A Four Step Program From The Marie Kondo Of Packing

A Four Step Program From The Marie Kondo Of Packing

By Erica

Having traveled for business and pleasure for over 50 years, I can count the number of times I checked bags on one hand—usually because my colleague was checking his. Even before the invention of wheelies and when my daughter was in her single digits, our family rule was that if you couldn’t carry it on your shoulder it had to stay home. 

It’s a time-consuming process to pack effectively and efficiently. But the feeling of freedom, when you’re not lugging around your entire wardrobe, can change the whole dynamic of your trip.  Marie Kondo has her process. Here’s mine in four simple steps.

Step One. Big Picture.

Focus on:

1. Is the trip business or pleasure or both?

2. Likely weather?

3. How many days?

4. One place or more? Same people?

Step Two: Lay out what you want to wear, separately day by day.

For every day you will be away (excluding travel days), think about what you are likely to be doing, and lay out your outfit(s) for each day. Consider day and night, work and play, separately. Put it all in one place where it can stay a little while. Guest beds, floors, sofas and chairs—they all can work. You will want to step back and look at it as a whole, like a puzzle with moving parts.

Your first pile should be basics:

  1. Underwear. Can I launder in a sink or will I be able and willing to use hotel services?

  2. Sleep. Tshirts that can be used for other purposes?

  3. Exercise clothes. Are you really going to use them?

  4. Toiletries/Cosmetics.

Now, what are you going to wear?

  1. Choose a base color palate that can easily mix and max with everything else. Black and white is my staple.

  2. Next, select the foundation. If it’s a city-based trip, maybe slacks, jeans, a dress, flats, heels. Long skirt that can do day and night?

  3. Then, tops. They’re tricky. Pay attention to weight and bulk. Good T-shirts are always packable and flexible. And a white shirt can dress up or down just about anything.

  4. Lay out shoes for every outfit. Obviously, some will work for multiple days. Sparkles on flats, sneakers, heels are transformative and have made packing so much easier!

When you are finished, step back. 100% of the time there will be way too much stuff. Walk away.

Step Three: Curate.

Now, slowly take things away or replace them. Ask yourself, do I really need/want to carry that? Can I eliminate a pair of shoes or pick another that goes with more? Do I need that print shirt or will a more flexible solid be more useful? Do I need two, or will one do?

Consider outerwear too, preferably something that works for both dress and casual. Don’t bring a raincoat that can’t also be used when the sun is out. If you’re going to multiple climates, thin insulated linings, or lightweight vests, are fabulous.

Accessories/jewels come last.

The point is to pare it down until it fits, but at the same time making sure that what is left are things you want and like to wear. For me, I always go back and add one fun thing—just in case I didn’t get it right.

Step Four. Packing Tips.

For travel clothes, wear something you have already decided you need/want to take—preferably the bulkiest, heaviest to lighten the load.

Rolling your clothes in dry cleaning bags saves space and eliminates wrinkles.

Plastic bags are your friends. Fancy containers are pretty but they take too much room.

I like wheelies with soft sides as you can stuff more in. I have had my expandable TUMI for 20 plus years and it’s still going strong.

And then remember. If you do get it wrong, and you are serendipitously invited to a ball or Ascot or you just want something else, there’s very few places in the world where you can’t spend a few dollars and fix it.

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