Travel & Leisure

Foolproof Packing Tips

In the last issue, we explored how to travel light when it comes to beauty necessities; this time, our focus is on the secret to the perfect travel wardrobe (hint: it’s all about choosing pieces that work well together and are made from easy-care fabrics)

By Jessica Dostie

Our expert stylists:

  • Marie-Claude Pelletier (leseffronté
  • Louise Labrecque (

A two- or three-week trip abroad doesn’t necessarily call for two big suitcases stuffed to the gills, says stylist Marie-Claude Pelletier. One carry-on bag is often enough, as long as its contents are well thought out. The key is planning.

“No matter what type of trip you’re taking, create clothing ‘capsules’ by coordinating a few tops with each bottom,” Pelletier recommends. The ideal ratio is three tops for every bottom, to be chosen based on the activities you have planned. “And instead of bringing clothes you’ll wear once, focus on multi-purpose pieces that you can wear on different occasions.” Examples include a pareo wrap, which can be worn as a beach cover-up or a skirt, or a denim jacket, which you can wear on the plane and on cool days once you’re at your destination. “In the south, a stylish one-piece swimsuit can also be worn as a top,” she says.

“Remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world if, while you’re travelling, you wear the same thing twice,” says stylist Louise Labrecque.

To make it easier to pair items, the ground rules for a balanced wardrobe apply whether you’re away or at home: 50% neutrals that go well with everything (black, grey, beige, cream, white, navy), and, to energize outfits, 20% colours and 30% prints.

Another essential step: try it on! “Before packing an item, make sure it still fits,” Pelletier advises. This is especially true for clothes you wear only while on a trip—after all, some people haven’t travelled for three years, she points out—as well as seasonal pieces, such as bathing suits.

Good Travellers

It’s a fact: some fabrics, such as polyester, nylon, and microfibre, travel better than others; for example, cotton, viscose, and rayon wrinkle easily. “So does linen, but we’re often okay with it because wrinkling is part of its character,” Pelletier says.

For further damage control, she suggests, keep dry-cleaning bags and use them to wrap clothing separately before putting them in your suitcase: they’ll get to your destination without a wrinkle. The old trick of using the steam from a hot shower also works.

One Suitcase, 28 Pieces

In presentations she gives on the subject, Pelletier demonstrates that it’s possible to pack as many as 28 pieces of clothing (including four pairs of shoes) in one standard-size carry-on. The trick is her technique of folding and rolling clothes strategically. “Just place the longest and bulkiest items, such as pants and dresses, at the bottom of the suitcase, letting them stick out the sides; then roll the lighter items, such as tops and shirts, and put them in next. To finish up, all you need to do is fold the pant legs over the top and you’re all set!”

Compact packing cubes and compression bags are also very practical for creating order and maximizing space in your suitcase.