by Carollyn OlsonWe’ve had a number of friends ask us how we manage to pack outfits for boy and girl mode into a single carry-on bag (and shoulder bag) for a mixed business and pleasure trip. So this is the perfect format for us to share our packing list and tricks with you.
We typically pack clothes for 2-5 days, which can cover most situations and takes up about half of our carry-on bag. All items are synthetic, wrinkle free, and light weight. Many of the Suddenly Fem fashions fit the bill and take up very little room in a small suitcase or travel bag.
Mixing and matching is the most important. Key colors are black, tan, brown, and one bright complementary color—such as purple, fuchsia, or blue. White and silver can be accents. Everything must have the possibility of being worn at least twice, but in different combinations.
For makeup, transfer your cream foundation and other items into 2-inch diameter by ½-inch high screw top containers. For liquids, use tiny ¼-inch cylindrical screw top vials. And buy small 1-inch square containers of eye shadow colors for blush, bronzer, and highlighter (for contouring).
For eyes, a small four color eye shadow kit is perfect. A tube of lipstick the same color as your beard tint is invaluable. Cut any long lip liner, eyeliner, and brow pencils in half and use combination sharpener/liner caps. A small lipstick-sized tube of Vaseline works as makeup remover, skin moisturizer, and lip gloss. A small capped blush brush, combo eye shadow swab and brush, and 3-inch powder compact with mirror are the tools you need. Buy the smallest possible lipstick and mascara you can find at the drugstore.
A makeup kit fits into a zipper pouch the size of a grade school pencil pouch. And bring along a Handi-wipe in a Ziploc bag to keep your makeup off of the hotel towels; the Handi-wipe can be washed, wrung out, and dries quickly.
Also carry a small battery-operated razor. If you dab rather than slide the razor, you can trim stubble without removing foundation. When done shaving, all you will need is a light touch up of beard tint, foundation, and powder.
We both prefer skirts to dresses, since skirts are more versatile. You can vary the hem length, from daring to conservative, depending on your needs. In addition, you can put the flats, skirt, and hose in the large purse to give you options during the day.
Finally, use foam pads for body contouring since they will not present an issue in your carry-on bag. Leave the silicone pads at home. Silicone is a gel, so it prompts a hand inspection at the airport.
For both male and female modes, try wearing an androgynous pair of women's black lace up shoes to stay comfy while walking. Complete your ensemble with a black fold up umbrella.
Extra Points (More Traveling Tips)
- Mock boots: We both love wearing boots but since we need to pack both male and female wardrobes in one carry-on bag, we can't justify the space for boots. Instead, pack or travel in a pair of black stacked-heel shooties; also pack a pair of black knit leg warmers (circa 1980s). Slide the leg warmers on and fold the top edge over once, then slip on a shootie and slide the warmer down over the top of the shootie; this visually has a similar effect to boots. But leg warms will save much space in your bag, since they can be rolled up and even tucked inside a shoe to save space.
- Adjustable chain for a pendant: Always slip a few zip ties (cable ties) into your luggage, so you can zip tie your bag shut if you choose to check it at the airport. That same zip tie is great to make a loop of excess chain on a pendant so it hangs at the optimal “one thumb length above the neckline.” Make sure the loop of chain and zip tie are next to the clasp, so your hair over the back of your neck will cover the clasp and loop. Use nail clippers to cut the excess zip tie off. A small rubber band also works well.
- A wig container and stand: A wig will look better and maybe last a bit longer if you take special care in packing it and storing it while traveling. Cut a sturdy poster board into quarters. It's helpful to have a couple large paper clips too. For traveling, put some soft compressible clothes like nylons and panties in the wig cap, to prevent the cap from creasing. Then slide the wig into a clean plastic grocery bag—better yet, wrap it in a smooth silky scarf, taking care to ensure that all the hair lays as naturally as possible. Then, roll the poster board around the wrapped wig to create a tube (the paper clips can be used to keep the poster board shaped like a tube). Pack the tube amongst your clothes to act as a cushion (away from the heels!). At your hotel room, prop the curled poster board on end and use it as a wig stand. If you wish you can use the paper clips to make a sturdier column. And if you travel en femme and wear your wig, the poster board can be laid flat in the bottom of your luggage.
What We Pack
- Black scoop neck t-shirt
- Tan long-sleeve V-neck tunic top
- One bright colored top
- Black skirt
- Black or tan patterned ankle-length pants
- Black tights/leggings
- Large white rayon Scarf
- Tan, black, or patterned cardigan (use on plane too)
- Nude pantyhose
- Black 2” pumps or sandals
- Black folding flats
- Foam breast forms
- Foam hip forms
- One set of jewelry
- Makeup/nail polish remover pads
- Wig & stand (see above for care)
- Comb or brush
- Women’s wallet
- Canvas travel purse/tote (with top closure to keep pickpockets out)
- Black nylon folding grocery bag (size of a tennis racquet)
- Lightweight unlined short trench coat
- Folding umbrella
Stefia Satoh passed away in mid-2015. She will be missed, but her excellent travel tips will last forever.
For more atricles, Tips and Tricks, visit the Suddenly Fem Learning Center