How to Pack for Long Trips This Summer
Animation: The Cut
One of the perks of working in fashion is traveling a lot. Editors typically visit Europe at least twice a year for Fashion Week, but shows and events are happening all over the world, all the time, so you could probably be OOO 365 days of the year if you really wanted to be. This makes fashion people experts at being on the go, sometimes for monthlong stretches. They’re also uniquely skilled at going on vacation. (Work hard, play hard, right?) So when I’m trying to figure out what to wear for a trip, I always look to editors and designers who treat their leisure time just as seriously as their day jobs. I’m not talking about Jacquemus, whose style is arguably more suited now for Instagram than actual enjoyment, but people like Maryam Nassir Zadeh who take into account how their clothes look and feel but also how they go together. This is the key to packing: knowing how to layer and what works for multiple different occasions, activities, and temperatures. Even if I can’t afford what she’s selling, I can still take notes on how she styles her collections. I’m also, of course, looking to the Europeans for vacation inspiration. If there isn’t a Versace moment in my suitcase, for example — i.e., a print that says I’ll take my spritz with a hot pool boy on the side — then I’ve messed up. Below, some tricks of the trade I’ve absorbed over the years, and some new advice I’ve solicited for long trips.
Ironically, my work uniform and my travel uniform have one thing in common, which is that accessories play a key role in making them fun. A lot of my own Fashion Friends agree: Pack a bunch of neutrals, and use earrings, scarves, and other small things to add color and personality.
When I traveled for Fashion Week most recently, I packed a carry-on full of black (no pants; just skirts and dresses) and a handful of Simone Rocha accessories, like this barrette and the matching earrings. Wherever I go, I always bring a bunch of basic gold jewelry with me and maybe my costume pearls, but Rocha’s pieces feel like more of a statement, and people take notice.
I like to match my bags with my outfits, but that can be difficult when you’re traveling. My suitcase ends up being like a handbag Russian doll. These paper-thin Montbell cross-body bags are my solution. They’re both functional and fashionable, and they come in a range of different sizes and colors. I always pack at least three: green, purple, and red.
Scarves are one of the most versatile accessories; you can wear them Thelma & Louise style, or Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday style, or as a shawl. Whenever I’m in Paris, I try to pick up a linen one from Merci in a new color. Fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson recently wore a silk Prada one with a banana print on her vacation, so consider me influenced.
“Most things I pack have to be versatile enough to go with three other outfits,” says Cut editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples about her Fashion Month routine. “I never pack anything that only goes with one look.” I think this is a good rule. Bring a linen beach tunic that can also double as a regular shirt, for example. Or a knitted dress (maybe vintage Missoni?) that goes just as well with a bathing suit as it does a slip. Whatever you wear on the plane doesn’t have to just be your “plane look.” You’ll be staring at that hoodie the rest of the trip, I’m telling you.
Jumpsuits are great for long trips because they are two pieces in one. I like the neckline and thin straps of this one in particular because it’s casual enough for walking around during the day and formal enough for dinner, maybe with a shawl or a sweater.
I’m always going to recommend a snap cardigan for trips because they’re the perfect combo of a sweatshirt, a cardigan, and a jacket. You can dress them up and down, and they only get softer the more you wear them. If you don’t want to look like a French baby, though (which, fair), then maybe try a regular knit cardigan instead.
I don’t care what anyone says; I love espadrilles. I wear them all summer long, to the beach and out on the town. I think the ankle tie adds an element of formality that makes it acceptable to drag some sand with you into a nice restaurant.
Don’t let anyone tell you that wrinkles look messy; they signal that you are living. (And if they really bother you, just pack a travel steamer.) I always go to Uniqlo and stock up on linen shirts and pants every summer, but there are plenty of other options out there for basics. If you want something a little fancier, try crushed silk and satin.
Influencer and illustrator Jenny Walton has said on Instagram that she likes to pack a Vince satin dress in her suitcase as a layering piece.
More than one of my friends has told me that they pack Pleats Please on trips. The brand’s pants, tops, and dresses obviously scrunch easily into a suitcase, and they work for a range of different occasions. Personally, I never pack jeans (too bulky), so I’m bringing these instead.
If you have a wedding to go to somewhere along your journey, I imagine this dress flatters a range of bodies, and it only looks better the more you get it wrinkled.
I’ve bought a couple mesh Dries Van Noten tops on the RealReal over the years, and they’re super suitcase-friendly. They weigh nothing, and you can wear them over a bathing suit or a slip dress. I love the colors and prints Van Noten does, but you can also find lower-priced options from stores like Lisa Says Gah.
There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule, and I think it’s fine to pack one or two things that serve only one purpose, if that purpose is a good time. This Ganni shirt is giving Versace Mansion in Miami, but for half the price. Personally, I like to pack a pair of party pants as well, maybe for the Last Supper.
It would never occur to me to put a candle in my suitcase, but multiple editors I spoke to offered this as a trick. “My very chic friend told me that she always carries a candle with her to make any room feel like home,” says deputy style editor Joanna Nikas. “Buy the 70-gram versions; that way you can use it on your trip and are not bringing it back.”