Posted on December 15 2014
I love travelling. Who doesn’t?
My first shot at business travel came my way in my early twenties, three months into my first job out of school. Thrilled as I was at this wonderful opportunity to see new lands, I was an utter novice at the art of packing for a business trip.
I must have packed my entire wardrobe – and then some – into the biggest bag I could lay my hands on, and then spent a miserable 10 days lugging all that weight around. I watched my savvier colleague with her considerably smaller suitcase turn up every day in well coordinated, elegant outfits with apparent ease, while I muddled my way through the many sweaters, dresses and trousers that I had brought along.
Before we left on our next trip I plucked up the courage to ask my fellow traveler how she did it. She said she had a few rules.
Rules - to pack? I mentally rolled my eyes.
That evening she came home to supervise my efforts. We were leaving the following day for a 10-day trip.
This is how the conversation went.
“Why do you need so many clothes when you travel?”
"Well, it’s a long trip. Ten days. Don’t I need a new outfit for each day?”
“Hotels offer laundry service, you know. You can get away with fewer outfits. And even if you want to save on laundry bills there are ways of putting together new outfits with a few basic separates”
With that she unpacked my bag and from the mountain of clothes pulled out a skirt, a perfect dress, slim pants, another skirt of a different length and a tailored blazer.
I was then allowed to assort a few bare tops, a fitted shirt, a cashmere sweater for cooler nights and that was it. And one evening piece with a bit of sparkle, just in case….
The key was color. My picks were an assortment of black, grey heather, tan, white and taupe. Everything worked with everything. It was perfect!
“You only need three pairs of shoes”
-Three pairs? For 10 days?
“Yes – a pair of stylish flats which work with skirts, dresses and trousers; a pair of heels and sneakers.”
I was aghast at this rationing but she was right. On most trips I would pack a huge assortment only to find myself wearing a very small amount of the clothes and footwear that accompanied me.
The same discipline went into toiletries and makeup selection. It was a relief to finally pack light but complete. And I could still show up every morning for work looking professional and stylishly dressed.
A few more such guidelines from her and I realized that these basic tips actually made me a savvier shopper as well. Eventually my purchasing decisions and my wardrobe – be it for work or leisure or clubbing – were less cluttered. I knew exactly what I could wear for every occasion without sifting through a maze of clothes and more importantly – everything got worn!
MSM’s five commandments to make you a smarter and stylish traveler –
- The 60% rule i.e. you only need 6 outfits for 10 days. Mix and match your basics to create new outfits
- A neutral color palette so that all your pieces work together. Color aficionados – don’t panic! My mentor’s idea of basic color is navy, hot pink and cream.
- Use your accessories – scarves, stoles, shawls - to change your look and introduce color. And they occupy minimal space in your bag.
- Travel size toiletries instead of your regular sized bottles. I use the goodies from my MSM box for travel. They are a blessing….
- The three pairs of shoes tip. My travel sneakers are comfortable yet trendy enough to be worn with a pair of jersey or linen pants – depending on the weather. But most importantly they are tough enough for a session at the gym.
Makeup that carries from day to evening. A bright lipstick and some sparkly eye shadow is all that is needed to transform your daytime look to an evening one.
As always, enjoy your travels and keep exploring new lands…
Kavita Joshi Rai-Writer of the weekly column “Effortless Style” | Globetrotter | Style Seeker | Beauty Junkie | Favorite Quote- elegance is the only beauty that never fades | @msmstyletalk