How to pack in layers 101

Packing for a European vacation is tricky. You’ll be walking a lot, so you want clothes and shoes that are comfortable. You’ll be taking a lot of pictures, so you want to look cute and well-dressed. You might even be visiting a few countries with different types of weather, so you have to be prepared for a range of temperatures. This is turning into a logistical nightmare! How are you ever going to decide what to bring?

I’m here to show you how. After taking countless trips to Europe, I’ve finally gotten the hang of packing for an overseas adventure, and I can show you how to fit it all in a carry-on suitcase! (I always pack in a carry-on suitcase and here’s why you should too.)

The secret to packing everything you need in one carry-on size suitcase is to pack in layers. This is easy to say, but harder to do. That’s why I’m going to show you exactly what I mean, with examples.

The general idea for packing in layers is that every item of clothing you bring should coordinate with everything else, and you should be able to add or subtract items so you can be warmer or cooler, depending on the weather. Put succinctly, everything should do double duty.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Take five key pieces: a dress, leggings, lightweight long-sleeve shirt, denim jacket, and a lightweight overcoat with a hood. Add in a scarf for some color and a pair of shoes that is both cute and comfortable. Notice that the color palette is made up of mostly neutrals and everything coordinates.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 9.09.07 AM

If the weather is warm, you can wear the dress on its own. As temperatures drop, just add layers. A little chilly? Throw on the jean jacket and scarf. Getting cooler? Layer the leggings under the dress. Downright cold? Wear all the things – leggings, turtleneck, dress, scarf, denim jacket, and the overcoat. With just these five pieces, you can create several outfits for a variety of temperatures. For example, you could also wear the dress, scarf, and overcoat. Or the leggings, turtleneck, and jean jacket. Or….well, you get the idea.

Yes, packing like this requires some extra planning and effort, but the payoff is worth it, I promise. Just remember these two questions:

  1. Does this piece go with everything else I’m bringing?
  2. Can this piece be layered over/under something else?

And you’ll be set!




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