Dressing for Success When All You’ve Got is a Carry-On

by Gigi Griffis

Last week I left the charming, magical cobblestones of Montmartre for the quirky, colorful, warm streets of Austin, where I spent three days meeting with awesome colleagues and clients and about two full days on planes.

Which, of course, brings me back to one of my favorite topics: how to stay stylish while living out of a bag.

Today, I thought I’d give you another peek into my capsule wardrobe and how it works when I’ve got three days of business meetings and two days of travel to cover and I pack carry on-only.

Let’s start by talking about my packing list.

Here’s everything (clothes-wise) I brought for the five-day trip: 2 black flowy skirts, 1 black pencil skirt, 1 black sweater, 1 black long-sleeved shirt, 1 gray zip-up, 1 pink tank top, 2 black tank tops, 1 sparkly scarf, 1 pair gold earrings, 1 gold necklace, 1 pair of red tieks, 1 pair boots, and, of course, socks and undergarments and pajamas.

Yep. That’s three tank tops, three shirts, and three skirts, plus accessories.

(And even that was a little too much. You’ll notice that I did not end up wearing my tieks or my sparkly scarf, so I could have easily left those behind as well.)

So, how’d I mix this teeny wardrobe up over those five days? Well…

Day one: working on a plane from Paris to Texas.
Black flowy skirt by Anatomie, black tank top, gray zip-up from H&M, warm knee-high socks, boots, simple gold earrings, gold heart necklace.

Days two & three: client meetings.
Pink and black tank tops, a black sweater that ties behind my back, gold jewelry, and my fabulous cowgirl boots (both days) with black flowy skirt #2 (day two) and my favorite black pencil skirt (day three).

Gigi GriffisDay three

Day four: final wrap-up meetings.
Black pencil skirt, pink tank top, long-sleeved black top, boots, and gold jewelry.

Gigi on businessDay four

Day five: flying back to Paris, sleeping en route.
Black flowy skirt #2, pink tank, black sweater, boots, and gold jewelry.

As for my hair, I wore it up every day either in a bun or a curly ponytail. This was A) because my curling iron has a European plug and I don’t have an American adaptor and B) because I forgot my hairbrush and felt that a bun was the best way to hide the fact. Good times.

This time I didn’t have a fabulous photographer to follow me around, but, despite the lack of professional quality, hopefully these photos do give you an idea of how I mixed and matched those few simple items to tackle my business meetings without feeling like I didn’t belong.

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Rob February 18, 2013 - 6:22 am

I usually don’t go for the pink tank top, myself :)

I’ve always admired people who can look that good, traveling or not. I long ago abandoned the whole process and it’s been jeans & t-shirts as long as I can remember.

gigigriffis February 18, 2013 - 7:52 am


Rebeca February 18, 2013 - 12:27 pm

Thanks for the post and great ideas for looking professional while on the go and packing as light as possible. Plus who wants to pay extra for luggage? Not me.

gigigriffis February 19, 2013 - 5:04 am

So true.

Roommate #1 February 18, 2013 - 7:47 pm

This is great! I spent a month living out of a carry-on -you were with me for the last two weeks in the Alps- but I think it showed in my wardrobe of one pair of jeans and three travel t-shirts (I’ve been to Ireland! and England! and Here!) acquired along the way. You, on the other hand, are much more stylish.
Well done.

gigigriffis February 19, 2013 - 5:05 am

Don’t sell yourself short. You have some very stylish dresses that you cycled through on our Italy and Switzerland adventures.

Bernie March 30, 2013 - 5:45 am

I’m so glad to know I’m not the only long haired person to have forgotten her hairbrush… ;-) But seriously, that’s some great inspiration on how to look professional but stay comfortable *and* all via carry-on.

gigigriffis March 30, 2013 - 9:01 am



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