Pack It In
By: Sharon Mosley
Heading to the beach this summer? It’s never too early to start thinking about your packing “to-do” list. Put pencil to paper and come up with a plan. Get organized and create a vacation wardrobe with mix-and-match separates — plus a few great accessories — that will have you sipping margaritas when you reach paradise, not worrying about those fabulous gladiator sandals you left at home.
Here are some travel tips to help you start packing for your trip to Margaritaville:
— It sounds pretty basic, but unless you’ve been to your travel destination before, you need to do some homework. There’s no excuse not to “google” that out-of-the-way island that you plan to visit. And, of course, check the weather forecasts. You may need to stick in a sweater or two. I always call ahead to the hotel to make sure they have hair dryers, toiletries, etc. There’s no need to pack a bulky hair dryer if you don’t need it.
— Start a list. Weeks before I go on vacation, I often wake up in the middle of the night and make my mental lists. Now, I keep a notebook on the bedside table and jot down items to pack, even putting together outfits in my sleep. It works. Then I start putting things in my suitcase, so I don’t end up having to pack everything at the last minute. You can do a final edit later.
— Think outfits. This is the easiest way to make sure you don’t forget the white jeans that go with the black tunic that doubles as a swimsuit cover-up, etc. Plus, it’s always much easier to limit yourself to one or two neutral colors that you can mix and match. Black and white is my “go-to” color scheme, and it always seems to work.
— Pop in some color. If you’ve got your neutrals down in your basic pieces that you pack, then you can easily “pop” them with boldly colored accessories. I have a turquoise pashmina that works wonders with my black-and-white combos. Then I take some silver and turquoise jewelry that goes with every outfit. A crushable straw hat (Target has a great one in the “garden” section now) is another way to add some fun to your beach wardrobe and not take up valuable space.
— Limit your shoes. I know it’s tempting to take those fabulous Jimmy Choo high heels you just bought, but remember how much room shoes can take up in your suitcase. Stick to a pair of comfortable flats or sneakers that are comfortable for walking and maybe one pair of dressier shoes, like jeweled sandals, to wear at night. I need to have my Old Navy flip-flops. But don’t try to take a pair of shoes for every outfit. Been there, done that. And how much are we paying for the extra weight in our luggage? You shoe freaks out there … try to control yourself! After all, you’ll be barefooted most of the time, right?
— Dress for comfort: Cotton, linen, jersey. Think cotton sundresses, gauzy skirts, loose-fitting linen pants or shorts. Go easy on the stuff that wrinkles and choose ones that have Lycra blends. I’m a great fan of the “Travelers” collection at Chico’s. Everything can be rolled up and stuffed into your suitcase without worrying about what it will look like when you arrive in humidity-ville and you feel like a limp dishrag — at least you won’t look like one. Remember to make your clothes do double duty. That cotton tunic will come in handy as a swimsuit cover-up and can easily be dressed up with jeans for a casual evening for cocktails at the bar on the beach. I often pull on a long, gauzy skirt over my swimsuit and top it off with a lightweight cardigan sweater when I want to be a little more “dressed” for lunch by the pool.
— Layer, layer, layer. Yes, I know you’re headed to that tropical paradise and really don’t want to wear anything but your swimsuit (of course, there are some of us who would rather wear anything BUT a swimsuit), but if you’ll be in and out of restaurants and shops, you need to consider taking lots of lightweight “extras” to pull on and off, which will easily fit into a large tote bag. Beach towels do NOT make great cover-ups when you’re strolling down the beach. In fact, they are a definite what NOT to wear in Margaritaville.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM
Out with the Old, in with the New
You’ve spent weeks cleaning out your closet and getting ready for a new year free of fashion clutter. So, now what? What do you do with all those bags of clothes? Do you donate them to the local Goodwill? Give them to friends and family? Or take them to a consignment shop? Or sell them on eBay?
Here are a few tips to help you recycle your wardrobe extras:
— When it’s cold outside, it’s a great time to spend a few hours taking inventory of your closet. Ask yourself what you haven’t worn in the past year — or the year before that — then be ruthless and get it out of your life once and for all. Maybe those sleeves have never really fit you; those buttons have been missing for months; you really do hate that chartreuse green color. Make room for something new. And remember: One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Put it in the giveaway pile.
— After you’ve purged, you have some decisions to make. I usually load my “extras” up in the car and take them to a local charity where I know my clothes will actually be worn by a person in need and not resold. Dress for Success is a favorite charity as well as the American Red Cross.
— If your clothes are in excellent condition, then you may want to consider “reselling” them at a consignment store in your area. Be sure to check out the store’s policies. These policies can vary widely. Many shops only handle high-end merchandise or clothes with designer labels. Ask what percentage of the sale price the store keeps. And remember, if your item does not sell right away, it may be marked down again and again.
Also ask what the store does with unsold clothing. And always make a list of what you have left at the consignment store. Trust me, it’s easy to forget that slinky little cocktail dress that languished at the back of your closet for years, even when it’s at the resale store. Out of sight, out of mind!
— If you’ve decided to finally part with great-aunt Lucille’s fur stole or your grandmother’s rhinestone brooch, then you may want to consider taking it to a consignment store that specializes in selling vintage clothes and accessories. Again, ask friends for a reputable store managed by people who know their “stuff” and can assist you in determining the value of a treasured item.
Also ask about their “terms” — some vintage stores may offer you cash up front, while others operate much in the same way as a consignment store that resells designer clothing.
— Have a swap party. I’ve only been to one of these, but it was interesting. Most of us had more fun sipping cocktails and socializing then actually going home with tons of new clothes. But there are several websites that will get you started on hosting one of these parties — www.wikihow.com or www.ehow.com — and even online fashion swap sites: www.swapstyle.com.
— And then there’s eBay. This international, online auction phenomenon is a treasure trove of fashion finds — new and old. One of my New Year’s resolutions (oops, I forgot to mention this last week!) is to sell one of my black Persian lamb coats on eBay. However, at this point, I’m much more likely to find an authorized “eBay” drop-off store and let them do all the work for me. Now that’s how I like to clean out my closet!
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM