packing with intention


Over the past few weeks a few people have asked me to talk about how I packed for our nine day trip to Paris on Twitter and the JL Facebook page.

At first I just answered their questions as best I could without any real plan to write a full post about it. Because let’s be honest, I’m not an “expert” at packing. I’m sure there are many articles and posts out there that would do a much better job and have much more helpful information.

But as I mentioned in my light bulb moment, I did approach my packing with intention and I can share my method as well as what I’ve learned since the trip that might be helpful for others, even though I’m not atravel pro.

Due to the fact that I was running around like a mad woman preparing the businesses for our extended leave, prepping the wedding posts, and helping Mr. Lively code the new look for the blog, I did not document much of my actual packing process.

In fact, that image above is all I’ve got.

So, I will explain in words and also “recreate” a few of the more helpful aspects of my packing intention.

The first thing I did was create a vision. Way before getting the suitcase out from the closet, I envisioned what I wanted to wear on the trip, how I wanted to look, and what things we wanted to do. Because this was my wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one, I really wanted to look cute and stylish. And for me, that meant lots of summer dresses.

I also knew I would need to pack layers in case it got cold at night, and I wanted a lot of shoe options. This vision also helped me during my wedding gift shopping spree to get the right pieces for the week as well as my wardrobe at large.

Then, once it was time to pack, I pulled out the items that matched my vision and made sure that there were at least two different ways I could wear each item (dresses excluded). I’m notorious for being such a minimalist packer that I often find myself wishing I brought more clothing, so this trip I made sure to pack as liberally as my travel gear would allow.

Here’s a pretty quick rundown of the major items I packed:

  • Summer dresses (4)
  • Dinner dresses (2)
  • Wedding dress (1)
  • Pencil skirt (1)
  • Blazer (1)
  • Jeans (2)
  • Shoes (8)
  • Handbags (3)
  • Colored jeans (1)
  • Tops (5)
  • Cardigan (1)
  • “Honeymoon pajamas” hint, hint (3)
  • Running shoes (1)
  • Workout gear (2 outfits)
  • Socks and underwear (9)

To transport the items I split them across a large suitcase, small carry on suitcase, and a dress/garment bag that I got for free from BCBG with the purchase of some of the dresses.

The wedding dress, blazer, and delicate dresses all made it into the same garment bag. During the flight they were (thankfully) cared for by the Air France flight attendants.

The other wedding day items were all packed in the carry on suitcase just in case something happened to the checked bag. I also stashed my blow dryer and curling iron in the small case.

This left the large suitcase for shoes, liquids, and casual clothing. Our hefty power converter was tucked into Mr. Lively’s carry on.

And though there was not much room left in my suitcases, our gifts and purchases did later get split among our travel gear, with the bulk of the items stored in Mr. Lively’s large and small suitcases.

One new element I added to my packing routine which paid off well was my shoe organization. For the first time in my life I’ve been actually “investing” in nice shoes (which to me is anything over $50), and I wanted to pack them with more care than my usual big Bag’o’Shoes.

So I created a better Bag’o’Shoes.

I wrapped the ballet flats in tissue paper like burritos. (Note: colored tissue can bleed onto shoes, so keep that in mind when packing light colors or delicate fabrics.)

When it came to my sweet new suede shoes, I kept them in the original plastic bags with the tissue to help them keep their shape and not put undue pressure on the suede texture.

So after prepping them all, I ended up with these Shoe Burritos. As you can see I also used plastic bags for sturdier shoes, too.

Next it was time to stack them in rows in the Bag’o’Shoe Bag.

And voila! My easy to pack shoe carrier. As for the blue satin wedding shoes, those were safely tucked in their box every moment they were not worn.

When it came to handbags, I was really pleased with what I packed. The tote was great for our day in London to carry cameras and gifts. The little “fancy” purse was great for nights out when cameras weren’t necessary. And the blue beauty was part of my wedding gift and became the star of the trip. He was the perfect size for our DSLR and Instax Mini.

In fact, when it got heavy after a long day of wandering the Parisian streets, Mr. Lively carried it as well.


Looking back on the trip, there were things I never wore at all and things that I wished that I had packed in the first place. Here’s what I would have done differently:

  • Less shoes. The red and green pair I brought were not comfortable enough to wander for hours and coulda stayed home.
  • Shorts!Oh how I longed for a pair of nice shorts to wear after days of dresses. I never would have guessed that after looking “super cute” for so long I’d want to just relax a bit. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.
  • More cardigans. I only brought one and once I used it as a “blanket” to sit on under the Eiffel Tower, I didn’t want to wear it the rest of the trip.

So there you have it! I hope this is helpful for others taking big trips like this in the future.


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Sue

    I always find it hard to pack for city trips where I want to look cute but know I’ll be on my feet and roving around so much. Out of curiousity, what accessories did you pack, especially scarves? I find them the most useful thing, to be used as a blanket (on the plane or for a picnic), wrap, a towel at the beach, or just warn as they’re fun.

  2. Meghan

    Great tips and very methodically packing! Where are the black and white striped flats from? I love them so much!!

  3. Jess

    Sue, I did bring a scarf or two! I love them for plane rides as a blanket and as “sweaters” in air conditioned buildings as well.

    Other accessories included skinny belts (though I packed more than I actually used), jewelry (just my basics), and a watch (used more for style than function).

    Meghan, those navy and white striped shoes are from J.Crew earlier this summer! I’m not sure if they still sell them, but that’s where they are from.

  4. Lindsay

    Thank you so much for this! My husband and I are leaving for our one year anniversary (we didn’t take a honeymoon) to London and Scotland for ten days! I can’t wait and this will be so helpful!

  5. Vanessa

    I save the square zipper bags that sheet/pillowcase sets come in to pack shoes – they’re the perfect size and shape, and they’re sturdy enough that you can reuse them for years.

  6. This packing list is super helpful! Hopefully (crossing my fingers) I’ll be going on another trip sometime soon and I will definitely use this as a reference. Also, your handbags are so. pretty.

  7. Sarah

    I would LOVE to see more of your “wedding gift wardrobe” that you purchased. You have such great style and I would love to see more of your new pieces and where they came from.

  8. Jess

    Vanessa, great idea!

    Sarah, thanks so much! The pieces I purchased were mostly from the summer, so I don’t think they would be available anymore. But I will say I hit up J.Crew pretty hard when they had sales to stretch my budget. I also like Loft (again, when there are sales). And I got a cute pair of shoes from Aldo. : )

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