I am a believer in owning your personal style, saying what you mean, asking for what you want, living authentically and the power of simplicity — in fashion, and in life.

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10 Rules for Effortless, Everyday Style

In this series, I share some simple tips for leveling up your daily looks.

Over the years, I’ve become more and more passionate about not checking bags and therefore better and better at packing light. First I’m going to share some guidelines I follow that make it so much easier to do, and then I’m going to share the exact packing list for what I brought with me on my 12-day trip this summer.

  1. Choose versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down. A black slip dress, for example, can be worn for a night out or dressed down with sandals and a denim jacket for a day of sightseeing.
  2. Pack lightweight, breathable fabrics that don’t take up too much space. Linen, cotton and lightweight Merino wool, are great summer choices.
  3. Opt for multi-purpose and mix-and-match items. Don’t pack anything you will only wear once.
  4. Use packing cubes. Packing cubes help you keep your clothes organized, make it easy to find what you need, and allow you to fit way more items into your carry-on bag.
  5. Always wear your bulkiest items on the plane. This will free up more space in your carry-on bag.
  6. Wash your clothes as needed. If you’ll have a washing machine at your destination, you’re set. If not, consider packing a small container of detergent in your bag to make hand washing easy if you need to clean your clothes during your trip.
  7. If possible, pack one layer that will go with all of the items you packed, such as a denim jacket, cardigan or blazer. Layers take up the most space, so less is more with this category.
  8. Pack for the real trip, not the fantasy trip. Be realistic with yourself about how you’ll be spending your time on your trip and what you’ll actually want and need once you’re there. For example, if you’re traveling to Europe and walking around a lot, be sure to plan all of your outfits around comfortable footwear.
  9. Don’t overpack. Be intentional with what you put in your suitcase and remember that it is completely normal to repeat outfits. This is especially beneficial if you know you will want to buy a few things on your trip.

This is exactly what I packed for my 12-day trip to Hilton Head Island, SC and Beaver Creek, CO. My only note is that it was colder than expected in Beaver Creek! Thankfully we were staying with friends who let me borrow a warmer jacket at night.

This list gives you a good starting point, but of course you’ll need to adjust it based on your specific needs and the activities you’ll be doing on your trip. I’m aiming to use only a carry-on for my next summer trip (which is even longer) and will report back on how that goes!

What I Packed for 12 Days in a Carry-On

Read the Comments +

  1. S says:

    Hello! Where are the black and the white tennis dresses from please? They’re both lovely but are the the only items pictured but you don’t list.

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Hi, I'm Natalie

I am a believer in owning your personal style, saying what you mean, asking for what you want, living authentically and the power of simplicity — in fashion, and in life.

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