“Clothes are never a frivolity: they always mean something.”
When I arrived in the US for school, I showed up with two suitcases and going back to London won’t be too different. I’m half ok with this and half perturbed: ok because I’ve done it many times before and am hardly scared of doing it again, and perturbed because I’ve only just learned how to keep J. fed and will now have to put my entire kitchen into storage and have to learn it all over again without pots, pans, slow cookers, blenders, etc., at least until I hit up Tesco for some cheap gear. (Ah Tesco, home of £10 crock pots and £5 irons…)
But I digress. The point? In those two suitcases must be clothes, accessories, makeup, shoes, winter coats, toiletries, and any very small amounts of personal items – most of which must last year me at least one year. How is this accomplished, you ask? The answer, my adventurous lovelies, is excruciating precision in suitcase spacial reasoning, a game plan, and strict adherence to my number one rule in packing for travel/living abroad: everything you put in your suitcase must be a “double duty item.”
This means that every item you bring must serve at least two (at the very, very least, and preferably several more) sartorial purposes. For example: skirts that can be worn to work, school functions, church services if you choose, and whenever trousers simply won’t cut it. Shoes that can be worn at all the above and also around town without more than the usual amount of agony. If you’re athletic, workout clothes that are nice enough to run errands in or to pick up groceries. Tops that can be casual as well as dressy with good makeup and simple accessories.
This is easy if you believe, as I do, in quality over quantity. I’d far rather buy a good quality, solid color knit shirt from J. Crew that will last me at least two years of regular wear, than have to replace a cheaper one from Target every season or so (Target is beloved in our household, minions, never fear, but not for long term living abroad dressing).
I will wear that shirt with work trousers on a weekday, jeans on the weekend, or any skirt in my closet. It will go with pearl earrings and heels, and with a vibrant pashmina and skinny pants. It will look good with flats or stilettos. It will make me seem more put together when someone stops by our flat and I’m still in pajama pants than my old, stained alma mater sweatshirt. It is a “double duty item,” make it your vaulted example.
There, you’ve aced your Travel Dressing Theory 101 class, ducklings, and Aunt C. is proud.