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How to Pack When It's Cold and Everything's Huge

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Love, Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column tackling your hard-hitting fashion issues and addressing a different fashion glitch each week. Submit a query here.


The good old days, via Common Ground.

Hi Frank,

I travel a lot, and come winter it's really hard because everything is just big. Do you have any tips for packing your suitcase when you need to fit boots, sweaters, and coats?

Signed,
Pitiful Pack Rat

Dear Pack Rat,

Packing sucks.

I don't know about you but every trip I go on is a mood board; a fantasy; an opportunity to express the most perfect version of you as filtered through said trip's destination. So, I end up wanting to take it all. Just everything—everything Vegas (shiny!); everything London (Burberry!); everything Miami (Euro!); everything Southwest (Navajo!) or Northern California (linen!) or WASP New England (J.Press!).

But doing so just isn't practical—I mean, even if people still travelled with trunks and staff and no worry of baggage overages: You're not going to need every Italian-made Versace-esque printed poplin shirt you own to spend three nights in Miami (you know, for example, hypothetically ? ahem).

That packing school of thought is troublesome enough when it's spring or summer or you're going somewhere warm and you only need two to three light jackets. When you add winter into the mix, forget it.

I've managed to tone my packing down considerably—after several trips that found me back home with enough clean clothes to turn around and go back out on another trip (along with a fair amount of back and shoulder pain from carting around those extra pairs of shoes).

Here are some suggestions that I sometimes have to remind myself of:

If you have to (or want to) bring a pair of boots—just wear them. Yes, they're a pain to take on and off at the airport but, personally, I'd rather carry them by wearing them than by, well, carrying them.


Working the layered jacket look, via Pinterest.

Instead of one extremely heavy, bulky winter coat why not take two lighter ones that can be layered? It gives you a little versatility if the weather isn't as cold as you expected; two jackets can equal two looks adding variety; and you can keep one with you on the plane or train (where the temperature is always a crapshoot anyway) giving you that much more space in your luggage. Think a Levi's jean jacket, a light leather jacket by AllSaints, or even a substantial Club Monaco sweater that you can have on under your most easy-to-wear peacoat, parka or car coat from Madewell. The under-layer should be fitted; the over-layer a bit blousy or boxy.

Pick one neutral that you'll go back to for the whole trip—you're most basic color that you ground most of your outfits in and you're most comfortable in. For most of you that's black; for me it's usually navy—but it can be gray, white, beige, olive, or brown. Now that you've settled on that pick your basic neutral staples along with the non-neutral pieces you'll wear with them. Doing this will save you from packing a second or third sweater; a third scarf; another belt; or additional shoes.

Tightly rolling your garments rather than folding them saves space and reduces wrinkling; and stuff your shoes with socks, underwear, belts; and other small items.

Finally, I mean, just check your bag. Spend the $25. The carry-ons that actually fit in the overhead compartments are just too small for anything longer than a night or two. And don't be the person who needs six minutes and three flight attendants to stuff a giant bag in the overhead. It's undignified; not to mention other people do exist and might need some space too.

That's all I got, hope it helps. And happy travels!

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