Thursday, August 25, 2016

Essential Accessories for a Travel Capsule Wardrobe: What I'm Packing: Italy, September 2016

As of 6 pm Chicago time on Wednesday, I have no news about the town that I was going to visit next week. It is about 50 miles from the epicenter of the earthquakes, so I suspect that it avoided much damage. Nonetheless, we are considering the possibility of just staying in Rome for a week, and avoiding the region entirely. No decisions have been made yet, though... Of course, let's keep the earthquake victims, (and all victims, everywhere) in our hearts.

Let's jump right in! I've known for weeks what my travel outfit is, including shoes, so let's start building around that:

black and white travel outfit with a choice of earrings
Cardigan – Jaeger, tee – L.L.Bean
trousers – Eddie Bauer; oxfords – Munro
top earrings – Majorica; middle earrings – Pichaya
bottom earrings – Edge of Ember

Someone asked about finding pants that don't get really droopy after a long time sitting down - I can highly recommend these from Eddie Bauer. They have a side zip, and enough stretch in them to hold their shape pretty well. Almost anything will bag a bit at the knees after 8 hours or so, but these still look good the next day, and I'm pretty devoted to them!

And for what it's worth, I'd buy the same Munro oxfords again when these wear out; they're comfortable, they straddle the sporty/dressy gap pretty well, and they're light to pack, if that's necessary. 

Okay - EARRINGS. I only wear small earrings, so it's easy to bring a stack of them... but there's no way I'm going to be without my pearl earrings for any length of time - they're unquestionably my favorites, and they go with everything I wear!

Now to choose a scarf - it's always so handy to have a scarf on an airplane. Such weird, annoying (germ-filled) drafts! I've had this scarf for a couple of years, and it's as gorgeous as ever...

(note that the two alternatives that I show, for all of these accessories, are items that I would cheerfully own and wear, if my "real" item were to unhappily vanish!)

a choice of black and white scarves to wear with a travel outfit
Cardigan – Jaeger, shirt- J.Jill; trousers – Eddie Bauer
first scarf – Julie Egli; second scarf – Sole Society
third scarf - Eileen Fisher

I've got a kind of serious bracelet... fondness, let's call it, okay? It's a tad excessive, but on any given day, I might wear a simple black dress and black sandals with an outrageously ornate bracelet. Why not? But when I picture this cool, simple outfit, I see a bit sparkly cuff bracelet with it!

three bracelets to wear with a simple black and white warm-weather outfit
Shirt – J.Jill; capris – L.L.Bean
top bracelet – Kenneth Jay Lane; middle bracelets – Bourbon and Boweties;
 third bracelet – Yuniati

(yes, you've seen that 2nd bracelet recently, but I REALLY like it...)

In reality, when it comes time to pack, I will almost certainly take EVERY pair of earrings that I own with me. Seriously. They're all attached to an oversized postcard, and it's easier to just put the entire card into the pouch with my headbands and other pieces of jewelry. 

But for purposes of this exercise, let's assume that I'm not quite that nutty, and that I have to make a choice. Stars are almost as necessary to my life as pearls! (those 2 things, plus my Maltese Cross bracelet, and I'm a happy accessorized lady...)

(still, those bows are terribly cute, aren't they?)

three pairs of small silver earrings to wear with a simple summer outfit
Tank – L.L.Bean; capris – L.L.Bean
top earrings – Links of London; middle earrings – Priscila Canales
bottom earrings – Minimal

Yes, for me, more bracelets are critical! I've owned this first one - the braided cord and pearls - for a few months, and I really like it. It's sturdier than a lot of cord bracelets, which I really like; many of the string bracelets look like they'll snap the first time you catch them on something. This one is MUCH tougher than that, and very pretty, too!

three pearl and black bracelets to wear with a class black and white outfit
Cardigan – Line; tank – L.L.Bean; pants – Eddie Bauer
top bracelet – Panapha; middle bracelet – Ettika
third bracelet - Ora Pearls

As much as I love my Munro oxfords, I'm going to need something a bit more lightweight. I have really good luck walking moderate distances (anything less than 7 or 8 miles!) in ballet flats, and I love the way they look with an outfit like this, so they're DEFINITELY going with me...

three choices of ballet flats to wear with a simple summer outfit
Shirt – Lands’ End; capris – L.L.Bean
top shoes – Josef Seibel; middle shoes – Vionic
 bottom shoes – Josef Seibel

Even though I may not have a ton of opportunities to wear them, I'm going to take my sandals. They don't take up much space, and if we have a chance to enjoy one of those late summer days... sigh...

