Packing is both a science and an art. Anyone who has ever lugged excess baggage around can tell you how important it is to get the balance right — for you and your style, and for the trip you are taking.
The goal is often best summed up as: Maximum options with minimal pieces. You want to cover all bases for all occasions, with flair and style, that fit into the environment and suit the weather, and of course be comfortable and practical as well as fit for purpose. Simple, right?
Well, not so much as it turns out in reality! For too many of us, it’s just so easy to overpack or underpack. We get the balance wrong — we’re going for less luggage (aiming for the nirvana of traveling: carry on only) and we end up with not enough to wear (including not enough variety). Or we’re going for more options and we end up carting around too much stuff, wearing only a fraction of all we have packed.
Ask yourself: How often when traveling have you forgotten something that’s kind of essential? Or you return home to put away clothes or shoes in your luggage you never get round to wearing? It’s frustrating, right?
Most of us have some style education that we rely on when we pack for a vacation or work trip, whether we consider ourselves ‘naturally stylish’ or not. In our research we discovered that the Super Styles contain clues that tell us significant things about our approach to style – including our approach to packing. The NT Style Strategist will consider the big picture approach who enjoy having options and not feeling limited or boxed in. The ST Style Pragmatists are practical and are likely to pack based on known facts and logical choices. A thorough and detailed attention to color, textures, style trends and personal taste is a guiding light for the SF Style Aesthetician. Lastly, the NF Style Dreamer will pack with a touch of art and a desire to express their uniqueness.
As you read through the responses to this question from our Facebook post, you may find yourself reflecting on your own answer.
We hope you’re enjoying this series of posts exploring the Super Styles, using the responses of real women exploring their real style!
What’s Your Approach To Packing?
The Style Strategist – iNtuition and Thinking (NT)
- Seriously it does depend on where I am going and for how long. For month long trips to Asia from Chicago I start planning months ahead. For a few days in Washington DC I set up all of the clothing in essentially a capsule and packed in a carry-on for flying. For car trips for a week with grandkids, I take lots of extra stuff, but the minimum possible clothing. For the working trips in the semi tractor trailer sleeper I pack in ways (zippered cases with full sets of everything needed to take to the truck stop shower area) that make it easy to get dressed with the least digging around and disturbing the food, water, sleeping area, and the business work of procuring paying loads. Capsules really are not me usually but they do really work for travel. (INTP)
- Wait until the night before – or perhaps the morning of – to start. Consult the weather at the destination. Adjust thinking. Think through the agenda at the other end and the need to impress people. Refine thinking. Pull out the basics and put them in the suitcase. Add another to put in carry-on bag. Pull out an entire outfit for a day. Lay one day at a time on the bed, double checking the details including hair accessories, watch bands, and earrings. Start packing from the bed making accommodations for wrinkles and other such things. Put like things together. Zip up and run out the door. (INTP)
- Depends what I’m packing for… (INTP)
- Pack exponentially more than I need because you never know what you’re actually going to want to wear! (ENTJ)
- Pack everything that will fit into the available space 😀. (ENTJ)
Read more about the NT Style Strategist Super Style here.
The Style Aesthetician – Sensing and Feeling (SF)
- Decide a couple of hours before I need to pack. In my head, I already know what I will take. Add more at last minute but then will likely take some away as I think to myself, ‘Really that is ridiculous!’ I find it constricting as how will I know what I want to wear until the day arrives? I roll everything, too. (ISFP)
- Plan in advance, often with a packing chart (essential for work trips, not always necessary for just-fun trips). Lay everything out and make sure everything goes with everything – maximum variety! This is probably the only time I use anything like a “capsule” wardrobe. Oh and you need far less patterned/printed items than you imagine you do — take in accessories or tops only (that’s a lesson I learned the very hard way). (ESFJ)
- So funny! I just packed last night for NYC. Toiletries are always ready to go in their case. I chose what to wear on the plane (jeans, rose gold sneakers, soft white blouse.) Packed my denim shirt, grey loafers, and grey plaid trousers. Threw in a scarf and some jewels. That should be enough for 4-6 days. Grabbed my grey jacket on the way out the door. Not very colorful, but very versatile. (ESFJ)
Read more about the SF Style Aesthetician Super Style here.
