Shopping

Don't Buy Random Crap for Your Loved Ones

You’ve heard of The Five Love Languages, right? If not, the basic premise is that people tend to prefer to give and receive love in one of five ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, and quality time. Once you and your loved ones figure out your individual love languages, it can help you show love to each other more effectively. In fact, if you’re not sure what you prefer, there’s an online quiz you can take to find out!

Recently, I’ve watched my clients struggle with the gift giving love language. Specifically, they have family that lives very far away and misses them very much, and shows their love by sending them inexpensive gifts regularly. While I haven’t met the gift givers in person, it’s clear to me that these gifts are sent out of an abundance of love, with absolutely no ill intent.

However, there are serious side effects to a regular gift giving routine.

  1. Those gifts add up fast. In thinking of one client in particular, her mom likes to send her costume jewelry, cloth bags, cute glasses and dishware, and general tchotchkes. My client, like many of us here in San Francisco, lives with her boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment. It’s plenty of space for them and their cats, but there just isn’t enough storage to accommodate the constant inflow of gifts. 
  2. Those gifts cause serious guilt. My clients tell me that they don’t want to donate these gifts because they know that if the giver found out, they would be hurt. The gifts, in effect, become an emotional burden and an extension of the guilt my clients already feel over living so far away from their loved ones.
  3. Those gifts can cause relationship strife. I have a couple of clients who deal with continuous gift giving from both of their moms. They are each uncomfortable with dealing with so much stuff from their own mothers, but end up taking that frustration out on each other and the other’s mom. While this is so common for all of us as humans - we redirect anger at a person we can’t confront to the people who see us every day - it’s completely avoidable in this case.
This is what years of inexpensive gifts looks like after I've helped a client decide what's important to keep... and what's not.

This is what years of inexpensive gifts looks like after I've helped a client decide what's important to keep... and what's not.

People whose love language is gift giving (and I am one of them, so I know of what I speak!) sometimes struggle with the idea that a gift could be a bad thing, and they often don’t know how to communicate their love in other ways that feel just as effective. So, I have a few suggestions!

  1. Take a picture of the cute tchotchke, send it to your loved one, and tell them why it made you think of them. How fun is a random loving message in the middle of the day? You get all the benefits of gift giving, like reminding someone that you love them and showing that you understand what’s special about them, without any of the downside. This also gives you the opportunity to see whether or not your loved one actually wants that item! If they text back “hahaha, love that, I miss you too!” then the thought was enough. But a text that says “OMG I need this!” means you have the green light to send a gift!
  2. Give experiences rather than objects. This is something my family has wholeheartedly embraced as part of our gift giving tradition and we all absolutely love it.  You get the gift giving experience - opening something, the surprise, the feeling of being special to the giver - and then you get to extend it by talking about the upcoming event, planning for it, then doing it and reminiscing about it after the fact. My sister gave me a trip to Jackson Hole for Christmas a couple years ago and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten!
  3. Direct your gift giving energy to people who are in need. Every holiday season, my husband and I adopt a family through Compass Family Services, and take great joy in making their Christmas magical. I love giving to friends and family, but it's even more rewarding to give to people who truly need and appreciate the gifts.
  4. Save your gift giving effort (and budget) for select occasions. Often, people send many cheaper gifts because they feel that the number of gift giving occasions should be maximized but they don’t have the funds to purchase high quality gifts that often. When it comes to gifts, like many other things in life, I recommend going for quality over quantity. Two high quality, beautiful gifts per year will give your loved one all the surprise and delight you crave, and because you have the extra time and money to spend on selecting it, chances are much higher that they will use and love the gift.
  5. When in doubt, just pick up the phone and say “I love you.” Because that’s what we’re all really trying to do with gift giving, right?
This not my family's Christmas, but the gifts prepared for our adopted family this past holiday season!

This not my family's Christmas, but the gifts prepared for our adopted family this past holiday season!

I, personally, will never stop loving the process of opening a present that someone has selected just for me, and then watching them open something I know they’re going to love. But I love it even more when it’s a truly special moment and not just a regular thing.

LMW

How to Revive Your Old Jeans

I’ve talked before about the joy of wearing things out. It almost feels like an accomplishment: you selected the perfect thing and used it up completely.

