Friday, November 5, 2010

The Psychology of Packing a Suitcase

by Jackie Walker
Vacations Should be Fun!
Vacations are a time to relax and get away from your day-to-day routine. Yet many of my clients seem to attach more stress to the process of planning their wardrobe for these occasions. Do you spend time thinking about what to wear? Do you then go shopping and search for the desired items?  More time is spent figuring out how to pack everything in those suitcases. What should you check and what goes in the overhead compartment? What should you wear on the plane?

STOP! All of this planning is done out of FEAR. You FANTASIZE that you will not have the right items for the EXPERIENCE. It APPEARS REAL. Here are some great ideas to make your time away from home fun rather than frustrating.

1. First, draw a circle. Above the circle write your destination and amount of days you will be traveling. List your activities.

2. Divide the circle into a pie chart listing your activities by percentages of time. List the clothing needed for these activities. For example, if you are going on a five-day cruise chart it this way.

  • Formal wear  (one night)              10% of my circle
  • Bathing suits                               15% of my circle
  • Exercise Items                            15% of my circle
  • Real casual, shorts, tees, etc.       40% of my circle
  • Upscale casual                            20% of my circle

3. Select four colors to use as a base. One color is a basic such as black, navy, or brown. The second color is a neutral such as white or cream. The other two colors are your choice. Perhaps red and olive can be the other two. No matter what colors you chose all four work beautifully as solids, prints, and florals.

4. List the following classifications you wear above the waist.
  • Jackets
  • Blouses
  • Shirts
  • Tees
  • Sweaters

5. List the following classifications you wear below the waist.
  • Pants
  • Skirts
  • Shorts

6. Select the desired items in your personal colors and make sure they all mix and match.

7. Take three to four pairs of shoes in one of the base colors: black, navy, or your choice. One should be a flat casual, the other an upscale casual, and the third a dressy fabric. Wear the bulkiest shoe (athletic shoe?) on the plane to keep the space in your suitcase.

8. Select a handbag that is versatile and slip a dressy one in your case.

9. Prior to your trip lay all the items out in full view on your bed. Rehearse your options and pack your suitcase according to your trip circle. (see above) Ten per cent of the suitcase should be in formalwear. This could be one dressy dress or dressy top and pants. Fifteen per cent should be bathing suits. Two suits and a cover-up that could also go out at night as a shawl are ideal. Now you get the concept.

10. Always pack your cosmetics and essentials in a separate bag that goes with you on the plane.

Once you zip that bag shut you are on your way. You will have closet confidence in that hotel or cruise ship closet. Instead of a ton of outfits you will have a ton of options. You will be making new outfits right there on vacation by using the same pieces in effective ways. As you shop on that vacation--our favorite sport--pick up a couple of pieces in your core colors and you will create six to seven new looks as you travel along the way.

No Fear
No More FEAR! No more fantasizing that you will not have the item for the experience. I leave you with five thoughts.
  1. Plan ahead-Use the Circle
  2. Select items not outfits
  3. Rehearse your Options
  4. Pack
  5. Have Fun!
If you have any questions, you may ask it here, or e-mail the author at or visit her Web site.

Jackie Walker is the author of the best-selling book I Don't Have a Thing to Wear: The Psychology of Your Closet.

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