After taking a quick trip this past Memorial Day Weekend—and heading into prime long weekend season (July 4th, Labor Day, etc.)—I started thinking... As exciting as all that is, there's still a major issue that lots of people hate. PACKING. Some bring too much, some bring too little, and some have no idea what to bring at all.
So guys and gals, here I am to save the day, and your sanity.
photo courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger
I'm going to tell you what you should bring with you that will have you prepared for any situation. And I promise (if you know how to fold) everything will fit in one bag. Now keep in mind, these are only suggestions. Think of this as the framework. Many of these can be swapped out for something similar but the same concept must be kept in mind for it to work. The goal? Spend less time trying to remember if you left something, and more time relaxing and having a blast!
Left. Cutter & Buck. Right. LL Bean
You want something that's durable and attractive. Depending on your budget, I would say you should go with either leather or canvas. My wife and I both have canvas bags.
Now for actually filling the bags with the essentials...
Tops for Him.
You want to keep the shirts simple, yet interesting. When it comes to (1) t-shirts, I think they look best with stripes. If you wear a solid color then you run the risk of coming off a little boring. Now a (2) polo in a solid color is perfect. And as always, if you're outside, don't forget to flip up that collar. The sun is brutal during this season. And lastly your (3) go-with-everything blue oxford. This shirt should be the workhorse of your weekend because you can dress it up or down. You can wear it to an all-night party, take it off, go to sleep, wake up, then throw it back on without a care because it looks better with wrinkles.
Max's of Charleston
Anytime there's an occasion that requires a blazer, this is what you reach for. Just make sure you get one that isn't fully lined. That way you will still be able to catch some of the breeze.
Tops for Her.
Just like what I said for the men, ladies should bring a (1) striped tshirt. This one has a v-neck just for a little added touch. And don't forget a (2) simple polo. Remember, it can be virtually any color you want. As long as its slim and solid, you've got the green light from me. Next up is this (3) white eyelet blouse. Its a great feminine piece and because it's sleeveless, it allows you to feel the breeze. Lastly, whenever the breeze gets to be a little too much for you, just throw on this (4) light button-down sweater. Make sure it's a color that goes with all of your tops. This navy color is perfect. But you could try a grey, white, or maybe even a faded red could work.
Bottoms for Him.
A great pair of (1) chino pants will take you anywhere that your shorts or denim won't. Speaking of (2&3) shorts, you should bring one pair in a bright color, and as an alternate the madras shorts will be great as well. Some (4) white denim is great to throw on in the evening when the wind gets to be a little too much for the shorts. And of course the (5) trunks. It would be advantageous to find a pair that looks good off the beach as well. It's just gonna save you time if all you have to do is throw on a shirt and go. One thing to remember, NO BASKETBALL SHORTS ON THE BEACH!!! I say this for two reasons, 1. They're unflattering and they make you look like you're in middle school. They're cut way too long. Trunks should fall mid to low thigh. Not your shins. Reason 2. It will take you longer to dry. Well-made swimming trunks are designed to dry very quickly while basketball shorts are only made to handle sweat, which is no comparison to being soaked in a pool or the ocean.
Bottoms for Her.
Starting off with (1) a brightly colored pair of shorts is always the way to go. Back that up with a more (2) toned-down neutral pair just to wear as an alternate. Nothing says summer more than some (3) linen pants. They are extremely lightweight and grabbing a pair in white is a very smart choice. A (4) pleated skirt is great because it can be dressed up or down. It really just depends on where your going.
Left. Antonio Melani. Right. Polo Ralph Lauren
Two-piece or one-piece bathing suits really don't matter. It just depends on your preference. The important thing to remember is to have an attractive cover-up for when beach time is over. Why? Because any beach worth its salt is going to have a plethora of restaurants and shops nearby, and it's more convenient to go straight there afterwards as opposed to having to change into regular clothes. And in my opinion, its really not okay to walk into a restaurant, even one right next to the beach, wearing just a bathing suit.
His Shoes and Accessories.
Left. Aldo. Right. Bass
During this time of year I almost live in my canvas sneakers. Maybe it's because I just went six months without wearing them during the fall and winter. They go with everything and they look better when they're a little dirty. But if they get to be too dirty, then all you do is just toss them in the washing machine then hang dry. They'll be good as new. The loafers are what you wear to the airport because they're easy to slip off and on. And you could also wear them for a night out on the town.
OK, listen carefully. Wear (1) this watch. When you put it on you do not have to take it off until you get home. Literally. It goes with every outfit that you could possibly put together (maybe not a tux), and it's also waterproof. So you can wear it in the pool, in the ocean, and in the shower and it will be fine. If you would like an alternate, try one (2) with a brown leather strap. A (3) belt that's not black or brown is a must. Remember, this is your time for some color. Just make sure it's calculated colors. Make sure it goes with everything you have. You don't need to bring five different belts for a weekend trip. Once again, just as an alternate, this (4) brown version is the smartest choice. You can't go wrong with a pair of (5) keyhole shades. I wear mine almost every day. Now here's my two cents on (6&7) money clips and wallets (get it?). You should keep the wallet as slim as possible. The days of the huge bulge in your back pocket are over. Be sure to edit what you have in there. In mine I carry my driver's license, debit card, and health insurance card. If you must, I say its okay to have maybe one or two wallet-sized pictures stuffed in there. But don't get carried away with it. Put your cash in the money clip. Maybe I'm a little old school but I'm not ready to be a strictly plastic guy yet. I think you should always have at least a little cash on you because you just never know. Lastly, in case there's a time when a tie is required, bring (8) one in navy blue. I don't think I own a shirt that this tie won't go with.
Her Shoes and Accessories.
Left. Gap. Right. Lauren by Ralph Lauren
Just like the canvas sneakers above, these sandals serve the same purpose. You can wear them to go just about wherever you need to go. And the white goes with everything. The flats are good any time of day but especially for the evening where the sandals would look a little off. Just make sure you get a pair in a neutral color. I would say some shade of brown or even a nude pair would suffice.
1. Calvin Klein(thrifted), 2. Gap, 3&4). H&M, 5&6. Lauren by Ralph Lauren, 7. Market
A simple (1) brown leather belt that goes with everything is always key. This (2) nylon belt has a smart stripe running along the middle and helps keep it interesting. (3) Aviators have been relevant for over 50 years. There's a good reason why. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're going to be relevant for the next 50 years as well. (4) Hair accessories are a nice touch just so long as you do it in moderation. Your hair doesn't need to look like a garden. The best way to keep down on clutter is to bring one set of (5,6,&7) jewelry that can be dressed up or down. It's less thought and less effort. Remember, focus your energy on enjoying your weekend, not which earrings go best with your shoes.
Your significant other will thank you later.
A Night Out.
Now, I know there will be some ladies who ask "Yeah, everything looks great for hanging out and all. But what if I want to go to a nice restaurant? I can't put my dress in the bag. It will get wrinkled...." Well, ladies relax. I've assembled an evening outfit using the same clothes from above. This look will get you into at least 95 percent of the restaurants. For the other 5 percent who have stricter dress codes, the skirt may not pass. If you know ahead of time before you leave home then you can throw a dress in a garment bag. But this post is just about bringing versatile essentials. There's only one way to wear a dress. That's why it didn't make this list.
So there you have it. A foolproof guide to packing for that quick summer weekend getaway. And just to keep things interesting, try to go to at least one city you've never been to before. More times than not, exploring the unknown tends to bring people closer together.