But there’s another joy to be found in keeping high quality things for a long time: repairing them before you even get to that point! I’m a regular at the shoe repair place near my first San Francisco apartment to this day, and I have my favorite tailor out of a teeny little dry cleaner in that same neighborhood.

Sometimes, though, things go beyond the ability of a tailor to bring your pieces back to life. For example: when that pair of premium denim develops a hole it wasn’t supposed to have, you don’t just want to slap a patch on it, you want it to continue to look good. Enter Denim Therapy.

My much loved jeans, pretty much good as new!

My much loved jeans, pretty much good as new!

I believe I first heard of them through a 00’s newsletter like Daily Candy way back when, before places like Poshmark and The RealReal had normalized sending clothing, shoes, and accessories back and forth across the country. I tried the service then and was very pleased, and based on my recent experience I can confidently say that Denim Therapy continues to offer high quality denim repair.

Here’s how it works. You go to the Denim Therapy website and fill out a simple form for each pair of jeans you want the to fix. Box up your jeans (clean, please!), send them in, and within a week or so you’ll get an estimate for the repair via email. Once you accept, they will perform the repair and mail your jeans back to you. Or, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Brooklyn, you can do all of the above in person!

Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 11.50.07 AM.png

Sending your wounded jeans to Denim Therapy for repair is not particularly cheap and it’s not particularly fast, but the process is really easy and the quality of the work speaks for itself. I just got back my favorite pair of 5 year old Alexa Chung x AG skinnies with distressed knees last week, and unless you get super up close and personal with my butt, you’ll never know they’d been repaired. Denim Therapy matches the color and texture of the fabric really well, and the work holds up over time.

There's a repair in each picture.

There's a repair in each picture.

IMG_0987.jpg

Honestly, I’m just super glad Denim Therapy is still in business and providing high quality service after all these years! I got to keep wearing a pair of jeans I truly love, prevented them from going into a landfill, and saved the money I would have paid to replace them. 

What other ways do you repair and/or repurpose your things so that you can keep using and loving them?

LMW

My Instagram Captions, Decoded

Some of my followers have picked up on a small detail: in each caption of an outfit I post on Instagram, I mention how long I’ve owned each piece. In fact, If you go back to the very bottom of my feed, you’ll see that I’ve been doing this since I first started posting my terrible outfit selfies on my old iPhone 5. It was an intentional decision, for several reasons.

First, I believe that in order to use core values to influence others, we must not only talk the talk but walk the walk, and show others that we’re doing so. I write all the time about carefully curating a wardrobe, choosing quality over quantity, being mindful of consumption and waste, and prioritizing relationships and experiences over stuff. That wouldn’t ring true if I were constantly posting pictures of myself in brand new clothes!

Second, let’s get real: I’m not going to build an audience by being just like everybody else. Instagram and blogs are full of fashion influencers who are given or paid to promote brand new stuff. I don’t disapprove of them, conceptually speaking - we all need sources of fashion inspiration and I definitely keep track of what’s new and trending, especially from my favorite brands. That said, there are SO many of them. That niche is full. Instead, I’m trying to create my own!

This decision also serves as a gut check for me. If I’m buying too much stuff, I find myself having to reveal that in my outfit posts, which feels quite frankly icky. That in turn reminds me that I’m styling myself not only as an expression of my personal values but also an example to the outside world (just over 1,000 strong so far!) of how a focus on quality over quantity and style over newness can be 100% compatible with a stylish life.

Plus, as my readers know by now, constant consumption is just not the way I live or want to live my life. I personally feel better, more inspired, more focused, and more connected when I’m consuming less and experiencing more. Over the past few years I have largely freed myself from what I call the Want Monster - a silly name for that constant gnawing inside that feels like it can be filled with beautiful, expensive things. My hope is that my dorky, poorly lit photos of the things I actually wear every day can help a few other people slay the Want Monster and experience the same freedom!

By the way, let me be clear: I’m fully aware that I’m very lucky to have the relative wealth and privilege to be able to afford a select collection of beautiful things, and that most people are not as fortunate. I want you to know that this is something I think about often, and I welcome feedback on ways to make my readers and followers feel like my ideas are accessible rather than off-putting!

