It's high time for another list. Summer is approaching and many of you hopefully have plans to go on some big adventures! While talking to a friend the other day--helping her find the perfect backpack (if you have style questions hit me up!)--she suggested I do a post on what to pack for Europe. At first, I thought to myself, "Wow, yikes, that's a tall order," but then I thought about the last time I went to Europe (I was 18) and how dumb I was at packing back then. "I can do better now," my sometimes masochistic mind insisted. And so the challenge is on. Packing for Europe (or any long trip) is a huge challenge. If you're like me, you panic, want to bring everything and end up bringing a hodge podge assortment which frustrates the hell out of you when actually on the road. While I can't list EVERYTHING you should bring to Europe in this post as it would be not only presumptuous but also overly voluminous, I have narrowed it down to ten essential tips to make your adventures a stylish success.
Tip #1: A comfy shoe that does double duty.
If you're going to Europe, you are going to be walking more than you've ever walked in your life! All those beautiful, old cities are just made to be explored. While you're wandering between sidewalk cafes and cathedrals, it's important to have something comfy on your feet. It's also important not to pack too many pairs of shoes as they take up space and weight. Enter the Teva Flatform, your new best friend. The elevated height makes it stylish, while the supple leather straps and foam bed make it comfy. I own a pair and could walk in them all day. The best part is that these could totally team with a cute romper or dress for a fun night out look. When I originally thought of this blog post, I wanted to recommend the Charlotte Stone Amie Sandal. I have this shoe as well and the soles are literally made of memory foam. So comfy. However it is sold out ALMOST everywhere. Except here. They have only a few select sizes, so if you are lucky, snag this one up as an alternative to the flatforms.
Tip #2: LEGGINGS.
Leggings are your best friends for a long trip. They pack up light and small, go with everything and they're SUPER comfy. They will serve you well for the long plane ride, the cooler weather days, and--if you opt for a pair with cool mesh cutouts--they can look great for a night out! Even if you are going to southern Europe or somewhere warmer, it is a good idea to have a long pant option. A visit to Vatican City requires women to have legs covered. This pair by Onzie is affordable and stylish. Alo aslo has some really awesome leggings, but they are a bit on the pricier side. If you choose to check them out, I love Alo's Moto Legging.
Tip #3: Lightweight cardigan or kimono.
Once again we have a piece that meets the three criteria--packable, lightweight, multipurpose. A breezy kimono or cardigan is great to have on hand if the plane ride gets cold, you need to have your shoulders covered (another Vatican thing) or to throw on over a dress or romper to add texture to the outfit. Bonus: it can also be used as a swim coverup when you head to the beach! When choosing a kimono to bring, opt for neutral colors, that way it will go with as many outfits as possible. Gray or tan are great color choices as they are neutral and able to pair with many things. I love this style by American Eagle for a cute choice that will go with everything at an affordable price point.
Tip #4: Opt for a stylish backpack.
Backpacks as purses are in right now, and that's a good thing for your stylish and successful Euro trip! When I went to Europe when I was 18, I had this giant shoulder bag. I packed it full of junk and carried it around everywhere. By the end of my trip, I felt like my shoulder was about to fall off. Plus, the bag I carried was an open satchel style; I owe the fact that I didn't get pickpocketed to some strange stroke of luck. Giant shoulder bags and open purses are big no-nos for traipsing around in the major cities of Europe. Luckily Rebecca Minkoff makes the perfect bag solution. The Julian Backpack features a super roomy interior plus exterior pockets. It's iPad friendly, and really unbelievable how much stuff you can fit in this baby. But the real VIP is the clip on the front of the pack. This clip can attach up or down onto one of two D-rings on the bag. Clip it down for normal wear and you can access the zipper. Clip it to the top D-ring when you're walking crowded streets and the flap covers the zipper, keeping thieves out. With two comfy leather straps on both your shoulders, you can carry your essentials around all day! This bag is a little pricey, but totally worth it. I have the black one and carry it all the time. In fact, I invested in two of these bags. If you are looking to get a great deal, check out eBay. I actually just listed my tan version of the bag (plus tons of other stuff) as I am doing a closet clean out. So ehar9263 is my username and I'll stop advertising and move on to the next tip... ;)
Tip #5: Sundresses for the 'Gram
We've all seen these kind of Instagram posts. The kind where you don't know which to look at first, the awesome scenery or the cute outfit. If you're going on a trip with your girls (or your especially indulging boyfriend), creating cute pics like this is likely to be on the agenda. Luckily, these looks are so easy to create and will fit right into your practical packing regimen. Sundresses and rompers pack down so tiny and are space saving as they are a whole outfit in one. Stick to laid-back casual styles in colors that will pair with many things. That kimono from Tip 3? Throw it on over a dress or romper and you have a completely new outfit. I love how many options there are for sundresses with amazing backs that can help you capture moments like this. Sabo Skirt always has amazing options. Urban Outfitters and Free People are also fabulous.