(anybody have any good ideas for breaking in a pair of sandals in a hurry? I love these Birkenstocks, but my feet are made of marshmallow fluff, kitten fur, and unicorn tears...)

three choices of sandals to wear with a simple summer outfit
Shirt – Lands’ End; shorts – J. Crew
top sandals – Birkenstock; middle sandals – Mephisto
bottom sandals – Munro

Yes, you MUST have sunglasses. No exceptions, and no excuses...

three choices of sunglasses to wear with a simple summer outfit
Tee – Agnes B.; shorts – J. Crew
top sunglasses – Maui Jim; middle sunglasses – Ray-Ban
bottom sunglasses – Ray-Ban

Somewhere in with all of my black clothes, a pair of small black earrings are a nice touch... I like earrings that have an interesting touch of "design" without being outrageous. Timeless, elegant, classic...

three choices of black earrings to wear with a simple summer outfit
Dress – Eileen Fisher; leggings – Hue
top earrings – Treasure&Bond; middle earrings – Alon Diller
bottom earrings - Astrid & Miyu

Although we're going to be driving to most of our sightseeing, (and thus will be able to stash things we need in the boot/trunk of the car) I will definitely want my wristlet for those occasional forays into the retail world... (how cool is that first bag? it has a turn-key latch!)

three choices of black wristlets to carry with a classic summer outfit
Jeans – L.L.Bean; shirt – Lands’ End; 
top bag – Hobo; middle bag – Patricia Nash
bottom bag - Perlina

I'm going to pack at least 1 necklace, and see how it goes keeping it from tangling in my hair... sometimes, a necklace is just the right touch. (yes, I found a necklace with a moon and star; of COURSE I did...)

three choices of black necklaces to wear with a summer outfit
Cashmere hoodie – L.L.Bean; tee – Agnes B.; shorts – J. Crew
top necklace – Freida Rothman; middle necklace – Eight by GJENMi
bottom necklace – Elise M.

Looking at this - assembled from my wardrobe - makes me want to run into the bedroom and pack NOW!

a 16-piece warm-weather travel capsule wardrobe in black and white, with accessories

What's your accessory obsession? Do you even have one? Should I seek professional help for my bracelet... issue....?

What to pack for travel to Italy; a travel capsule wardrobe in black and white with accessories
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  1. Perfect choices for your Roman Holiday! (No inner Audrey would take a step without ballet flats.)

  2. While you don't want to be in the way in a place that's been hit by a catastrophe, it's great if you maintain your trip and visit other spots. The sudden loss of tourism is like a second blow to the economy.
    I hope your rental car is small. I once had to back out of a street because it just got so narrow my rental wouldn't fit. My current car is a Toyota Aygo, which if you look online you will see is itsy bitsy but I can go on ancient, narrow streets.
    You'll be able to wear your sandals. It's still summer.
    As for accessories, do you ever do a scarf in your hair? A friend with curly hair often wears scarves and it's so glamorous.

  3. It looks like you've made all the right selections. I agree with the choice of Munro - I have a pair that is as comfortable as my sneakers and certainly look much better. What size suitcase will you be taking?

  4. All the accessories look perfect for you. Is that white sleeveless shirt at all sheer? Thank you.

  5. Let's see, first, sandals: At the beginning of the summer I bought 2 pairs of Easy Street sandals in the Joelle style (in black & brown) and there was ZERO break-in for me. Each strap adjusts individually so they fit perfect first day out. I've worn them all summer long. They are dressy enough and sporty enough at the same time.

    As for Birkenstocks, they do need a bit of a break-in, the cork footbed needs time to mold to your exact foot, but once they do, you'll wear them forEVER. As an added bonus, they offer all sorts of repair services on their shoes.

    If you love bracelets, and aren't skipping the rent to buy them, enjoy however many catch your eye!

