How to pack a carry on bag for a week and not repeat outfits daily

With strategic packing, planning and prep, here’s how to pack a carry on for 5-7 days worth of outfits. Whether you’re in the corporate world seeing clients after meetings or an entrepreneur with laid back style, I’ve got you covered.  And, I’ll be honest, a lot of this is already having that ultimate capsule collection so you already have that mix and match collection to choose from.

Use this blog as a guide and substitute as needed, whether the specific photos aren’t your style or you’ve got different climate needs.  

Additionally, use this post for outfits for the week- whether you’re traveling or not, I hope it inspires you to take action and simplify outfits from your wardrobe for everyday ease  or to shop smarter and have a go to capsule collection for the ultimate dressing ease.


Plan for packing 101: Know what each day looks like

Prior to packing, you need to know what you’re doing and what each day looks like.  A team-building hike is going to look much different than dinner and drinks with clients. 

My clients and I write out each day’s events. This ultimately helps determine what you need to pack.

Remember,oftentimes one switch of a piece can make a big visual difference. Whether it’s throwing on a more casual blazer (I’ve aptly named it the “Swazer”) or changing your trouser to dark denim, it doesn’t have to be a full outfit change production.

Make the most out of the space on your carry on:

Roll when you can. And remember hidden spots like inside your shoes can host a variety of things; jewelry, nylons, underwear, socks.

There are always nooks and crannies in your suitcase, you just need to get creative and find them! Once you do, you’ll become a packing pro.  

Corporate capsule list for a carry on:

Here’s a list for how to pack on a carry on when you’re traveling for work:

  • 1 Pattern Suit
  • 1 Swazer (to be worn during travel day)
  • 3 Tops
  • 1 Pant
  • 1 Skirt
  • 2 Pairs of shoes (one you can travel comfortably in and one for business)
Picture of capsule collection for travel corporate

Capsule without the “swazer” addition

Just 1 extra addition can add 4+ outfits

A Suit:

While one suit can be the base of your travel looks, I love to add a pattern suit if possible for an easy and fresh way to liven up an otherwise stale work look (ahem, an all black suit). Don’t get me wrong, I love black and wear it often but a pattern suit really can give your looks a pop.

Pattern is an easy way to add more depth and visual interest to an outfit, especially if you often wear suits to work, this way you can pack solid shirts to mix-and-match easily.

If you like the idea of a pattern suit, I recommend choosing a black and white version as it tends to be more versatile throughout the year (versus a wintry plaid or houndstooth, for example).

The Swazer:

Additionally, pack a neutral color “swazer” – a sweater-meets-blazer.  This is a client (and personal) favorite when it comes to Friday denim days and travel because of its comfort.

The swazer is as comfortable as a sweater but looks as polished as a blazer.  It’s also great for those evenings when you may be meeting with clients for dinner or drinks and you need to look put together but a suit is too stuffy.

I’ve included a shopping roundup, including my favorite swazers (including a client favorite of J.Crew’s that is especially wonderful for pear/triangle shape women). Sizes XXXS-3X. *It runs generously, so I recommend sizing down.

 

Tops:

If you’ve chosen the black and white suit, I suggest going for neutrals when it comes to choosing your tops for the ultimate mix and match ease. Alternatively, if you’ve gone with an all black suit, I’d recommend adding some pattern with your tops.

If you’re looking for a travel friendly, non-wrinkle white shirt I highly recommend Lysse’s shirts, again you’ll find it in my shopping roundup.

(Although full disclosure: one of my clients laughed when she felt it and asked the fabrication because it’s who-knows-what combination).

She also has about five of these now- aka they’re a hit despite not being all natural fabrics.  

 

Pants:

Whether you have a few client meetings in the evenings or you’re simply going to dinner, a dark denim is always a safe option (pair it with your blouse and swazer).  I recommend your travel outfit being a denim pant, a top and your swazer.    

 

Skirt:

If you’re not a skirt gal you can replace this option with a ¾ sleeve sheath dress or another pant. 

Accessories to pack for travel:

Accessories take up such little space but can make a big impact.   You can easily add color with a silk scarf or use it as a shawl when chilly.

Pack three silk scarves, three pairs of earrings and one necklace. Don’t pack your expensive jewelry during travels or if they’re your staples and you wear them daily- go for it.  

