TRAVEL SERIES-PACKING YOUR SUITCASE

It is my belief that packing a suitcase is truly an art. So how does one become the Picasso of packing? Trial and error. With this guide, I'm helping you skip the error part, and go straight to suitcase success. 

I'm a recovering overpacker. Packing loads of random articles of clothing led me to the other end of the spectrum- underpacking. Getting to my destination, opening my suitcase to find 10 bikini tops, 6 rompers and 1 tank top. Through many under-clothed vacations, I've found that the key is to pack items that can be worn with all other items in your suitcase. 

EXAMPLE: You have a black sweater. You can wear that black sweater with jeans, or a suede skirt, under a jacket or with a t-shirt underneath. I can also wear that t-shirt with the jeans, skirt, and same jacket. I can wear the jacket with the pants and skirt, or over a dress. The dress, I can wear the t-shirt underneath. Get it? It's the cycle of packing smart. 

So you've got the system down- but how much should you actually bring to not only optimize everything you've packed, but to wear things that make you feel good. I went on a 8 day trip abroad, so keep in mind the weather and duration I'm packing for. This will vary depending on where you go, for how long and what you'll be doing. This is an overall outline- use it wisely! 

 

JEANS:

1 White

1 Blue

1 Black 

 

T-SHIRTS/BODYSUITS:

White

Black sleeveless

Black Long sleeve

Grey 

 

JACKETS: 

1 Leather

1 Camo ("fun" jacket- can do a bomber, duster coat, etc.)

 

DRESSES:

1 Formal (this is the only exception to the "everything wears with everything" rule, it is a piece that stands alone for a formal occasion)

2 Casual- to be layered under jackets, over t-shirts, body suit

 

SWEATERS:

1 Black v-neck

1 Pink "statement sweater" (it had lots of ruffles- the ultimate statement)

1 Grey crewneck 

 

SKIRTS:

1 Suede skirt 

 

SHOES:

1 Pair of boots

1 Pair of sneakers

1 Pair of sandals 

1 Pair of heels, "fancy shoes"

Slippers 

 

ACCESSORIES: 

2 Neck scarves

Extra pair of earrings

Extra watch 

 

*I'm not including undergarments on this list- that should go without saying and you should know how much to bring...if not....God save us all. 

 

Okay,

...here's where it gets good. How you pack the clothes is just as important as what you're packing. How you arrange things in your suitcase is a game-changer as to how much you can bring (or leave room to bring things back!) I used to just fold everything haphazardly, stuff my shoes on top, and sit on top of the suitcase willing for it to shut. Finding the guide below changed my mother-packing life. I tried to take my own pictures of said system, but the lighting in my apartment is as good as a mole hole. So, let's give thanks to these lovely illustrations I found on a sketchy website:

 

1) Roll all small items on bottom: tank tops, t-shirts, camis, thin sweaters, leggings, pajamas. Roll as much as you can- you want to fill the entire bottom layer of your luggage in rolled items. 

 

2) On top of the "rolled layer", fold blouses and dresses ("un-rollables").

 

3) Take your jeans (for me it was 3 pairs) and fold them half-in-half-out of your suitcase, with the legs outside the suitcase and waist inside, creating a "base" over your folded clothes. 

4) On top of the half of your jeans that are inside the suitcase, fold your outerwear (my two jackets went here). 

5) Fold the legs of the pants over TOP the jackets. You should have enough room to fit your shoes and toiletries bag on top of it all (small shoes like slippers and sandals can be stuffed in sides). 

 

In these illustrations, I think the suitcase came from 1972 with that hard, shiny exterior. Today, the best suitcases are deep, and not only have the zippered pouch for your undergarments on one side, but have a compartment behind the zippered part. Ideal for shoes, toiletries and all the hotel lotion/mouthwash/soaps your heart desires. 

With the conclusion of the Travel Series, I hope you were able to pick up a few tips to better your trips. When your suitcase is adequately packed, your carry-on has everything you need, and you arrive at your destination with a fresh face- I truly believe it makes your vacation that much better. That, and a whole lot of pillow-chocolates and Mai Tais. 

