Before packing for any trip, I sit down and plan out a capsule wardrobe. With a capsule wardrobe, built around a color palette, I know I’ll have clothes that work together so I can mix and match throughout my trip. It also keeps me from overpacking, which is definitely my tendency!
To plan a capsule wardrobe, start by choosing a core neutral color. My preferences are black, grey, or navy. (Brown/tan also works, but it’s not flattering on my skin tone!) The majority of my items will be in this neutral color and often include my “anchors:” pieces that I’ll re-wear, like pants, a blazer, shoes, and my handbag. Then, I’ll pick two to three seasonal accent colors to coordinate with my designated neutral. I might also mix in a color-coordinating print with a dress or a top.
Next I’ll think about the activities I need to dress for and identify pieces in my closet accordingly. Will I be going to any cultural events that might require dressing up? Will I be doing a lot of walking? Will I need active clothes for hiking?
Above is a sample capsule wardrobe I might put together for a long weekend over the summer. A blazer serves as outerwear for places with aggressive air conditioning, including an airplane. My three tops can be worn under my blazer or alone and with either the skirt or the pair of slim trousers (loving this pair that I recently bought!). The printed dress adds some visual interest and works well for a special dinner or a cultural performance.
I’d also pack a limited number of accessories that work with this color palette. I try to only take two pairs of shoes on any given trip so I like these nude sandals and navy espadrille wedges for this capsule wardrobe. I’d also take one crossbody bag, either in navy or cognac, that works for day or evening activities. And I’d pack a lightweight scarf that I can use on the airplane or against the AC.
Depending on how I mix and match, these 7 items in my capsule wardrobe can be used to create over a dozen unique outfits!
I’m not one to pick up souvenirs when I travel. Instead, I like to order photographs I shot as mementos. Visiting Paris is an exception though, where I often load up my suitcase with goodies.
It goes without saying that European pharmacies are superior to those in the US and this exceptionally true in France. The neon green cross that adorns its pharmacies pulls me in like a moth drawn to a flame. What’s good enough to get me to check my luggage? Bioderma Crealine, a gentle non-rinse makeup remover, La Roche-Posay sunscreen, and Klorane dry shampoo. If only Amazon’s prices on these items weren’t nearly double the cost as in France!
My husband says Monoprix is France’s Target and he’s right. I love popping in to check out its clothing selection, which is better made than Target’s and less expensive (seriously!). This time, I picked up a few lightweight, drape-y cotton-silk blend sweaters that will be perfect for spring and summer. We also picked up a ton of baby clothes to gift to friends who are expecting this spring and summer.
The last item that I picked up, as I often do on my way back from Europe, was a new Longchamp tote bag. Between the discounted price and it being duty-free, I saved about 40% from what it would cost if I bought it at Nordstrom in the States.
Au revoir, friends! To celebrate my big 3-0, we’re checking out a place we’ve wanted to visit for a long weekend: Lake Tahoe. We rented the most adorable cabin, which I hope is extra cozy since we’re not expecting the best weather. C’est la vie! We’re spoiled by mild temperatures year-round in San Francisco so I suppose we’re due for a dose of brisk snowy(!!!) weather. We’ll be checking out the sights in South Lake Tahoe, taking a drive up to Truckee, and completing several dog-friendly hikes. I can’t wait to share once we’re back!
Between my previous post on overlooked travel essentials and Facebook’s memory feature jogging my recollection, I thought I’d share my worst travel experience ever. It’s also the reason why I never leave home without a spare pair of undies even if I’m due to fly out and back within the same day…
Four years ago, I was due to spend a few hours in Chicago for a job interview. Being naive at the time, I packed my tote bag with just what I needed for my interview, a few make-up essentials, and my wallet. The day went well (I even got the job offer the next morning) and I headed back to O’Hare to board my flight home. As we began boarding, one of Chicago’s infamous summer thunderstorms rolled in, halting baggage loading and forcing us to sit on the plane. After sitting on the plane for several hours, at the gate, we were allowed to deplane. At this point, my iPhone battery was dangerously low and even if I had brought a charger, it’s notoriously difficult to find outlets at O’Hare. (By some miracle, I did run into a friend in the airport who had two iPhone chargers and graciously lent me one for the remainder of my trip!)
Shortly after deplaning, the announcement was made that all flights were canceled which meant everyone made mad dash to a rebooking center and scrambled to find sleeping accommodations for the night. (I had the sense to ask my now husband to book me a nearby hotel room when the delays started hours before though.) All in all, it was another 3 hours before I arrived at my hotel between waiting to rebook, waiting on the cab line, and trying to help my cab driver navigate to the hotel. Nightmare.
So what did I learn? Even for same-day back-and-forth trips, I always carry the following items in case of canceled flight emergencies: a pair of undies, a lightweight t-shirt, a toothbrush, and both a wall charger and a fully charged external battery for my iPhone. I’ve learned to skip the re-booking center at the airport: it’s often quicker to call (or tweet!) the airline to confirm your rescheduled flight since this happens automatically in the event of a canceled flight. I’ll even call proactively if it looks like there might be a cancellation. And try to never book the last flight out for the day as that means spending an extra night should there be a cancellation.