The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: Packing for a Short Trip

ONE of a Gentleman’s biggest “faux pas” is his inability to appropriately pack. Let us define this. Most men don’t pack well, for a personal or business trip because they:

The Archetype

a) Overpack

b) Underpack

c) Overstuff

d) Throw in a bag a bunch of clothes that don’t make sense (let’s see, three days; one pair of pleated khakis, a brown belt, white socks, black shoes or sneakers, a couple random shirts and maybe a pair of two of underwear.)

This is not how it’s done.

Men need to learn what women have known for years ‘pack by outfit’. Ok, most men cringe at the word “outfit” so how about “look” or “getup”? Throwing random shit in a bag makes the Young Gentleman and Older Statesman alike look, well, random and schleppy. Ergo, there are lessons to be learned here:

1) Pack for the days you’ll be abroad and remember, most hotels have laundry service- whether business or pleasure:

4- day trip? To pack:

  • Button-down shirts: (3-4), keep them simple: white (2), blue, blue striped (1) and something else.
  • Polo shirt : (1) if you’ll have any  downtime, a Polo is also the best thing to wear during flights.
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of pants (be it khakis or the ever-versatile grey trousers)
  • A belt (brown shoes on the trip= brown belt / black shoes on the trip= black belt, oh and forgo the kahkis in this case).
  • A blue blazer/jacket (because you can throw it on anything and you look like a million bucks…)
  • Brown shoes (loafers= easy to take on or off, on the plane, on the security line, or when you get back to the hotel).
  • A v-necks weater: it always gets cold on planes, of course, if it’s not cold where you’re going you may want to replace this with shorts.

Seems simple, but this is enough for any man, from sartorially-shy to unabashed dandy. So, how may outfits… er… getups do we have?

Have a business meeting? Pull together the white button-down shirt, the blue blazer, grey trousers, and the brown shoes= cool, comfortable, but appropriate. Going out to dinner at night? Slip on a pair of jeans and keep the jacket and shirt. More laid back? Simple, just pull-on the sweater and leave the jacket at the hotel. The next day, same place, more meetings- alternate the khakis this time with the sweater if you wore the jacket the previous day.

The Simple Look

It must be said that most of this needs to be disregarded if one’s business requires a suit, in which case a navy suit is best and a simple addition (ie. The trousers) to the list; keep the brown shoes, they make a stylish statement.

If the week calls for a  vacation in Bali- then forgo the above a couple of board shorts, some linen, espadrilles or flip-flops and a light cotton jacket is all you need.


Things to keep in mind to really make it work:

  • Buy travel-size versions of your ‘man stuff’ I.e. deodorant, shaving creams, shampoo etc. It’ll save a ton of space.
  • Keep the jacket single breast, single button, and slim (even if you’re not). Ditto with the pants, cuff them if you must.
  • On the loafers: if you’re chunky and have medium to small feet (or just the latter) forgo boxy shoes and at all costs, at least for now, pass on anything resembling tassles or pennies.
  • Hang-up the shirts as soon as you get to the hotel and maybe give them the old “run the hot-shower” steam treatment when you get in; you can also opt for ‘wrinkle-free’ which is not just for LL.Bean nuts… look for the “non-iron” line from Brook’s Brothers.
  • Fold socks and underwear inside your shoes; you’ll save a lot of space.

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