 

 

The Travel Series: Packing Your Carry-On

When I was younger, I used to have one of those Aladdin mini-suitcase carry ons that held one thing: beanie babies. As I got older, I started packing more practical things, like my walkman and my entire collection of burned CDs, filled with the likes of Yellowcard and Jessica Simpson (I was a complicated child). But it wasn't until I started traveling for work, that I really got the hang of what I need on a plane....other than an Xanax. 

Whether it's a quick flight or a journey to the other side of the world, your carry-on should be filled with only the necessities. Sorry beanie babies, that means you're left behind. 

THE BAG:

The aforementioned Aladdin suitcase just doesn't cut it anymore. I've learned that for me, what's best is a backpack or zippered tote, and a small purse if necessary. The key is it should zip or snap shut, so when you put it under your seat, your things don't go flying everywhere. I think this is what the kids call a "MAJOR KEY". For this trip to Ireland, I used a small backpack from Zara (currently sold out, but so many great options), as well as a zippered tote from Detroit is The New Black. It's the ideal travel bag, and only $34 bucks. 

CONTENTS: 

1) Blanket Scarf

An absolute necessity. While I'd love to invest in a good quality cashmere scarf, I know that planes can be dirty and I am prone to spilling my tomato juice and getting cookie crumbs everywhere while in-flight. I have this one from Asos, that has become a travel staple. Big, soft and cozy- and under $30. 

Blanket scarves are good for a multitude of purposes: warmth on a chilly plane, as a blanket, even rolled up as a pillow. The key to dressing for travel is to layer. I usually wear a comfortable pair of pants or jeans, t-shirt, sweater or jacket, and my scarf. A PLANE IS NOT YOUR BEDROOM. Nix the pajama pants and general sloppiness. You can be comfortable and still look put together. 

 

2) Headphones 

This is a given- however, based on my own experiences I wanted to make a note. My beloved Beats wireless were useless in-flight, as bluetooth doesn't work in airplane mode, or connect to the seat TV. Do yourself a favor and bring your regular 'ol headphones with a wire (sorry, iPhone 7).

3) Socks 

Sometimes, we wear sandals to the airport. Then, we have to go barefoot through a dirty security line. THEN we want to get on a plane and take our shoes off, and THEN you're going to get in your hotel bed with all the germs of the airport. This can all be easily avoided with a pair of socks. If you're wearing flats or sandals to the airport, pack a comfy pair of socks you can wear through security and on the plane. Your bare feet in public are like Donald Trump in a speedo- disgusting and better covered up. 

4) A Book/Magazine

I love to read, but rarely find time when I'm home. Being stuck 30,000 feet with nothing to do is an ideal time to catch up on a good book. Check out the Amazon top-sellers if you can't find one you like. If it's heavy, download it to an iPad or if you're REALLY cool- your kindle. Not me- I love the feeling of a big heavy book falling on my face when I (almost always) fall asleep reading it. But be realistic- if you're not a reader, don't take up room and weight in your bag for a book you won't read. 

5) Extra Underwear, T-shirt

When I was younger, for 5 years in a row, Northwest airlines lost my luggage on our yearly family trip. By the 4th time, I got wise. If you're going to be stuck with no clothes for a day or two, at least you'll have clean undergarments and an alternate t-shirt. If you're going somewhere tropical, pack a bathing suit-because past the age of six it's not cute to swim in your underwear in public. *NOTE: I hear this is different for Vegas. 

6) Toiletries

In the first part of this series, we went over in-flight beauty routines. On the plane, if I'm going to be using a mask that is in a bigger container, I transfer a little to a small jar. I am also sure to have face mist, face wipes, dry shampoo (or wave spray), and a rollerball perfume. If I know I'll be getting off the plane and right to seeing people, I'll bring my makeup bag as well. 

7) Wet Wipes

Call me a germaphobe, but I always wipe down the armrests, tray table and seat-belt before take-off. You can buy mini-packs of wet wipes just about anywhere (I get mine at Target) for cheap. Maybe I'm crazy, but you don't know who was sitting there before you, or before that, or before that, and now we're into a guy that sat there 3 months ago and clipped his toenails all the way to Tokyo. 

