How to pack for a trip

Ladies, we have all committed the sin of over-packing for a trip.  There is an easier way to be covered for all circumstances without it resulting in heavy luggage and excess laundry.  Here’s how:

  1. Take a realistic look at where you’re going and the type of trip you’re taking.  You will not pack the same clothes for a business trip as you would for a vacation although some clothing choices will overlap.  Do not pack for activities you can not guarantee you’ll be engaging in (I’m looking at you disco-ball-club-outfit on your job interview weekend).
  2. This is not the time to experiment or wear something new (especially shoes). Wearing what you have may seem boring but hey, no-one at your destination has seen you in it.
  3. Hopefully you have developed your signature style and you’ve built your wardrobe around a neutral color.  Your suitcase will be a mini-version of your wardrobe.
  4. Wardrobe staples (dark jeans, dress pants, crisp white blouses) and solid colors combined with unique accessories (scarves, bangles, necklaces) will allow you to mix-and-match to come up with new combinations.  Keep the shoes and belts simple and to a minimum.  If needed, try on outfits ahead of time and take photos so that you’ll know what to pack and how to combine it at your destination.
  5. Pick clothing that will perform double-duty, like that cute suit jacket that can be paired with jeans for warmth and class on a night out.
  6. Choose fabrics (silk, rayon, etc.) that will dry overnight if you have to wash them in the sink overnight.  Bring two plastic hangars with clips on them to hang on the shower rod.
  7. Lay out and match up your clothes before packing.  Roll your clothes (in tissue paper if you don’t have an environmental objection to it) and pack in cubes (preferably ones that hold their shape rather than being crushed in the suitcase).
  8. Pack in a sensible order, keeping outfits together, and putting what you’ll need first on top.  Unpack when you arrive and iron anything that needs to be ironed immediately.
  9. Always pack anything that can leak in a zippered plastic bag.  In fact, pack several clean, spare bags in your suitcase for anything from new perfume to wet swimsuits.  Check the hotel website to see what amenities they offer (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hairdryer) so that you know what you don’t need to include in your packing.
  10. If you don’t want to dirty your cubes or the inside of your suitcase, bring plastic bags for packing your dirty laundry and your shoes in.

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for packing?  Please leave them in the comments.

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Casual Friday and then some

Stroll into any public place and you will see an amazing number of poorly-dressed people.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for dressing comfortably (where appropriate) but lately we seem to have become a nation of slobs.

So before you think that those pajama bottoms and that stained “nice rack” tee are appropriate for meeting your friends for coffee, consider how you’re being portrayed to the people around you.  Is that what you want them to think of you?  What if one of them was a potential boyfriend/employer/client?

What reaction are you going for?  Sort through your clothing and start building yourself a wardrobe around the impression that you want to be projecting.  Then learn to take care of what you have so that you’re not making a clothing compromise at the last minute.

I’m not saying that you need to become a fashionista or that you should be overly concerned about what others think of you.  However, if you’re searching for career advancement or a significant other, how you present yourself will hold a lot of sway over the other party and you never know when that opportunity might be showing up.

Why are my panties so damn tiny if you showed up commando?

Women will endure a lot of torture in order to look like what we think men want.  We pluck ourselves nearly hairless (yes, even *there*), we wear dreadfully uncomfortable clothes, and we buy stuff called camouflage makeup.  Invariably, however, you open the door and the guy is standing there in jeans, a semi-wrinkled shirt and a leer that says “I’m not wearing boxers.”

How did we get ourselves into this position?  We did it to ourselves.  We bought into this media image that we have to look like a pornstar in order to attract a mate.  I’m not saying that we should give up bathing and embrace a new hirsute vegan lifestyle, but we should certainly attempt to cultivate a sustainable sense of personal style that can be maintained.

So toss out those girl magazines that try to dictate everything from your hairstyle to your underwear.  Be the best that you can be but make sure it’s you deciding what that is.  And if you meet a guy who thinks the length of your pubic hair should be a deciding factor in the relationship – go find a better class of men, they are out there.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

Cross-dressing can be a fetish but there is a portion of cross-dressers who prefer to call it a lifestyle.  So if you meet a man who likes to cross-dress, you’ll need to ask how deep his interest is before you know how to proceed.

  • A fetishist likes to cross-dress for the sexual aspect.  They get turned on by it in the moment but don’t incorporate it into their daily lives.
  • A lifestyler includes cross-dressing into their near-daily life, perhaps something under their street clothes or when they get home from work.  It isn’t entirely sexual, it’s about comfort.
  • Transvestites, transgender, or drag queens are not covered in this blog because if you’re getting involved with one, you usually know what you’re getting into.

