So you have a wardrobe you love: versatile separates that function for everyday, that make you feel like a million bucks at work; casual styles that keep your weekends easy, breezy and stylish; special pieces that help you shine on date nights and at parties. But then you're confronted with the ultimate closet conundrum - what to pack for a 4 day work trip? in a carry-on??? After all - enjoying an amazing wardrobe means that you have many things that you love to choose from, but packing for a trip means committing to what you want to wear, how you want to appear, and who you want to be in advance.
I did a recent presentation at Bloomingdale's to a group of meeting professionals who travel A LOT. They saw my favorite travel styles, and also my ideal wardrobe for a 4 day/4 night business trip. Here's how I showed them to pack for 4 days and 4 evenings with a hectic work agenda, along with my main tips for concisely packing for productive business travel - so that what you're wearing is the least of your worries, and you look (and feel) fabulous, as well!
WHAT YOU'RE PACKING
BAG & JEWELRY: Kate Spade silver metallic crossbody bag, Lagos silver drop earrings, Chloe & Isabel short silver layered necklaces, Lalique leather & silver necklace, Chan Luu hematite & leather wrap bracelet
WHAT YOU WEAR TO GET THERE COUNTS (aka plane outfit)
Although your first urge might be to wear sweats on the plane, that's not an option when you're hitting the ground running on a business trip. And what you wear to get there counts in your travel wardrobe - it can be an extra blazer, jeans for a casual evening, or flats for when they're needed. What do we love as a plane outfit?
- A professional blouse, because it never hurts to have an extra (Karen Millen floral blouse)
- A blazer that moves with you, but looks totally pulled together (Rebecca Taylor stretch tweed jacket)
- Pants with a little stretch (Joseph cropped skinny trousers)
- A bag that holds everything, and goes with every outfit (Kate Spade color block tote)
- Basic jewelry that also goes with everything (Simon Sebagg hammered silver earrings)
- Metallic flats, just in case you must run to make your connection (Aquatalia pointed toe loafers)
- Heels to change into, when you're walking off the plane and into a meeting (M. Gemi suede pumps)
VERSATILITY IS KING (aka first evening outfit)
If you can't wear something multiple ways, it doesn't deserve the space in your carry-on. A tweed-y blazer is the ultimate in versatility in cool weather (with a dress, tailored trousers, jeans, etc), and a solid dress comes in a close second. And together, they make a great look for your first evening/dinner meeting.
START WITH ONE OUTFIT (aka day 2 outfit)
When you're stuck with what to pack, start by creating one outfit - like this pink cardigan, print blouse and pinstripe trousers. Then take one piece from this outfit, and make a second outfit (like the pink cardigan with jeans for the trip home). Then take another piece, and make a third outfit (like the print blouse with black pants and a denim jacket for dinner) - and so on, and so on.....
THINK THROUGH YOUR AGENDA (aka evening 2 outfit)
If your work travel is more than just office time and hotel food, think through all your needs. Will there be a casual dinner? Grab jeans or a denim jacket to take the edge off of professional separates. Are you giving a presentation? Pack colors that flatter your face, especially if you have more bags than your carry-on. Do you have time for a fun bar night with local friends? Bring jewelry with attitude and attention-getting heels.
STICK TO A TIGHT COLOR PALETTE (aka day 3 outfit)
When everything goes together, it's easy to create multiple outfits out of a handful of pieces. For this travel capsule, I chose a simple black/white/grey palette with pops of raspberry and pink. Yes, you can stick with neutrals - but why not add some pizazz???
ADD SOME FUN (aka evening 3 outfit)
Just because you're working, that doesn't mean that your personality can't shine through. So go ahead and pack those kick-ass booties, that chain link bag and your favorite wrap bracelet – and then pepper them into your outfits for day, or wear them all at once when it’s a ‘we got the account’ celebration dinner!
NO 'ONE AND DONE' (aka day 4 outfit)
This one bears repeating - if you can't outfit something at least two ways, it doesn't deserve to be in your bag. So yes – you can wear the same dress to dinner one night with heels and a blazer, and then again to the office with flats and a denim jacket.
ACCESSORIES ARE NEUTRALS (aka evening 4 outfit)
Accessories are neutral in the sense that the ones you choose need to go with most every outfit - but that in no way means that you should only wear black. Bring a pop color heel! Go for a versatile metallic bag! Then you'll be ready when the agenda changes from dinner with clients to a let-your-hair-down evening with your peers.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE (aka the flight home)
Business trips are hard enough, so your wardrobe shouldn't be extra work. Select styles that are comfortable, versatile, and resilient. Knits, sweaters, denim, lightweight wools and stretchy fabrics are just a few choices that can flawlessly survive time in the overhead bin – and then just need a quick hang up to look fresh. And when you’re flying home – it’s time for comfy jeans and a simple cardigan.
What are your favorite styles to wear on a business trip? Let us know in the comments!