8) Medications

If you take any kind of medications daily (birth control, antibiotic, etc.), put them in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost, you'll be stuck, especially if you aren't near a pharmacy. I wonder how many babies are born from lost luggage (should this have been a private question?)?

9) Gum/Mints

If you're like me, you can fall asleep anywhere- especially planes- and church, but that's a different issue. When you wake up without access to brush your teeth, do your neighbor a favor and pop a mint. Does this need any further explanation? If so, you might need a different blog...

10) Water Bottle

You can either bring an empty plastic one through security, or a reusable option. I love BKR bottles, because they're lightweight, and made of glass, keeping water colder and fresher. It's so important to hydrate in-flight, and you can't keep pressing your call button for a refill- well, you can, but don't be that person. 

11) Wallet

This should go without saying, but it's how you pack your wallet that matters. When traveling, chances are you don't need your Nordstrom card, library card, Kroger rewards card and a store-gift card with $2.04 on it that you're not sure how to spend. Bring only the necessities: license, credit card, debit card and insurance cards. 

The key to your carry-on is to simplify and keep it light. Many times I've been running through the airport, weighed down by my 500-page book, or freezing on the plane, casually cuddling up to the person next to me. I grew up Catholic, and I'm pretty sure that's not what the Bible meant by "Love Thy Neighbor".  Then again- I only went to catechism for the snacks.

 

 

The Travel Series: Beauty Bag

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Ahhh, the sweet satisfaction of vacation. You requested the days-off at work, packed your bags, and are off to your destination...only to get there and realize you packed 6 dresses, no pants and some weird t-shirt you promised "you would wear sometime!!!". Sound familiar? The number one question I am asked is how to pack for a trip (second to my knowledge of obscure Celine Dion facts). I figured as I get ready for my own trip to Ireland, what better time to create a travel guide? 

In this travel series, I'll be going through three different categories of packing: your carry-on, beauty bag and suitcase. Packing is a lot of work, but trust me, it's much better to do the labor BEFORE your trip, so you don't get there and realize you have no pajamas and you have to sleep in a hotel towel. That's a one way ticket to Chafe City. 

Let's start with the basics, what beauty you need to spend less time getting ready, and more time relaxing. Because you didn't take your vacation days to spend it contouring your every crevice. 

IN-FLIGHT:

Yes, in-flight beauty is where it's at. Long gone are the days of watching some cancelled sitcom on your seat TV and waiting for the peanuts to pass by again. When you're on a plane, your skin gets severely dehydrated, leaving it in bad shape for the rest of your vacation. Your 2x4 seat is now your own personal spa....the kid kicking your seat is as good as a masseuse, right? 

1) Sephora Sleep Mask Pods

These were MADE for travel. Small enough to fit in your carry-on, and invisible on your face, these will hydrate, even, and brighten for the duration of your flight. My favorites are Lotus and Pearl. 

2) Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Apply a thin layer (will appear a little white, like lotion) all over, and blend into skin when done, like moisturizer. You'll depart the plane looking like first class, even when you spent 3 hours squished in a corner, debating buying that Tupac-faced bird feeder from SkyMall. 

3) Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask

THE MOST HYDRATING! It's basically like drinking a gallon of water, but for your face. However, it's also the most frightening. Might put you on the terror watch list, but at least your skin would look fresh on the posters. 

 

Alright, you've made it to your destination. Before you stuff your face with chicken tenders (the official food of vacations everywhere) and put your 100 pairs of underwear in the hotel drawer (we'll address this later in the series), let's freshen up. 

*TIP: When trying out a new product, always test it out before your trip. Re: Alex's rash-gate 2011 when I tried Proactiv for the first time while in Italy. Remember when Hermoinie did a Stinging Jinx on Harry in Deathly Hallows pt. 2? That was me. 

REFRESH:

Face mists are key. You can take them on the plane, as long as they're TSA approved- they're perfect for the post-flight bathroom/taxi/rental car refresh. THE WORLD IS YOUR SPA! 

1) Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist

My personal favorite, it's ultra-hydrating and refreshing. It also smells like fruit loops. Tou-CAN you say add to cart?! Please keep reading. 