So yes, I do tell my Instagram followers how old my stuff is for a reason! By doing so, I hope to show how a real life of style is carefully curated and built over time, rather than bought brand new for each occasion. Sometimes I may miss the mark (whether it’s an outfit that doesn’t work or a regrettable purchase), but I’m still going to take you all along for the ride because it’s important to me that you see my reality.

LMW

The Clutter/Shopping Death Spiral

Which came first, the disorganized home or the shopping habit?

Let me introduce you to the phenomenon I call the clutter/shopping feedback loop. In a disorganized home, clutter accumulates, which prevents you from efficiently finding and using the things you own, which leads to more purchases of things you may already own, which you then try to store in a disorganized environment, which then leads to more clutter… and around and around and down the death spiral we go.

An actual LMW Edits original: please ask before using this image!

An actual LMW Edits original: please ask before using this image!

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

People often think that they just need to stop shopping in order to resolve this downward clutter spiral. True, this is one way to disrupt the feedback loop, but it’s actually pretty difficult. Plus, you can never let up - if you slip back into the shopping habit, the clutter will just start accumulating again.

Why do I say “just not shopping” is the more difficult solution? Because as humans, we have limited willpower, and marketing is in our faces literally 24/7.

I keep a spare “junk” email account for online shopping and ordering. I was sick of all of that stuff cluttering my main inbox (I'm always working towards the holy grail of Inbox Zero) but I still wanted access to deals. I rarely pay full price online because there’s always a coupon code or sale going on!

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 3.14.43 PM.png

Here’s a screenshot of my trash folder from this afternoon. Literally every email is screaming at me to “buy buy buy!!” All of these messages arrived within a 8 hour period. And that’s a curated list, I unsubscribe from mailings from any store I know I won’t shop. AND that’s even before I go online or outside to do, well, anything essential to modern work and life.

How can any human be expected to just go cold turkey on shopping when a) they need things and b) it’s so incredibly easy to just buy them? It requires way too much willpower!

The good news is that there’s another way to disrupt the clutter/shopping feedback loop: organize your space. By organize, I don’t mean move things around or put them in pretty containers - you still can’t find that thing you ordered on Amazon last week if it’s at the bottom of a very delightful woven basket! By organize, I mean take yourself through the whole process of decluttering, setting up systems, storing items appropriately, and maintaining your organization through simple daily habits.

If that sounds overwhelming, that’s why I’m here to help. I’ll guide you through the whole organizing process so that you can finally live clutter-free - and laugh at all of those promotional emails as you mass-delete them!

LMW

My Shot at "Project Pan"

I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl. Whether we’re talking about clothes/shoes/accessories or kitchen appliances, I’d rather spend a little more time and money on the right thing than go through multiple iterations of the wrong thing.

This extends to makeup and toiletries. For skin care, I trust the expert advice of my dermatologist, but when it comes to bath, body, hair, and makeup products I don’t have that one resource who will tell me exactly what I need and nothing more.

So it was that I started reading beauty product reviews online. And if you spend much time doing that at all, you inevitably start wading into the vast online beauty community, filled with jargon and acronyms and interest subgroups. That’s where I ran across the phenomenon known as “panning.”

The term comes from the fact that when you’ve used a lot of a powder makeup product, you will eventually see the bottom of the container, or pan. When you are doing a "project pan," you’re trying to use up one or more products.  That’s something I can get behind!

Just like with my closet, my goal for makeup is to have a tightly edited, high quality collection that I really enjoy using. On a daily basis, I wear very little: nothing if I’m doing organizing appointments or working from home, a basic five-step face if I’m going to meetings or a daytime event. However, I do have fun with more dramatic colors and styles for parties and dinners out!

Please excuse any yuckiness, NARS packaging is notoriously sticky and difficult to clean!

Please excuse any yuckiness, NARS packaging is notoriously sticky and difficult to clean!

