How to pack light: 11 Style Panel tips for making carefree vacation fashion statements

How to pack light Style Panel
How to pack light Style Panel

When it comes to summer vacations, we all share the same fear of overweight luggage bills. From the moment we pull the suitcase out of the closet we’re considering how many purses we can qualify as necessary with and whether we can survive on just four pairs of shoes. Vacations are supposed to be blissfully stress-free and yet the packing blues have us in a rut.

For those of us heading beach destinations, the warm temperatures call for light, carefree pieces. Beyoncé has us convinced that she knows how to pack light. The starlet turned to Tumblr to document her recent beach vacation in which she’s seen rocking a variety of one-pieces (in kaleidoscopic prints, we might add) and flow-y bohemian blouses. For those planning a sightseeing vacation, packing light becomes increasingly more challenging. Comfort is key for those who plan to be on their feet all day. Rihanna was recently spotted out and about in London in a cool white-on-white ensemble which she paired with a leather visor, showing us she’s not letting the hot European sun put a damper on her vacation plans.

Still weary on how to pack light? We’ve turned to our style panel for more packing dos and don’ts.

Miss Melissa’s Melissa Knight confesses to being a chronic over-packer. She’s learned over the years, that if she plans her outfits ahead of time she’s able to make more outfit cuts, shedding pounds from her luggage. Inherited JeansStephanie Koch advises bringing key, staple pieces that can be combined in multiple ways. She promises this will save you necessary space in your suitcase (for more vacation purchase, of course). Dainty Girl’s Nicole Wilson sure knows how to pack light. She turns to the all-time-favourite printed maxi dress while travelling. She also recommends keeping accessories at a minimum- unless it’s a beach bag!

Question 60: What are your tips for packing light? Read the answers now!

Or jump to: ALEXANDRA NIKOLAJEV, TORONTO | AMBER DESILETS, LONDON | ANUM KHAN, TORONTO | BARBARA ANN SOLOMON, TORONTO | BECKY KUNG, CALGARY | CARA MCLEAY, VANCOUVER | KAYLA SHORT, HALIFAX | MARTA TRYSHAK, TORONTO/MONTREAL | MELISSA KNIGHT, VANCOUVER | NICOLE WILSON, TORONTO | STEPHANIE KOCH, KELOWNA VIA CALGARY


How to pack light Nicole Wilson

Nicole Wilson, 29
Toronto | Dainty Girl

Summer vacation is all about comfort without sacrificing style. Whether I’m traveling abroad, visiting the cottage or taking a stay-cation at the local beach, I always reach for a maxi dress.

Maxi dresses are effortlessly chic and comfortable, especially in billowy bohemian fits. They’re available in a wide variety of styles to suit every taste and often come in bold colours and playful prints. I love this black and lace printed maxi dress because it’s elegant, yet relaxed enough to dress down with flats. The open back and simple ties make it easy to throw on over a bikini too!

When I’m on vacation, I tend to keep my accessories to a minimum, my hair and makeup natural and I don’t bother with a purse – unless it’s a beach bag!

Nicole’s wearing: Maxi Dress, Boohoo.com. Shoes, Flurries Canada. Bracelet, IMONIQ, Watch, Michael Kors. Sunglasses, Aldo.


How to pack light Stephanie Koch

Stephanie Koch, 30
Kelowna Via Calgary | Inherited Jeans

I am a creature of pure comfort and simplicity when it comes to travel or vacation style. I travel in shoes I can explore things in, a light shirt with a tank underneath, and always a hat for wind, sun, and less than chic travel hair. By packing several key pieces that I know can be combined in multiple ways I save space (for new purchases on my trip haha). Also, pack a few of your favourite accessories that can help take the same clothes from day to night. This summer I won’t be doing any major vacations, however I love to treat my days off work as opportunities to explore the amazing things we have to do right here in the Okanagan!

Stephanie’s wearing: Denim shirt and aviators, Joe Fresh. Shorts, BCBG. Shoes, Keds. Bag, Marc by Marc Jacobs.


