Travel | How to Pack a Portable Wardrobe

January 30, 2014

sunny jessie

Our extended stay in California is nearly two weeks away, and since I’ll be gone for almost two whole months, I’ve been thinking a LOT about what will be coming along in my suitcase, and how I can make the most of a “portable wardrobe” while I’m there.

For some reason, I have always LOVED packing and sometimes even start to set certain items (or entire looks!) aside still with weeks until I actually leave for the trip!  (I’m a NUT – I KNOW.)

I get asked about this a lot, so I figured it might make sense for me to put together some of the handy guidelines that I use to walk myself through the process, and I’m giddy just thinking about the fact that you might need them for some of your OWN impending adventures. ;)

Click through to see a step-by-step of my packing how-to, and a handful of casually chic items that I think would round out my existing collection quite nicely!

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 9.25.22 PM one // two // three // four

  • Start with an overall vibe, and refine to a theme and definitive color palette.  The selection above is a bit more basic than I would choose for a shorter trip, but the more cohesive you aim for, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to create new outfits that match in a pinch.  Totally loving how each of the jackets above could pair with both the romper and the shirtdress!
  • Jot down a list of activities or specific events you’ll be attending.  I have a few special projects lined up for our time in California, but am otherwise planning to be super-casual for most of the time (think: Drinks with friends, scouring the local flea market & spending lots of time at the dog beach just down the street).  That knit moto jacket shown above could dress about a zillion looks up OR down, and my mind is swimming just thinking about all of the possibilities.
  • Lay out or hang looks by day (or in my case, category).  I usually set everything up in order that I plan to wear it, and while this usually works for a normal-length trip, am thinking that I’ll likely stick to grouping things together by activity that I’ll need each outfit for.  A pile for workout wear, a pile for one or two professional looks, a big pile for hanging around the neighborhood, and a handful of bathing suits & cover ups (perfect bonus use of that floral kimono above, no?.
  • Start accessorizing by limiting yourself to two pairs of shoes (not including sneakers) and two versatile bags… Don’t worry – you’ll add on to this later if there’s room!  I almost always have extra space to take extra goodies because I’ve gotten good at saving space with my apparel, but am seriously considering trying to challenge myself to get by with one pair of strappy flats & one pair of sassy wedges for the whole time!  Save extra space by getting creative and slip little things like headbands and belts into nooks and crannies when you can.
  • Lay your jewelry on top of each look, and use everything more than once.  Pack the selection for each outfit in zippable sandwich baggies so you can grab and go when you’re getting dressed.  Worried about something getting smashed?  I carry two pairs of sunnies (currently thinking I’ll go with these & these) in the handbag that comes with me on the plane, and then I tuck the jewelry bags into the empty hardcases where my glasses usually live… This keeps everything secure, just in case my bag gets searched.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 9.25.55 PM

one // two // three // four // five
six // seven // eight // nine // ten

Bonus Points

  • We spend a lot of time with family in Orange County, Scottsdale & San Diego so I leave a pair of running shoes at each home to eliminate the need to pack them along!
  • Looking for more where that came from?  Extra S&P travel tips right here!
  • OH, and a true sentiment about this whole sha-bang seems pretty appropriate to slap on the back of my favorite device right about now…  You dig me?  :)

This post has been kindly brought to you by Forever21

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  • Reply Adri January 30, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    While I’m not going on an extended stay anytime soon, this is great for even short stays. I seriously over pack every.single.time.
    xo Adri

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    Jessie- I was wondering how you guys travel with your dog. Or do you board?! Thanks!

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      Hi Catherine! Just sent you a little email with a brief explanation… Quite the ordeal, but we’d hardly be able to leave for so long without her!!! :) XO

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  • Reply Anne-Marie May 23, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    I’m taking an overseas trip soon (Asia to LA) and have been searching for great travel tips to simplify my packing. I want to pack smart like planning outfits, what to put in my purse, etc. I usually WAY overpack so I’m so happy to have found your post! I have been sidetracked from my research by the rest of your site. Your videos are beautifully produces too, so I just subscribed to your Youtube channel. Anyway, just wanted to say great job. Thanks!

    • Reply Jessie Artigue May 31, 2015 at 11:09 am

      Thank you SO much, Anne-Marie! I hope you have a lovely trip, and can only imagine that smart packing is essential for such a long journey! XO

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