    I love jewelry, in general, but I have to say my fondness for vintage brooches far surpasses all my other pieces. I buy them at church sales & estate sales for peanuts, so it's kind of easy to get Very carried away.

    Enjoy your trip!

  6. Way, way, long ago back in the days of my youth my best friend and I would buy buffalo sandals at the beginning of each summer. To break them in quickly and perfectly, we grabbed sodas and snacks, filled the bathtub with about 5 inches of hot water, put the new sandals on our feet, and then bravely stepped into the tub. Once we got used to the temperature we could relax and sit on the side of the tub, enjoying our snacks and giggling like school girls tend to do. When the water got cold - our sandals were "done". Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

    1. OMG!!!! Yes!!!! What ever happened to those sandals? I had a pair that I literally duct taped together to keep them rolling for the entire summer - they were that comfortable. I've gone way out on a limb here and am picking up a pair of black Vionic sandals at the Michigan Avenue Nordstrom store in a few hours... I'll have to wear them 24/7 for the next 9 days. As much as I know that I'm going to love the Birkenstocks, they're just not... ripe enough!
      hugs for the memories,

    2. Apparently if you wear buffalo sandals today you are considered a hippie...
      For those who have no idea what we are talking about, here's a link.

    3. Janice. Have you ever tried Body Glide?

      In my opinion, it works better than moleskin. Give it a try.

      Incredibly bad luck on the travel plans, but, sadly, oh such horror for those caught up in it. Stay safe.


    4. I second the comment on Body Glide. You can buy it at sporting goods/running stores and it is a deodorant style stick so it doesn't have to go in your baggie. It's excellent for blister protection and I haven't had any issues with it discoloring my leather sandals.

  7. Love everything you're taking on your trip, Janice! As far as the Birkenstocks and breaking in, I bought the Arizona Soft Footbed style ( and had zero breaking in to do. They felt great the moment I put them on. My feet are very fussy and I could never wear the regular bed Birkenstocks. Hope you have a fantastic trip!

  8. Birks - break in with thin low white and/or black sock(lets) - looks cute and keeps out any dirt. Throw some moleskin in with your jewels for any foot hotspots. SCARVES . . . love . . . . and cuff BRACELETS! Love as always.

  9. I have found that all my favorite accessories feature flowers! And my mom was always covered in hearts. It's nice to find a "signature" theme like that...

  10. I own a number of fleur de lys pieces of jewelry. I have a Freye Wille bracelet of which I am fond but it's not coming to Ireland tomorrow. I'll take a blue and multi-coloured mesh cuff to wear. My friend has claddagh earrings and I might buy some in Galway.
    I always have to buy blister pads so I have thrown in lots of socks and footlets for the trip. I had a pedicure yesterday. Would I wear my Joseph Seibel sandals with my capris in Dublin if it is 70 degrees?


  11. First of all, GOOD LUCK with your trip, Janice! And a big thank you for being so inspiring. We went to Europe this summer for 3 weeks. I only needed 17 pieces of clothing because of what I've learned from you! Seriously: I had everything I needed for a wedding, a week on a river cruise, and many days of wandering on our own. EVERYTHING fit in my carry-on! It felt very liberating to have such a tight, coordinated wardrobe ... and very freeing to only have a little carry-on to schlep on and off trains. You are a packing genius.

    1. That's a fab result, well done! You covered such a range of activities with your selection too. It is indeed a revelation to learn here what you can do by mixing and matching. And oh the bliss of moving swiftly without checked-in luggage - it makes travel fun again, doesn't it!
      Robyn in Tasmania

  12. Janice,

    Do you wear a watch and bracelet at the same time? If so, on the same side or one on each arm?

  13. I'd say that you have the perfect wardrobe lined up for your trip - and I think you are wise to look at alternative travel plans - as someone above noted - tourist dollars will be needed and as long as you aren't impeding the rescue efforts in any way then your dollars will be much appreciated.
    I always have trouble with sandals and in wearing any shoes without socks or stockings - moleskin is often my best friend.
    I love the look of bracelets but find them awkward at the office and often end up taking them off. I am a bit of an earring fanatic - but if I had to really limit myself, especially for travelling, then it's pearl studs - and fake hoops, 1 pair in gold and one in silver tone and that will get me through.