How to pack light Melissa Knight

Melissa Knight, 30
Vancouver | Miss Melissa

My vacation style is all about simple and feminine. It’s actually not a far stretch from my every day style now that I think about it. I’m known to all my family and friends as an over packer so over the years I learned that if I plan all my outfits ahead of time I can cut my over flowing suitcase in half. I like to bring dresses because they are easy and don’t require much use of my vacation brain. I also like to pack skirts, shorts and tops that I can mix and match. The purse I bring on the plane with me is always over sized so I can fit all my on board entertainment (and candy) in there and I use that bag for the entire vacation. I’ve made the mistake of bringing way too many shoes on past vacations so now I just bring a few neutral pairs that are comfy and that I can wear with anything.

With that said, my only vacation this summer will be a camping trip so forget about everything I just said. I will be living in jean shorts and tank tops for the entire week. Either that or a bikini (it’s supposed to be hot!). Happy vacationing!

Melissa’s wearing: Maxi Dress, Gap. Bag, Zara.


How to pack light Cara McLeay

Cara McLeay, 28
Vancouver | A Fashion Love Affair

I love packing for summer trips…so much easier than having to plan multiple layers for colder weather. A few of my must-have’s are a shift dress (they roll up easily, and are appropriate for almost any occasion, if you make sure to find one with sleeves) good walking shoes and a bag that zips closed so you don’t have to worry about losing anything while sight seeing. And of course, a swimsuit!!


How to pack light Marta Tryshak

Marta Tryshak, 28
Toronto/Montreal | With Love Gabrielle

Packing — it’s a love/hate affair! The anticipation of going someplace new makes me jump for joy but planning a wardrobe for the unexpected makes me panic. Personally, I enjoy travelling light and always looking for ways to pack less. I prefer not exceed two suitcases as having too many choices can be frustrating when you’re on the go. Packing is all about strategy! With vacation packing, I am always worried about running out of sun dresses. The easiest way to stay comfortable and cute is with an adorable dress thrown over a bikini. I always bring two pairs of leather flat sandals, two pairs of ballerinas as well as three pairs of platforms/heels. Also, for those messy hair days I love a fedora or turban headband.

Marta’s wearing: Dress, H&M. Sandals, Sergio Zelcer. Purse, Coach. Fedora, Holt Renfrew. Sunglasses, 3.1 Phillip Lim.


How to pack light Amber Desilets

Amber Desilets, 30
London | Canadian Fashionista

Being a lover of fashion I have a hard time packing “light”, bringing just one pair of shoes is out of the question. I do try to plan my wardrobe wisely when heading down south though; if I’m going away for a week I bring 14 different outfits, which I know may seem high to some? Since it’s usually pretty warm, I want a fresh clean outfit in the evening so packing dresses is my safest bet. Dresses means only one article of clothing, so I find I can pack 14 different dresses and they would take up the same amount of space as if I were packing 7 top and bottoms, I also find dresses don’t wrinkle as easily. I pack a few pairs of shoes, a cute fedora, a pair of sunnies, my bathing suit (okay maybe a few), some accessories and I’m all set. Since the dresses can act as a cover-up that’s one less piece of clothing I have to bring.

Amber’s wearing: Dress, Gap. Fedora, Smart Set. Sunglasses, Oakley Backhand. Bracelet, RW & Co. Sandals, Target.


How to pack light Alexandra Nikolajev

Alexandra Nikolajev, 27
Toronto | I’m a Little

The majority of my vacation days are spent in locations that are hot, hot, hot! My Number One rule when headed south is to pack plenty of basics made of light material. I say plenty as I have a tendency to overpack and can’t really comment on how to pack light; I’m just one of those people who needs options. If you’re like me and a tad indecisive, I definitely recommend packing bold coloured basics (think: silk tanks, camisoles, flowy skirts + dresses) and neutrals, neutrals, neutrals to balance the look.

