When packing is more challenging than usual

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On Christmas day, I’m flying to L.A. with Paul for a west coast tour with his students, who are backing up Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers. It’s about two weeks on the road, and the kids are playing gigs all the way up the coast to Seattle. This means we will be encountering quite a few climates, from sunny and slightly brisk this time of year in Los Angeles to rainy and chilly in Seattle. Competition to make it into my suitcase is brisk, but the following pieces are looking to make the cut, starting with this silk button-down. As those of you who aren’t new here might know, my #1 rule of packing is to have a tight color palette, and the hues this time are mostly gray and black, with a hit of actual color thrown in for kicks. And I like to bring lots of silk tops this time of year when I travel, because they de-wrinkle easily, and are good light layers.

I’ll also throw in a cotton button-down or two. My current favorite is this Ace shirt from Cali Dreaming.

A nice, comfy pair of jeans is essential.

And I’ll definitely bring a pair of chinos too, for when I want to look more pulled-together than jeans can make me look.

There are going to be a few verrrry long bus rides, and for those I am bringing these sweats from Alala. They’re the softest, comfiest material.

Next up: a gray cashmere hoodie for those bus days.

A good cardigan is another necessity, and this one is just so cute; here’s one that’s similar but cheaper.

I’ll probably wear an oversize crewneck like this on the plane.

It’ll be freezing the day we leave New York so I’ll have a heavy puffer with me, but it’ll be too heavy for a lot of the weather we’ll be experiencing. So I’m bringing along my ever-handy and lightewight packable puffer, which keeps me warmer than you’d think.

As far as footwear goes, comfort is essential, so I’ll be bringing my Blundstone boots.

Adidas doesn’t make the sneakers I plan on bringing with me, but they’re not dissimilar to this pair, which has a generous (and funky!) platform sole.

 

 

 

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38 Thoughts on When packing is more challenging than usual
    Kate
    20 Dec 2022
    3:28pm

    Kim, I’m so excited you’re going to be in Portland! Let us west coasters know if we should pile on the recommendations. I second the comment about bringing a rain jacket for over your puffer, and your Blundstones are an excellent choice.

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      sally
      21 Dec 2022
      1:14am

      Blundstones 4eva in Portland! Critical! 🙂

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    Jan W
    20 Dec 2022
    2:51pm

    I am currently in LA and wearing cotton turtlenecks and silk bottom layers every day. And then Christmas Day is expected to by 75 degrees! Have a great trip and happy holidays, Kim.

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    Mouse
    20 Dec 2022
    12:58pm

    Agree with Heattech and would add Uniqlo light down vest. Perfect travel thing.

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    Viajera
    20 Dec 2022
    12:53pm

    You’ll take an umbrella, of course. Some type of crossbody. A bunch of masks, unless you’re in the letting-it-all-hang-out stage of covid. Gloves. Noiseblocking headphones. Warm socks. … … … I hope you’ll have a wonderful trip! I think it sounds totally fun.

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      Viajera
      20 Dec 2022
      12:55pm

      Oh yeah, and don’t forget to take slippers and robe along with the pj’s. I am always glad that I brought them.

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        Viajera
        20 Dec 2022
        12:58pm

        And also, Happy Hanukkah!!

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        Stephanie
        21 Dec 2022
        4:49pm

        I’ve been searching for thin light travel slippers! Do you have a favorite brand? Thank you!!

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          Viajera
          21 Dec 2022
          8:05pm

          Come to think of it, I think somebody here might have mentioned some from Muji. Unless I am mis-remembering.

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          Viajera
          21 Dec 2022
          8:04pm

          Not as such, but, I’ve taken my EVA Birks with me before, and those work out pretty well. (I have feet issues.) My at-home slippers are these heavy clogs, so, I usually try to go without.

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    Tahe Z
    20 Dec 2022
    12:46pm

    I travel A LOT for work so any hints for how to pack a decent, stylish, easy, interesting wardrobe is always welcome advice. Of course, I have to throw in some extra professional outfits since it’s mostly work related, and proud to say that a couple of beloved items have come from your blog, Kim, so thank you thank you thank you! Have a great trip and Happy Hanukkah, too!

