Bethenny Frankel is the four-time bestselling author of Skinnydipping, A Place of Yes, Naturally Thin, and The Skinnygirl Dish from sister company Simon & Schuster. She is the creator of the Skinnygirl brand, which extends to cocktails, beauty, fitness, and health, and soon to be host of her own talk show, Bethenny. In 2011, Bethenny won a Glamour Women of the Year Award and was named one of the Top 100 Women in Entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter. She is a graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. Visit www.bethenny.com for more information. Below is an excerpt from her new book Skinnygirl Solutions
Packing well can make your trip so much easier, and packing poorly can turn your trip into a disaster. Most airlines charge you to check a bag, and even if they don’t, you risk losing your bag, having your luggage damaged, or having your stuff stolen. If you only carry on a bag, you will always have everything with you and you can just print your boarding pass online, get to the airport, and go straight to security, which can save valuable minutes, especially if you’re running late. To do this, you have to be a highly efficient packer. There are a million ways to combine a few basic clothing items in any climate. Here are 10 packing tips that I swear by.
Have a color theme
Stick to basic neutrals but add that pop of color and nobody will notice you’re wearing the same jeans you wore yesterday. For example, you might decide on black clothes with colorful accessories. Your color can come from jewelry combinations, scarves, and colored tank tops or T shirts. This allows for infinite possibilities. It’s just like what I do with food: Today, turkey burgers. Tomorrow, pasta Bolognese. I’m not saying you have to wear black for the entire vacation, but just be sure every item in your suitcase can be worn in more than one way or go from beach to dinner. If it can’t, take it back out. This also goes for shoes, bags, sunglasses, and hats.
Have a hardware theme
I also like to pick a hardware theme, especially if I’m only going somewhere for a few days. Is it going to be a silver trip or a gold trip? If your jewelry and handbag hardware all match, you can switch things out endlessly.
In warm weather, a sarong or tunic can be a cover-up over a swimsuit on the beach but can morph into a skirt with a nice beaded top or a tunic over white jeans for evening. A sundress during the day can transition to night if you add a scarf and jewelry and a cardigan. Cute shorts during the day can look great at night with heels and a sexy top.
Pack light for the mountains
In cold weather, a pair of black leggings, a black blazer, a turtleneck, and a selection of colored fitted Ts can last for days, in different combinations, if you change out the accessories.
Just the basics
Truthfully, you could probably get through most trips with a pair of jeans, a T shirt, and a blazer, just by changing out your shoes, scarves, and earrings. Go crazy and pack black jeans, a black skirt, a black dress, and a black blazer with a few tank and T options, and you could head to Europe for the summer. Just remember to bring enough clean underwear.
Keep stress to a minimum when you travel by bringing costume jewelry only. Fun accessories make basic outfits more interesting and you won’t have to stress about your valuables being safe at the beach or back in the room.
Plan for the plane
Although it won’t go into your suitcase, a well-thought-out travel outfit can help your packing effort and your comfort level. On the plane, wear your heaviest pair of shoes (although don’t travel with extremely heavy shoes—there is no point) and a cardigan or wrap. Once you’re in flight, you can peel off layers if you get hot. Wear the same outfit on your way home, and those items will never have to take up suitcase space. When I travel by plane, my traveling outfit usually consists of:
- Flats and fuzzy socks. Flats are easy to slip off in security and socks keep my feet from touching the disgusting airport floor.
- Really comfy jeans or leggings.
- A white tank top I can rinse out so it’s ready to wear on the way home (or I bring two).
- A comfortable cardigan I can use as a blanket.
- Unless you’re going somewhere cold like the mountains, don’t even bring your winter coat. Have someone drop you off and pick you up at the door, and keep your coat in the car.
Refine your toiletries
Why bother to pack a bag of all your personal products for every trip? Instead, keep a toiletries bag that is always ready to go. I first started doing this when Sephora came out with a set of empty bottles, jars, and pump tubes for filling with your favorite products, all packaged in a clear zippered pouch with labels so you know what’s what. I filled those bottles up with my favorite products and it was my go to travel bag for years. Eventually I expanded this idea, adding a separate bag for makeup brushes, hair items, a hairbrush, curling iron or straightening iron, a travel toothbrush and paste, a deodorant stick, and everything else I need daily (which isn’t really very much). When I go on a trip, all I have to do is grab the bag and throw it in my carry-on. You can also find clear bottles at drugstores. Label everything so you don’t wonder whether something is conditioner or hand lotion. I’ve even gotten a few men into doing this. If you aren’t that particular, you could just go with the shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion that hotels provide for free. Just bring your toner, serum, day face lotion with SPF, and heavier lotion for night. I also bring an under-eye cream/concealer. I usually live with the hotel hair products and body lotion.
Make up a cosmetics bag with doubles and extras you have lying around, so you don’t have to figure out your makeup for every trip. Just remember to keep any liquids in a separate Ziploc if they are in your carry-on, for then you go through security. This is what I keep in my travel makeup bag:
- One eye shadow palette in neutral colors, with one dark color that can double as an eyeliner, and makeup brushes for shadow and liner.
- Under-eye concealer.
- SPF foundation for day or night (I actually use a tinted moisturizer) and a foundation brush.
- Blush and a blush brush.
- Mascara and an eyelash curler.
- Little sample bottles of perfume.
I travel with a small set of five Conair curlers (the kind with the clips, not the pins). These are a lifesaver. Whether you’re in a warm climate where your hair gets frizzy or a cold climate where your hair gets flat, they’ll make your hair something you can work with.
Bethenny Frankel is the four-time bestselling author of Skinnydipping, A Place of Yes, Naturally Thin, and The Skinnygirl Dish from sister company Simon & Schuster. She is the creator of the Skinnygirl brand, which extends to cocktails, beauty, fitness, and health, and soon to be host of her own talk show, Bethenny. In 2011, Bethenny won a Glamour Women of the Year Award and was named one of the Top 100 Women in Entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter. She is a graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. Visit www.bethenny.com for more information.