Category Archives: Packing

Summer Holidays

Throughout May we’ve covered my best tips for packing and layering, all of which are aimed at helping you have everything you need with less luggage. This last post is a little bit different. Summer is when ready-to-wear designers typically bring out their brightest colours and more daring designs. Everything, including the weather thankfully, is brighter, warmer and generally more fun! So now I want to encourage you to embrace this with your summer wardrobe, and especially your summer holiday packing!

Get ready to really be adventurous and flaunt your weirdest, wackiest and most fun style dreams. Even if it just means wearing a dress and heels when you usually wear jeans and sneakers. Summer, and especially a trip away to a warm sunny location, is your best opportunity to really have more fun and experiment with your style limits.

As well as relating to what you take on holiday this post is essentially a follow up to March’s ‘Just wear it‘. The same key principles apply, here we are going to revisit in particular the sections ‘take it on holiday’ (of course), ‘ease into it’ and ‘stop caring!’

Packing for your summer holiday…

Last time we talked about taking the items we just don’t have the courage to wear at home on holiday. NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! Summer is the best time to do this. When you get ready to pack for your summer holiday take out those items you’ve never worn and have another look at them. In my experience clients ‘never worn’ items tend to be for summer, long summer dresses or floaty tops and skirts with bright colours or daring floral prints. Clearly items bought because they’re beautiful and the client loved them, but then when it came to actually wearing them they felt too uncomfortable, and basically just chickened out. So, take them all out, and start to have some fun re-mixing them with bright jewellery, hats, sunglasses, light or bright coloured blazers (if you’re worried about showing your upper arms in a strappy dress) and pack those new outfits. Muster up all your courage now while you’re packing! Remember so much style was inspired by these summer holiday destinations, when you get there you won’t be out of place. And once you’ve left the house with that suitcase full of summer fun outfits, there’s no turning back 😉

As in last weeks mail, summer clothes are lighter and roll up smaller, so if it really is too much to go all out with sandals and dresses when you’re a jeans person then there’ll be a little room in your case to take some ‘ease into it’ outfits. A pair of nice jeans to go with the bright floaty floral top perhaps, before you go all out and try it with white or pink capri pants. Whatever it is that you have, you can pack a couple of alternatives to make the outfit more or less extreme which will allow you to experiment while you are on holiday.

I did this over a couple of holidays one year with a Blutsgeschwister outfit which I had fallen in love with and bought, but was worried would be just too much for Düsseldorf. Maybe even too much for me! We’re talking red with white spots, lace, bows, embroidery, pale blue with red roses, more frills, more lace bows and embroidery, all in the one outfit! Blutsgeschwister is one of my favourite German brands because of their fabulous fabrics and patterns and the way they mix it all up.

The first summer weekend away in Paris I took just the skirt with a simple top:

That ended up being so easy that the next holiday, in Rome, I went straight for the whole outfit:

After adjusting to the outfit away from home, realising how great I felt in it and how easy it is to forget what you are wearing and just get on with having a good time, I’ve been wearing the outfit as it was meant to be whenever I feel like it ever since. Even to work! (Benefit of working in the fashion industry).

So now its your turn and now is your chance! You bought those outfits because they are beautiful and they made you feel good, or perhaps you haven’t bought them yet but you really, really, want to have them. Do it! Stop caring about whatever it is that is stopping you from wearing these things, ease into it if you must and take them on holiday.

If you need a little extra support on packing for your summer holiday, that’s what I’m here for 😉 There are still some dates available over June & July so get in touch with me at amanda@chicforcharity.com and we can discuss tailoring a wardrobe aid session around your holiday packing.

As always I would absolutely love to hear from you, come over towww.chicforcharity.com and tell me in the comments below this post about the outfit you have been too scared to wear, why and what are you going to do about it?

Happy packing!

Hand luggage only? Oh my!‏

As an Australian in Europe I’m still so excited about how close everything is and how inexpensive it can be to travel. Every chance I get I’m booking cheap flights to visit different areas of Europe. Of course, cheap flights usually mean hand luggage only. How do you travel on hand luggage only, and still have nice things to wear and a little bit of space to go shopping? Below are two examples, one more practical and another a little silly, of how I’ve managed this in the past. Hopefully you’ll find some useful tips for your packing during this holiday season!

