So You’re Stranded on An Island, Right?

What do you take?


If I had a dime for every time an inquisitive (albeit box-shaped) mind has proposed the inevitable, never new but always, for some reason far beyond my understanding, highly lucrative scenario-chased-with-a-question: you’re stranded on an island, what do you take?

Personally, I find several difficulties with this hallmark investigation. First, the assumption is that because you know you can — and likely should — bring things, you’re well aware that you’ll eventually find yourself moonlighting as the lead roll in an adaptation of Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 hit, Cast Away. So let’s just take this off the table now: Tom Hanks will not be there when you arrive.

Furthermore and because the question comes from the initiated denizens of fashion fairly frequently, why is the assumption that if and when you do proceed with your trip and subsequently find yourself stuck sans WiFi, the supposition is always that the things you will take are highly fashion oriented?

I’m a victim of this answer myself, you see. “Definitely a white t-shirt, maybe jeans though my instinct is to say shorts. Does it get cold over there? Should I waste one of my precious items on a sweater I don’t even really care about? I’ll probably need my favorite pair of shoes but in the interest of comfort, I’ll take sneakers too. Golden Goose, please.”

But, hello! Earth to Leandra! You’re on a desert island! No one is here! No one cares what you’re wearing! You definitely don’t need pumps, especially because you’d probably want to wear them to dinner which, surprise! Does not exist on a desolate patch of land. Take your passport and a WiFi box, maybe your childhood blanket for emotional comfort, so that you can a. communicate with life on more developed corners of the world and b. cover your shoulders with a memento from purer days if it gets chilly.

For someone self-dubbed practical, I think I suck at surviving.

Bygones shall be bygones though, and in an attempt to modify the rules of this “game,” I propose the following: say you’re about to be deported to an island or otherwise location very far from your home. You can only take a carry-on sized suitcase with you but make no mistake, you will not be in isolation, your social life will remain ferociously robust — in fact, Fashion Week occurs where you’re going and you’re invited to every single event. It’s just that once you reach your destination, there is absolutely no shopping. You’ve got to take what you have and make sure its edited down to a selection you will love and feel beautiful in and happy about forever.

So now what do you take?

Are you thinking about it?

Good. Because what I’m asking in essence is what you believe makes up the best and most concise version of your wardrobe. In thinking this over myself, I keep reverting back to a pared down iteration of the basic items that help speak for me. I’d take blue jeans but probably not ripped ones. A white blouse, but not a mens button down, no. I want a cotton twill crew neck that pulls on over my head and fits like a mens blouse might but without the fuss of a collar or line of buttons I must tend to.

I’d still take pumps. Probably a pair in white patent leather or a short pair. In yellow. I’d need a coat should it get cool so I’d opt for something tailored, likely ankle length and bell shaped. I prefer a rounded collar but would settle for a traditional one. Maybe a grey cashmere sweater, maybe not?

When it got warmer, I don’t think I’d want to wear anything save for a shin-length vintage lace white sleeveless, high neck, zip-back dress. A jean jacket might nicely compliment my christening dress and for shoes? A pair of short-heel sandals that continue up my leg until a few centimeters beyond my ankle. Sneakers, too.

It’s sensible, that’s for sure, but is it what’s smart? Do I really want to be dressed sensibly for the rest of my life? Why don’t I just take that spectacularly sheer, green off the shoulder balloon blouse and a pair of wide leg purple pants to pair with them. A metallic plaid shift dress to wear with a wool striped jacket and military style over coat — gold buttons, red velvet, the whole enchilada — for, I don’t know, green utility pants? Glitter shoes, three pair of sunglasses. I should fill that suitcase to its brim until the zipper is about to tear with hats and colored socks and thick gold chokers that will do nothing for my protection. If I’m conceding, after all, to remove myself from my comfort zone, I may as well really stray, become the most hyperliteralized version of myself and in doing so, turn the dramatic into my personal prosaic.

The way I see it, there are always surrounding cities that still maintain shopping centers.

But that’s just me. What are you taking?

Get more Shopping ?
  • Katie

    My Celine furkenstocks for sure, Celine Trapeze to carry everything, Isabel Marant Becketts in case I need to walk anywhere far, shorts and tights, a top from topshop or zara… possibly Celine top or pants… that’s a toughy if you are unsure of the weather! But I would bring my favorites.

  • helen

    a little black dress (how clichéd i know, but it works for every occasion, right?), so theres that x2 and then black heels. i’m going to need a more of a statement dress as well but the material will have to be light. for the most part i’d try to wear the larger/heavier clothes whilst travelling (for more space in the suitcase ;)) – ie. the coat semi formal/casual in tan. jeans, skinny in a dark blue, the v neck jumper, converse etc!

    would sending clothes ahead of time be cheating? x

  • Birkenstocks, a Patagonia jacket that can double as a sleeping bag, tampons, a water purifier, simple white cotton t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. Oh, and a pocket knife.
    On this more metaphorical island akin to wardrobe favorites: men’s button downs, white cotton shirts, jeans, sneakers, jean jacket, a vintage babydoll dress.

