Tricks that help you travel light for business

January 04, 1996|By ELSA KLENSCH | ELSA KLENSCH,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

In today's business world, a heavy travel schedule is routine for many of the successful executives I know.

I also travel extensively to Europe and Japan to cover the showings of the fall and spring collections -- a whirlwind schedule running from shows to press parties to dinners. In between I do quite a bit of domestic traveling to give talks about the design world. The basis of any successful travel wardrobe -- business or pleasure -- is in the organization. It's key in helping to reduce the stress of travel.

The pleasure of any trip is traveling light. You are always under much less pressure if you don't have a lot of things to worry about, including what you're going to wear that evening or the next day.

The secret is to list every function and meeting you will have to attend. Then work out the minimum number of items needed to dress appropriately for each. I say minimum, because too many clothes will confuse you when you're tired and busy. Your suitcase will be heavier than it has to be, and you'll waste time packing and unpacking.

The type of wardrobe you take depends on the nature of your trip. You'll need more outfits for six days in one city than for three days each in two cities. (Different people would see you in the two places, so you could wear exactly the same things twice.)

I start my trip-wardrobe plan by roughly listing the clothes I'll need for the various functions I've scheduled. This takes seconds. And I usually start planning a week or two in advance in case anything needs to be cleaned, pressed or repaired. I check the list a few times to see that I have all I need. I find I enjoy the process more if I let the list percolate in my mind for a few days rather than making instant decisions.

A few days before the trip I get out my folding rack and hang the nTC clothes on it. (The rack cost me about $25 a dozen years ago and is one of my best investments ever.) Then I add the accessories, starting with shoes and bags, and work up through belts and jewelry. (I keep all shoes, belts and bags in the same color so they're interchangeable. Then I don't have to give a second's thought as to whether or not they "go.")

The next day, I start to edit. Often I remove half the pieces I've selected. Seeing the clothes on the rack helps me to figure out how I can cut down on basic items like skirts, pants, shoes.

This system -- whether the trip is for three days or three weeks -- is practically foolproof for me. I rarely forget essentials. I always travel light. And I often discover new combinations. But most important, it doesn't take too much time and I get a lot of pleasure from it.

What to take

You'll want to choose the simplest pieces, ones that you know fit you easily and comfortably: dresses, jackets, skirts, pants and tunics.

New clothes are not for trips! You don't need the stress of finding that a brand-new jacket is too tight or that it really doesn't go with your basic skirt.

Of course, you can experiment with new accessories, but include some of your favorites as well -- the ones that give you an instant lift when you're tired.

Your best bet for the actual traveling is a neutral-colored, wrinkle-proof pantsuit. Lighten the look with a white shell and a lively scarf. You're then prepared for the worst -- delays, rerouting, changes in weather.

Carry a light coat. Then, if it's a short trip you're already wearing half your wardrobe. If you put the rest in a garment bag, you won't even have to check your luggage.

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