Help Desk: Traveling Light in Fall/Winter

Portland OregonA reader writes:

In early November, I'm traveling to Portland/Seattle with my husband for our first anniversary. Most of our days will be spent exploring, wine tasting, and relaxing. I'm hoping to bring/pack everything into one small carry-on suitcase. Would you be open to creating a blog post about packing light, wardrobing options, and layering suggestions?

This is a great question, and a fun one to answer!

Read on to see a few great ideas on packing light and staying stylish the next time you hit the road.


It's a good thing you asked about Portland in particular. My husband and I went on vacation there a few years ago, so I have a good idea about the weather and the sightseeing options.

That said, there are two key tips if you want to pack light, look great, and have several different options:

Choose pieces made of jersey knit and stick with a key color scheme.

Also, when you pack your clothes, roll them up to eliminate wrinkles rather than folding them -- many of my friends swear by that trick, and it works!

I'd start with these four foundation pieces:

ExpressA lightweight, wrinkle resistant cardigan, like this shirred-front flyaway cardigan (Express, $41.93 on sale). I like this particular cardigan because it can be dressed up or down.


MadewellYou'll definitely need a comfortable pair of jeans. I'd choose a darker wash like these bootlegger jeans in madewell wash (Madewell, $89.50), since you can go casual or dressy with a dark wash.

LOFTA jersey LBD like this knit jersey cowl neck dress (Ann Taylor, $98) is appropriate for a night out at pretty much any restaurant in the city.


GAPDefinitely include your favorite pair of black pants. Personally, I'd bring along my slim crop pants (Gap, $49.50), which I'm wearing at least once a week right now. They're fitted, so wrinkles don't show. But choose the right pair of black pants for your body type.


LOFTI'd also throw in a simple skirt, like this ponte knit mini skirt (LOFT, $59.50). That gives you another dressy option for a night out.



I'd definitely pack a pair of Hanes' new Silk Reflections Sheer Tights (Hanes, $10), which I wrote about a few days ago. They look like sheer hose, but they're durable and run-resistant like tights -- PERFECT for traveling. And I'd also include an opaque pair of tights, which would allow you to make the skirt and LBD a more casual daytime touring option if you'd like.

Now that you've got your basics, add in your most lightweight, wrinkle-resistant tops in different colors (a few long-sleeved, a few short -- the weather frequently changes there), along with a sturdy pair of black walking shoes (I'm assuming you'll wear those in the airport, so no need to pack them), and a pretty pair of black heels and you'll have plenty of options.

  • Wear the LBD with the cardigan and opaque black tights for a daytime look, and wear it with a bare leg or sheer tights and black heels for night.
  • Wear the jeans with a lightweight top on long walks.
  • Wear the skirt with the cardigan for a night out.
  • Wear the skirt with opaque tights and a top for shopping.
  • Wear the black pants and a top for a casual look, then dress it up with the cardigan for evening wear.

You've got lots of other options as well -- just about any combination will work since you've stuck with a basic foundation color.

You'll want to bring a heavier jacket or coat as well, but I would wear that to the airport so that you don't have to worry about fitting it into your luggage. Also? Don't forget a small umbrella! You'll need it!

What's your best packing advice for our reader?

Images (top to bottom): Michael Silberstein/Flickr, Express, Madewell, Ann Taylor, Gap, LOFT, Hanes


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