We're forever mystified by travelers who manage to pull together effortlessly chic ensembles absent a legion of heavy luggage. What's their secret? How do they fit so much style into a sleek little 20-inch carry-on bag? To find out, we asked some of the most well-dressed (and well-traveled) people around -- fashion bloggers and editors -- for a little help, please. Discover the ingenious packing methods of 11 well-dressed style experts.
Always Bring Two Pairs of Shoes
"I always tend to overpack but am always happy when I pack less. Always bring two pairs of shoes, one comfortable, and one dressier. Pack a few statement pieces, jackets, and shirts and you can rotate with the same pair of pants!"
—Ari Seth Cohen, Advanced Style
Pick a Color Theme
"Although I never preplan outfits, I try and pack in a color theme—for example, if I'm traveling for a week I commit to wearing black, navy, army green, and white (and throw in pops of colors with my accessories). This helps cut down on any unnecessary extras that I never end up wearing anyway and reduces the number of shoes I have to pack.
"If it's a longer trip that requires two suitcases, I always pack evenly between the two (e.g. a black shoe in one and a black shoe in the other). In the event my luggage gets lost, I know that I can survive with one suitcase. It takes more time, but I've heard horror stories of people putting all of their shoes in one bag and the airline losing that piece of luggage."
—Shiona Turini, Cosmopolitan
Comfortable Shoes Are Key
"No matter how light you like to travel, don't skimp on the pairs of comfortable shoes you bring on a trip. Look after your feet by swapping out your shoes regularly, and you'll enjoy your vacation even more."
—Angie Cox, youlookfab
Find Your Uniform
"No matter if I'm traveling for two days, five days, or 15 days, I always pretty much pack the same thing. I have my uniform. I absolutely hate being unprepared for changes in weather or anything, so I always pack a V-neck cashmere sweater in navy, which is the most bulletproof piece in my wardrobe. I always pack a bathing suit regardless of where I'm going. And I find that now in my current wardrobe, it's basically a variation of denim: You can beat it up and totally dress it up. And then everything else in there weaves in with the basics: cashmere sweater, bathing suit, denim."
—Matthew Hranek, The William Brown Project and host of Alternate Route, launching on the new Esquire Network on November 20
Make a List
"My best personal packing tip is to make a definitive list of all the essentials you need to travel with on any trip (shampoo, hair straightener, makeup, etc.) and plan your outfits ahead of time, and write it down so you don't forget your ensembles. You can easily check off your list as you pack—no stress!"
—Stephanie Liu, Honey & Silk
Have a Dopp Kit at the Ready
"One of my best strategies for stress-free packing is having my dopp kit [toiletries kit] ready-stocked with my favorite toiletries downsized to TSA-approved proportions (3.4 ounces or less). I'll buy doubles of all my go-to grooming products and make sure that the kit is always up-to-date with whatever I use on a daily basis. That way, when it comes time to pack, I can throw it in my suitcase the night before and know that I haven't forgotten anything [and don't have to] spend time packing it up on the morning of my flight."
—Cory Ohlendorf, editor in chief of Valetmag.com
Change Up Your Look with Accessories
"For easy packing, I like to create several looks with a core group of items: skinny jeans, daytime blouses, nighttime tops, ballet flats, pumps, and a dress or skirt for dressier occasions.
"To make the items interchangeable, I'd pair jeans with a top and ballet flats for daytime, and swap the top out for a nighttime blouse and swap flats for heels for a dinner date, or change into a dress with the same flats or pumps, depending on the occasion. Another easy way to make a few pieces work for you while traveling is changing up the accessories—accessories and shoes!"
—Tanesha Awasthi, Girl with Curves
Pack a Pair of Brogues
"I, like most men, tend to wear something of a uniform most every day. Though when packing, I like a little variety and versatility. A clean, simple unstructured sports coat dresses most anything up for a host of occasions. And pack a pair of brogues. You never know where your travels will take you."
—James Wilson, Secret Forts
Achieve 'Instant Chic' with a Scarf
"Tips for both the savvy or rookie traveler are just a click or two away. There are practical points aplenty on travel sites and blogs advising voyagers how to pack light, pare down on toiletries, take multiuse beauty products and plan simple, climate-appropriate, interchangeable outfits. But there's one item of clothing that seems vastly underrated for its versatility and ability to transform the wearer from looking like they're on day two of insufferable jet lag to instant chic. It's the scarf.
"Yes, the humble 30-inch square scarf in silk or cotton is the traveler's friend. They pack compact, creases drop out in minutes if hung over a rail in a warm bathroom, and they have the mysterious quality of creating a sense of instant chic for the wearer."
—Desiree Caira, Pull Your Socks Up!
Tie Up Your Shoes
"I always like to run when I'm traveling somewhere new—it's an excuse to get some exercise while exploring a new city—but running shoes take up so much room inside a suitcase. So I've started tying them to the handles of my carry-on. They dangle jauntily by the laces, saving me both space and packing time and keeping foot funk off my going-out clothes."
—Nick Marino, GQ
Pack for Adventure
"Pack for adventure! Travel is the ultimate fashion opportunity—embrace it and run with it! Remember that glamour and comfort are not mutually exclusive; life is always more fun when you look chic, especially on the road. You want to look your best in the photos you take outside the great monuments of the world. So, bring really cool stuff but always leave room in your suitcase so you can mix in great pieces you find along the way."
—Kelly Framel, The Glamourai
--By Caroline Costello