I love the look (and feel) of this neon pink tank, casually paired with my favourite white pajama pants. It is comfortable, weather-friendly and great for travel as these materials do not wrinkle easily. Paired with a bold fuchsia pump and few bangles + accessories, I’d be happy to rock this look to beat the heat and turn a few heads along the way.

Alexandra’s wearing: Tank, H&M. Pyjama Pants, Anthropologie. Shoes, Zara. Accessories, Forever 21, J.Crew and Skye.


How to pack light Kayla Short

Kayla Short, 26
Halifax | Short Presents

While vacationing it’s important to have pieces that serve a duel purpose. I think maxi dresses are probably a common item being toted around in globetrotting suitcases this summer. Maxi dresses are great when you want an item to take you from day to night effortlessly with a just a couple accessory swaps. For day I’ve paired my floral maxi with flats, some messy waves, and a straw tote. For evening I would bun that hair and opt for some high heels, and a clutch.

Kayla’s wearing, Dress, Gap. Beach Tote, Old Navy. Sunnies, Joe Fresh. Leather Flats, Aldo. Anchor Earrings, Short Presents Etsy Shoppe.


How to pack light Barbara Ann Solomon
Photography by Trevor Negin

Barbara Ann Solomon, 26
Toronto | Barbara Ann’s Style Blog

Summer is, without a question, my favourite time of the year but I often find it the hardest to dress for. With days that are so unbearably hot and humid it’s hard to predict the best clothing option, especially when travelling.

The most important fashion factor for me, during the summer months, is sun protection. As I am so light skinned, it is imperative that I not only wear sunscreen but also have some light layers to shade my skin from the UV rays during the afternoon hours.

Cotton is great for summer traveling as it packs well and breathes in the heat. A simply printed cotton dress is my answer for the perfect travel essential, and of course a few pairs of heels and wedges that you can actually walk in.

This summer, I will be using my time off work to celebrate my engagement with my fiancé in the city. No travel plans this time, but lots to celebrate.

Barbara Ann’s wearing: Dress, purse and necklace, Vintage. Heels, Zara. Sunglasses, Michael Kors.


How to pack light Anum Khan

Anum Khan, 23
Toronto | SummerxSkin

I haven’t been able to get away this summer yet but I am planning a trip to LA in August and getting pretty excited as we get closer to the date. One of my favourite things to wear while I’m on vacation are maxi dresses! They are lightweight and if you have a nice print (like the one photographed), it accessorizes itself.

For most people packing is the toughest part of a vacation, but I actually enjoy it. I always plan out what I will be doing each day and bring outfits (with matching accessories and shoes) according to the schedule. It’s also a good tip to pack necessary items first; that would be clothing you need the most, undergarments, skincare/beauty products. If you have space left then you can bring along the extra pair of shoes or eye shadow palette that you may or may not use.

Another tip that I’ve been following for YEARS is to bring efficient carry-ons to avoid checking in bags. It’s a nuisance when you’re on vacation and your luggage is lost. Hope this helps!

Anum’s wearing: Maxi dress and gladiator sandals, Forever 21. Sunglasses, Chanel. Necklace, Nayme. Bracelets, Butterfly Beads. Crossbody bag, Poppie Jones.


How to pack light Becky Kung

Becky Kung, 30
Calgary | Velvet & Vino

I am excited to be on my way to the Okanagan, BC end of this week for a weekend of bliss by hanging out at the lake and enjoying the hot weather, wine tastings at local wineries and lunch reservations at some of the most well-known bistros.

My top style pick for this trip is the silk-patterned pants. These super trendy dazzlers this season can be paired casually during the day with a pair of sandals or gladiators and dressed up by styling with a pair of pumps for the evening, and a bomber leather jacket if temperatures allow. I also love that these are not only the most comfortable pants to wear while traveling; they are also breathable with the flowy material and also can be purchased as silk shorts, if preferred. With style and comfort combined, a girl can do no wrong!

Becky’s wearing: Silk Pants, Thanx Collection. T-Shirt, Forever 21. Necklace, Vintage. Metallic Pumps, Marc Fisher. Satchel, Accessorize.