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    cw
    20 Dec 2022
    12:22pm

    Have a GREAT trip!! What an adventure! Already looking forward to your report. I lived in Seattle for about 18 years and while there lived in silk long underwear all winter long. Highly advise to pack a set of silk long underwear and a set of long underwear that is warmer––Heattech, perhaps? Also, from the Bay Area on up to Seattle the weather is very, very damp so if you have a lightweight-will-fit-over-your-puffer rain jacket I’d also highly recommend taking it along. Also, if it were me, I’d be packing turtlenecks rather than button downs. Or turtlenecks in addition to button downs. Did I mention how much I hate the cold! (so take everything I recommend with that in mind––except the silk long underwear––you’ll definitely need that!)

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      Darcy
      20 Dec 2022
      7:13pm

      Rain/snow mix is falling in Seattle this week. Streets and sidewalks are getting icy.

      By mid-January though, which is when it seems like you might be here, it could go either way. Sorry about that. You might remember that it flips back + forth between mild temps and snowfall. No way to know. Snow is 95% gone within a day or two though, it doesn’t last. That’s for sure.

      A collapsible travel umbrella works if you’re not bringing a raincoat.

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    liz
    20 Dec 2022
    11:00am

    Hope you have been able to catch Yo La Tengo (Hoboken’s own).
    Happy Holidays!

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    Kate
    20 Dec 2022
    11:26am

    The Butthole Surfers were part of my 80s soundtrack when I lived in DC and carried a paper lunch bag as a purse. Now living in LA and still carrying used bags but now from TRR, I’d suggest you add a beanie to this list. Essential for Cali climate shits. Great under your hoodie when it gets cold, doubles as a eye shade on the bud.

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      Kate Hahn
      20 Dec 2022
      11:29am

      LOL can’t edit this but “shifts” and “bus” although those two typos were uttered frequently by me in the 80s.

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      rachel in berkeley
      20 Dec 2022
      5:17pm

      I live in the SF Bay Area & am currently wearing heat tech top and bottom, a beanie and blundstone boots. (45F today) Welcome to the wintery west!

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    Beth
    20 Dec 2022
    5:33pm

    Great stuff, but I feel very irritated seeing Frank & Eileen as part of this. I mean, they are as bad as Nili Lotan in terms of lack of size inclusivity. I love the styles that both companies produce, but seriously, nothing above a size 12? Their stuff does not fit me-I am a 12-14.
    That said, I would love to own most of the rest of these items!

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      Samantha
      26 Dec 2022
      11:34pm

      Agree! Frank and Eileen’s recent ads about “age appropriate “ jeans were so condescending that I emailed them about the ads (in addition to the many people who called them out on Facebook). Their response was basically “we focus grouped those ads so we think they’re fine!” I want those Wicklow pants badly, but not sure I can support such an assholic company (even tho they are currently on sale!)

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      Susanna
      21 Dec 2022
      7:53am

      Wow. I’ve never paid any attention to Frank and Eileen but just looked at their size charts. If you are 5’3”, as I am, they don’t have a size that will fit you if you weigh more than 115 pounds. That is not just annoying, it’s rampantly encouraging body dysmorphia. Stunning.

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      Darcy
      21 Dec 2022
      7:15pm

      Beth, honest question: What does a manufacturer do in these situations? I was in a sports store last week, and the sale rack for ski pants was entirely XXS, XS and XL. Not a single S, M, or L. The one before it was similar, except there was one M amidst all the XL’s.

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        Viajera
        22 Dec 2022
        12:46pm

        As resident loudmouth commenter, I’ll just point out that some of the women who wanted ski pants may have bought men’s ones. I hope that not only small-ish people ski! Gosh that would be sad. When I win the lotto and find a bf who drives on ice, I intend to learn to snowboard. I’ll also need to be in way better shape then.

