Ask Allie: Two Weeks, One Carry On, Business Casual

I was just today offered a position for a job (yay!) that requires two weeks of training out of state. So the question is: How to pack a capsule of two weeks worth of “business casual” clothing (plus p.j.’s, work out gear and perhaps one business outfit) in a CARRY ON (thinking Tom Bihn Aeronaut) for a plus/cusp sized individual?

First things first, I had never heard of the Tom Bihn Aeronaut so I went to their site and fell in love. What a well-thought out bag!  It’s nice to know the specifications of your bag to better imagine packing it with two weeks worth of clothing.

Sample Outfits:

  1. Gray dress, yellow cardigan, silk scarf, black tights, black booties
  2. Gray dress, black blazer, black tights and pumps, gold jewelry
  3. Gray dress, orange cardigan, leopard belt, black tights and either shoes
  4. Jeans, striped tee, black blazer, booties
  5. Jeans, drapey top, pumps
  6. Jeans, white tee, yellow cardigan, leopard belt, booties, gold jewelry
  7. Jeans, peplum top, leopard belt, pumps
  8. Jeans, striped tee, pashmina, booties
  9. Jeans, lavender shell, black blazer, silk scarf, pumps
  10. Black pants, black blazer, lavender shell, pumps
  11. Black pants, striped tee, yellow cardigan, booties
  12. Black pants, peplum top, gold jewelry, pumps
  13. Gray pants, white tee, black blazer, silk scarf, ankle boots
  14. Gray pants, drapey top, pumps, gold jewelry
  15. Gray pants, striped top, yellow cardigan, black booties
  16. Gray pants, white tee, orange cardigan and necklace, leopard belt, either shoes
  17. Black skirt, peplum top, leopard belt, black tights and pumps
  18. Black skirt, striped tee, yellow cardigan, black tights and booties
  19. Black skirt, white tee, orange cardigan, pashmina, black tights and booties
  20. Black skirt, lavender shell, black blazer, black tights and pumps

This wardrobe is primarily knits, which roll nicely in luggage to prevent wrinkles, can spot clean in a hotel sink for another wear, will be comfortable on a long flight or train ride, yet are business casual appropriate. The pants, blazer, skirt, and peplum top are ponte knit so they mix and match with ease, are comfortable, but can be pulled together for a business-appropriate ensemble. Adding a couple prints will break up the look so it’s not too boring.

Accessories are key to take simple separates to the next level. A pashmina is great for the trip there, but looks chic looped around the throat with a dress or business casual ensemble. A square silk scarf takes up no space in a bag and can dress up knits in an instant. No need to take your entire jewelry collection, two necklaces (one that makes a statement, one that adds shine and sophistication) and one bold bracelet can achieve plenty. As for shoes, try to have them all at the same height so you can have them work with all the pants you packed. I recommend a classic pair of black leather pumps in a walkable height and an ankle boot that looks good with tights as well as under pants (Chelsea boots are on trend this year and fit the bill nicely).

If you’re going to be gone for two weeks straight, you need to consider that there may be after-training activities. Colleagues inviting you to dinner, a weekend brunch, happy hour. If you have room, you may want to pack a second pair of jeans or a dressier dress (matte jersey travels really well and can look cocktail party-appropriate with pumps and gold accessories). While you’ll likely want a larger structured bag or tote for training to hold your laptop, manuals, and such (and is a great purse for the flight), a small bag will be good for after hours. If you choose one that has a detachable strap, it can become a dressier clutch in a pinch.

When you travel, wear your bulkiest pieces. Use the tote as your purse, wear the booties, the blazer, maybe even the jeans. Loop the pashmina around your throat to have as a blanket for a nap on the plane. Hotels have laundry services, so don’t be afraid to wear part of your capsule on the trip there to save space in your bag.

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