Pack Light and Tight: Maximize Your Travel Wardrobe

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As much as I love traveling, I loathe packing for the trip. Between checked-bag fees, reduced carry-on sizes, and that passenger shoving a backpack, guitar, and a full-size carry-on into the overhead bins (I’m talking to you, young man in Vancouver!), there’s a lot of pressure to pack light and tight. So either you pack a suitcase entirely with crinkle fabrics, or you learn to roll, bundle, and origami-fold your way to an efficient, wrinkle-free wardrobe. And so your Louis Vuitton suitcase becomes the playing field for Advanced Travel Tetris.


What to Pack (And How Much)

  • Pack to your personal color palette. Everyone has colors that make them pop! Once you dress to those colors, you enhance your facial features, heighten your confidence, and attract success—and make the most of your luggage space. Choose key pieces in your signature colors, and match them with neutrals that will all pair well together. And don’t forget the transformative power of a colorful accessory, like a hat or scarf. When you pack complementary colors with neutrals, you create versatility in a limited wardrobe by making sure everything can be worn with everything else.

  • Most people can skate by on three pairs of shoes: a workhorse shoe like an athletic shoe, hiking boot, or sneaker; a casual sandal or loafer; and a dress shoe. This is a good thing because shoes take up valuable luggage space! Save even more space by wearing your bulky workhorse shoe on the plane.

  • Pack more tops than bottoms. Bottoms such as jeans, slacks, and skirts can typically last more than one day’s wear. (This is, of course, subject to your activities; you probably wouldn’t re-wear jeans after a rigorous day of hiking.) You can also get away with re-wearing items that were lightly worn for an hour or two.

  • If you overpack one thing, overpack underthings. You’ll want one pair of socks, underwear/panties, and undershirts for each day of your trip, plus a few extras in case hot or wet weather wears out multiple garments in a day. (Unlike shirts or pants, these are not items you would want to re-wear!) And if you have a carry-on, make sure you tuck away some extras in case your luggage arrives after you do.

  • Consider any pieces that can do double duty. The yoga pants and T-shirt you wore on the plane make great pajamas.


How to Pack

Roll, bundle, or origami-fold, everyone has a different idea of the best way to pack a suitcase. The key to perfect packing may be a combination of them all, conveniently stacked in layers. And be sure to draw inspiration from the Tetris theme while you pack.


  1. Shoes. Stuff shoes with socks, sunglasses, sunscreen bottles, electronics chargers, jewelry—whatever you can fit in that handy, empty space. Protect the rest of your clothes by packing each pair of shoes in a resealable baggie or plastic grocery bag. Then stuff your shoes along the bottom edges of the suitcase.

  3. Rolled items. Have you tried rolling, only to end up with more wrinkles than folding? You probably weren’t rolling the right Rolling works best on heavy, wrinkle-resistant fabrics like knits, wool, and cotton. And tight rolls will result in fewer wrinkles than loose ones. So pack your rolled jeans, sweaters, and T-shirts on the bottom of your suitcase, between your shoes. Your underthings go here, too. And don’t worry: if you run out of space in this layer, you can wedge the leftovers in blank spaces at the end. Cover the layer with a dry-cleaning bag.

  5. Folded items OR bundled items. Stiff fabrics such as starched cotton shirts, blazers, slacks, and skirts should be folded or bundled. Folding traditional drawer-style creates an easily accessible layer of clothing for unpacking and hanging, whereas bundling better staves away the wrinkles. You can also do a hybrid bundle-bold: start with long items like skirts and slacks. Stack them by alternating waists with hems, to avoid a lopsided pile of waistbands, then drape excess fabric toward the center. Follow with your blouses or collared shirts, laying them flat and folding the collars and hems over once, and then folding the arms in toward the center. Cover the layer with a dry-cleaning bag.

  7. A suit. If you’re traveling for a wedding or business and need to pack a suit, this tailor’s tutorial is a must-watch:


  9. Immediate-use items. At the very top of the suitcase goes your toiletry bag and the items you’ll need first when you get to your destination, like a pair of cozy jammies if you’ll be landing late, or a swimsuit if you’ll be hitting the hotel pool.


Whatever your final destination this summer, with these tips for packing light and tight, you’ll be sure to arrive in wrinkle-free style! You just might be humming the theme from Tetris for a few days.

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