June 9, 2011

A Fab Girl's Guide to Packing (relatively) Light

Being a girly girl manifests more when packing for a trip, which proves to be a challenge. Over time though, I have come to appreciate the mobility packing light affords having learned the lesson the hard way. But being a member of the more fickle minded specie and my unapologetic love for all things girly, I still can’t strip it down to the most basic essentials. I need my clothes for every occasion (real or imagined) and the footwear and bag to polish the look while circumnavigating an annoying truth. You see looking effortlessly chic often takes a bit of, well, effort.

With these considerations and with practice, a few principles have been adapted and tailored towards lightening the load. The goal is to stay within the checked in luggage allowance but still be able to showcase a comfortable sartorial taste while on holidays.

(Clockwise from left to right: 1) Cebu,Philippines. 2) Yu Yuan, China. 3)Some random scooter parked in an alley in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 4)Park in front of Reunification Palace, Vietnam. 5)French Concession, Shanghai. 6)Street style Suzhou, China.)

I may not be the lightest packer but I try to pack smart. Admittedly, there’s a huge thought process that comes with packing. Way in advance, I do a lot of mix and match in my head and even plots it on a spreadsheet with the itinerary. That way I get to plan what clothes are appropriate with the destination and the activities, factoring in the culture and the weather. It also helps me settle and commit with my picks covering the imagined scenario. Yes, it is that big a deal and I probably hold the title for the longest packing time in the history of packing.
Sept 13 TUESDAY 830 AM: Clark Hotel to Airport 1115-330 PM Clark to KL
11 PM-7 AM: KL  to SG via train
F21 gunmetal leggings. Maldita asymmetrical frayed tank top. J Crew green knit cardigan. Green headware. Toms espadrilles. Shawl.
Sept 14 WEDNESDAY 7 AM Singapore Singapore city tour Mossimo plaid sundress. Tan thong sandals, Mango caramel tote.
Sept 15 THURSDAY SG city tour
1030 PM-630 AM: SG to KL via train
Tour: Little white lace dress. Tan thong sandals, Mango caramel tote. Train travel: F21 gunmetal leggings, Gap boat neck nautical stripes. J Crew green knit cardigan. Shawl. Toms espadrilles.
Sept 16 FRIDAY 7 AM: KL KL – Batu Caves Black bell sleeves mini dress. Toms espadrilles. Shawl. Sakroots sling bag.
Sept 17 SATURDAY KL City tour Paisley print mini-shift dress. Tan thong sandals.Mango Caramel Tote.
Sept 18 SUNDAY 7-8 AM AirAsia flight from KL to Siem Reap Siem Reap city tour Green anorak. Tangerine ruffled dress. Tan thong sandals, Mango caramel tote.
Sept 19 MONDAY Angkor Wat Tour Denim cut offs. Old Navy green ¾ sleeves buttoned down. Toms espadrilles. Sakroots sling bag.
Sept 20 TUESDAY 835-1135 AM AirAsia flight Siem Reap to KL H&M Jersey shirtdress. Green anorak. Toms espadrilles. Sakroots sling bag.
Sept 21 WEDNESDAY 725-1120 AM CebuPac flight from KL to Clark  Vneck Mossimo maxidress. J crew cardigan. Shawl.

The go to travel bundle is the 48 CM WORLD TRAVELER LIGHTWEIGHT 4-WHEELED SUITCASE from the Virginia collection. This is a standard carry on size that comes in a stand out color. If it doesn’t exceed 7 kilos, you can opt out check in. I always take advantage of the 15 kilos allowance though.

Wardrobe picks after the break.

Clothing: understandably take up the majority of space in a luggage so I stick to lightweight materials that do not easily wrinkle or looks good wrinkled. Huge plus if can multi-task or worn several ways with a different look.

(1 Dress, 3 Ways. Top photo: Black bell sleeves shift dress worn with tan thong sandals and caramel tote bag accessorized with a stand out coral multi strand necklace for dinner. Middle photo: Black bell sleeves shift dress tucked into petal shorts paired with comfortable espadrilles and shoulder bag for urban sightseeing. Bottom photo: Black bell sleeves shift dress as tunic top over leggings layered with cardigan and a crossbody bag to free up hands for transit.)

I’m big on one-piece clothing during travels as they are classically feminine yet easy to put on and flexible. Mini dresses can be casual with flip-flops worn as beach cover-ups, or paired with bejeweled thong sandals for urban sightseeing. With the right accessories they can be glam. Tucked in skirts, shorts or pants turn them into tops. Dresses also look more modest and sophisticated than shorts but are still airy and comfortable.

Maxi dresses does an amazing job. It’s a laid back pretty ensemble on its own. Provides more coverage yet breezy with an elegant silhouette. Looks good as a travel uniform layered with cardigans and shawls when need be.

Denim long pants hardly make it to the pack unless the destination is somewhere cold, as they take up a lot of space and packs heavy. The rough thick material can also get restrictive on movements but since planes and overland travels can get Arctic cold, I bring leggings or trousers and just layer for warmth. Trousers can also be more stylish with a feminine spin on menswear outfit. Scrunched up to the knee breaths new life in them as capris. Plus point for fast drying material when washed.

Slacks/Trousers rolled up as capris in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Cardigans are versatile as it can be worn in formal or casual occasion. They provide warmth adequately. When not in use, it folds down nicely and ironing is never a requirement. Buttoned all the way down with sleeves rolled haphazardly to the elbow, it’s a top.

Pashminas or shawls and even lightweight micro-fiber towels are easily pack able and highly useful. Again, they are lightweight and multi-functional. Apart from their obvious use, it can be a sarong on the beach and a blanket for those long lay over. Observe the local dress code in style with an ingenious cover up when not dressed appropriately and for temple visits.Draped casually on the neck it accessorizes an outfit. Its super
absorbent and dries in no time.