2) Glossier Soothing Face Mist

If you love the smell of Rose, this is the one for you. It's not TSA friendly, but worth digging around in your suitcase for. This stuff really makes you feel like you've got your life together. Only people who have their life together use face mist, right ("Things I Tell Myself to Sleep at Night, a Memoir")?

 

CLEANSE: 

Even though you were straight-up dedicated to that in-flight beauty routine, it's still good to cleanse your skin from the recycled air. 

1) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths-Brightening

That one-glass-of-Merlot-glow in a wipe. Okay, maybe it's just the wine that makes me think I'm glowing? Well, these noticeably brighten your complexion in one swipe. I hardly EVER go without makeup, and one use of these and I was out in public as bare as a baby's bottom. Okay, enough bad innuendos. These are the bomb. 

2) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths- Grease Relief

Traveling can make you stressed out, sweaty and gross (I really hope I'm not just revealing myself here). These are perfect for removing any oils and grease, leaving you with a matte, even complexion. Extra points because they come in a smaller, travel version! 

*STORAGE: I pack all these in Glossier pink pouches, as well as a hanging cosmetics bag from Target. An absolute necessity for hotel-bathroom organization. To protect against leaks, I unscrew the lid off the product, put a small layer of saran wrap over the opening and put the cap/lid back on. Only YOU can prevent beauty wastage. 

MAKEUP: 

You've unpacked, you're ready to take the town, or see your grandparents- vacation comes in many forms. When I'm away, I like to keep my beauty routine as quick and simple as possible. Here's the products that get it done:

1) Glossier Priming Moisturizer

I've talked about it once and I'll talk about it 1000 MORE TIMES UNTIL EVERYONE HAS IT. You deserve the perfect moisturizer, and this is it. Holy grail because it looks just as good alone and as a base for makeup. Essential to my makeup routine. 

 

2) Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

Fool proof- which is great for a fool like me. Makes skin so lush and so even- no kabukikiki/tapered unicorn hair brushes needed. Apply with fingers for the easiest, most naturally beautiful coverage you've ever had. 

3) Boy Brow

The appreciation for this never product never ends. Changing brows one quick-stroke at a time- no matter if you're Lily Collins brow-blessed or Gwen Stefani in the "No Doubt" days. 

4) Haloscope in Topaz

Swipe this on cheekbones for that coveted sun-kissed glow that usually takes 3 highlighters and a vat of bronzer. Also doubles as a subtle, yet beautiful eyeshadow. 

5) Generation G in Jam

Dual purpose, ideal for travel: great flushed color for lips, dab a little on apples of cheeks for a gorgeous, natural blush.

*HI! I've still got your back-here's that 20% off your Glossier order.  

6) Covergirl Perfect Blend Eye Pencil in Black and Last Blast Volume Mascara

I've been using these since high school for good reason. The eyeliner is creamier than any expensive brand I've used, glides on eyelids like a dream. The mascara is a drug-store staple. No clumps, no lumps, just natural looking lashes. YOU ARE A VACATION GODDESS! Easy and natural is the name of your makeup game. 

This whole routine takes under 15 minutes- less time on beauty, more time on margaritas- or hiking/being active. To each their own. 

HAIRCARE:

Hair routines can be tricky when you travel. Bad hotel hairdryers, humidity, weather changes- it's the perfect storm of a bad hair day. Fool-proof your routine by keeping it simple. 

1) OUAI Hair Oil

Another beauty brand that lives up to the hype- OUAI has created the perfect products for easy, beautiful hair. I rub 1-2 pumps of the oil in my hands and distribute throughout damp hair. Let air dry for the perfectly un-done, Olsen sisters hair (circa 2004, post-"Full House" but pre- "New York Minute"). 

2) OUAI Wave Spray

This is my holy grail of hair products. I used to blow-dry my hair every day. Since finding the wave spray, I'm at peak laziness and have gotten down to about once a week. I spray on wet to damp hair, scruch, and air dry. Again- perfect Olsen beach waves (this time, circa 2002- prime of the "So Little Time" era). BONUS: comes in a TSA-approved travel size!

 

 

Now that your skin is in tip-top shape, you can enjoy your vacation looking and feeling your best. In the next part of the series, we'll dissect the ideal carry-on. Sneak Peek: blanket scarves and hoarding those shortbread cookies from Delta. Who said traveling can't be fun?

