I spent the last couple weeks at a very fancy black-tie wedding in the U.S. A lot of guests traveled to it, and I was surprised by how many of them brought multiple changes of fabulous clothes for all the different wedding events. I brought one pair of shoes and a spare set of jeans and relied on Rent the Runway and my mother’s closet for the rest, but I noticed that other guests had different gowns, shoes, bags, and jewelry every night. They looked fabulous, but I was stunned that they were able to travel with so many changes of clothes and accessories.
So I asked around about how they did it–including consulting a flight attendant with 30 years of packing experience–and here are some of the best tips I got:
1. Roll, don’t fold.
Rolling clothes instead of folding makes them takes up less space in your suitcase, and they actually come out less wrinkled than if you folded them. Also, rolling clothes lets you squash more in by doing things like stuffing T-shirts or tank tops inside your shoes.
2. De-pot your makeup into palettes.
Assembling one makeup palette with eye shadows and blushes that you can swap for different trips makes it easy to just bring what you need, instead of traveling with every eye shadow you own, just in case. Carrying powder makeup on the plane with you can help keep it safe because there’s nothing worse than finding all your eye shadow has shattered in the luggage compartment. While you’re at it, seal any makeup in your checked baggage in a Ziplock bag so that if it leaks or spills, it will not get all over your clothes.
3. Bring separates, not dresses.
You could bring one dress that you can accessorize differently for different occasions, but it’s tough to do that without being very aware that you are wearing the same dress every day. Packing two skirts and two tops will help you dress for several occasions without feeling like a person running out of options because it’s laundry day.
4. Accessories take up less space than clothes.
Unless you are Elizabeth Taylor, your jewelry will probably only take up a tiny amount of room in your suitcase. If you are traveling with real jewelry or irreplaceable jewelry, wear or carry it, do not pack it.
5. Scarves are your friend.
There are nigh infinite ways to style a scarf. You can even wear one as a shirt.
6. So are pockets.
If you bring skirts, shorts, or trousers with pockets, you might avoid needing a purse at all.
7. Pack shoes on top.
Sometimes a bag runs afoul of the 50-pound weight limit by just a couple pounds. In that case, the fastest way to fix the problem without paying a massive “overweight bag” fee is to take a few things out. Taking out shoes or books is usually the fastest and smallest way to get under the weight limit, so pack those near the top just in case you need to pull out a bootie and stuff it in your carry-on.
8. Pack one pair of shoes that goes with everything.
I know, Kate Middleton’s nude heels are so boring. But shoes take up a ton of space and weight in a suitcase. I try to wear one pair of flats and pack one pair of heels that will go with everything I want to wear. Bring gym shoes if you are going to work out, but only if you’re actually going to work out.
9. Pack a small bag inside your big one.
Sometimes a bag runs afoul of the 50-pound rule by a lot more than a couple pounds. In that case, you might want to have another tiny bag in an easily accessible part of your suitcase.