(Micro-fiber towel in electric blue worn as scarf and provides an unexpected pop of color.)
Sea to Summit towel from the Travel Club.

A headwear also serves a lot of purpose. It keeps the hair off the face, or hides it from view on bad hair days. Or when in transit and can’t shower. These can also be worn as tube tops or belts, even as mask to keep off dust and earthy smells. Imagination is the limit.

2 piece bikinis are not also just confined to the sandy shores and the waters. Adds a carefree holiday vibe when peeking out a little from the outfit.

Footwear: the criteria are - must be comfortable to walk in for long periods of time; must look pretty; easy to slip on and off at the airports.

I choose a neutral color for the footwear that will ground the color scheme and works with everything on the wardrobe,  yet adds another dimension to the over all look.

(Simple little detail makes things special, turns drab to fab.)
Cheap T-strap sandals from SM.

If possible, I only bring 1 comfortable flat sandal that can go from day to night chic and 1-rubber flip-flops for those trips to the beach and for the showers. I’d hate to step on bare feet on a foreign bathroom. If sandals won’t be able to do the job for more rigorous activity but at least does not require sneakers I bring the Toms. Since it’s bulky when packed, I wear it during travels. You can also wear socks with them so your feet don’t get in direct contact with the icky floor when its time to take them off when passing through security checks.

(Comfort primarily, looks second.)

Bags: must be roomy yet holds its shape, secure, light as I’ll be carrying it all the time while sight-seeing, compliment the footwear and ties up the look.

Convertible bags freshens things and keeps it from getting boring. Multi-way handles are great as the option to sling it across the body frees up both hands.

Nine West's Convertible Bag

 (Shoulder bag with detachable strap.)

 (Hand bag fully laid out.)

(Clutch when folded in half with the straps detached.)

When I absolutely need to bring an extra purse, I pack it as my kikay kit to store the toiletries on. It can also double as bag organizer inside my bigger bag.

(Evening purse that doubles as kikay kit.)
 An unstructured expandable bag that packs small or flat is also stashed within the luggage for shopping or as an overnight bag. Serves well on transit too as carry on.

Zip top or resalable bags are also great as organizers; they meet the airport security requirements and keep worries of toiletries spillage at bay.

Shades – primarily protects eyes from the sun’s glare and instantly gives off that jet set cool vibe while simultaneously hiding those dark pouches under the eye.

(Favorite pairs of specs with timeless retro cool character.)

A book – traveling also means a lot of waiting in between and a good read make the lag bearable. Sometimes, being on a holiday is the only time to catch up on reading.

Toiletries - deserves a separate entry.

My packing 101 must not necessarily reflect a universal packing truth but is a more personalized (read: girly) take that somehow worked immensely for me.On some levels, I’m pretty sure there’s someone who shares the same list as I do. I guess the basic principle is - to bring something you'll be comfortable in but won't be embarrassed to be photographed wearing.


  1. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA eye love eeeeeeeeetttttttt!!!! nag effort talaga!!! =) actually, di ko pa nagagawa na ang dress ko gawing top. i think it would depend on your bottom if it would allow. this post reminded me that i should try it out. hahaha yes, im already planning also for sept. hahaha =p

    grabe, nag effort talaga sa pag combine ng outifts! apir! =)

    cos im biased with the color, where did u get the towel? i have a traveling towel but it definitely doesnt look like that!

    pahabol, you know whats funny? i usually have the same set of shoes too. flip flops, my t-strap slip ons and closed shoes. eh for sept, it might be the toms nga rin. hahaha

    pareho talaga tayo in so many ways!!! love eeettt. =)

  2. btw, i WANT the pink dress you wore in cebu. haha

  3. I list and plan my outfits like that too! :)) I like dressing up for flights! :))

  4. P.S. I like the microfiber cloth turned into scarf idea!

  5. Lloyd: Apir! haha! isn't it nice to look at photos of you not being dowdy and dugyot haha? And the list makes a lot of sense.:-D

    Rica: Oo effort tong post na ito, nobela sa haba at 3 days in the making hahaha!

    Ok answers: Mini-dresses can be worked into tops kung manipis yong material, at mas makapal yong bottom or something where the lines won't be visible. The towel is from Travel Club, Sea to Summit ang brand. The pink assymetrical neckline is just a top from the Kids section in SM haha. T-strap sandals are very flattering, I love!

    Can't wait to see what will go on your suitcase for September, eggzited!

  6. Cool! I always dress like a lola when I'm abroad lol...I should learn from your tips. I like the microfiber towel used as a scarf. Genius!

  7. Hi Grace! Happy to share this kikay tips, let me know if this makes a difference on your pack and travel photos haha:-D That towel is a hit with its electric blue color:-)

  8. wow, that spreadsheet is very inspiring, wish I had the patience to do it as well.

  9. Hi Claire! Thanks for not finding it OA haha. Even if the spreadsheet is on the OC-side, it actually proved to be efficient:-D

  10. that's one fab closet! such a delicious set of chic pieces!!!
    and i applaud the table planning of outfit!!

  11. Thanks Ron, I try:-D I should add that your article at crazycot inspired me to share my own packing list. Although I was having 2nd thoughts about revealing the table planning of outfits, i'm glad I did coz you guys appreciate it:-)

  12. I saw your text...shopping ban na ako dapaaaat!!! Waaahhh...argh....hahaha Blue, may color pa! Patay.....Haha

  13. Rica! Enabler nga to the nth level hahaha! But I love the pants, it will be my ultimate travel pants haha. The dress is cheap but really pretty;-p


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