Work Style

    How to: Pack a Carry-On with Style

    23rd February 2012

    A reader recently came to me with a question about his travel wardrobe, and instead of trying to answer it myself, I decided to go straight to the expert. In this case, that would be my good friend Hitha, who runs Hitha On the Go, a blog about living the good life while perpetually on the go. A VP of Operations at an international pharmaceutical company (at the ripe old age of 27, no less), she knows how to travel in style. Her passport’s seen so much action it should probably get tested.

    Check out the question, and her ace answer, below.

    Bearski writes:

    Since I travel every week and don’t check a bag I have to get pretty creative with my casual outfits. I usually try to find layers (in the winter) that I can wear with other items or alone so I can save room and wear things more than once. Unfortunately, my current wardrobe is not very conducive to this idea. I would LOVE it if you could do a piece on ways to minimize space whilst maximizing options. It would be even MORE stellar if you could actually put together some example options!

    Hitha says:

    I empathize you on the traveling every week front – I deal with it regularly, as do a few of the men in my life (namely, my husband, and a few busy cousins).  Lucky for you, they all have great style and manage to pack a week’s worth of clothes neatly into their carry-ons.  I’ve put together a packing list and sample outfits for you – with 9 pieces, you can stay stylishly professional throughout your trip.

    1.    Brooks Brothers Button-down dress shirt ($88)
    2.    Brooks Brothers pinstripe dress shirt ($88)
    3.    Brooks Brothers French cuff dress shirt ($88)
    4.    Brooks Brothers ‘Fitzgerald’ Wool Blazer ($598)
    5.    Brooks Brothers Supima V-Neck Sweater ($80)
    6.    Cole Haan Air Jackson 2 Gore loafers ($150)
    7.    JB Britches Wool & Cashmere Trousers ($155)
    8.    John Varvatos Wool Trousers ($145)
    9.    Autobot Cuff Links ($42)

    There’s a great deal for the Brooks Brothers shirts – 3 for $219, and they’re the non-iron variety.  Double win.

    A couple basic rules to think about when packing for a work trip:

    Choose variety.

    Pack a pair of flat front and pleated trousers each.  Select a mix of patterned and plain shirts.

    Pack around a neutral color. 

    Your blazer, a pair of trousers, and shoes should be the same color (either black or brown).  Gray, tan, and navy can be worn with either neutral.

    Add your personal touch. 

    Unique cuff links (Bauble Bar has a great selection) personalize even the most basic of work outfits.  Choose brightly colored or patterned socks (like these pairs from Cole Haan) over basic black.  Instead of a wallet, store your cash and cards in this awesome money clip.

    Happy travels!

    • Jessy

      Autobot cuff links? I think I need a French cuff dress shirt.

      • Hitha Palepu

        You absolutely do.  The ladies love a French cuff on a man.

        • Style Girlfriend

          And Transformers. Ladies love Transformers.

          • JW

            I was looking more at the batman cufflinks for myself.

            • Style Girlfriend

               Hey, whatever gets you in a french cuff shirt I say..

      • JW

        I love French cuff shirts. I only wish I had more opportunities to wear them more.

        On a side note, I’m going to steal these outfits for going out instead of work.

        • Style Girlfriend

           They definitely work for going out too!

    • Timothy

      Great article to get all the necessities packed. I’d def stay away from anything pleated though.

      • Style Girlfriend

        It’s definitely a more conservative look. I think flat front can be subbed into the equation above just as well!

        • Hbc14

           Definitely agree with Timothy STAY AWAY from pleats

    • Arkhangael

      I checked the link to the money clip because I have a fetish for those. But a Batman magnetic money clip for adults? Is miss Megan serious? Yes? No?

    • Arkhangael

      I know this is about travel but wearing the same pair of shoes during a week is not something I’d advise anyone to do. Maybe 2 pairs should be better to Spanish their lifetime?

      Moreover, on a normal basis, can trousers be worn more than once a week? And how much wear should it take before they are washed?
      I never read anything about this.
      I have about 20 pairs of those in regular use, & more on a just-in-case basis, waiting to be used – so they do go for long period before they see the inside of a washing machine.
      Advice, please?

      • hornsup84

         20 pair of dress slacks? big closet.  Most of them should never see the inside of a washing machine, as they’re wool / dry clean only.  As for number of uses before getting them cleaned, it really depends.  With some time/effort put in after each wear, you can wear dress pants quite a few times without getting them cleaned.  I use a steamer to get out wrinkles as needed, so it really is less about appearance (unless you realllly like crisp lines) and more about avoidance stains/odors.  I think the best thing you can do is hang your wool pants immediately after wear, not only does it let most of the wrinkles fall out naturally, but it also “airs out” the pants to avoid any odor.  As dry cleaning is generally bad for clothing, I generally try to go a good bit of time in between getting it done.

    • Carbone Blog

      Definitely not bad. It does get tough once you factor in under shirts underwear dopp kit. But this isn’t bad.

      • Style Girlfriend

         True – a week’s worth of living in one carry-on is definitely not easy.

        For more on dopp kits, check out this article:

    • Anon

      This doesn’t work.  

      You can’t wear navy slacks with a navy sports coat!  The odds of the fabric and weight being different enough (or close enough) is next to impossible and it would just be plain awful.

      You could pack a navy suit in a sportier fabric and then split it.  Not really recommended but doable if you absolutely have to.

    • Christopher

      Good advice. I agree with the comment about bringing along two pairs of
      shoes. Ideally, you want to let your shoes air out for a full day after
      each wear.  I usually also pack a pair of flip-flops to walk around the hotel. It’s more hygienic than going barefoot and does not add too much extra bulk to your carry-on.

      I would also pack a shirt of a different color (than the blue above) that is equally as versatile. I like blue, but would add a solid non-iron fitted solid white shirt or a mostly white shirt with a pattern (e.g. or Both of these examples can go well with a business ensemble and easily make the transition to casual slacks or even denim in the evening.

      In addition, I think having different collar stances for shirts is a practical and fun way to add variety to your shirts. For instance, wear a shirt with a spread or point collar with ties since these are more formal styles. Mix it up and save the less formal oxford collar button down (OCBD in parlance) for occasions that do not require you to wear a tie.

      I think men should wear a blazers whenever possible- these look dynamite, add that a little panache (especially with a pocket square or round), and there are more options available now than ever. I personally love unstructured blazers which are very comfortable to wear but still nod to the traditional navy blazer. Of course, if you’re going to a business formal event, you’d want to dress appropriately (but then you’d be wearing the suit through the airport to avoid wrinkles-unless you had a suit holder in your luggage).

      • Style Girlfriend

         Thanks for your thoughtful comments Christopher!

    • BARRY

      Brown belt and black shoes = fail

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    • Style Girlfriend

      As you can see in her packing list, Barry, Hitha doesn’t advise bringing a brown and black belt. My guess is that she simply didn’t want to cut off the image of the two pairs of pants.

      Thanks for your comment though.