone, sea salt and of course season-defying navy. Just be sure to have the plum cashmere cardigan or wrap on hand for more nippy evenings and you'll be set. If that fails you can always do autumn colors with your accessories.

    Wear a pair of jeans on the plane and pack a trouser jean in a darker wash or something similar. It's versatile, cute, and sometimes comes in lightweight Japanese denim. Pack mostly neutral solids with accessories to punch them up (though I'm preaching to the converted on this one). One pencil skirt, one a-line, a crisp button down (for when you know you'll be in air conditioning and the effect will be polished not wilted), a cardigan/blazer option and a dress will do the trick. You'll likely need a belt or two, jewel toned clutch, chunky bracelets, a pair of jeweled ballet flats plus a pair of plain and a peep toe pump that can transition from day to evening. My problem is I'm great for packing for day but end up with nothing to sleep in and no moisturizer.

    FROM SK: You are my friend.

  12. LMAO! @ Barbara E's comment. I want to know if you actually CAN talk like that all day! (I'd try, but I'm afraid it would end up "sticking" and that would not go over at the scheduled work events I'm supposed to attend with hubby next week.) On second thought, I'd find it hilarious. ;-)

  13. PS. I completely suck at packing! I'd want to take a steam trunk with at least three outfits per day. Wearing whatever fit my mood for the day; which is why I'd want three to pick from. One never knows what that mood will be. I may wake up and feel bloated, which would mean I'd want my comfortable "hide the bloat" outfit. Packing has been the bone of contention between the hubby and myself for all 5 years of marriage. (He didn't complain while we were dating)Now that they charge per checked bag, he's completely impossible!

    You're always so put together Stephanie, I have no doubt you'll be completely fabulous every day that you're there!


  14. What will save your life every time, dark wash skinny jeans with stretch. Long enough to wear with heels; roll a large cuff for ballet flats (or rock the cuff with heels too, it's a cute look regardless of height). Dress ‘em up, dress ‘em down.

    Since dropping 30 (and still going), these babies have become my uniform. Big girl slacks (read: requiring dry cleaning) I get a couple wearings out of before I can take them down without unbuttoning. The jeans, wash after a wear and throw in the dryer to get (somewhat) back to butt hugging.

  15. 3T – I work alone. I'll be talking mainly to the cats. And when I do speak on the phone or go the post office, chances are muthafuckin' good that i'll chicken shit out fo' serious on dat seriousmama talk. And getting on topic, I pack lousy. So I stay home. With the cats.

  16. I love clothes and fashion and pretty much have my look down, especially when it comes to sassy yet professional office attire and going out clothes. But I secretly despise women who look so put together in the airport when travelling with young children.

  17. May I throw in another weather-related caution that it's warm out here right now and they're predicting even hotter the rest of the week? Blazers, jeans, anything warmer than a light cotton just sounds WAY too heavy for southern California at this point other than for evening outings. I'd pack at least one light cotton dress that you could pop with some pretty jewelry, and a light (unlined) skirt that you can wear with various blouses/shirts as appropriate.

  18. Barbara E, you never fail to crack me up!! You are just hysterical.

    I also suck at packing. I over pack so much that I end up wearing maybe 1/2 of what I bring, and then I have twice as much laundry when I get back home b/c everything has that luggage smell, even if things were never worn. But, I never learn.

    One bit of advice I can offer – I just found a great new curly hair product. Matrix curl life defining system contouring milk #3. I used to use 2-3 different products at once — more to pack. With the Matrix stuff, it's all I need to get soft, defined, non-crunchy curls. Hope that helps. Have a great trip!

  19. If it's any consolation, us "creative" boys go through the same exact thing.

    I have to head to LA from NYC next week and I'm already stressing over what to wear to pitch meetings.

    Obviously, I can wear jeans…but the whole, do I wear a polo shirt, button down (long or short sleeved?) or do I wear a funky t-shirt or a plain shirt or a lightweight cashmere sweater…or do I bring a corduroy blazer (with a t-shirt) which is a look I'd like to rock but I know I can never wear since I flop sweat like Albert Brooks so I'll just be carrying the blazer around over my shoulder like Cary Grant….

    The best part is not knowing how the people you meet will react to your ensemble.

    If it's too nice and upscale will they think you're an over privileged snob?

    I once wore Prada loafers (although they are more dressed up sneakers than traditional loafers) to a general meeting in LA and the two people I met with proceeded to stare at my feet while I sat on the couch across from them for most of the meeting.

    Or if I dress it down and go more J. Crew do I think I'm a non creative suburban dolt?

    I once had an agent who told me to wear a ski cap to a meeting so I would have more "edge".

    I feel you girl.

  20. It's probably too late to come to your packing aid, but let me add my voice to those sweatin' in LA at the moment. It's HOT!!! Of course that means Vegas-style air conditioning, so you gotta have a light sweater or (as seems to be the ubiquitous fashion here currently) a cashmere/knit wrap/scarf/pashmina that is big enough to drape around your arms but lightweight enough to look like a scarf when you wrap it around your neck.

    If you have time, head to Manhattan Beach and go to Manhattan Denim just south of the corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd and Manhattan Ave (on 9th). It has these wonderful thin wrap sweaters in muted colors that are soooo soft and comfy.

    As long as you don't put on anything resembling Uggs, you will have no problem :)

    Oh, and lastly, check out Rock 'n' Fish restaurant while you're down in MB. A foodie like yourself will certainly appreciate it!!

  21. shoot…whenever one of you fabulous people figure out the trick to 20 minute packing, make sure to send me the afterthought! it read like charlotte had the trick down pat.
    i'm going to nyc for a week over thanksgiving to elope and i'm afraid i'm about 2 seasons out of style!

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