  • A black coat, a black blazer and a dark grey cashmere cardigan. Plus: a pair of grey, green and blue jeans. A few non-black cotton shirts and my brand new Isabel Marant for H&M (black) lace top. 2 organic cotton bras (push up and sports), multicolored sneaker socks, sneakers (black Asics with gel), red Docs. Blue and yellow umbrella. A backpack.

  • Clare

    Love this post, you’re so clever! What a great way to frame this question, so specific so you can really elicit the proper response. Because I so closely associate clothing and memory the clothes I would want to edit down to would be ones that aren’t necessarily the fanciest labels but the ones that are the most near and dear staples I never get sick of wearing . My favorite dress from H&M which I’ve had for 8 years, my best pair of jeans, an oversized sweater that belonged to my dad, a pair of Prada shoes and my favorite vintage tailored coat– oh and either short boots I’ve hs forever or loafers! Those items could go day-to-night and I really can’t imagine a scenario in which I would get sick of wearing them.

    • I didn’t think of that re: sweater belonging to your dad! That’s actually a really good idea to bring something that elicits a memory, preferably of the family we’ve hypothetically left behind (at least in the physical sense).

      • Emily S

        Clothes are memories to me as well. Therefore I would bring my winter coat that has taken me through the past 3 winters –like the post you wrote about the coat as a car I feel like it would be my protective shell on the island. Other than that probably a long sleeve and short sleeve tee and a pair of jeans. 100 percent sneakers and maybe a large hat just for fun… Still dying over the hat post by the way..

  • Madelyn

    Ok this post just acted as a therapist to me and is inspiring me to purge my wardrobe. When you strip it down I could really get rid of at least half my closet and widdle it down to the bare essentials … Obviously ill hold into some weird pieces for fun but now that I’m thinking about this I have some eliminating to do!!!

    Do you know of anywhere good I could donate to?

  • Rachel Herzog

    What do you think Anna Dello Russo would say in response to this question?

    • Chances are she probably has an apartment on several desert islands to strategically position her wardrobessss when she’s traveling from fashion week to fashion week. At least all of her gold pieces and sequins could reflect light and thus give very visible signals to all nearby aircrafts, ships, boats, humans, etc

      • Cristina


  • This is difficult. Maybe clothing is a lot more like songs than we think. As Amelia was saying, we often overload on a song we like until we get tired of it. Then months or years later, you can hear that song again and fall in love with it all over again.
    Does this happen to you with clothing? How is it that putting something new on our bodies makes us feel fresh and new?

  • Jen

    Woah, what am exercise in editing. Show me chic Jane Birkin any day and ill want to thrown wardrobe out and wear about 3 things forever… Girl could rock a paper bag. Really makes me mentally sift through all the shit I could eliminate. Will get back to you on what I would want to take, right now I’m pretty preoccupied with the stuff I don’t really need haha

  • Gabby

    Leandra! Let me just say I truly love where the blog has been going lately. This post is so unique to your prose and is why I read MR! I feel like your style posts have gotten more sophisticated and this post about editing down your wardrobe was the perfect Monday morning (and pre-thanksgiving) read… Maybe ill so some editing myself over vacation..

  • Katie B

    Maybe this is a mistake but I would consider bringing all of my most eccentric garments I don’t have the courage to wear and done myself freak of the island.

  • I always love these kind of posts. It’s just fun to read.

  • monkeyshines

    stunning collection!


  • Nicole

    A red-riding-hood-esque coat I love that has pockets big enough to pack all my underwear and socks in. A few pairs of quirky socks, to wear pulled high with my sneakers. Mini-skirt is a must, denim shirt, smock dress, ankle boots, and party dress. Probably should bring a pair of versatile heels too..

  • Lynda

    You’re definitely like that cat I found once upon a time,
    that couldn’t feed itself after it was dumped at the airport. All the other discarded cats were doing fine but this poor guy had no survival instincts at all and thus was slowly starving. I fear that would be you and clothes would probably be the least of your problems on a desert island.

  • tiffje

    Where is the mustard yellow trench coat from?

  • JBean

    Isabel Marant boots, (always) flip flops, white chucks and my Elizabeth & James mules. Black skinny Joe Jeans, Theory leggings and Zara structured harem trousers. Marc watch, Raen shades, vintage black & gold bell necklace, Kage onyx ring. Plain white tee, black tank, grey v-neck, Acne black tube dress, Zara high neck backless dress, Pink Pom blanket- scarf, Topshop army jacket, black shearling & vintage floor length fur. Ohhhh, and brown vintage leather clutch.

    ** I’m going to need a bigger suitcase.

  • cici


  • Amelie

    I’d just bring a boat and get off of the island! 🙂 🙂

    The Neon Guava