Packing: Five Days in New York in July

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I’ve been traveling more this year than in years past, and since packing posts always seem to garner lots of interest, I thought I’d start sharing my packing plans for recent trips. Naturally, I never pack without the aid of my feline assistants, shown above.

I’ve traveled to New York in the summer several years in a row, and although we experience 100-degree days and high humidity here in Minneapolis, I must say that it doesn’t compare to the temps and heat index I’ve experienced in NYC. A few summers back I got heat rash. All over my abdomen. Other summers, I just suffered. The buildings and subways are air-conditioned, but the sheer amount of unavoidable walking that takes place while visiting New York means that lightweight, breathable garments are essential. So, as you’ll see, I went for washable, sleeveless dresses. Exclusively.

And, as is the case with all packing, I selected my footwear first and built outfits from the ground up. I learned the hard way that even a small heel becomes an implement of torture during long summer days of walking in New York, so it was comfy flats all the way.

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On my arrival day, I tootled around Chelsea with a dear friend, then went to see Kjerstin on the Colbert Report. Knowing that this dress and necklace played well together, I packed them as a unit, adding my beloved Clarks Concert Choir flats to the mix. I do closed-toe flats in New York because the streets and subway stations are typically pretty dirty. Disadvantage? In hot, humid weather my feet do swell and I will get the occasional blister. Band-aids and blister-block also get packed.

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Day two was spent eating, shopping, and chatting through Park Slope with one of my best friends in the world and her adorable son. We grabbed dinner early in the evening, then went to see her husband in a series of short plays. For this, I wore my new favorite Article 23 dress – lightweight cotton with ventilation! – and swapped out the espadrilles I wore in that outfit shot for my Hush Puppies Achelle flats. Much sweating was done in this outfit, but the dress still looked adorable after 14 hours of wear.

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Day three, I had lunch with my Huffington Post editor, met with Alison and the Foxcroft team, had a lovely dinner, and then a meetup with Sarah, Cynthia, and amazing reader Emily. You may have noticed that I mostly packed outfits that I’d already tried and tested, but this one was totally new. It helps to switch up footwear from day to day, so I wanted to do the black flats with this outfit, and used the black and red scarf to tie everything together. Wore it as a belt. This dress is amazing but fairly wrinkly right out of the dryer, so I sprung to get it professionally pressed upon arrival. Spendy, but made SUCH a difference in how the dress looked, even toward the end of a very long day.

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Day four was the Foxcroft photo shoot. I had planned to wear the white floral dress shown below, but realizing I’d be featured in some of the photos and that the campaign was for fall, I swapped in this darker outfit instead. It’s a variation on this one, with a black belt instead of the zebra. This dress is fluid jersey and SO comfortable, which made it ideal for 9 hours of styling, walking, tweaking, and clowning for the camera.

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Day five was my last day in town, and I managed to squeeze in coffee with Molly AND breakfast with Kat before heading to the airport. This dress is a longtime fave that looks best on its own, so I wore it very similarly to how I styled it here. Since I’d planned to wear this to the photoshoot then changed my mind, this dress also got professionally pressed.

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I don’t often do this, but since there were many meetings on my travel days and since my “work clothes” weren’t ideal for 3-hour flights, I wore different outfits in transit. This was worn on the flight out, basically a summerized version of this outfit with cropped leggings and flats. For the flight home, I swapped in this dress and my denim jacket, but the scarf, shoes, and jewelry remained the same.

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I don’t often do THIS either, but I brought multiple bags for this trip. The black Rebecca Minkoff Logan is a crossbody, which is my preferred style of bag when traveling. I used this one the most. But I also brought along my Ellington hobo, which is very lightweight and worked well with both outfits featuring the bronze flats. In years past, I’ve used my Manhattan Portage DJ bag – small, lightweight, and crossbody – but felt like I wanted a bit more polish for this trip.

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I’m not much of a stickler for packing procedures, since I nearly always check my bag and it gets thrown about so much that most techniques do little to keep my items in order. In addition to the outfits above, here you see my PJs, umbrella, toiletry kit (which I leave 95% packed at all times), and a gray tote which contains my flat-iron, hair products, and miscellaneous makeup stuff. I’ve taken to putting my jewelry in sandwich bags so I can remember which items get worn together and although you see them thrown on top here, I generally tuck them into their folded, assigned outfits. The giant Marimekko necklace was placed inside a shallow scarf box with a folded pillowcase, then rubber-banded shut to keep it from breaking. Most of my jewelry can take a beating, but more delicate items get special consideration! My suitcase is a rust-orange Tumi roll bag that has held up to some serious abuse over the years.