In the course of identifying products that work for me, there are a few things that I used to love, but find that I’m not as excited about anymore. Because I don’t like wasting things, I decided that I would do my very own “project pan” and try harder to use up these items. They are:

  1. Dior Lip Glows in Lilac and Coral. Both skew really bright pink on me, while I would have liked to see more of an actual lilac or coral color.
  2. NARS lip glosses that are now old enough that I can’t read the labels on the bottoms of them! I like the colors, but I these days prefer a sheer lipstick formula to a sticky gloss.
  3. NARS The Multiple in Orgasm - this is a cult favorite makeup product and I used and loved it for so long that this is actually my second tube! These days, I find the glitter to be a bit much.
  4. Lancôme Tient Miracle foundation in Ivoire - the color match and formula are good, but going forward I’ll look for something even lighter weight and more moisturizing for every day.
  5. Lancôme Dual Finish powder foundation in Porcelaine I - again, good color and formula, but I’d like to transition to using a loose translucent powder for a less heavy effect.
FYI, the Dior Lip Glows go pretty fast. Powder foundation... not so much!

FYI, the Dior Lip Glows go pretty fast. Powder foundation... not so much!

The great thing with beauty products is that, unlike clothes, shoes, and accessories, they really can be used up in a reasonable amount of time - and the feeling of accomplishment is awesome! That said, sometimes the value of using something up completely is overtaken by the total drag it is to do so. I’m pretty optimistic about my progress on the lip glows, cheek stick, foundation, and powder - but I’m starting to think that those lip glosses have served me well enough and might have to hit the trash can.

When people think of professional organizers, their thoughts often tend to spaces like closets and home offices. However, I also love to organize bathrooms - there’s nothing more relaxing than getting ready in a pretty, airy space with all the things you need close at hand and nothing you don’t need cluttering everything up. If this sounds good to you, let’s talk!

LMW

Two Must Reads: Just The Facts, Please

I love to share what I'm reading with you, because my life isn't only about organizing! Today, I just have two pieces I strongly believe will bring you a lot of value. They have in common a strong grounding in objective research, as well as a subject that a lot of us stress out about. I don't know about you, but I find all the conflicting information spinning around the internet to be so overwhelming that it's functionally useless. i also get really frustrated with the fact that if you're just trying to be better at something and following what you think sounds like a good plan, you will still be told that you are doing it wrong in a zillion different ways.

So, without further ado, here are two definitive guides, based on facts and presented reasonably. Get rid of the guilt and get the real info!

Photo courtesy of grubstreet.com (Bobby Doherty)

Photo courtesy of grubstreet.com (Bobby Doherty)

The Last Conversation You'll Need To Have About Eating Right

As a friend of mine said to me the other night, "I know what I should do... I just don't always do it!" This article is even more proof that you don't need to buy fancy ingredients, follow complex instructions, or starve in order to have a healthy diet. It also helps reframe diet goals from "I need to do everything perfectly" to "I want to live a healthy, long life."

Photo courtesy of flickr.com (miltedflower)

Photo courtesy of flickr.com (miltedflower)

14 Sustainable And Ethical Fashion Myths That Need To Die

Less is still more, and quality is still better than quantity, but it turns out there's a lot of nuance that many of us overlook. Read on for seriously good reasons to become a more thoughtful consumer, practical ways to do it, and a nice side of absolution from some of the worst of the wannabe ethical shopper's guilt.

I'd love to check out any other fact and research based articles you might have come across on related topics - please share!

LMW

Updated: What's In My Bag

This is hard to believe, but the last time I wrote about what I carry in my tote bag daily, we still lived in our old condo and my organizing business was less than a year old. So much has changed!  

And yet, not much has changed at all, because an organizing solution that works is one that lasts. As you’ll see, I still carry pretty much the same stuff with me in the same way. After so many years, it’s just a habit, and requires little to no effort. This is something I always emphasize to my clients: it takes an investment of time and energy up front to implement organizing systems, but that investment pays off huge dividends when everything in your home and your life just flows.

So, on to the details. As I discussed last week, when you use something frequently, you wear it all the way out. When I show up to a client consultation or networking meeting, it’s important to me to look polished and prepared so that I visually convey my style and expertise. A tattered, fraying purse is not a good way to do that! My old Gucci tote served me extremely well for five years, but it was just d-o-n-e. 

