October 17, 2009

Going Somewhere?

By Stan Mukoro

Photographed by Harold Daniels Creative Direction by Reginald L. Walker
Luggage by Globe-Trotter(available at Sid Mashburn Atlanta)

During the summer Reg and I were hired to coordinate wardrobe and pack for a certain entertainment insider in Atlanta who would be traveling to New York for five days and then on to Los Angeles for 10 days. Even after we learned he would be leaving less than 24 hours following our call with his estate manager, we were cool as a fan. The epitome of paired packing perfectionists, we both quickly agreed in order to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible, we needed to focus on matching wardrobe selections to his itinerary and not worrying about the “what-ifs”. Armed with pen, paper and a plan, we arrived at the client’s residence and checked any anxiety we had at the door. Packing doesn’t have to be traumatizing. If done well, it can be very satisfying. Here’s my fail-safe guide for organizing to avoid meaningless packing and an overabundance of luggage.

What am I going to pack? Before you pull out your luggage, visualize where you are going and what you will be doing. Making a list in advance and checking off each item is highly recommended. If you don’t write it down, it shouldn’t be in your luggage. What are your priorities? If arriving wrinkle-free is your main concern, chances are this is a business trip so what you pack will differ from a trip to the beach.

stanClimate is a careful consideration. The client Reg and I consulted with was traveling from coast to coast, literally. It was warm in one city and unseasonably cool in another. When traveling through different climates, it isn’t worth taking everything you need. Remember, less is more. You can pick up items along the way where needed.
In addition to climate, you also have to think about the activities you will choose. My suggestion is to begin with the basics. Let’s say you are packing for a business trip or a casual weekend in a major city. For just about anywhere, I would suggest four button-down shirts, three pairs of socks, two of the following: sportcoats, ties, pants, belts, shoes, one of each: blazer, denim jacket, pair of jeans and pair of plastic shoetrees; t-shirts and underwear for every day and seasonal additions, like swim trunks. In essence, if your clothing has duality, you will pack less. Separate items by weight. Heavier items in one pile, lighter in another.
Folding and rolling is a delicate situation because you want to avoid wrinkling and creasing. Fewer folds mean less ironing, if at all. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Blazer/Jacket/Sportcoat: Fold inside out with one shoulder tucked in to the other (see image). Creases should form in the seams of this item. Upon arrival, remove promptly and hang properly.

Pant/Trouser: Fold in half bringing the hem to the waist, then fold in half again. Place inside folded jacket for space conservation. Upon arrival hold upside down by the hem, carefully lining up the seams and then, clip both legs together by the hem using a clip-type pant hanger (see image). This allows gravity to exert weight and restore a freshly pressed look.

Now that everything is folded and stacked, you are almost to the finish line. Unlike garment bags, suitcases should be filled completely or shifting and wrinkling will occur. A suitcase is generally the better idea simply because it is not as cumbersome as some garment bags can be. Begin by stacking heavier items in the bottom creating a puzzle-like pattern. Place your toiletries kit in the center on top of the heavier items. Between layers, place plastic dry-cleaner bags to reduce the friction that causes wrinkling. Keep stacking your way up so the lighter fabrics are on top. Rolled clothes should fit into spaces around the stacked clothes. Shoes should be placed in dust bags and tucked around the edges wherever there is an opening. Socks fill in the remaining spaces. Press down gently to make certain all items are settled. Use the straps inside your luggage to prevent your neatly packed items from shifting. You’ve packed it up, now zip it up, buckle it up and stand it up. Congratulations! Kick back and relax till it’s time to go to the airport.

Packing well is an art and a science. Maximizing space while minimizing wrinkles requires practice. One of my clients, a radio host of Atlanta’s top morning show is one of the few gentlemen I know that applies the principles of geometry to pack so items fit neatly and comfortably. He’s one of the savviest travelers I’ve met. Traveling in style means paying attention to the smallest of details. You can simplify everything without sacrificing anything.

Weekly tip: Always pack an extra outfit in your carry-on bag. You never know when your luggage will be delayed or lost.

©2009 Mukoro|Bespoke, LLC – Stan S. Mukoro, “The Eye of Style” is the contributing style editor of Allure Magazine. He is a style mentor living in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact: [email protected]