Packing challenge 1 – 8 days, Summer

Month – August
Weather – mostly sunny and warm
Activities/Location – Weekend course involving sporting activities & a wedding in southern Germany followed by a week in London and another wedding the week after. Possible swim.
Luggage – standard hand luggage suitcase plus laptop, small handbag & extra shoulder bag.

 

Being, well, me, I of course had to take two separate outfits for the weddings. You could make this easier for yourself by using the same outfit for both weddings, particularly if (as was the case here), there will be no one else attending both weddings. Not that it should matter if there was – more on that sentiment in another post.

So what do you do?

  • As always choose a set of accessories you can wear with everything. For me it’s pearls – earrings & a necklace plus my standard rings and bracelet. I rarely take anything else.
  • Pack the smallest amount of toiletries possible. Mini containers, sachets if you have a selection of testers left over. None at all if you are visiting friends and can use theirs or if the hotel will provide them. Put makeup/toiletry essentials in smaller containers if you must have them with you. NOTE – you will have to watch your container sizes anyway because of hand luggage regulations on liquids.
  • Minimise your makeup routine. Use a mini travel set from your favourite brand if you must have lots of colour options, otherwise pick one set and stick to it.
  • Take dresses/skirts & blouses in light fabrics which roll down into nothing. This is where being a ‘dresses over jeans’ person is really helpful! Jeans are bulky and take up a lot of space, although this trip I did take one pair of pedal-pushers (http://www.unique-vintage.com/blue-pedal-pusher-cuffed-pants.html) to help in the lifting and transporting of things on the day of the second wedding. Here again, if I wasn’t so fussy I could have simplified this by wearing my gym pants instead.
  • Roll and stuff everything! I’ve heard mixed thoughts about rolling as a packing technique but I swear by it. Also, stuffing socks & underwear and scarves, whatever will fit, into shoes and wherever else it will fit!
  • Pack a bag in a bag. I knew that I was going to have a folder of course material, as well as the wedding outfit of my date from the first wedding (i.e. big man shoes) to carry with me for the rest of my trip. So I planned ahead and packed a bag into my bag which would then fit the laptop and course materials (still maintaining the hand baggage requirements) after the first weekend. And of course, rolled and stuffed said date’s pants, shirt & belt into his big man shoes.
  • Use technology – I’m a big fan of real books over electronic books, but in this case I used audio books, podcasts and the e-book apps on my iPhone to get through.

For the first wedding, I left my course in the morning, stayed overnight at the wedding location, and re-joined my course the next day. To manage this I wore a silk dress on the day of the wedding, and rolled a synthetic dress (doesn’t crease) into my handbag for the next day. I also took, as always, a merino cardigan and pashmina for when the evening turned cool.

Getting an entire week with so many different engagements out of carry on baggage is really pushing it! It helped that it was summer. In winter clothes are naturally bulkier and it wouldn’t be as easy.

 

Packing challenge 2 – long weekend, winter
Month – February
Weather – Cool, some rain
Activities/Location – London, visiting friends, galleries, nice restaurants and a walk on the heath.

Now this one’s a little sillier because this time I had several things I needed to take over to my friends in London, so my little suitcase was actually full of these with no room for my own clothes and shoes. To add to this I was flying easyJet who only allow you to take ONE item of hand baggage (not the 1 handbaggage plus a handbag coat & umbrella like some other airlines).

The answer?

I chose three dresses which could be layered over each other without it being noticeable, wore my black silk slip, two pairs of tights, merino knee hie socks, knee high black boots, black merino cardigan and my winter coat (purple) teemed with a black pashmina, black beret & cashmere lined black leather gloves.

This worked because one of the dresses has elastic and another is a half size too big for me. The top layer also had a neckline just that much smaller than the others keeping them hidden.

Can you tell?

In the suitcase, amongst the items I had to deliver to London, I managed to fit my underwear and some toiletries.

This time I took only one pair of boots, which I wore, and was able to borrow a pair of hiking boots from a friend in London for the muddy hike on Hamstead Heath.

Again, the packing for this trip could have been simplified by re-using items, but for me it’s half the fun of travelling to try out different outfits, so I made sure to have a different one for each day.

As above, I used the same jewellery & makeup for the whole weekend and colour coordinated my dresses to one set of accessories including the coat, pashmina, tights, cardigan, boots, tights, gloves and beret.

