There's always a challenge of how much I can fit into my suitcase. Every time I go to an event, I try to pack a carry-on bag and a backpack - no more, no less. Occasionally, I'll bring a bigger bag if the event is more than 5 days long. Given space constraints, how do you create multiple outfits everyday for the numerous activities at a Lindy Hop event?
The following is an outline of how I pack the maximum amount of combinations and well put together outfits for a trip and avoid checking a bag.
Step One: The Pre-pack
During the this step, I grab my bag and backpack, travel pillow (if I'm flying), snacks, and most importantly dance shoes (many many many pairs). Then I burst open the doors of my closet (literally and figuratively). I make a huge pile over my existing pile of EVERYTHING that I think I want to bring; this is all about first instincts and usually consists of my favorite outfits, any new items I want to show off, and a bunch of tank tops, jeans, sweaters, blah blah blah.... I always overdo the Pre-pack stage and that's the point. The Pre-pack is all about maximum options, pairing it down comes later. This stage must not be skipped; in my opinion, it's the most important part about getting everything right.
I usually do this a few days before I leave so that I can make sure any laundry gets done and I don't wear anything I think I want to bring after I do my laundry. That's when procrastination kicks in and the next step usually happens the night before I leave.
Step Two: Picking Your Outfits
At this stage, I begin with a huge mess that will turn into a bigger - albeit organized - mess. When creating outfits, I lay them all over the floor, my bed, the entire room so that I can see everything at once. This allows me to properly see color coordination of your shoes, sweaters, belts, and separates. Without this step, I may end up bringing all of my brown toned dresses and only a black sweater. I'll generally pick a color scheme such as browns and reds, navy and yellow, or black and pink....etc. This step will eliminate the clothes in my Pre-pack pile that do not match anything (even if I really love my adorable vintage green whale sweater, if it clashes with everything, I'll leave it behind).
As a guideline, I pick two outfits per day; one for daytime classes and hanging out and the other for evening dances. PLUS, I bring at least one extra type of outfit. I'll use Lindy Focus as an example. The event is essentially 6 nights long with 5 days (plus 2 travel days). In this case, I'll bring 7 or 8 evening outfits, and lots of mix and match for 7, 8, or 9 days.
Here's the challenge, how to pick outfits without stuffing my suitcase. These are some general guidelines I think about as I complete this step:
I generally stick to dresses more often than separates for evening. If I have to choose between dresses, I'll pick the one that packs smaller and doesn't wrinkle.
When picking pants, I make sure that I have a few different top options that match each pair. I'll usually bring a trouser, a pair of high waisted jeans, and a pair of colored skinny jeans.
Pick 2 or 3 sweaters or cardigans that match your outfits. I usually do two color ones and one neutral (navy or brown usually).
I always bring multiple tank tops or shirts for layering. All of the colors I bring can go with all the pants I pack.
I always have a few pairs of tights, just in case. Each pair can match at least 2 dresses.
Since I usually bring solid tops, I try to pack printed skirts or ones with bright colors. Usually, I'll pack 2 skirts.
There are 3 belts I bring everywhere that match everything. I have a skinny black one, a thick white one, and a fun color one (in my case, it's green). I don't consider a belt an accessory since they are essential for most outfits.
How many pairs of shoes????!!!! This is always the great debate for me. I try to bring 2 pairs of colorful Keds, a pair of chromed Keds, and 1 or 2 pairs of heels (depending on the dancing I plan to do). In addition, I'll have one pair of street shoes that I wear to the event.
Step Three: Accessorizing
With all of my outfits spread out for display, I select some accessories that can mix and match.
There are a handful of necklaces I always have (strand of pearls, something with rhinestones, and something gold).
I bring a variety of earrings that are usually the same 5 or 6 pairs that are my favorite. I always include something dangly and sparkly to add some bling to any outfit.
I love decorative vintage scarves. I'll pack 3 or 4 of them to add flair to any outfit.
As far as hats go, I don't usually pack these unless I'm performing and it's a costume. Hat boxes take up a lot of space and protecting fragile items should never be overlooked. If the weather is cold, I'll bring 2 or 3 berets because they pack flat in a bag and they are a timeless look.
I'll always bring a small bag with 5 to 8 different hair flowers/fascinators.
Here are some examples of outfits I've packed and accessorized:
Step Four: Fitting It In
The first thing I do is pack my socks and underwear. Thus far, I haven't even thought about it but, they are the first things that go into my suitcase. Then I'll methodically roll all of my clothes individually and place them into the suitcase. I usually go outfit by outfit so that if I have go eliminate my extra clothes, I don't have to dig to find the part that matched. I'll squeeze my small box of jewelry and small bag of flowers into a layer of clothes so that they are safely stowed and not loosely dangling on top. If I have extra room, I'll throw in an extra pair of pants or some more shirts.
That's a pretty complete list of what runs through my head as I pack. What are your most important packing tips? Share them below!
Originally posted on DanAndLainey.com on 12/18/2013.