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    Joannawnyc
    20 Dec 2022
    11:47am

    The Uniqlo x Marni collab has very cute heat tech with patterns or color-blacking!

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    Shelley
    26 Dec 2022
    10:49am

    Do those Blundstone’s work in the rain? And why are they special to you (all)?

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    Erin Orr
    20 Dec 2022
    11:34am

    I’d love to show you around Portland’s best shopping while you’re in town!
    Please reach out if you’re up for it.

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      Kim France
      20 Dec 2022
      4:30pm

      I hate to say it, but we are in and out of Portland—would’ve loved to have taken you up on this, Erin.

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    DK
    20 Dec 2022
    11:47am

    It is cold in LA right now! The days are sunny but chilly. Layers under the cardigan for day and the lightweight puffer for nights are perfect. Don’t forget a scarf and maybe a beanie. I would maybe throw in a denim or button down shirt to replace the Ace shirts (they’re so thin and you may need something thicker under a sweater, etc..mine are packed away for the summer). Have a great trip, it sounds fun!!

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      Kimbersam
      20 Dec 2022
      4:13pm

      Yah. It’s been in the 40s at night. And the buildings here hold onto the chill. Have fun Kim!

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      Tahe Z
      20 Dec 2022
      12:48pm

      DK, I was in San Diego/Carlsbad/Oceanside a couple of weeks ago and it was surprisingly cold!

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    Kathy O
    21 Dec 2022
    10:12am

    This post could actually a great capsule wardrobe post! Wonderful basics. I’d toss in at least one colorful, cotton scarf. They are warm and less itchy on my neck.

    We are about to get a warm spell on the west coast. Enjoy!

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    Darcy
    21 Dec 2022
    6:40pm

    Perfect example, today, Wednesday, is blue skies and 27°. Local roads are icy and arterials are fine. Yet for Saturday they’re predicting 50° and rain all day. Seattle, right? SMH.

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    Elisabeth
    20 Dec 2022
    10:36am

    Love this post! Kim actually makes packing sound fun, and not the hellscape I make it in my mind.

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    MJ
    20 Dec 2022
    10:44am

    Almost everyone I know has a packable puffer jacket. They’re good in spring and fall as outerwear, or as an extra layer under a coat in winter. How many pieces of clothing do that?

    Enjoy your trip!

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    Sharona
    20 Dec 2022
    10:31am

    I like the edit, and agree that heattech is great stuff.

    How is everyone feeling about Adidas these days? F

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      Viajera
      20 Dec 2022
      3:29pm

      I’ll bite. To begin with, I’ll admit it’s easy for me to avoid them bc I don’t really wear sneakers anymore. (Long boring story.) Other thing is, lately … I don’t trust the MSM on this kind of thing anymore. That is not to say that I think many writers *deliberately* try to mislead people, though that can sometimes happen. It is more that, at least a few times lately, when I have taken the time to dig down, I find that a scandal-du-jour is overblown. That isn’t to say it is with Adidas – but, here, it is not important enough to me to go to the original sources (which I gather was on Twitter? which I stay off of … ) to make my own decision. So, basically I am staying out of this one. … … … Though I can unequivocally say that I won’t stand for any antisemitism anywhere near me. (Some though say that Adidas isn’t, anyway.) And, there really isn’t any near me, I am happy to say. I hope I would be brave enough to speak, if there were.

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        Viajera
        20 Dec 2022
        3:31pm

        I am pretty wimpy, you see. Though, otoh, I am also a semi-hermit and used to not being liked, so that weighs the other way, in terms of speaking out. But, it really hasn’t come up. (Well, again, being a hermit helps with all that … )(oh and staying out of social media, also helps … I gather …)

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    Heather
    20 Dec 2022
    10:10am

    Kim, the Heattech layers from Uniqlo are super-warm yet lightweight and would be a useful addition to your suitcase. You could layer one under the silk shirt. Have fun!

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      Kim France
      20 Dec 2022
      1:03pm

      I am a Heattech devotee!

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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