  14. As I've settled on navy as my primary neutral, I may need to duplicate this stunning wardrobe in navy & white!!

    But a question about sunglasses for those out there who wear prescription glasses: do you have a pair of prescription sunglasses or do you opt for the clip ons?

    1. After decades of experimenting with different approaches, I've happily arrived at having prescription sunglasses in my bag that I just stop and change into when going in or out, and I have a pair of 'fitovers' handy in the car to slap on quickly as necessary.
      I found the clip-ons great for walking in and out of dappled light on hiking trips but a nuisance at other times. Also, it can be hard to find the right shape for your painstakingly selected frames.
      Robyn in Tasmania

    2. I have matching clip-ons for my prescription glasses so small and fits in pocket if going in and out of dark and light a lot. At one time I had prescription sunnies but the change over was messy. I decided against transitions as I thought the change might be a bit slow for me personally but I know many people that have them and like them. Different needs and lifestyles. Carol S

  15. I live in my Abeo brand sandals (and shoes) from the Walking Company. Literally the only comfortable shoes I have ever owned.

    1. That's positively eerie - I JUST bought a pair about 3 hours ago, and have walked 4 miles in them since then. I think they're going to be real winners!

  16. Bon look well stocked with accessories and great travel wardrobe choices.
    Love the fleur de lis icon but have nothing in my repertoire and I really should have something...perhaps a scarf or a brooch?

  17. Such wonderful choices! I have those Joseph Seibel Ballet Flats and can vouch for their wearability and comfort. I wore them all over Paris. The star earrings are sparkly and gorgeous! Bon voyage, Janice! I hope you have a wonderful trip.

  18. If you need professional help for your bracelet urges, then I am in serious trouble!!! I think this looks like a great selection for your trip. I find that I do better with well cushioned shoes in European cities and towns because of the uneven pavement and cobblestones. Have a wonderful trip, tourists in Europe are very important these days for all sorts of reasons.
    Deb in Vancouver

  19. I have those Vionic ballet flats and they are super comfy! I would not take any shoes or sandals that I was not positive could stand all the walking. Not worth it. I have Abeo sneakers which I love. I love bracelets too. I don't seem to have a theme though. :) I would love a collection of French Kande though! Maybe I will start that. LOL! You should be covered for just about any occasion!

  20. Earrings. They don't take up much space in the suitcase and they're lightweight. They also make great souvieners, so I always buy some on a trip.

    1. Me too Shreddie, they pack so well, and you can feel special in them. I love remembering the holidays afterwards, when I wear them at home.
      Robyn in Tasmania

  21. You've mentioned a few times having headbands. I have not been able to find them and would love your sources! I'm sure your's are nicer than the plastic things I have found. Thank you!

    1. There's a store called Indulge - just off of Michigan Avenue - here in Chicago. They don't have a website... but they are ALL ABOUT headbands and hair ornaments. An entire store! It's almost overwhelming, even though the store is maybe 100 square feet. And of course, Paris is a pretty good place to find hair goodies, too....

  22. Thank you for the update on the Abruzzi and on your trip. Your plans for going sound excellent and your wardrobe looks sensational!
    Robyn in Tasmania

  23. I have one week to go before my Jersey Channel Islands/France trip! we will be gone 3 weeks and I have really tried to stick to a 4x4 wardrobe (I think I went over by 3 or 4 items). I realize now that I haven't really stuck to a limited number of neutrals in my wardrobe and need to focus my future purchases a bit better.
    Tomorrow I will focus on accessories. You are truly an inspiration and you will look fabulous!

    I have a friend visiting Italy right now; they were in Abruzzo and definitely felt the earthquake but there was not much damage where they are. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Italy.

  24. I can visualise that suitcase working so well in Italy. Clearly you've thought it through. I think you may have missed details of that grey dress, it looks versatile, maybe it's EF too. Hope all goes well for you on holiday.
    I bought Birkies like those pictured on a hot day in Copenhagen when my usually so comfy flatties gave me blisters at the end of a day of mooching. I put on the Birkies and walked home comfortably - they needed no wearing in. So I suggest you pack yours and enjoy some easy walking if it gets too hot.

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