How to pack like a super stylish pro when travelling for business

White lace top hanging in a wardrobe

You’re a businesswoman with flair.

How do you pack so that you always look your best with minimal effort while on a business trip?

(A version of this article was originally published in Link Magazine)

The Basics

 

1. Know your personal style

Knowing your personal style is the foundation for looking fabulous without looking like you tried. This applies equally to a business trip as it does to everyday life. Think about your favourite clothes and outfits. Are they mainly classic? Quirky? Boho?

If you have no idea, this fun quiz will help to point you in the right direction.

As a professional woman, your style is also part of your brand. Having a signature look can make you seem more accomplished, successful, and strong leader.

 

2. Know your colour palette

If you’ve been around the sun as many times as I have, you will remember in the 80s-90s there was a huge trend to “have your colours done”. Consultants would charge an arm and leg to tell you if you were a summer, autumn, winter or spring palette.

There are still plenty of these services around, but in reality, I think it’s pretty easy to work out for yourself.

With no makeup on and good, natural lighting, hold different coloured fabrics next to your face. You will notice that some make you look healthy with clear skin and sparkly eyes, while others will make you look tired and sallow. You should quickly narrow it down to warm vs cool colours and refine further from there. Ask a friend to help you with a second opinion.

Now that you know your palette think about base vs accent colours. The base colour is used for foundation items such as suits, pants, skirts, and jeans. These will usually be neutral shades like black, grey, navy, camel, khaki, and white.

Your accent colours are the brighter shades that make your outfit pop.

 

3. Organise Your Wardrobe

Here’s the fun part. Get in there with a friend or two and give your wardrobe a Carrie Bradshaw style makeover!

Clean out ruthlessly:

  • If it’s stained or damaged, either have it repaired or throw it away
  • If it doesn’t fit you anymore or doesn’t suit you, sell or donate it.
  • Think hard about anything that still has the tags on it; odds are it wasn’t a smart buy for you
  • And if it doesn’t spark joy, move it along to somewhere where it does.

Now organise everything left by function and colour in a way that makes sense to you.

It is now super easy to choose your outfit. So, if you’re thinking jeans, a red shirt, and a leather jacket, they are all at your fingertips. This will make getting to work on time so much easier, never mind packing for travel!

 

Hit the road, Jack

Now that we have the style basics down, let’s cover the travel basics.

1.    Suitcase choice for a business trip

The first rule of business travel is never to check a bag.

The second rule of business travel is never to check a bag.

The third rule of business travel is that if you are staying longer and really have to check a bag, be sure to pack a week’s worth of supplies in your carry-on.

And because you are a sexy and stylish woman, choose a suitcase that reflects your personality. Not only are you strengthening your brand, but your case will be easier to spot at the airport.

I’ve travelled all over Australia with this funky cow print case from Hideo Wakamatsu, and people instantly recognise it as mine!

2. What to pack for a business trip ?

 

I promise that we will get to packing some clothes soon. However, because I’m an efficiency expert (read: lazy and forgetful person), we have a couple more things to consider:

Put together a duplicate set of all the chargers you need and permanently leave them in your suitcase.

Running out of charge while you’re travelling is its own special kind of hell. Doubly so for business travel when people expect you to be on the clock.

So I always have a pack made up with all the chargers I need. It lives in my suitcase permanently. I do it once, I do it properly, and I never think about it again until Apple changes its connector.

Tip: don’t forget to include car chargers and power banks.

Put together a duplicate set of toiletries and skin care and leave them permanently in your suitcase.

This is not as easy as the chargers. You will need to keep things travel-sized, so they will need to be refilled. But you should never find yourself without a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, sanitary supplies, and makeup.

Be sure to include travel-sized skincare, as flying tends to dry out your skin.

You can keep the makeup very streamlined. First, a mineral foundation is good because it doubles as powder. Next, choose a neutral shade of blush that can take you from day tonight and double as your eyeshadow. I love MAC pigments for this. Pack two lipsticks – a neutral for the day and something that pops a bit for the evening. Add mascara and eyeliner, and you are good to go anywhere.

What to Wear for a Business Trip

Now that you’ve done your wardrobe cleanse, this is going to be a breeze. The items will vary a bit depending on your office dress code, but the basic structure stays the same:

  • One suit (or equivalent bottoms and jacket)
  • One pair of dark denim jeans, no rips or fading
  • One set of workout clothes and/or swimwear if you plan to use them
  • Two pairs of shoes to match your suit and jeans and don’t’ set off the airport security alarms:
    • One pair of flats
    • One pair of sensible heels
  • Three different coloured tops in a wrinkle-resistant fabric – leave the silk at home!
  • Three sets of underwear
  • Nightwear

Packing 3 of everything gives you one to wear, one to wash, and one to dry. So you can theoretically stay as long as you like with just these items. Although if you’re staying longer than a week or have special events that require formal wear, you might pack a few extra things.

And from your newly-organised wardrobe, it only takes a minute to choose what you need.

But here’s where the magic happens:

Accessories

Because your clothes are now all from a consistent palette, you should now be able to mix and match all those clothing items we packed. Excluding your underwear, nightwear, and workout gear, you have 24 combinations by my calculations (Feel free to double-check my math!)

Put some jewellery, belts, scarves, and other accessories into your case, and you have even more options. Your suit pants or skirt and jeans can be dressed up or down and be suitable for most evening activities. Depending on your workplace, your jeans might be acceptable work attire. Just pack 3 uniform tops and follow the same system if you have a uniform.

 

This system will have you looking put together every day with a minimum of effort. While we all love to look stunning, you’ve got way more valuable things to do with your time than worry about what to wear! So, go focus your energies on kicking ass and changing the world!

 

Brenda Moore is the Principal Consultant at Happen Consulting. As an organisational efficiency expert specialising in the Health and Community Services Sector, she helps her clients build streamlined operations to focus on the real work. She loves travelling and designer clothes.

 

Visit www.happenconsulting.com.au to find out more and for links to all the socials.

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