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How To Pack Like A Pro For Every Occasion

Travel light, travel well.

Ailbhe Malone/ Isabelle O’Carroll for BuzzFeed

Prepare to go away – even for just a day – and your mind fills with images of how you’ll be your best self: stylish, event-appropriate, and with more outfit changes than Beyoncé. The reality is that unless your luggage is made up of monogrammed Vuitton cases, you will look a little crazy with loads of bags, and lugging heavy stuff is the worst.

Embrace the idea of packing lightly and presenting one, slightly variable version of yourself, and a whole world of freedom opens up. The luggage carousel becomes a distant memory and you’re filled with smug pride when people notice how little you’ve managed to bring. It also helps you keep all your wardrobe losers at home, like the high-waisted shorts you can’t do up after eating. Dream-team wardrobe only, please.

You’ll want to start with a base outfit of your bulkiest items: jeans, neutral-ish top and fashion-appropriate trainers like Nike Free Runs or Vans Slip-ons are perfect.

2. Travel super-light for an overnight stay.

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Even committed maximalists can travel light on an overnight stay. A simple top and undies is really all you need.

Something like a stripy Breton top has enough impact to hide the fact you’re wearing the same shoes and bottoms as the day before, and the nautical stripes work anywhere: at the pub, with the family, at fancy events, on outdoorsy days. Add an exciting piece of jewellery to make it look like you’ve really put some thought into your outfit, even though you’ve spent more time thinking about what to have for breakfast.

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Lush does some great solid perfumes that are perfect for travelling, and no one ever died from using their eyebrow pencil to define their eyes. Going old-school with a space-saving comb and using clever cosmetics like Benefit lip and cheek stain will help prevent you carrying around a 2-ton bag for a couple of days. Decant – always decant – your favourite cleanser rather than slumming it with wipes; you’ll feel much less like a stop-out and your skin will thank you.

#protip: Hoard those little cloth drawstring bags you get when buy clothes or shoes. They’re perfect for stashing underwear, making it less likely that your worst pair of pants will come flying out when you’re looking for your purse.

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5. Do weekends like a pro.

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Weekends are meant to be a fun and carefree distraction from desk jail. Try being carefree with a giant bag; it doesn’t work.

First up, pack a pair of slim sandals and a pinafore dress that you can wear with a shirt or a grey tee, and you’ve already got more outfit options than you could ever need. Dungaree shorts or a plain playsuit would also fulfill the same duty. Stash a neatly rolled-up pair of tights to say a big FU to potential rainy days.

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A mini dry shampoo goes in, because no one’s got time for hair-washing when you’re having carefree weekend fun. Get your hands on a clever graduated blush/bronzer compact so you can do fancy makeup without lugging all of Boots around. A fancy pair of earrings you probably won’t wear is totally permitted too. Those drawstring bags for your undies? Carefully stash your jewellery between your (clean) pants.

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8. An ultra-light week away.

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A holiday demands multiple looks so you need to start with a restricted palette: a versatile floral and our old friend the Breton stripe both look good with a variety of neutrals. Leather skirts are a holiday lifesaver because they don’t crease. Barelegged and sandalled, you’ll look like Chloë Sevigny, but you can easily switch it up to Kim Kardashian-West to go out on the razz. A denim shirt will be your friend: layer it over a grey maxi dress, wear it with the leather skirt, and use it as a lightweight jacket for warm evenings.

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Forget loads of makeup, you’re having carefree fun, remember? An eyeshadow palette and some lipstick should be enough in addition to your basics to mess around with in the hotel bathroom after some afternoon drinking. M&S sell moulded eyemasks, which are the greatest thing ever for catching some z’s wherever you are. Silk scarf for the plane, to channel Liz Hurley vibes.

Small frivolities: Pack two pairs of sunglasses and two bikinis/swimsuits. Neither of these items take up much room but they will make you feel like you’ve got more wardrobe options than you do.

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#protip:When packing gets serious, you want to use the rolling method – it really does make a difference. Layer the leather skirt over the sandals and then you can roll all your separates tightly before stuffing into a drawstring bag.

11. Happy packing!

Isabelle O’Carroll

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