To have a handbag on the trip, I picked one which could fold down quite small and fit in the suitcase.

So the tips here for when you must take the absolute minimum on a city weekend trip:

  • Colour coordinate accessories so what you wear on the plane goes with everything you have.
  • Take one pair of shoes (if winter- boots) and wear them – if you’re worried they’ll get uncomfortable pack a pair of those fold away ballerina flats & a green bag to carry your boots.
  • Have a handbag which can fold away to nothing & fit in your carry on bag/suitcase.
  • Again simplify your makeup routine and wear one set of jewellery to go with everything.
  • Wear as much as you can without overheating 😉
  • Use the tips from the layering post to be prepared for cooler/warmer than expected weather.

 

Just because we’re all about packing this month, and as a little something extra for being on the Chic for Charity mailing list. Here is a post I wrote for my personal blog when I was deciding what to pack to travel to Germany for one year (I’ve now been here four)!

http://highteawithmaureen.com/2011/03/09/to-pack-or-not-to-pack-that-is-the-question/

Two revisions which I would add now with the benefit of hindsight – take a pair of thongs (flip flops if you’re not Australian/British) and a small hand towel for the youth hostel showers.

I’ll be back in your inbox next weekend with the last part in the May packing series – Summer fun – so keep an eye out for that!
Till then pack light & look gorgeous!

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April, April, der macht was er will!

(April, April, it does what it wants!)

For many in Germany this ‘April, April,’ saying is more annoying than the weather it alludes to! As soon as you mention anything about the weather during April someone is going to say this to you while everyone else around cringes.

The unpredictability of the weather in Germany is something that took me a couple of years to adjust to. I’m not sure what it’s like on other continents, but where I lived in Australia I was used to the weather being predictable. I was used to being able to plan my outfits for the whole week and never have an issue of weather change to ruin my plans. Probably helped that the difference between dry and 35°C and dry and 45°C isn’t really going to change your outfit too much. But here?! During spring it could be 18°C and sunny, 8°C and raining or it could be windy or it might even snow! The list goes on…

So just how do you deal with such unpredictability? Straight from the outset we’ll say you’ll have a tough time getting it right every time, but here are my top three tips to give you a good head start in dressing and packing for those unpredictable days:

  1. Layering 

    I know, I know, you’ve all heard it before, it’s the most obvious answer. The thing is, it’s also the most important. Layering really is the key to dealing with unpredictable weather, unless you want to freeze, sweat or walk around with a suitcase. But are you getting the most out of your layering?A lot of Europeans are already really good at layering, there are all kinds of things you can get here that just aren’t that common where I come from (Australian outback). Wrist warmers, leg warmers, waist warmers. All these little “layery” bits and pieces. The real trick here though is to pick the right layers for each outfit. At this time of year you don’t want to layer yourself with thick bulky knits or down-coats otherwise half way through the day when the temperature goes up you’ll have to carry it all around with you. Instead you want to layer finer knits, lighter scarves, socks, tights and pantyhose.

  2. Pick your fabrics
    I see a lot of people overlooking the importance of fabric.Choosing the right fabrics to layer is the difference between looking like the Michelin Man and keeping your own lovely shape while staying warm. It also means you can take a smaller bag when travelling. More on that in a minute.I’m a dress wearer. I avoid pants as much as possible, even in winter. Layering with the right fabrics is how I get to wear dresses throughout autumn, winter and spring without freezing.Here is just a quick overview of fabrics, I promise to go into more detail about this topic in a future post. For now though the important thing to know is to look for natural fabrics. You should aim to have a selection of singlets, slips (under-dresses), scarves and fine knit long or ¾ sleeved tops in silk, merino wool and/or cashmere. Cotton is good too, but it can go out of shape and look old quicker, whereas merino wool and silk, when properly cared for, can last in excellent condition for years.

    Depending on their quality and weight all of these fabrics can be worn year round, they work well to regulate your body temperature in a range of weather conditions. When purchasing buy the best quality you can afford. This should be relatively easy with silk and merino, however you’ll find the less expensive cashmere’s are prone to pilling and look old quickly. If you’re on a budget, stick to one or two good items in merino wool. You don’t always have to have 100% merino/silk/cashmere. For some items, like socks for example, there will be some polyamid or elastane in the mix so they stay up and keep their shape. Just look for items that have a high percentage of natural material.