Traditionally, cross-dressers are heterosexual persons who enjoy wearing clothing generally associated with the opposite gender.  So if you find that your partner is into cross-dressing, don’t panic – start a dialogue asking for the basic information (who, what, why, when, where, how) and do your best to understand your partner’s point of view.  Then you need to decide if it’s something you can live with.

If you can live with it, set down some rules about when it may happen, wardrobe acquisitions (i.e., nothing can be acquired from your closet), budget considerations, etc.  If you grow to enjoy it, you may even want to take him shopping but don’t worry if you never get to that point.

If it isn’t something you can live with, be honest with each other.

If it looks like a slut and quacks like a slut

If you dress like a slut and act like a slut, don’t surprised if guys assume that you are a slut.  I know, I know…we should be able to wear what we like and act how we like but in reality you are being judged.

I’m not saying that you always have to be a librarian but consider this when you’re partying with your girls.  If you want to flash a lot of skin and dance on top of the bar – don’t give out your number that night.  I don’t care how sweet he may seem; he’s already developed a specific opinion of you.

When you go out with the intention of meeting a man with the hope that it develops into a relationship watch how your dress, what language you use and how you act.  Set the bar high because you’re teaching someone how to treat you from the moment they first see you.

Exposed skin theory

When guys go on the prowl for sex, they’re looking for an easy target.  One of the indicators they’re using is the amount of exposed flesh a woman is flashing.  The theory is that the more exposed skin, the more the girl is looking to be taken home by someone, anyone.  Science backs up this theory with studies on how women buy more revealing clothing when they are most likely to conceive.

Again, this is your DNA looking to make cute babies regardless of your relationship status.

So take heed ladies – if you want a bunch of skeezy guys trying to get into your pants then dress as skimpily as possible and nature will take it from there.  On the other hand, if you want to meet a man who is more interested in what’s between your ears than what’s between your legs – wear a cardigan.

Building a wardrobe

Clothes shopping is actually incredibly simple if you keep in mind that you’re building a wardrobe, not simply purchasing a sweater or an outfit.  Of course by now you should have guessed that I’ll be recommending a professional.  The good news is, you don’t have to pay for a professional wardrobe consultant (unless you have the money and the wardrobe – then by all means).

Most major department stores offer a free personal shopper (the catch is – it’s polite to actually buy something).  Simply call the store and make an appointment.  They will ask some details about what you’re looking for and your size then they’ll shop for you ahead of time and take you to a private area to try the items on.  They should also give you an honest opinion but remember to take your own counsel as well.

This will be cheaper if you pick one neutral color (black, grey, brown, white) and build around it.  When money allows, you can build a second wardrobe around a second neutral color.

Buy the best quality basics you can afford (i.e., black heels, black skirt, white blouse) and buy one or two “fashionable” items each season to keep your look current.

Know what colors and styles look good on you and buy only within that range.  It doesn’t matter if that sweater is an amazing deal if you don’t look good in baby blue.  You’ll end up hating it or worse, wearing it and looking bad.

Only buy items that fit you well or can be minimally altered to fit you.  Most major department stores have a tailor on staff or find an independent one that you trust.  A good tailor is worth their weight in gold.

When you shop, don’t look at the price tag.  Take the item into the dressing room, try it on and ask yourself what you’d pay for it (keep in mind that you have to be able to afford it).  Then take a look at the price tag.  Is it under what you guessed?  You might want to buy it if it fits into your wardrobe.  Is if over what you guessed?  It goes back on the rack.

It is better to have a smaller, more versatile wardrobe than a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.  Don’t forget that when you come upon a combination that you love, take a photo of it for future reference and quick dressing.

The clotheshorse

Let’s admit it, you have corners of your closet that you haven’t peeked at for years (and I’m not speaking metaphorically).  Everyone is at least a little bit of a clotheshorse.  It’s not the least bit pretty – especially if you end up wearing one of those little gems that’s stained or horribly out-dated.

So let’s start with the easy stuff.  Sort through all of your clothes and anything that’s stained, ripped or otherwise unsuitable for viewing (I’m talking to you “period panties”) needs to be tossed out immediately.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.  Throw these items directly in the trash because if you haven’t fixed them by now, you’re never going to.  Just let them go.

This part is a little bit harder – donate anything that is out-of-date or inappropriate for your current lifestyle.  Those jeans from high school gotta go.  Same for the sundress you bought for your vacation to the Greek Isles a decade ago.  The clothes from your ‘ska-punk’ period – donate them to a good cause.  I know you’re emotionally attached to them but take a picture and move on with your life.

Gather up what’s left and place them on hangers, turned backward in your closet – when you use it, you can hang it properly.  At the end of a year, anything you haven’t worn (unless it’s for very very special occasions), get rid of.

You’ll probably need a few things for your wardrobe now so happy shopping (just do it within reason).

p.s.  I recommend purchasing a few nice, classic pieces but I’ll be getting into that on a later blog.