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Packing tips for trips

16 Jun

The flights and accommodations are booked, places of interest noted and organized, and list of fun activities already planned. Now you just have to pack — a somewhat tiresome but necessary task. The main idea is to pack smart so you don’t risk over-packing with things you never end up using, or realize an important item is missing by the time you’re at your destination. Make a list of items to bring at least a few days before you start packing for your trip. That way, you’ll never forget to bring something that is essential. Also check with your airline’s baggage regulations and the transportation authority of the countries you’re flying in and out of, especially rules for carry-on luggage. Then you can plan your travel bags accordingly and prevent any hassle at the airport.

Suitcases

For clothes to pack that will have you looking stylish in all your travel pictures, the key is versatility. Bring basic items that will go well with anything such as jeans, neutral tees, blouses and skirts. Pack pieces that are in a similar colour scheme so it’ll be easier to mix and match. Casual dresses are always great since they’re a comfortable, one-piece ensemble. Dresses can also be transformed into a different look by covering the top with a different blouse or the bottom half with a longer skirt layered over. Also pack layers such as cardigans, vests and thin sweaters so you’ll be ready for chilly nights or places that are heavily air conditioned. Of course, take into consideration the activities you’ll be doing during your trip, whether you’ll be attending a work meeting, hiking around scenic areas, spending time on a beach or dressing up for a night out. A dark blazer usually works to make a look more polished and dressed up.

Maxi dresses can take you from a casual breakfast to a fancy dinner.

Maxi dresses, such as this one from ASOS, can take you from a casual breakfast to a fancy dinner.

A must have for any trip are shoes that are comfortable to walk hours in and can go with most of your outfits. Low top Chuck Taylors are a popular option. Street stylish girls have been pairing the classic sneakers with anything from boyfriend jeans to miniskirts. As for bags, go with a cross-body purse, or at least one with a shoulder strap, for your travels so you’ll have both hands free to explore the town. If you do find it necessary to bring a lot of clothing, try using packing bags that you can compress in order to maximize available space. And for those going on a lengthy trip, there’s always the option of washing your clothes at your hotel, local Laundromat, or even hand-washing in the sink.

A simple white blouse like this one from Simons is perfect for any style of skirt, shorts or trousers.

A simple white blouse like this one from Simons is perfect for any style of skirt, shorts or trousers.

Try to bring items that are wrinkle-resistant — no one wants to take time out of their sightseeing schedule in order to iron. Usually manmade fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and lycra are wrinkle-free. Cotton blends, denim and knits can also go without ironing. Linen, a lightweight fabric great for hot weather, is supposed to be slightly wrinkled. So if you don’t mind an earthy, rumbled look, incorporate linen fabrics into your summer travel ensembles to keep cool.

Cross-body bags are a stylish and secure way to keep your hands free for all travels. (Source: Rebecca Minkoff)

Cross-body bags are a stylish and secure way to keep your hands free for all travels. (Source: Rebecca Minkoff)

For the actual packing process, whether you’re carrying a suitcase or a backpack, roll your clothes instead of completely folding them. It’ll create fewer wrinkles while saving more space. For shirts, align the sleeves together by folding the shirt in half lengthwise, tuck the sleeves onto the body, and then roll from the collar to the hem. For pants, bring the legs together and fold in half, and then roll from the open end to the crease. If you’re bringing formalwear, insert some tissue paper between each piece to prevent any creases and try to lay them flat at the top of the suitcase, or use a garment bag.

By not leaving packing until the last minute, planning ahead and preparing your luggage smartly, you’ll be on your way to a stress-free trip. Have a happy and safe journey!

[Article first appeared in the June 12 issue of Richmond Review.]

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‘Tis the season to party: Holiday accessories and makeup

13 Dec

With office parties, family festivities and other holiday gatherings on the social calendar, it’s a good idea to plan your event outfits in advance. And whether it’s a low-key celebration or a sophisticated soiree, you’ll want a different look for every occasion. A simple way to elevate a basic ensemble or change up a little black dress is with accessories and makeup. The holidays and New Year’s Eve, especially, are the perfect time for glitz and glamour.

Add some bling to your outfit with a statement necklace.

Add some bling to your outfit with a statement necklace, such as this one from ASOS.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate costume jewelry, bold shoes and embellished bags into your ensemble. Jewelled collars are big this season and an easy way to add sparkle to a plain shirt or dress. Similarly, statement necklaces and bibs are also great for mixing and matching with outfits. Try jewelry inspired by art deco or baroque — two of the hottest trends for winter. Look for geometric patterns and jewel tones in an art deco piece, and oversized, lavish black and gold details for baroque accessories.

Accessories adorned with fringe, feathers or furs are another fantastic way to add unexpected texture to your party look. Channel the flapper era with a little fringe purse, add some drama with a feathered hair clip, or stay warm and chic in a faux fur wrap. Jewelled headbands and sparkly bobby pins add some festivity to hair, whether it’s left down or in an updo.

Shine from head to toe with metallic footwear.

Shine from head to toe with metallic footwear. Sandals by BCBG.

For shoes, go embellished or vibrant if the rest of the outfit is casual. Something like an embroidered pump or a lace bootie would spice up a simple jeans and blouse outfit. Don’t forget to finish off your holiday party look with a bag. Go for clutches — they’ll streamline your silhouette without adding bulk and are easier to tote around when mingling. Metallic shoes and clutches are great additions to the wardrobe. Gold and silver go with almost any colour and adds lustre to neutral outfits. Make a black dress pop with a metallic belt and heels. And even if you’re already wearing metallic clothing, like a silver sequined dress, don’t be afraid to experiment with bold jewelry and accessories. Play around until you find a combination that takes the outfit up a notch.

Bring out your inner rock star with this studded clutch from Aldo.

Bring out your inner rock star with this studded clutch from Aldo.

Extend the glitter into your makeup look as well. Holiday parties are a great excuse to dig out that shimmery eyeshadow or daring lipstick from the back of your makeup bag. Try metallic or glitter eyeliner for a different look. But to give your eyes more emphasis, line them with your regular, dark liner after you apply the metallic. This way, the metallic colour will still be visible without losing the outline of your eye. If you don’t normally wear makeup but want to play up your eyes for parties, look to palettes to make choosing eye colours easier. They usually come with a highlighter, eyeshadow colour and liner shade.

Black liner frames the eye, while the gold adds festive shimmer.

Black liner frames the eye, while the gold adds festive shimmer.

For lips, red is a classic and particularly striking when combined with a neutral outfit. Balance the makeup so your lips and eyes don’t fight for attention. Keep your eye makeup simple if you’re going with bold lips, and pair dramatic smokey eyes with a natural lip colour. It’s also a good idea to use primer so your makeup stays put if you plan on being at an event for hours (such as New Year’s Eve). For fingertips, a trend that’s hot right now is the caviar manicure where tiny coloured beads cover the nails. Fun for a night out, they’ll have everyone flocking for a closer look.

Whatever look you decide on, the best accessory is always confidence. Believe you’re looking fabulous and you’ll be shining even at an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.

[Article first appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Richmond Review.]