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sep 19

Expert Tips for Packing With Style

packing a suitcase

Follow these expert tips and pack just enough to look your best.

(Tiberiu Ana/Flickr)

Just bringing a carry-on is one way to avoid baggage fees, but that doesn't mean you can't still look fashionable on vacation. We turned to David Zyla, an Emmy Award-Winning Stylist and author of The Color of Style, to find out the most efficient way to fill your carry-on with great outfits you'll actually enjoy wearing.

Know your color
Packing pieces that all coordinate together is one way to cut down on the number of items you need. The key is to pick one color scheme to build your vacation wardrobe around. Zyla's advice for finding your perfect color is to consider a strategic combination of neutral, energy, and dramatic colors based on your skin tone, hair color, and eye color. The neutral color depends on the color of your iris (use this for your jacket, pants, skirt, bag, and shoes). Next, focus on finding your energy color, a comfortable color you usually enjoy wearing like sky blue, topaz, or pine green that can be worn as a shirt or sweater, or with accessories like scarves or gloves. Then, find your dramatic color, the one that offers the most contrast to your skin tone, hair and eye color. Zyla says to look at the coloring of the prominent veins in your wrist, which can be anywhere from emerald green to aqua or royal blue. Think of this as your "kaboom color" that will be super-energetic and make your outfit really stand out from the rest.

Keep it simple
As far as jewelry, think about which tone (gold, silver, or bronze) you always get the most compliments on when wearing jewelry and go with that-sticking to one shade will stop you from packing the whole jewelry box when you really only need a few pieces. For shoes, wear your casual flats on the plane-they're comfortable and easy to slip on and off in security lines-pack your heels for special events and a second shoe to get you through the day if you need them. According to Zyla, you only need three pairs of shoes tops to get through a five-day trip.

Avoid wrinkles
It doesn't matter how well coordinated you are if your clothes are a mess. Zyla offered tips for packing your clothing to avoid wrinkles: fill in sections between and around the bars of your suitcase with underwear and socks to create a flat base, then use the cardboard backing of a notepad to fold fancy collared shirts and sweaters around, similar to the way they're wrapped in the store. If you still have wrinkles when you get to your destination, dampen shirts and hang them in the shower so the steam can work on them for a while.

Above all, think of the vacation photos
Chances are you will be posing in front of iconic monuments and breathtaking views in photos you will look at for years (and post on Facebook). Zyla says to avoid an "I can't believe I actually wore that!" moment by packing the clothes you find most flattering. As you pack, lay out each outfit on the bed and visualize yourself wearing it. Break down each day into scenes-we're going to the pool, then changing into a nice outfit for dinner-to help determine how many clothing items to bring along. Keep in mind you can always shop once you get there as well (though remember to leave room in your bag for new purchases).

Still don't think you can fit it all in just a carry-on? Zyla says it's a good idea to pack at least an extra blouse or sweater you can change into, extra undergarments, and items like deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, make-up, and other toiletries that will allow you to freshen up in case you get separated from your perfectly-packed suitcase.

Have you ever been guilty of over packing? Tell us about it below.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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