 

In the Jungle

 

The top item I have been in search of for the past few years is a faux- fur leopard coat. I grew obsessed when my grandma out-chic'ed me in one in 2009 (never forget). I searched high and low, but couldn't find one that didn't look like I sewed together a bunch of stuffed animals from a bowling alley arcade. 

This past October, I stumbled upon the perfect match in TopShop in Las Vegas. Fueled by one-too-many bloody marys, I didn't hesitate to make it mine, and it has been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. 

The absolute best thing about faux fur coats is that they instantly take any outfit to the next level. I've worn mine over cropped black pants and a white blouse, and hours later over a sports-tee and destroyed denim (that pairing seemed to really resonate with a man in a Gucci bucket hat at a basketball game). 

I know Spring is on the horizon, but right now may be the most opportune time to buy. Most stores have their coats on sale, and if you've been keeping track of the F/W '16 shows in New York, you'll see that next season will have no shortage of leopard love. 

 

Via Spiga Faux Leopard Fur Topper- Was $270, now $179.90 (Nordstrom

 

Faux Fur Coat in Leopard- was $137, now $83 (Asos)

 

The Kooples Leopard Print Faux Fur Jacket- was $575, now $287 (Stylebop)

 

The biggest apprehension I hear about Faux Fur is that it's "too much" for every-day wear. I say -GOOD. Be too damn much. Be larger than life every chance you get. Wear this coat to the theatre, then to the grocery store. Wear it over a cocktail dress, then joggers and a white-tee. Never be afraid to be too much. It is far, far better than being too little (I'm 5ft tall- trust me on that one). 

 

Shot by Lauren Montgomery at the Belle Isle Conservatory in Detroit. 

Photo editing by Leah Cranston. 

Live The Life You Deserve: A Guide to Bodysuits

When you're in your twenties, it's a very rare feeling to feel like you've got it all together. I don't care how many inspirational quotes you Facebook, cups of coffee over the sunrise you Instagram, or the amount of times you have checked in at the gym. NONE OF US HAVE IT TOGETHER. We are essentially giant toddlers with formal educations and bank accounts. Being in your twenties is damn hard, and we're all just trying to do the best we can to form a life, little by little.

Recently, I've found one small, but substantial, way to at least make it SEEM like I've got it together- bodysuits

One of the very first tips my boss and living legend, Linda, told me was that she wore a bodysuit every single day. It was possibly even her secret to success (not really, but it seemed pretttyy important). I was immediately intrigued, and started upon my research. 

For my inaugural suit, I ordered a basic black long-sleeve from Asos. It was love at first snap (don't forget, these are basically onesies for adults. I TOLD YOU. TODDLERS.). Not only was it extremely comfortable, but it quickly became essential to every outfit I wore.

This is the easiest, yet chicest way to upgrade your wardrobe. 

 

The world of bodysuits is big, so it can be intimidating at first. Start with a few essentials. I've found Asos offers the best quality for a good price:

1) The Long-Sleeve

This is the exact one I own. Bodysuits are a simple way to look more polished. Just tucking in a tee can often look sloppy and disholved. Bodysuits stay put all day and never lose shape. $31

 

V-necks are a great option to wear alone with jeans, and the thong is a bonus for wearing with leggings (V.P.L. IS AN EPIDEMIC. LOOK IT UP). $31

 

2) The Tank

An essential. Perfect for warmer months or under a sweater. $31 for a 2 pack. 

 

Bonus points for a muscle-tee suit. Extra bonus points if you have actual muscles. Über cool with some joggers. $21

This might be my favorite one in my closet. The mock neck is ideal for under a duster-cardigan or a long coat for an effortless yet put together look. $24

 

3) The Unexpected

This one under a sweater? A great pick-me-up. Under an oversized-flannel and high-waisted jeans? Perfection. $35

 

 With a pair of creme culottes, just walk backwards into the room with this one. $52

 

Recall how Beyonce looked in the "Single Ladies" video. Now imagine feeling that way EVERY DAY. When you're really feeling like you don't know what you're doing with your life, slip on a bodysuit, and remember that we are all in the same boat- and now the same suit too. 

 

Xx