Fashion in Flight [The Stylish Traveller’s Guide to Staying Chic]…

I’ve been re-reading Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott, and it has come to my attention that my packing methods are very much in line with her 10-item wardrobe philosophy.  Inspired by this, as well as my thoughts of gallivanting in foreign lands, here are my tips on how to pack as little as possible, while avoiding feeling limited in any way!

The first step of course, is to get a moderately sized bag suitable for your needs.  The smaller the suitcase, the more you will edit what you want to bring, and the more harmonious the items will be with each other.  And that is what we hope will result in our choices –refined elegance!  In fact, the greatest compliment someone can give me when I travel is when they say, “I didn’t know you were a tourist!”

Please, leave those cheesy shirts and caps at home (or better yet, in the rag bag/rubbish bin!), and don’t even think about buying them as souvenirs.  For ideas on ‘classier’ souvenirs, watch my old video here.

You must know –I am a huge believer in travelling with only a carry-on.  Who has time to waste at the check-in or baggage claims?  Don’t you just want to zip out into the fresh, free air after all those hours in a canned flying tube?  I thought so!!

Our trip to Whistler in 2010.  I packed only a carry-on for a month long trip that started in Whistler, went on to California, Oregon, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Las Vegas, and ended in Quebec and a flight home to B.C.!


If it helps, make a list of what you will be doing, where you’ll be going, whom you’ll be meeting, and what the weather will be like.  Then make your choices with that in mind.

The Ideal Bag:

  • A roomy, capacious carry-on bag that is within airport regulations and that you can still wield with relative comfort.  Preferably with plenty of pockets!  My favourite is Longchamp’s Le Pliage travel-sized bags because they are ridiculously light, come in plenty of lovely colours, and are (to my mind) incredibly Parisian!!

** Remember to resist the urge to fill the bag up with unnecessary articles.  The extra space will be perfect later on when you go a-spending at your final destination(s)!


  • 1-2 diverting books.  If you’re a fast reader like I am, you may be done before you’re halfway through your flight, so consider including that one novel you’ve always wanted to read but never had time for.  No need to worry about space constraints though, if you’ve gone to the dark side with e-readers.  Heathens.  (I jest!)
  • An iPad.  So useful and a great source of entertainment.  🙂
  • Snacks and an empty bottle for water.  Chances are you can find a free water dispenser at any little snack bar/restaurant past the security gate.  (For pop machines, it’s usually the little tab right under the iced tea.)
  • Jewellery.  You should never check this anyway, especially if you’re bringing sentimental and or very valuable pieces.
  • 4-5 tops in natural fabrics.
  • 2 basic t-shirts.
  • 3-4 versatile sweaters.
  • 3 skirts in varying lengths and shapes.  A-lines are always a classic, flattering, and comfy choice.
  • 3 dresses –one smart casual, one dressy, one formal (though not necessarily floor-length).
  • 2 light jackets or 1 heavy coat, depending on the season.  This is my weak spot –I do like my coats, and have a modest collection.  It pains me to bring just one change!  But vanity may die when all I have is a carry-on…
  • Accessories:  A clutch, a watch, a pair of sunglasses.  Gloves for the winter.  Scarves are a must in any season.  A cashmere scarf and throw are perfect for staying cozy and looking chic!
  • Undergarments – 7 pairs.  For socks, bring 2.  For stockings, bring 5.  For bras, bring 3.  Undergarment bags are my best friend!
  • Shoes are another tricky area that requires a magician’s skill.  For warm weather, I bring 2 pairs of ballet flats, 1 pair of sandals, and 2 pairs of heels:  classic pumps and espadrille wedges.  In colder seasons, I take 2 pairs of ballet flats, 2 pairs of pumps, and then I wear the boots.  Forget the running shoes if you don’t think you’ll go to the gym.  They will just become a dead weight in the bottom of your bag!  I highly recommend finding a workout program you can do in the comfort of your hotel room –my favourite is Ballet Beautiful –you can do these exercises without weights, and in bare feet (or ballet slippers, which are far lighter and easier to pack!).  Plus the results are pretty amazing!
  • Laundry soap flakes/soap nuts.  They are brilliant.
  • Toiletries.  The little pint-sized ones to get you through TSA.  You can either bring these, or buy them when you land –I’m a bit of a stickler for natural-based toiletries, so this isn’t always an option for me!  It’s hard to find quality travel-sized antiperspirants, but erbaviva has organic deodorants that are in glass spray bottles.  This means they are easy to get into, unlike the standard rollerballs or ‘smear’ versions.  Unscrew the cap, pour it into a travel-sized atomizer, and you are good to go!  Fragrance samples are the perfect way to bring your signature scent with you.

** The Body Shop has a travel sized set of bottles and jars.  Alternatively, bring a shampoo bar and soap bar!  No worries over spillage (not that my set has ever leaked…) and you can skip declaring anything to TSA, plus they last a while.

The Stylish and Practical Travel Outfit, according to Cathie…

  • A silk shell with a cardigan on top when it’s cooler or a nice shirt with special details when it’s warmer.
  • A skirt.  I hate wearing jeans or trousers on a flight, especially when you have to go and use the washroom.  I’m sorry, but dragging your trousers on a dirty floor just isn’t a pretty sight.  I always wonder why no one else seems to think of this…
  • A scarf!  You can never go wrong with one.
  • Socks or stockings.  These are for when you have to take your shoes off for security, and don’t want to stand on the cold and dirty floor.  Once you’re safely on the flight, you can take them off and stow them away in your carry-on.
  • Jacket or coat.  You decide whether you want to have another coat in your bag to switch it up, or whether you’d rather have just the one and ease up on burdening your bag.

 ** Most often you will hear that now is the time to stick to basics and neutrals when your closet choices are limited.  I think that pastels marry well with neutrals, and so do certain bright colours as well, so please don’t feel the need to be ‘boring’ or safe!

*** Very last tip –don’t be afraid to wear the same outfit twice.  Instead, revel in the beauty and quality of the clothes that you have carefully chosen.  Be creative, and no one will know they are repeats…except you! 😉

Happy Travels!!


— Cathie

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