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How to pack your whole life into a suitcase

and still have room for running shoes


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 pack your whole life into a suitcase and still have room for running shoes

Have you ever arrived at a franchise conference only to discover you forgot to pack your black shoes? For about half the population (metrosexuals excluded), this probably wouldn't be considered a crisis, but for a woman with a suitcase full of black pants suits, it's the stuff of which nightmares are made.

 

Style maven Mary Lou Andre advises clients to pack one outfit at a time.

The solution? Have a plan; and the right pieces in your closet so you can pack efficiently, according to Mary Lou Andre, a corporate image consultant, speaker and author, in addition to being the style expert on Embassy Suite's BusinessBalance.com.

The right pieces include light-weight wools in dark, neutral colors, that can be dressed up or down, depending on the event, and that also hide wear and tear that lighter colors often flaunt.

Andre equips her clients with a collapsible clothes rack to aid in the packing process. A week before the trip, she advises people to hang the entire outfit for Day 1 (pants or skirt, top, jacket) on one hanger and then put the shoes and jewelry on the floor in front of it. Then do the same thing for Day 2 and so on. Each outfit is then placed in a dry cleaning bag to keep it clean and wrinkle free.

If you're into mixing and matching, you'll still want to hang the pieces in outfits, noting that the jacket from Day 1 will be worn with the skirt from Day 3. 

Make sure everything is clean and that all buttons are present and accounted for. Check hems—nothing will unravel you quicker in a hotel room than to discover a long string attached to what used to be the hem of your skirt. Especially since you'll be without the office scotch tape to fix it (or Andre's solution—a sewing kit).

Other tips include:

  • Keep a second make-up kit with travel size bottles for toiletries. In addition to saving time packing, it will allow you to do carry-on luggage if needed.
  • Pack an unopened pack of pantyhose as a guaranteed run-free back-up.
  • Streamline. If every outfit requires a different pair of shoes or accessories, you may want to stick to basic black and add color through tops or jewelry.
  • Hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a shower to let the steam erase the wrinkles. If that doesn't work, it's time to set up the ironing board. There's a reason every room has one.

Packing for men is easy: Ask your wife to ensure you have enough socks and underwear and that your suits are clean before being hung in your garment bag. (Lighten up; we're just kidding.)

Actually, Andre has several tips for men, including: Bring an updated Navy blue blazer. It can be dressed up or down and the light-weight wool fabric will make it perfect for both cold and warm climates. Coordinate your belt with your shoes and don't wear Birkenstocks or tennis shoes to business meetings.

Andre's last words on the subject: "Taking the time to develop an organized and thoughtful approach to dress will give you more confidence and earn you respect... In business, dressing well has little to do with fashion, but more to do with appropriateness, boundaries and respect."

And remember, no cleavage during business hours.

Let the packing begin.

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