Saturday, 25 June 2011

The syndrome of the empty suitcase

I consider myself a person who is well-organized, but as our departure date to Europe approaches I feel afflicted by the syndrome of the empty suitcase. I blame it on the fact that, in spite of our big move, we will not do a "simple" family trip with one destination and one climate zone. We have indeed decided not to leave right away for Milan, where we will be based during our sabbatical leave. Rather we will move out of our house on July 1 and then go for a week on a car trip to Cape Cod (in occasion of a friend's wedding) and Rhode Island (to visit other friends) before taking the plane to Milan. Once in Italy, we will spend there only a couple of weeks, first in the city, then at the countryside, and then leave on a car trip to Belgium to visit my in-laws. I have thus been desperately looking for packing advice.

Last week, I read a terrific article in Vogue about the "luggage secrets of world's best packer Jemma Kidd." Her strategy is to plan a few key outfits and then mix-and-match. At that point, I was still trying to sort through my closet and decide what to take for our one-year move to Italy as well as our summer holidays in Cape Cod, the Italian countryside, and Belgium. That's when the syndrome begun.

My husband was traveling for work most of this month, so between our trip to Ottawa and the packing of everything else, I have had really little time to think about shopping for the season. Indeed I have come to terms to the fact that more stuff will not fit in our luggage and that, if I really need something, I better buy it on the road. So, even though I have been making lists about what to take for months, I found myself still with empty suitcases on Monday night, the day before we had to move the bulk of our stuff in storage. The stress eventually took over and I packed most of my stuff away, ending up with "only" four suitcases.

But my mistake was that, even though part of my philosophy was right (do not bring anything you do not LOVE and that mom would not approve of) I had not planned well what I was going to wear on our summer trips, especially the most imminent one to Cape Cod.

I hoped my other favorite, Lucky magazine, could help me, since its June issue featured an "how-to" guide to packing for one-week trips in one carry on. But I could have not been more mistaken because their suggestions were too far from my personal style and from being age-appropriate for me. I took away only the following rule of thumb for a beach trip: 2 bras and seven panties; 1 bikini; and what I would call the "2" rule for everything else (two tops, two bottoms, two dresses, two cover-ups, two pair of shoes).

I am looking now at my closet and I realized two things:
1) we are going to the beach and I have no shorts;
2) my closet completely lacks color, which is the "new black" this season.
A trip to Winners, Zellers and Holt Renfrew provided me with a quick fix to both issues. I got a black pair of tailored cotton shorts by Pure by Alfred Sung at Zellers and a mustard yellow pair of cotton shorts by Theory at Holt Renfrew. To go with them, I got two burnout cotton t-shirts by Calvin Klein at Zellers. VoilĂ , we are ready to go!

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