I’ve always known how to pack well for travel, from my backpacking days in college to espresso-fueled work escapades for City & Countryside, my talent for throwing the right things into the smallest suitcase possible was legendary (ok, legendary is overkill, but trust me I was Well). But that was before the pandemic. For my first international trip in 18 months, I worried about my wardrobe until I dragged my over-padded carry-on baggage through the airport, only to find, when I arrived, that all was not right. . All false! I was stuck in Milan with an exploding suitcase and nothing to carry, the hell of a fashion writer if there ever was one. I had to ignore 90 percent of what I packed and just rely on a few simple basics. These suitcase savers, as I have come to call them, were the pieces that I kept in significant rotation because they made the other items in my closet look either more beautiful (see the pleated miniskirt, the hoops and the ankle boots) or because they were perfect on their own (see my favorite black COS jumpsuit and a kaleidoscopic maxi dress). If you find yourself with that same feeling of having nothing to wear on your travels, be sure to pack these suitcase essentials below.
Joedy crinkled-cotton button-down shirt
Rapunzel braided headband
I bought this headband on a whim while visiting LaDoubleJ’s new flagship store in Milan and was amazed at how it turned all of my basic outfits into something special. It is also inexplicably flattering around the face.
This skirt is very compact (no folds!) And goes with absolutely everything. Dress it up with a white t-shirt and sneakers, or dress it up with a blouse and boots. You can also layer it with sweaters and tights for cooler days.
I bought a jumpsuit similar to this from COS about seven years ago and it’s still my favorite because it’s a unique outfit that looks great even if you have to wear it from an 8am meeting to 11 p.m. for a cocktail.
Elliot Double Pleated Trousers
These tailored pants (also available in black) make you feel like you know what you’re doing. An adjustable tongue at the back cinches everything at the waist, and the cotton and elastane blend is just as crisp and comfortable.
Cirrus No.2 Steamer – Pink
If you’re going to be wearing the same items over and over (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), Bring a super efficient handheld spray that is small and keeps everything looking fresh. I also bring a trusty Tide and The Laundress Crease Release on-the-go pen and the trusty trio is like having a dry cleaner in your suitcase.
White sneakers look dressier than black ones, and when you go for an Italian-made pair with a cult following, you can get away with wearing virtually nothing but sneakers the entire trip.
Slub Easy Muscle Tank Top
Buck Mason’s shirts are made from the most comfortable carbonated cotton and have a nice drape that makes them slightly dressier than your average t-shirt.
Perfect Control Faux Leather Leggings
Don’t be fooled by the fake. These leggings have an elegant finish, but are still leggings, so they are comfortable for long flights and suitable for late night drinks.
Mejuri thin oversized hoop earrings
Classic hoops you can wear 24/7 dress up whatever you wear (and distract from a messy bun after the flight).
Kimaya Scoop Neck Dress
This sleek take on the LBD lightly skims the body so it’s snug but not tight. Wear it alone with sandals or with boots and a leather jacket.
Abercrombie & Fitch Margaux Shoes
I grabbed these boots from the Abercrombie capsule collection on a whim and was shocked at how comfortable they were. They have all the advantages of a good walking shoe, but are perfectly waxed.
Recycled cashmere crew-neck sweatshirt
Is it a sweater? Is it a sweatshirt? Regardless, it’s super soft cashmere with a relaxed fit that gives off those graceful vibes effortlessly.
This easy-to-wear dress looks so special, even if you wear it to dinner every night of the week.
Milan belt bag
You can wear this multitasking bag slung over the shoulder, over the shoulder or belted around your waist. Plus, it has a special pocket for your phone so you don’t get panicked while you’re on the go.
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