How to Pack Light Even in Winter

Winter is the hardest time to pack light. For one thing, it’s almost impossible to squeeze bulky sweaters, coats, and boots into a carry-on. But the idea of that endless wait for a checked bag for just a five-day trip is reason enough to lean it out (not to mention, airlines love nothing more than to lose your bags during the holidays). Lucky for you, we’re here to help.

First, keep it to a color scheme that is interchangeable (i.e. everything should pair with everything else you packed). Secondly, commit to your favorite essentials. What you need are classic, thin, easy-to-roll-into-your-suitcase basics for each day of the trip, which you can layer with anything (enter: some of our favorite AG tees from their Basic Essentials line). Once you’ve got that covered, you should be able to stick to this simple packing list. Below, we break it down.

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If you’re trying to keep it light, this may not be the time to pack your chunkiest sweater. Stick to something warm—think: wool or cashmere—that will actually fit under a coat. 2 sweaters is all you need. Keep it cozy but classy, and it can double as attire for a dressier occasion (say, the dinner table). 


For a 5-day trip you need 5 days worth of classic must-have, live-in basics you can wear with a jacket, under a sweater, or on its own for drinks in your hotel lobby—or to lounge around in in your room…. Or grandma’s couch eating leftovers. Pack a couple of extra tees if you prefer to sleep in one.


1 jacket, 1 coat tops. If the weather calls for a very cold season, you can skip the jacket altogether. Wear the bulkier coat on the plane to save space. You can never go wrong with a peacoat—it’s classic, elegant, warm and works on all fronts. A parka for the more brutal winter months is a must. 


We suggest sticking to something that is both comfortable but can also double as appropriate for a dinner or drinks out with friends. For winter, we suggest cords over jeans for the sake of warmth—and you might as well take advantage of the season to wear our favorite fabric while you can. Anything with stretch or a drawstring that actually look like trousers are also a good idea so you can go from lounging to dressy.


Don’t get frost bite. But, also, don’t go overboard. One hat, one scarf, one pair of gloves. 


1 pair of boots should be all you need, and you can wear them on the plane to save space. A pair of sneakers if you’re not headed to a lot of rain and snow won’t hurt, and you can squeeze them into the nooks of your bag.


A week’s worth of underwear and socks. This is the one place where too many is better than not enough, unless you have mom’s washing machine to keep you going with less.


What kind of vacation would you be on without lounge wear? 


Wash bag, toiletry bag, dopp kit—whatever you want to call it, get yourself a good looking one that isn’t so bulky that it feels like packing a suitcase inside of your suitcase.


If you’ll be needing a suit for the trip, pack that along with a shirt and tie in a separate carry-on garment bag if it won’t fit into your main bag. 

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