“I get ideas about what’s essential when packing my suitcase.”
– Diane von Furstenberg.
The Lady’s Maid is a seasoned pro when it comes to packing – she has been known to pack 10 suitcases in the time it takes for her Ladyship to have breakfast, whilst also being afflicted with jet lag and recovering from the after effects of a mild electric shock in Bangkok. But if the thought of packing sends you into a cold sweat, worry not: follow the Lady’s Maid’s practical packing advice below to ease pre-travel stress and ensure that your clothes are kept in tip-top condition in transit and on arrival at your destination.
Don’t overpack. You might be going on holiday, going away for the weekend, or on a business trip – you’re not moving home, so be selective when packing clothing for trips. Think about what you’re going to be doing on the trip and what the weather will be like and pack accordingly. Plan outfits in advance – bring a selection of clothing out of your wardrobe and think about what will work together for the trip. Separates that can be mixed and matched are a good idea in order to maximise outfit opportunities. Avoid too many brightly coloured or patterned “statement” pieces that will be harder to wear multiple times.
If you are packing delicate, beaded or crease-prone garments, use acid-free tissue paper (available from Hangerworld) to protect the fabric and minimise the risk of creasing. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the case (shoes, bags) and lighter clothing items at the top.
Try to fold garments along natural seam lines as much as possible to minimise creasing. Avoid vertical folds as these do not fall out as naturally.
Pack trousers by folding the trouser leg half in the case and half out and then continue to pack clothing before folding the outer part of the trouser in once the case is full. This will prevent you from having to fold the trouser leg on itself which would create a crease.
Dustbags for shoes and bags are also worth using to protect the contents and the surrounding clothes. More expensive shoes usually come with a dust bag but you can buy them separately like this one from Cath Kidston or you could even make your own.
If you travel regularly, it is well worth keeping a travel toiletry bag separate from your main home toiletries so that you don’t have the extra bother of having to constantly pack these every time you travel. Pack liquids in zip-lock bags before placing in toiletry bags for added security – if there is any leakage your clothing will be protected. Travel hanging toiletry bags with transparent pockets for makeup are also great for travel as you can hang them straight up and easily locate their contents.
Try to streamline your skincare and beauty routine when on holiday as toiletries will really weigh down your suitcase. Most chemists and skincare brands offer a large range of mini toiletries these days, or you can decant your favourite products into empty plastic bottles – Muji has a good range of mini pumpable, sprayable and squeezable empty bottles.
Portable steamers are great for quickly eliminating any creasing in your clothing when travelling – they’re really easy to use on dresses and blouses and will save you the effort of having to get out the ironing board or fork out a fortune for hotel laundry services.
Even The Lady’s Maid has been caught out with a hefty fee for an overweight suitcase. Check the weight of your bag before leaving for the airport with a hand held weighing scale – find out the weight limits of your airline to ensure that you won’t be lumbered with an excess baggage fee when you get to the airport.
Convert Clothing Chaos into Calm: follow The Lady’s Maid’s guide to Wardrobe Organisation.
Organising your Wardrobe
Organisation is key to keeping a tidy and accessible wardrobe and prevent chaos from creeping into your clothing collection. There are many different constituent parts you have to bring together to create an outfit, so the process of dressing and creating outfits will be made a lot quicker and easier if your wardrobe is kept in a tidy orderly way at all times. Once you have a system for organising and storing your clothes you will begin to value the things you do have and want to get the full potential out of each garment, rather than resorting to buying something new when you’re looking for a new outfit to wear.
Here are some of The Lady’s Maids tips for keeping the perfect wardrobe:
Sort through your wardrobe as outlined in the previous post Detox your Wardrobe. Before rearranging the clothes give the wardrobe space a thorough clean – vacuum inside and clean the sides and base with a damp cloth. Leave to dry thoroughly before placing clothes back inside.
Re-line drawers with lining paper or drawer liners – preferably lavender or cedarwood scented to ward of moths.
The best way to organise your clothing is to divide it into sections such as: business/formal wear, casual wear, evening wear, outdoor wear. Within these sections organise garments by garment type (e.g. skirts/tops/trousers) and then by colour within these types, from darks to lights. Group together patterned and multi-coloured pieces.
Don’t pack things in the wardrobe too tightly – clothes need space to air and hang freely to allow creases to fall out.
Evening dresses with very delicate fabrics and clothes that are only worn occasionally should be protected from dust with garment bags. Use breathable calico bags. Short plastic shoulder covers can be used to protect the tops of dresses if you have lots of them and want to be able to view them all in your wardrobe.
Very heavily beaded dresses should be laid in drawers rather than hung as hanging them will cause the fabric to sag and stretch.
If you want your wardrobe to look professionally arranged and organised use matching hangers for all clothing within the wardrobe. This will keep the clothes hanging at an even level and make them look more streamlined on the rail. Slim wooden or non-slip rubber hangers are the most space-efficient.
Sort knitwear into groups such as: V-necks, High-Necks, T-shirts, Cardigans, and then into colour order: dark-light. Thick woollen knitwear is best kept folded in drawers or stacked on shelves to prevent the delicate fibres from stretching on hangers. Thinner knitwear can be hung but be sure to use appropriate hangers to support the vulnerable shoulder area, such as these ones from John Lewis.
If placing shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe below the clothing, order them in a way that corresponds with the clothing above. This will look better visually and will also enable you to match up the shoes with appropriate outfits.
There are many clothing storage solutions available that will help supplement your main wardrobe and help impart a little calm amidst the chaos:
Portable hanging rails are practical and economical if you need extra hanging space in a spare room, and also very useful for planning travel wardrobes. The downside of these are that your clothing will be exposed to dust, so make sure you only use clothing rails for everyday clothing that is worn and washed regularly.
Shoe hanging bags can be fixed over a hanging rail to allow you to store multiple pairs of shoes and are particularly good for flat and casual shoes.