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How to Double the Outfits in Your Suitcase (With Just Accessories)

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I am a habitually terrible packer, so much so that I have previously defended my overpacking tendencies because it’s a habit I’ll likely never break. Might as well embrace it.

That said, in looking forward to warm weather and therefore, vacation, I’ve started to think about how I could further maximize my outfit numbers in an overpacked (or not, I guess) suitcase. If I have 12 outfits that I’m excited to wear in the span of three days, why not make them 24 outfits, you know?

Because a vehicle — be it winged, wheeled, tracked or keeled — only has so much legroom, there is still some restriction when it comes to literal space. The answer to my overpacking math, then, is simple: up the accessories ante, switcharoo them as needed and get a little weird in the styling department.

The below shoot explores the boundaries of this equation. I took three look bases — think of them like the crucial components of a margarita — then switched up a few pieces, added new baubles (these are your limes, your salt rims, your spice-y additions), and did a little rejiggering to turn each outfit into two distinct flavors. Let’s walk through it together…just in case my suitcase turns out to be too heavy and I need you to carry a pair of shoes or three for me.

From the Beach Cabana to Beachside Cocktail Party

Hello and welcome to your hypothetical vacation! In the outfit on the left — modeled by the wonderful Alisha, pieces all by Mango — you’ve got your straw hat as a straw hat, a fish purse dangling from your wrist, slides on your feet and two juicy slices of watermelon in your lobes.

The swap for evening: change your earrings to big ol’ shoulder dusters (tie your hair back to show ’em off, if you’re so inclined), switch your tank for a blouse, turn your cropped pajama pants into bloomers (a safety pin behind the knee does the trick), add black strappy sandals, and the clincher: leave your fish at home for a nighttime swim, then turn your hat — you heard me! — into your evening purse. There’s a photo in the slideshow that explains how to do it.

From the City to the Summer State of Mind

Sometimes a human’s gotta put her casual Friday sneakers on, grab her pre-packed bag from under the work desk and run to the bus to get the hell outta dodge. Problem is, you arrive looking like a Monday.

Part one of the solution is prep: Wear a colorful tank top under a white tee, then layer gold mesh tank over the tee. Your blazer might hide it, but that’s fine. The point is to be half-dressed for the after by the time you’re well on your way.

And now for the summer swap: Take your blazer off, remove your tee (you might need to do so in a bathroom, depending on your arm-hole dexterity) then change out sneakers for sandals, add gold earrings like these Mango dangles, and throw on black shades for that I’m-so-cool-I-could-be-napping-zzzzzzz-WAIT-crap-did-I-miss-my-stop? look.

From Sandy Breakfast With Grandma Sandy to Sunshine-y Errands

Say you’re visiting your lovely beach-adjacent grandma, and the two of you have an al fresco date planned for that fancy pants early bird breakfast special. Make like her twin and match your blouse to your shoes (you know she’s going to), get your hair out of your face before she brings it up (am I projecting?), and hold your purse like a lunchbox in one hand, her hand in your other. Once you’ve had all the OJ you can drink and enough waffles to pad your dreams for days, head home for a quick change so that you can meet up with your pals, do a little walking, and be prepared for over-air-conditioning.

The super simple swap: Sneakers replace sandals, add a strap to your bag (this Mango one is detachable), let your hair down, and throw on a lightweight jacket that, should you be running errands outside, adds one more layer of sun protection. Don’t forget to pack sunglasses in your bag! You’re on hypothetical vacation, remember?

Maybe you don’t, you’re so relaxed. I know I already forgot how much my inbound luggage weighed.

Shop these outfits and more on!

Photos by Edith Young; Modeled by Alisha Bansal; Makeup by Regard Tang

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  • Adrianna

    I once traveled to three countries with three climates (-10s, 30s, and high 60s/low 70s) with one carry on. Ask yourself why you’re traveling – to experience a new place, or post an outfit photo on Instagram?

    I also recommend keeping your plane-ride related things separate from your bookbag, in a canvas tote bag – USB cords, passport, wallet, magazine iPad, etc.

    • Lili F

      I get what you are saying but for me clothes are often way to reflect a state of mind or achieve a certain mood. Different places often bring out different sides of me. I just went on vacation to Paris and Marrakech and being able to dress differently in both those places was about feeling comfortable with myself as I experienced those distinct places. For the record there are no outfit photos of my trip on IG but I definitely spent a few minutes every morning/night gleefully picking out what I was going to wear.

      • Ciccollina

        Also….I need to feel appropriate dressed and stylish at all times. Maybe this is a huge fault of mine but not having the right thing to wear on more than say, 3 occasions, would seriously damage my travel experience!

        • Ma

          Last year I was lucky enough to take a 4-week trip to four countries which included beach, city, road-trip and safari, so completely different settings. Aside from that, during that trip I had my birthday on my hometown (so party!), two weddings (one at the beach, another at the mountains at the end of said road-trip) and two cocktail parties (a birthday and a pre-wedding celebration) to dress specifically for. Finally, I was leaving and returning to the UK (so I needed a coat that I wouldn’t necessarily need at any point during the trip). Because of the number of flights/connections/room in the car for the road-trip, we decided to take carry-on only. Here’s what I took: a nice, black going-out top and skirt which could be worn with the coat that I was going to wear to one of the weddings, a nice dress to wear to my birthday and a few dinners, a few t-shirts, tanks and dressier tops, two sweaters, two pairs of trousers, a jumpsuit and beach stuff. I rolled everything vertically so I could see what I had packed. For shoes, I took a pair of espadrilles, a nice pair of heels, a very nice pair of sandals to wear at the beach wedding (and many other times), a pair of flip-flops, a pair of flats and a pair of all-birds which I worn at each and every flight, as well as to the gym and the safari. The dresses for the weddings, our coats and my husband’s suit were carried in a suit-carrier that counted as his extra carry on. The toiletries were carried at my handbag which counted as my extra carry on. I was also crazy enough to take two different clutches to wear at each of the weddings, and many accessories. I spent weeks planning what to pack, so it wasn’t low maintenance/low effort, but i did not feel like I had compromised at all in my packing. I knew what to wear straight away every time I got dressed, barely repeated any outfits and managed to not dispatch my bag in any of the 16(!) flights we took on that trip. Packing lightly doesn’t necessarily mean compromising, but it does take some serious planning (and a bit of mid-trip washing)!

          • Ciccollina

            Amazing!! Well done!! The multiple-climate trip is always a killer, and hoenstly, makeup and skincare takes up so much freaking space. I’ll get there one day!

          • Gardina

            Thank You for the info. I’m going on a 17 day trip soon, and found your post very useful. I’m a terrible packer. Don’t want to pay extra for heavy luggage. Usually half the things I pack never gets worn. This trip I plan to pack light, and be carefree.

  • Alice

    Mango are killing the earring game rn

  • I love all the accessories!! More of these posts please – I desperately need to get better at packing less and reusing similar elements on trips.

    Eva |

  • Micha

    Its a bummer that Mango only goes up to an 8 or 10, or a M in in dresses. Though I do like their selection in Violeta, it would be cool if they merged them together.

  • Ellie

    Edith this is stunning!!!

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