    There are of course other more luxury natural fabrics which might belong on this list, but these are the most common, so we’ll look into the others another time.

  3. The Mary Poppins Bag 

    If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Mary Poppins bag then here’s a quick clip to get you acquainted: https://youtu.be/_FgTCbS6WBM
    Now, while you don’t need to be able to pull a hat stand out of your bag, it is really helpful to carry a few little light extras with you if the day might get cooler, or to have somewhere to put a few extras if the day gets warmer.Here are a list of items I recommend to either have on as extra layers, which can roll up small and go into your handbag if you need to take them off, or which are small enough to carry in your handbag and put on throughout the day:
    – Leather gloves (silk or cashmere lined)
    – Woolen beret (or beanie depending on your personal style)
    – Fine merino, cashmere or silk socks (knee or thigh high)
    – An extra pair of tights or pantyhose
    – Thermal shoe liners (lots of warmth is lost through your feet on the cold ground so, flat and easy to switch between your shoes & your bag, thermal insoles are perfect to have on hand)
    – Fine knit cardigans in merino wool, silk or cashmere
    – Fine merino, silk or cashmere singlet or thermal top
    – Silk scarf (can be worn in various ways around your neck when you need it or tied onto your bag when you don’t)
    – Pashminas, I rarely go anywhere without one or two pashminas. Pashminas are a fabulous multi-purpose item. They are wide enough to be a wrap or shawl. They can be folded into a thin scarf, wrap them around your neck more to have a thicker scarf. Wear them open draped around your neck if it’s warmer and tuck them into or tie them onto your bag if it gets too warm.
    – A fold up umbrella (of course!)

Travelling particulars for mixed weather
If you are travelling during periods of unpredictable weather, the first thing to do of course is to check average temperatures for your destination. If you know that you’re not going to have 40°C one day and -20°C the next then you’ve already got a range to work with. In the comments on the website I’m going to share about a time where I didn’t check the destination weather properly before leaving home, which really ended in a bit of a disasterous holiday!

But assuming you’ve done your research properly, the next step is to choose the thinnest coat you can based on the coldest likely temperature. Once you know what coat you will need to take, match the rest of our outfits and accessories for the holiday to this. If the coat is brown, choose brown boots/shoes, bag, gloves, hat and complementary scarves. If black, then the same (with black you’ll have more flexibility with your colour choice). Be sure to take light merino or silk singlets which are easy to wash and quick to dray so that you can layer them under everything as needed. Use the ‘Mary Poppins’ bag idea above to have little extras with you as you need them. So, for example, if you know it could be anywhere between 5°C and 15°C, and you’re not sure if the sun will come out and make it feel warmer again, you would pack/prepare the following:

Start the day with two pairs of thick tights, fine merino knee high socks, knee high boots and thermal shoe liners on the the bottom. A fine merino singlet and a silk slip under a dress with a fine merino, silk or cashmere cardigan, silk scarf, pashmina and wool jacket/coat/blazer on the top. Accessorise with a beret or beanie and lined leather gloves.

As the day goes on you can add and take away layers as needed. If the sun comes out and it’s suddenly much warmer, pop to the bathroom and layer down to one pair of tights, the silk slip, the dress and wear the pashmina open. You’ll have to carry your coat/jacket/blazer, but the rest of these items should tuck up nicely into your handbag. The cardigan, socks or pashmina might even fit in the pocket of your coat. Tie the silk scarf on your bag, put your sunglasses on and enjoy!

This is the first in a three part holiday packing series throughout May covering:

  • Dressing & packing for mixed weather,
  • Having some fun in summer
  • and what to do when you’re only taking hand luggage!

Keep an eye out for the extra post mid May for more travel packing tips and to find out how I attended a weekend course, two weddings and spent a week in London with only carry on luggage (summer), and had a new outfit everyday for a February weekend in London, again, with one bag of carry on. Then the June post is coming forward a week too, for some summer fun and summer holiday packing – look out for that on the 31st of May.

In the mean time I’d LOVE to hear from you!
Share your best tip for dealing with unpredictable weather, your worst mixed weather disaster and one item you always pack when you travel, in the comments below.
I’ll go first 😉

Much love & layers,

 

Want help spring cleaning your wardrobe? Email me at amanda(at)chicforcharity.com to book your wardrobe styling session now!

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