The Style Dreamer – iNtuition and Feeling (NF)
- Last minute packer but have thought about it in the days ahead and make sure washing is up to date. (ENFP)
- I wash all my clothes in the days leading up to packing to make sure I have maximum choice…the night before I start to locate things around my suitcase…way more than I need and then on the day do the final packing…usually nothing that needs ironing…lots of underwear…plenty of choices and more than I need as you don’t know what you’ll feel like wearing…although I’ve got better at traveling with less…especially shoes.(ENFP)
- Such an interesting thread! I travel a lot (4 international trips in the last 4 weeks) and I travel VERY lightly. I carry a full set of travel essentials in my handbag at all times whether I’m going to the store to buy milk or overseas for a month: passport, credit card, devices (phone, iPad, charger), minimal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, contacts, deodorant, tinted moisturiser, mascara, lip balm), and clean underwear. I usually wear a long dress, long cardigan, pashmina and ankle boots on the plane. For a 2 to 3 day trip I throw in an uncrushable wrap dress which can double for night or day, opaque tights, a slip to sleep in. For up to a month, I’ll add in another set of underwear, another dress, dark jeans, a singlet top, a long sleeve merino, a cardigan, bikini, another shawl or sarong, pair of ballet flats, and a blazer in shades of blue. Pair of drop earrings and a necklace if I remember. I wash underwear and tights each night and hang them up to dry. Over decades of travel I’ve found that this covers everything from presenting at a conference to cocktail party to outdoor adventuring – and I never have to drag a heavy bag around or wait for luggage at the airport. (ENFP)
- I open the case and throw in the basics….try to pack as light as possible. (INFP)
- Capsules mainly of dedicated, tried and true travel clothes that I am tempted to store in the suitcase so I am always pre- packed. Same with toiletries. I use the “pack for five days” method for almost all trips regardless of actual length. This varies slightly for climate changes. (INFP)
- I’m away at the moment for a couple of days actually. 2 nights ago while trying to get to sleep I landed the dress, layering tee, jacket and shoes I was wearing/taking. This morning also packed another easy outfit in case I felt like wearing it instead of the dress again. If it’s a longer trip,I basically follow the same routine but start thinking about it earlier. I’ve never written my packing capsule down, just lay it on the bed, check for the weather and events and pack, usually in a carry on. Did this for Tasmania a few years ago (trip was 3 weeks in a motor home) and came back still not having worn everything. (INFP)
- I plan out a minimal coordinating capsule with outfits way in advance using Stylebook and Cladwell outfits apps. It all has to fit into a small backpack carry on suitcase. Every top must go with every bottom piece and I always take my favorite things. I usually pack a few days before my trip. (INFJ)
Read more about the NF Style Dreamer Super Style here.
The Style Pragmatist – Sensing and Thinking (ST)
- Most of my wardrobe is the same garment in different colours so I simply count the number of days and pack a few of each, usually the night beforehand. I never iron as all hotels have irons. Otherwise, it’s just passport, purse and keys to go in. I buy whatever I else need when I get there if it turns out I was too hasty or minimalist in my packing. (ESTJ)
- Not long after booking the trip, I create my chart of the day/date, place, forecasted temp range and weather, and planned activities. I add in what I’ll wear each day (tops and bottoms and shoes) based on weather and activities. The pants are reworn 2-3 times, so lots of mixing and matching, trying to keep the number of items down. The tops are hung with the bottoms in a special place in my closet. I’ll recheck the weather forecast weekly and update chart and clothes as needed. A couple of days before I leave I’ll pack the clothes and put in my always-ready-to-go toiletry bag and electronics cords etc bag. I normally wear everything that I have packed. (ISTJ)
- I always have toiletry case & tea selection ready to go. Chargers are fairly basic and I just grab the night before. Clothes – I take in to account special occasions, weather, type of trip (business / pleasure). Then I decide a color scheme to plan around. Bottoms tend to be neutrals with a mid level of refinement that I can wear multiple ways. Tops tend to have color – I usually don’t pack more than two “colors” – and those colors will coordinate with themselves and the neutrals. I always have at least a scarf, necklace and bracelet with me. Shoes – bulky shoes like trainers or boots I wear on the plane, otherwise I usually bring a pair of ballet flats or sandals, and a pair of casual or mid refinement loafers. I only pack in a carry-on bag, with a small tote, brief, or purse as my second. Packing lists get decided upon at least a week or so in advance, with last minute updates as needed. I will double check if an item is really “needed” before I leave – hate carrying extra pounds and in the civilized world you can buy anything you forgot. (ESTJ)
- My system is set up so I pull suitably co-ordinating pieces plus underwear and toiletries from the various containers. I have found the ‘Systems approach’ entirely liberating btw. I spend the time setting up the system when I’m in the mood for that, and then its all there ready to use when I need it. (ESTP)
Read more about the ST Style Pragmatist Super Style here.
Get the Full Details on Your Style Type in Your Style Type Report
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