Packing light is always a challenge, especially when you’re cruising. Every woman wants to look good, even when she’s working with limited resources.
Cruises have a lot going on at night. Formal dinners, live shows, bars, pool parties—the options are endless. But most of us don’t have enough room in even our biggest suitcase to pack a different outfit every night. Not to mention you may not know the types of events you’ll be dressing for.
If you’re planning on packing light, you need some easy outfits to take you from belle of the ball to dancing diva. The good news is that there are plenty of options. And the even better news is that none of them have to break the bank.
Devine Dark Denim
It’s simply not practical to take a lot dresses and skirts when you’re packing light. So every woman needs a good pair of jeans. And by good, I don’t necessarily mean the kind that cost $200 a pair. I mean they should fit you like a second skin, hugging all of your curves and accentuating your femininity.
It doesn’t matter if they are slim, skinny, or boot cut. They just need to make you feel good. And they need to be the darkest wash you can find without being black. This is key if you’re going to make them work as evening wear. Unless it’s between Easter and Labor Day. Then you could get away with substituting white jeans.
Personally, I look my best in a pair of $40 Levi’s. They’re classic, fit like a glove, and make me look 5 pounds lighter. What more can a girl ask for? And there are many other affordable jeans brands that can make you feel like a million bucks. Lee Rider and Joe Fresh are just a few options.
Dark denim is my number one can’t live without evening wear item for cruising, especially if I’m planning on packing light. I use a pair of dark jeans as the base for nearly every outfit I wear out at night, whether it’s to dinner or dancing. Most cruise lines offer a huge variety of dining options, and very few have a formal dress code. In my experience, most women are casting aside their cocktail dresses in favor of more versatile attire. On my most recent cruise, I didn’t see a single evening gown.
There are a million ways to wear a good pair of dark jeans, which is great news for ladies who want to create a fresh look every night. Ships are like small towns—even though there are thousands of people onboard, you always run into the same ones. My wardrobe stands out—people will notice if I’m wearing the same thing every night. Maybe I shouldn’t care, but I do anyway.
You can create countless looks by simply pairing a beautiful blouse with your dark denim. Typically, I pack one pair of jeans and one “top” for each night of the cruise. Sometimes, I pack a few less if one or two of my blouses are neutral and can be paired with other items to give them a different look. A white poplin blouse is a perfect example for packing light. You can wear it with a chunky necklace and heels one night, and two nights later, you can pair it with a scarf and flats. No one will know it’s the same shirt worn two ways.
Fluttery, loose-fitting tops look fantastic with skinny and slim fit jeans. For a more tailored look, consider a peplum to accentuate a narrow waist and shapely hips. If you’re a boot cut kinda gal, a form-fitting top balances out the wider width at the ankle.
My favorite tops to take with me are elegant and timeless, but they pack a lot of punch. HD in Paris makes lovely lacy tops with a subtle twist. My favorite is the Lily Lace Blouse. They make a new version of it each year. It’s perfect for any season and looks great with jeans.
Often when we travel, we forget to bring along the little things. We think no one will notice or that it’s not worth the effort. But it is if you want to look good with less. You’re packing light. You’ve got one pair of pants and a handful of tops to work with. Your accessories are going to make or break your look.
There are few things I love more than a statement necklace. A good necklace can take a t-shirt and jeans from typical to terrific with the simple click of a clasp. Remember that white poplin blouse? Well, add a long pendant necklace for a low-key look one night and recycle it three or four nights later by pairing it with an oversized bib necklace. No one will know it’s the same top because it will look so different. Pull it out a third time by accessorizing with a blazer or cardigan and a scarf. One top three ways thanks to a few simple accessories.
You can even repurpose some of your day wear by adding the right pieces. I have a black jersey jumpsuit that I wear for lounging in the afternoon. At night, I add a belt to cinch in the waist and a big necklace. It’s the perfect outfit for a poolside party.
To keep your style diverse, be sure to pack belts, necklaces, bracelets, scarves, and earrings that complement your outfits and create different looks. Accessories are small and much easier to cram into the empty spaces in your bag than more clothes. They’re key for packing light.
Long or short, your hair is one of the first things people notice about you. And it’s one of your best accessories. I know the way I wear my hair impacts my look overall. If I showed up at the gym with my long waves wrapped in a chignon, people would think I’d lost my marbles. Well the same would be true if I was to wear messy topknot with a ball gown.
If you’ve got short hair, consider using a few embellished bobby pins or a glittery headband to add some extra pizzazz. For ladies with long tresses, you can wear your hair up or down, straight, wavy, or curly. You can add some sparkle or keep it simple. Regardless of length or cut, it’s important not to overdo your look.
If you’re wearing a top with a lot of beading and embroidery or a necklace that makes a big statement, there’s no need to add any extra adornments to your hair. I tone down my hair, leaving it loose waves or in a simple bun.
You can have more fun with your hair if your outfit is less likely to make a statement on its own. For example, if you’ve got on a simple white blouse, you might style your hair in a Bohemian up do. You can carefully place a few pearls between strands for a subtle and soft look that will turn heads.
If the Shoe Fits
Every woman wonders how many shoes are too many to take on vacation, especially if she’s packing light. I try to take no more than four pairs—five if I don’t include heels. Sometimes, this means sacrificing a fan favorite for a more versatile option or going with second best for a certain look. The goal is to find a few pairs that work well with every outfit. But don’t forget comfort is king for day wear, so you need to find a balance.
Stick to a single pair of heels. This may mean a strappy sandal if you’re sailing the Caribbean, an ankle boot for European adventures, or a nude pump if places like New York or Dubai are on your itinerary. Each of these will work well with your dark denim, and if you play your cards right, any dresses you may have packed as well. I love ankle boots with a Boho swing dress—super stylish and dual purpose.
Pack at least one pair of flats. You know you’ll be sorry if you don’t. Choose a neutral color that complements the rest of your wardrobe. I wear a lot of ivory and pale pinks, so I have a blush ballet flat that I take everywhere I go. If you wear a lot of darker colors, you can’t go wrong with grey or black. For a little fun, you can try a metallic. Silver or gold are great neutrals and add a bit of spice to your look.
The other two pairs of shoes I take are dedicated to my daytime activities. I usually take a pair of Toms or Soludos because they’re both stylish and comfortable. I also toss in a pair of Skechers Go Walks if I know I’ll be spending more time on my feet. These can double as workout shoes if you want to do some light weightlifting. Lastly, a pair of flat sandals—flip flops or Birkenstocks—are in order if you’re headed someplace warm. They’re also perfect for poolside lounging.
These tips have served me well over the past few years and have helped make packing light a much easier task. I used to take countless dresses, tops, and bottoms on every trip, but now I stick to the simplest combinations I can put together.