The life of a fashion stylist is as glamorous as it sounds: It's jam packed with world travels, racks of designer clothes, dressing celebrities and attending fashion shows every season. However, there's a fair amount of behind-the-scenes shlepping that's involved — they just know how to keep it together in a way that lets none of us know. As a girl with a reputation for overpacking, while somehow always forgetting something, I tapped stylist to the stars Laura Zapata for her best tips on how to pack a suitcase. After all, she's the mastermind behind wardrobes of celebs such as Gina Rodriguez, Camila Cabello and Dascha Polanco.
Zapata even teamed up with Dove and trend-forecasting site Fashion Snoops to share with me all the color trends for 2018. Needless to say, she knows her stuff. We spent the entire afternoon playing dress-up, sifting through her styling emergency kit, and swapping tips. Here are all the best tricks I learned from the seasoned veteran.
Strategically plan your in-flight outfit
I once packed this super bulky coat in my suitcase because I just had to take it. It legit took up half of my suitcase and get this, I didn't even wear it after all. Zapata tells me, that's a no no. "It’s often chilly during the flight, so layer your airplane look with the bulkiest clothing items you’ve brought on your trip," she explains. "It’ll save you loads of room in your luggage for heavier items."
Since I'm sharing my packing mistakes, I might as well confess: I packed five pairs of shoes for a four-day trip to Tokyo recently. Oh yeah, and that's not including the pair I wore on the plane (that's mistake number one). Here are Laura's best shoe-packing tricks:
- "I often start by coordinating (and wearing) the heaviest shoes I'm taking on my trip, with my airplane look."
- "Pack slender footwear like flip-flops and flat sandals in all of the zip-up compartments in your luggage."
- "Fancy footwear is packed with the soles facing one another, and the heels in opposite directions, all placed in their own individual shoe bags, to ensure they're kept from scuffing during the flight."
- "I rarely take more than four shoe styles with me when I travel. You're usually covered with a pair of flip-flops, sandals, heels, and a sneaker option."
Don't let wrinkles get you down
My biggest pet peeve when traveling is pulling a cute outfit out of my suitcase and realizing it's covered in wrinkles. Every hotel has an iron, but they never work as well as the ones at home. I've literally soaked an entire dress with a janky iron right before I ran out for a work dinner before. Zapata recommends that instead of relying on finicky hotel irons, take matters into your own hands.
"Pack a travel-sized garment steamer when traveling for business or weddings. Agendas are often tight and it'll help save precious time, otherwise spent fumbling with an ironing board or figuring out the settings of a new hotel iron, each time you travel. I bought my steamer on Amazon for less than $20, (it's a lifesaver!) and it always helps me look pressed and polished."
A place for everything, and everything in its place
"Place malleable items like workout clothes, swimsuits, undergarments, and socks in the zipper compartment of your luggage. In lieu of folding my clothes, I usually roll these smaller items for maximum space in my suitcase," explains Zapata. Being the travel packrat that I am, I'm actually really good at packing these items — I fit swimsuits in shoes and socks in back-up purses to save space. However, my biggest struggle is packing vacation hats. I always see bloggers with a collection of headwear on their fabulous trips, but how do they get them there in one piece?
"When traveling with larger headwear, investing in a cool hat box will totally upgrade your traveling game. Nowadays, there are some super cute options that resemble trendy handbags and can hold multiple hats at once." Zapata and I are both obsessed with the under-$150 options from Calpak. She also adds that headbands, head wraps, vintage-inspired turbans, and even tying up a silk scarf around your head are great vacation-accessory options that take up little room in your suitcase.
My accessory game doesn't end there — I take loads of costume jewelry with me on vacation. However, I've unfortunately ruined many a beaded necklace and tassel earring in transit. "To prevent your items from breaking, a travel jewelry bag is a-must," exclaims Zapata. "A velvet roll bag with soft storage for everything from necklaces, cocktail rings, earrings and bracelets, is ideal for delicate and fine jewelry. Roll bags are also super compact to tuck into your purse for added safe keeping." If you're wondering how she transports costume jewelry for clients, she says, "I also highly recommend stackable, waterproof and vinyl jewelry bags — the brand PurseN is a game changer."
Be prepared, because sh*t happens
I feel like I've been faced with stains, rips, snags, and blisters on almost every vacation. I almost always pack new items, which usually call for unexpected fashion emergencies. And because celebs are just like us, Zapata travels with a styling kit packed with everything you could ever need for wardrobe malfunctions. " I usually bring a handful of safety pins, double-sided tape, some band-aids, and my Dove Invisible Dry Spray Deodorant ($6; target.com). It provides 48 hours of protection, and doesn't leave any white marks on my clothes!"
Now that you're prepared, all that's left now is picking a destination. You're welcome.