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Perpetually overpacking? An LA-based stylist to the stars shares tips for packing lighter without compromising on style

Photography By @antitled.dp
Published 08.09.22

It’s time to leave that third pair of jeans, the unnecessary belt and those heavy boots out of your suitcase.

Look, we’ve all been there. Packing for a holiday and ending up with a suitcase filled with things that are never worn (and inevitably cause stress every time you approach the check-in counter at an airport or see a flight of stairs). Some people find the task of packing light for a trip harder than others, and, if you’re feeling particularly seen or targeted by that comment, then this article is for you. 

Firstly, packing lighter is doing a bit of extra good for the environment. For each additional 10 pounds a passenger brings on an aeroplane, it requires an extra 350 million gallons of jet fuel each year. Planes produce an average of almost 0.4 tons of CO₂ per passenger per flight, releasing approximately 120,000 tons of CO₂. So lighter luggage equals less carbon emissions. 

If the idea of packing less is still making you feel stressed, then the second thing to remember is that lightening your load isn’t as hard as it sounds and it doesn’t mean giving up on your signature style when travelling. In fact, as eco-stylist Cassandra Dittmer proves, it might actually help you feel more yourself when away from home and your wardrobe.

Cassandra firmly believes in approaching fashion and styling from a values-driven lens and has worked with celebrities including Maggie May Baird, Bebe Rexha and Laura Dern. Styling big names and collaborating with fashion brands has meant a lot of travelling for the LA-based creative – and plenty of practice packing with the planet in mind.

Following her recent Mexican getaway, we asked Cassandra to share with us her top tips, tricks and insider hacks on what to pack (and what to leave behind). From her non-negotiable essentials to her affinity for a few statement pieces, here’s her foolproof packing formula to help simplify your suitcase before your next trip. 

 

Images of Cassandra Dittmer

Plan outfits before your pack 

According to Cassandra, establishing a game plan for the aesthetic or vibe you’re looking to achieve while you’re away is critical for proper outfit execution. “You don’t have to be all parts of your style or character for every trip; it’s OK to play up or down different elements for ease of packing,” she says. Do this by making a physical list of what outfits you plan to take so you can work out what you can a) mix and match, b) rewear and c) eliminate due to any duplicates. 

Another one of Cassandra’s tips to help avoid overpacking is to look up whether there’s a washing machine where you’re staying so you can cut down the amount you bring dramatically. 

Pack your essentials first 

Think about what you can’t live without while you’re travelling. For Cassandra there are two items that are non-negotiable: a cosy sweatshirt for those cold plane rides and reusable eye gels for dark circles (after 24 hours in transit, these count as essential items to “wear”). There are also obvious pieces like undies, bras, socks, PJs, shoes, pants and T-shirts.

Beyond that, Cassandra recommends adding your core items to your list first. The top five items you’ll always find in her suitcase are hyaluronic acid to keep her skin supple, a tank top for everyday wear, some comfy sneakers to explore the destination, the perfect white T-shirt to go with everything else in her suitcase and a pair of sunglasses to protect her eyes while out and about. Once you have your essentials, you can move on to the “extras”.

Added tip: consider essentials that will reduce your impact while you’re in transit, like stasher bags for food and your own refillable water bottle.

Layering is key 

Cassandra says the key to minimising the amount of heavy items you pack is to use layering techniques. “I opt for lightweight layers made from wool and other insulating materials as they are easier to fit in a suitcase and easy to style to create a variety of outfits,” she says. This might mean packing thermals or wearing a skivvy rib turtleneck (perfect for layering) under a jumper.

Depending on location and occasion, Cassandra also suggests bringing one core jacket that you can wear daily throughout the trip and that can be styled with all your outfits. A relaxed blazer-style jacket like the Joan Jacket from Arnsdorf works really well because it’s ultra lightweight and can be worn trans-seasonally. Not to mention it has pockets – which you’ll thank when you’re in the airport and need somewhere to stash your passport, phone or sunglasses

Image of Cassandra Dittmer by @tonyamatyu

Capsule dressing

Capsule dressing – choosing a selection of staple pieces – is the easiest way to minimise the amount you pack and will also banish outfit anxiety while you’re away. “While travelling I have learned less is more and it’s the key to packing efficiently,” Cassandra says.

A capsule wardrobe will often consist of a dress, a T-shirt, a shirt, a skirt, jeans, trousers, a jumper and a jacket, and it’s an easy checklist if you’re heading on a trip that’s going to last for over a week. One of each (bar the T-shirts as you may need a couple) is a perfect start.

Cassandra says if you’re opting to go for that capsule style, the best thing to do is to make sure all your items are super versatile so you can mix and match them: “This means anything basic and minimal, choosing solid neutral colours, seasonless styles that can be dressed up or down, items that can be worn on their own or paired under that one core jacket.”

Include a few hero or statement pieces 

Packing less and with versatility in mind doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. “I always try to include a few statement or hero pieces when packing for a trip,” Cassandra says. This could be introducing a bold colour, printed garments or edgy accessories. “Ideally whatever these pieces are, they need to be able to be worn with more than one outfit.”

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