In most cases, I recommend a capsule wardrobe for travel, but in this case dealing with the heat took precedence over creating swappable outfits. I did follow my own advice and bring a backup outfit – this simple dress – but didn’t end up needing it.

Related posts:

Ever traveled to New York – or another big city that gets hot and humid – in the dead of summer? What did you pack?

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  • Laurie

    First of all….love your bedding!

    I was in NYC in August about 8 years ago and packed all wrong. I wear alot of capris at home and it was so sticky to be wearing them. Dresses would have better.

    I was hoping you would have some awesome way of storing your jewelry for travel but I see you use a ziploc just like me! I bought a travel roll and the thing just didn’t work out for me, my necklaces got tangled. Maybe I used it wrong.

    I love my Clarks Choir Flats and need a new pair. I also wanted to recommend an awesome travel shoe….wore for 2 weeks straight in Europe walking miles every day….Munro American. I think they might even be American made? Great shoe!

  • L Mutschall

    I love the fact that everything you packed is super simple. A dress. flats and a little jewelry. So easy. I need more dresses!

  • A.B.

    I live somewhere very hot and humid, so basically anywhere I go is cooler and less humid. I was stumped a few months ago packing for desert conditions, because it gets cold at night.

    I like your idea of building outfits from the ground up. I do the opposite, but then again I have few pair of comfortable casual shoes. I always end up packing the wrong things anyway.

  • Laura

    Loved this post! Which shoes are featured in your travel outfit at the end, next to the black/white striped sweater? Those are adorable, and look like they’d be comfy walking shoes.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sally

      Oh Laura, I probably didn’t mention them because they’re no longer available. They’re Tsubo Elath flats from a few years ago. Tsubo is a great comfort brand, so their current flats might be good bets, too!

  • http://www.reverseretrograde.wordpress.com Coleen

    I travel a lot, and one of the best practices I’ve ever found is to roll my clothing rather than folding it in a suitcase. It has a greater packing efficiency due to the shape, prevents wrinkles, and helps me stay organized!

    Also, adorable kitty!

  • Shannon

    I love your travel posts! I learn so much!

  • Monica H

    I really like the idea of creating a travel wardrobe starting with the shoes and going from there. Consider it stolen! Otherwise I end up wanting to take about 1 pair of shoes per day of travel, and that always takes up way too much room.

    My priority when packing is always to make sure I never pack anything that needs ironing. (In fact I try to never buy anything in the first place that needs ironing, but I do violate that rule on occasion.) My go-to summer travel pieces are my Athleta Dipper skorts which I own in two colors. They are versatile, abuse-able, easy to wash, and look sporty and fun. I also tend to pack easy dresses in unwrinkleable knits – a few of those from Athleta and other various places. I would notmally opt for walkable sandals, except I just purchased a pair of low Cole Haan wedges that are sure to be the pair of shoes that I build my outfits around for my next summer trip!

  • http://alysonhill.wordpress.com Alyson Hill

    Earlier this year I had a week in wonderful Singapore, where hot and humid is the name of the game, and this time it was important to me to have a bit of style unlike when I was there 15 years ago with two babies and a bag of oversized tshirts! I wrote a post about it here http://alysonhill.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/what-to-pack-for-singapore/

  • http://birdybegins.wordpress.com Eleanorjane

    Pack the cat! I would. Well, I wouldn’t but I’d be tempted.

    Anyway, I’m with you on the comfy shoe thing. I need to gird my loins and buy another pair of flats. I tend towards Clarks as they’re comfy but have some styles that aren’t too matronly for me. I’ve got this pair: http://www.clarks.co.uk/p/20350219 in chestnut brown and silver (from last year’s colours) and I’ve worn them to nubs. I’ll get the black pair for autumn/winter.

    Dresses are great too, ‘cos it’s a whole outfit for very little weight and bulk in your suitcase. I’m beginning to think I could do with a few more ‘wash and wear’ dresses.

  • Sherry Rieder

    I LOVE the combination of the print scarf with the black and white striped dress. Genius! Perhaps you can someday write about tips for mixing prints for beginners.

  • http://www.barkingdogshoes.com Kirsten@BarkingDogShoes.com

    Sal! You have the *best* collection of comfy flats! I love those Clark’s Concert Choir ones, and Tsubo, of course. I’m just so thrilled with your blogging success. I hope to check in more often as soon as the littles get back to school.
    (((Hugs)))
    Kirsten