Outfit ideas

 

Entrepreneur capsule list for a carry on:

  • 2 Do-it-all jackets 
  • 3 Tops
  • 3 Pants (this includes the pair you travel in. Black, dark denim & wild card pair)
  • Accessories: scarf and jewelry
  • Shawl vest (and wear it over a jacket or swazer during travel day)

Multi-purpose jackets/layers:

While one suit can be the base of your travel looks, I love to add a pattern suit if possible for an easy and fresh way to liven up an otherwise stale work look (ahem, an all black suit). Don’t get me wrong, I love black and wear it often but a pattern suit really can give your looks a pop.

Pattern is an easy way to add more depth and visual interest to an outfit, especially if you often wear suits to work, this way you can pack solid shirts to mix-and-match easily.

If you like the idea of a pattern suit, I recommend choosing black and white version as it tends to be more versatile throughout the year (versus a wintry plaid or houndstooth, for example).

The best style jacket for your figure:

I have mixed feelings about the best styles for your figure but the truth is- sometimes it’s really accurate and true why certain styles are more flattering for figures.

And, considering jackets are make-everything-look-put-together, I’ve included my favorite styles for shapes.


Triangle Figure

  • Boyfriend style
  • Chunky cardigans 

Hourglass

  • Peplum
  • Nipped Waist
  • Belted Jackets

Inverted Triangle

  • Pockets at bottom
  • Shawl collar
  • Draped cardigans

Rectangle

  • Peplum
  • Draped cardigan
  • Empire & inset waistlines that fall just past hips

The Swazer:

Additionally, pack a neutral color “swazer” – a sweater-meets-blazer.  This is a client (and personal) favorite when it comes to Friday denim days and travel because of its comfort.

The swazer is as comfortable as a sweater but looks as polished as a blazer.  It’s also great for those evenings when you may be meeting with clients for dinner or drinks and you need to look put together but a suit is too stuffy.

I’ve included a shopping roundup, including my favorite swazers (including a client favorite of J.Crew’s that is especially wonderful for pear/triangle shape women). Sizes XXXS-3X. *It runs generously, so I recommend sizing down.

 

Shawl Vest:

Whether you wear it over your long sleeves or your jacket, it adds such great visual interest and dimension to any outfit.

This is, by far, one of my favorite layering pieces for both myself and my clients. The extra outfit options with just this one piece are endless.

Ultimate Travel Outfit, Hanna Lee Style, www.hannaleestyle.com/blog

Alternatively, you could wear a shawl vest over long sleeves sans jacket.

Same shawl vest, completely different look with faux leather jacket underneath.

Tops:

If you’ve chosen the black and white suit, I suggest going for neutrals when it comes to choosing your tops for the ultimate mix and match ease.

And, if you’ve gone with an all black suit, I’d recommend adding some pattern with your tops.

If you’re looking for a travel friendly, non-wrinkle white shirt I highly recommend Lysse’s shirts, again you’ll find it in my shopping roundup.

(Although full disclosure: one of my clients laughed when she felt it and asked the fabrication because it’s who-knows-what combination.

She also has about five of these now- aka they’re a hit despite not being all natural fabrics.  

 

Pants:

Whether you have a few client meetings in the evenings or you’re simply going to dinner, a dark denim is always a safe option (pair it with your blouse and swazer).  I recommend your travel outfit being a denim pant, a top and your swazer.    

 

Accessories:

Accessories take up such little space but can make a big impact.   You can easily add color with a silk scarf or use it as a shawl when chilly.

Pack three silk scarves, three pairs of earrings and one necklace. Don’t pack your expensive jewelry during travels or if they’re your staples and you wear them daily- go for it.  

Outfit ideas

 

PS-If you love the idea of a mix and match capsule collection or go-to outfits at the ready, here are to ways to work with me:

  1. Imagine your outfits laid out for you daily. Proverbially that is.  Whether for travels or everyday life, discover 20 head-to-toe outfits at the the ready, with Instantly Outfitted. Outfits from your own wardrobe.  Simplify your life now, go here.


2. Discover 20+ mix and match outfits during this capsule collection shopping experience.  Walk into one convenient location, shop up to five stores’ merchandise at once and have your wardrobe needs completely taken care of for the season or all-year long.    Go here for more information.

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