More On Packing: This Time Clothing

Continuing on with my run on packing, we are finally on my favorite part, Gentle Reader, the clothing!


Generally I don’t believe in adding weight except when strictly necessary but shoes are the exception. They are also a bit difficult as I do think shoes need to go into bags or pockets, unless they are heels I know I’ll only wear inside. This is to keep other things, including the bag itself, from getting dirty. My pin stripe set came with shoe bags so I use those, but a plastic bag works too. Shoes are one of my heaviest things so they go near the bottom/back of any case. And I usually have three in my carry on for weight reasons.


I have a blog over on Retro Rack all about how I go about choosing my outfits. That one is focused on a three week trip to Europe on book tour.

RollingClothes1 RollingClothes2
RollingClothes3 RollingClothes4
Original post on the subject here.

Tips for rolling:
1. Start with the largest and most wrinkle-able items on the outside. In my case, dresses.
2. Stack clothing from biggest to smallest, ending with knitwear/t-shirts at the center.
3. Put bulkiest parts lined up at the roll-starting end.
4. You can roll around items like a corset, or jewelry case, to help hold shape
5. Roll carefully and slowly, smoothing as you go from top to bottom
6. Tye with a scarf

Here’s the best way to do T-shirts (the 6 inch military roll).

I use a polyester Toulouse-Lautrec print scarf that also works really well for tying up my hair for beach/pool/bathing. This scarf also has the right color combinations to go with almost any outfit. Because of the type of material it does not wrinkle. Wrapping a scarf around the outside also has the benefit of protecting the clothing from travel related stains and other accidents. Particularly inherent if the clothing is in your carry on along with food (now necessary for most plane trips). I always carry one full outfit on the plane with me, in case my checked luggage goes missing.

When I’m working and vacationing I separate into two rolls, one with the easy fun clothes and the other with the event clothing. That way I only unpack half my suitcase at a time. When I am vacationing in only one spot and have no vintage items I am prone to using the shell method of packing. Since it isn’t modular, for me, it only works when I am going somewhere and then unpacking entirely for a single stay.  Also it can get heavy fast.

Tips for choosing outfits for over a week:
1. Stick with neutral basics both in color and fabric for your main outfits (I take a lot of grey and black)
2. One always needs more tops than bottoms
3. Make certain all tops go with all bottoms, one never knows what will get dirty
4. Think in terms of layering, particularly if the weather is likely to be changeable
5. Scarves add color and pack small (they also double as blankets, hats, purse decoration, belts, and wrist decoration if needed)
6. Take statement accessories, they jazz up any outfit and pack small
7. Pack extra sox and undies in your carry on, in case the airline looses your luggage (I usually also include a swimsuit.)
8. Keep an eye on the things you end up not wearing, for next time
9. Take a slip instead of a nightgown = double duty
10. Put effort into finding the perfect tote and the perfect cross body travel purse
11. Cashmere sweaters are an investment but they are warm, light weight, and pack small

Consider buying jewelry or scarves instead of larger object souvenirs while on your trip, something you can wear to remember your vacation. Not logo t-shirts, please, just a small token. I find this puts very unique pieces into my collection but also keeps my amount of useless junk down to a minimum. I also try to bring food back for friends and family, not objects, for the same reason.

I’ve had some questions on packing hats. If I can’t use a hat box or wig bag for space reasons I shell the hats into the biggest and softest, fill them with stiffer items, like bras and such, and then use the wrap method with a smaller scarf as above.

Hats1 Hats2

When I’m doing a carry-on only trip the roll of garments goes in my big floppy tote, because it’s longer than my rolly can take. And then I fill the rolly with all the heavier bulky items like shoes, makeup, books etc…

What to wear to fly?

  • These days, I choose clothing that has no metal or thicknesses to it.
  • No belts (not even cloth ones), no shirts with embellishments, no large jewelry ~ these new machines alarm at thicknesses as well as metal, so I avoid it all. I often opt for a sports bra instead of one with under-wire. I never know what excuse TSA will find to pat me down.
  • I tend to travel in formal trousers with stretch that don’t wrinkle easily but still look professional, usually grey.
  • Close-toed slip-on flats with socks that I don’t mind getting dirty (I’m not walking bare foot through security, yech).
  • A nice jersey shirt over a sports bra.
  • A light jacket with pockets
  • Extra sweater, lightweight, cashmere, within reach but packed.
  • A scarf, also packed in carry on.
  • This outfit morphs if I have to wear something heavy or bulky, like boots, to limit my packing.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .


1925-1935  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

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Book News:
New sort story Fairy Debt available in ebook format.

Quote of the Day:

“Dr. Jaeger’s sleeping suits are admirable in such a case, and no lady traveller should be without them in the winter. They have certainly saved many a valuable life.”
“Now-a-days we have come to recognize the fact that antique waterproofs, side elastic boots, and mushroom hats tied up with huge veils of crude colours calculated to set one’s teeth on edge, are not exactly necessities or travel, and that there is not reason, human or divine, why a woman should not be tastefully and becomingly dressed while on her journeys as at her own fireside.”

~ Lillias Campbell Davidson, Hints to Lady Travellers, 1889

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Pat D said:

    I'll have to try your packing method when I go to Wash. DC in November. I like useful things as remembrances too. Besides indulging in a cashmere pullover and a warm quilted vest, I bought a Celtic knot necklace and tea towels in Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Love tea towels!

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