Don’t let a small suitcase scare you; traveling light is not an exercise in limited looks, but rather a process of meticulous garment selection used by the world’s most sharply dressed jet-setters.

To put packing well into perspective, an edited bag equals an edited style. Think about it: With fewer, ultra-revised garments, you’re more likely to appear polished every time you don an outfit—no matter what combo you choose. 

Case in point: I travel once every two weeks, and whether I’m packing for a video shoot or an itinerary full of everything from hiking to upscale dinners, I always bring a carry-on. In fact, over the past six years, I’ve only traveled with a checked bag once, and I regretted it after having to wait 45 minutes for my case to arrive on the carousel. 

With this, here are seven packing essentials (and methodologies) used by world’s most fashionable frequent fliers. And moi. 

The savvy suitcase

Let’s start with the most obvious vessel for traveling à la mode: The suitcase. While I’m not going to tell you which one to select, I will tell you what to look for, because not every roll-aboard is created equally. First, look at the carry-on size requirements for airlines you travel most. Based on this, select a suitcase that’s just a “hair” under these measurements to maximize your packing. Another consideration: Look for a lightweight bag that is low on bulk, so the interior is 100 percent your things versus suitcase padding and pockets. Finally, black is best as far as color due to its slimming qualities (read: A black bag will not be targeted for weight or size violations as often as a red bag because the black one will appear smaller than its brightly-hued counterparts).

The posh personal item

Along with a sleek carry-on, a posh personal item can make or break a jet-set look. Opt for a sturdy, well-made travel tote or purse with hand and shoulder straps to complement your suitcase. Ladies: Save the clutch for going out, this is one of those times you want an oversized purse. For example, I always travel with one of my two California-made Clare V., purses. Designed with travel in mind by a Parisian, they are big enough to fit essentials such as my wallet, documents, travel toiletries, and camera, and small enough to sit atop my rolling suitcase.

The dual-purpose dress


The A-list accessories

Think of accessories as your travel wardrobe’s spice. They add flavor to your garments, and can simultaneously dress up or dress down a white tee-shirt or the perfect pair of travel jeans. A few accoutrements I keep at the ready are: A hat (felt for cold climates, grass for warm climates), sunglasses for zoning out mid-flight, and a scarf to keep me warm—plane air is cold! As far as jewelry, I keep all my charms in a small plastic bags so they do not get tangled or tousled in transit. 

The on-trend travel uniform

It was my husband, Mr. Trip Styler, who inspired me to select a travel uniform. Choosing a go-to travel ensemble is essential as a packing time-saver. Mr. Trip Styler always travels with five white V-neck tee-shirts, which he wears with jeans or shorts. I always pack my white, waist-length sweater which goes with practically everything in my wandering wardrobe.

Viewfinder Tip: Pack a large Ziplock bag as an on-the-go washing machine. Throw in your undergarments, or a top, add water and a little hotel body wash, seal it, swish the items around, rinse, and hang to dry. 

The dual-purpose duds

All devotees of petite and posh packing follow this decree: Thou shalt bring dual-purpose duds to maximize style. Ladies, think body-hugging jersey dress paired with a kimono for day, and belt and jewelry for night. Also on the dress front, select flowy frocks that can be worn to the pool, sightseeing, or out at night. Finally, while I suggest limiting pants, tops don’t take up too much space and offer the best versatility. Gents, hone in on bathing suit-come-short hybrids, plain white tee-shirts (for a Mr. TripStyler/James Dean lure), or a casual pair of sneakers that do double duty with an airport “uniform” or with a blazer for dinner and drinks. 

The fancy footwear

For most people, footwear is the main deterrent for packing compact and cool. Follow these shoe rules and your packing will hit the right stride. 1) Wear your biggest shoes on the plane. 2) Choose a clothing color scheme that matches your curated shoe collection. For example, if I’m going somewhere urban, I opt for booties as my main and plane footwear since they can be worn with everything from jeans to dresses. Other than this, I might bring one pair of heels, and if there’s space, a pair of walking shoes such as “chucks.” For a sun-drenched sojourn, I skip booties and stick to a small rotation of Capri sandals.

The classic coat 

A striking jacket is the glue that holds your travel look together. As the biggest item in your bag, that coat is best to wear instead of packing it. For a classic silhouette, take a cue from always-on-the-road models, most of whom are photographed at the airport in comfy leather jackets, or trench-style coats, a classic cut with structure and flow that compliments every body type. 

What essentials keep your travel look polished?