Tip #6: Minimal Make-Up.
Ok, I don't mean you should wear no makeup all the time while on vacation! Of course there will be times when you want to look your best. However, lugging around your entire makeup drawer just isn't the best choice when you're on the go. My advice, look for palettes to minimize makeup space. This travel size kit by NARS contains blush (Orgasm) and bronzer (Laguna) which are two perfect shades you could probably use the whole trip. Do you usually use two different mascaras and three different eyeliners when applying your makeup? Do some trial and error and practice before leaving so you can bring just one of each makeup product. Invest in a good eye shadow palette that can achieve both day and night looks. I love the Too Faced Boudoir Eyes palette. It comes in a small box and is packed with shades ranging from modest nudes to shimmery smoky tones. This way all your bases will be covered without weighing you down. You don't want to spend your whole trip in front of a mirror putting on makeup anyway, right?
Tip #7: Use your bikini as a bra or top.
When vacationing in the summer, chances are you will be bringing bikinis. In the spirit of the cardinal rule of extended travel--make everything as multi-use as possible--why not put your bikini to work even off the beach? This one piece by Nasty Gal, aside from being fiercely on trend with its low cut back, would look so cute with a pair of high waisted shorts or a maxi skirt. It would probably even look good with those leggings you are going to bring. ;) You don't have to go one-piece to use your 'kini as a top. Check out high neck or longline tops to pair with high waisted shorts. The swimwear brand Blue Life has some amazing pieces that are totally suited to be worn both on and off the beach. I love the Tribal Crop Bikini Top as well as their amazing plunge-front one-pieces which could easily take you from beach to club! While you are checking out Blue Life, make sure to have a look at their lingerie inspired bikinis. While some are a little TOO lingerie inspired for my tastes, many of them (such as the Passion Flower Bikini) are really cute and would be amazing for travel as the top could be worn as a bralette under those cute little backless sundresses! It's all about freeing up one more spot in your suitcase and making your trip that much more organized!
Tip #8: Two-Piece sets are your friends.
Two-piece sets are basically a million different outfits in one. You can wear the matching separates together, of course, but then you can mix and match the pieces with other things! This all white set is great because together or apart, it can go with so many things due to the color and the casual style. My favorite store, Sabo Skirt has SO many matching sets available. From simple ones like this to fun prints and tassels, they will have one that works for you. Personally, I would recommend getting a casual set and a sexy, going out set. That way you have a look for nightlife, but also if you mix the pieces from each set together and with other items, you can have several casual looks as a result! I love either the Edelle Set or the Isle Top and Shorts for a dressier look with casual potential.
Tip #9: Bring the Basics.
Really I've already covered a lot of the basics in the other tips. What I mean here are the outfit foundation pieces that you can fall back on. Clothes you can wear your cute but comfy shoes with, throw the kimono on over, pair with your leggings, toss on over your bikini. Clothes that you KNOW you can count on! In my case, stripped down to the bare essentials this would be a good pair of denim shorts, a classic white tee and sunglasses that go with everything. For shorts, I always recommend One Teaspoon Bandits. Perfect faded washes, slouchy fit...yes. If I am going anywhere for the weekend, vacation, whatever, I never leave home without a classic white v-neck tee--it's one of my life rules! My favorite is the PINK Essential V-Neck Tee from Victoria's Secret. I have gone through so many of these--I wear them so much they literally wear out. Finally, sunglasses. I know it's tempting to take your fun giant blue-mirrored sunglasses on your trip, but how many outfits do they REALLY go with? Try to limit the amount of sunglasses you bring as they are easily lost or broken, and at least toss in one ride-or-die pair like classic Ray-Ban Aviators.
Tip #10: Bring a stunning maxi dress.
At some point on your trip, whether it's a fancy wine tasting with your friends or a romantic dinner with your significant other, there is bound to be an evening where you want to look your absolute best. Nothing makes a more elegant statement than a long, flowing maxi dress. Maybe look for one with more dramatic details than you would normally wear--after all, you are on the vacation of a lifetime! Again, no one does these jaw dropping details better than Sabo Skirt. I love this Indie-Rose Dress from their new formal range. The low back just gets me every time! If you don't find anything you like at Sabo Skirt, other brands like Indah or The Jetset Diaries have really amazing maxi dresses as well.
Hopefully these suggestions give anyone going on a big trip this summer a good starting off point! An extra tip for you before I sign off--plan, plan, plan! Nothing spells disaster like waiting until the night before to pack. (Sidenote, as I write this, I am literally going to Denver tomorrow and will be waiting until tonight to pack--don't do as I do, reader!) As tedious as it sounds, it may help to physically list out and coordinate your outfits to what you will be doing each day. That way you will be able to actually relax and enjoy your vacation when the time comes! Bon voyage!