I took the opportunity to choose a tote that is even more practical, cohesive, and true to my personal brand. I don’t mind a logo print, far from it (you’ve surely seen my Goyard bags featured here and on my Instagram), but I just don’t think it’s appropriate for work. I was looking for something that would be high quality and elegant but also fade into the background so that I can shine instead of my accessories.

Simple, slouchy yet polished, goes with everything: perfect.

Simple, slouchy yet polished, goes with everything: perfect.

Enter Cuyana. I’ve raved about their clothing here before, as well as the company ethos of producing and consuming “fewer, better things.” So, I popped into the San Francisco store to check out the bags in person, and the Classic Leather Tote in Stone spoke to me. Plus, I am a sucker for a monogram!

Everything I need, nothing I don't.

Everything I need, nothing I don't.

I’ve switched out a few of the pieces I carry: I moved into a smaller wallet, switched out my daily sunglasses, upgraded to a sturdier umbrella, moved my primary note-taking and list management to Evernote so that I travel with a smaller notebook for jotting things down, and added folding grocery bags so that I’m never caught unprepared on an errand run. The overall strategy, however, remains the same. This is something else I also teach my clients: your organizing system isn’t for me or for anyone else, it’s for you. You can always continue to refine and iterate to make things work even better for you - nothing has to be set in stone!

The pink rectangle is a folding dog bowl - genius!

The pink rectangle is a folding dog bowl - genius!

While I was in the Cuyana store, I also picked up the Large Leather Zipper Pouch in Oxblood. The fabric pouches I had been using bit the dust as well - they were dirty, discolored, and frankly just kind of gross after so many years! I was able to consolidate all the little personal care items I carry every day into one pouch, and continue to keep them protected from the depths of purse purgatory.

Now, if Cuyana would only restock their purse organizers, I’d be perfectly happy!

If your bag is stuffed with youu-don’t-know-what and you’re overwhelmed and disoriented every time you leave the house, give me a call. We can streamline and beautify your daily routines to save your time, energy, and sanity!

LMW 

Thoughts On Wearing Things Out

When was the last time you had to get rid of something because it was just too worn out to continue using?

I have an example from just last month. My sister gave me a pair of super cute booties from Kate Spade for Christmas a few years ago. In soft, tumbled black leather with a flat stacked heel and a bow on the back, they were cute, comfy, and went with everything. Like, if I had drawn the Platonic ideal of a bootie, these were it. I wore them CONSTANTLY.

Sporting The Booties at Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg...

Sporting The Booties at Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg...

...and again on a normal work day at home in San Francisco.

...and again on a normal work day at home in San Francisco.

And then… I picked them up one day to put back on my shoe rack and realized that the sides of the stacked heel were starting to peel off the plastic foundation of the heel. I am all about maintaining and repairing the things I love to get maximum use out of them, and if it had been possible I would have taken them to my favorite shoe guy in Cow Hollow stat. However, this was just not fixable. It was time for them to go. 

There’s something a little sad about wearing out something you love, because that means it no longer gets to be part of your life. I have a lot of good memories in those booties: they came with on me on trips to Europe, wine tasting weekends, errand days running around SF, and even client consultations. And they worked so well for me - if they had continued to hold up, I would have kept on wearing them!

However, you can also view wearing things out with a sense of accomplishment and pride. You know on a very deep level that the thing was extremely useful to you, an excellent purchase, and a good value, because you literally used it so often that you used it right up. There was no purchase regret or gift receivers’ guilt with these booties! They were just right and I got every last cent of value (that my sister paid…) out of them.

And here’s the thing about using something up: it provides you pretty much the only guilt-free opportunity there is in this life to go shopping. If you used something so often and so happily that you wore it out, that means that you do in fact need a replacement.

My weakness for bows is legendary.

My weakness for bows is legendary.

In my case, I mentioned the sad passing of the booties to my parents, since my birthday is coming up. Last week, a box arrived in the mail from Bally with, well… basically the grown up version of the pair I had loved so well!  In smooth, gorgeous black leather with a flat heel and laces up the front to tie in a bow, AND in wide width for my virtually square fee to boot, they are cute, comfy, and go with everything. I’m going to wear them CONSTANTLY.

This process of selecting something that perfectly fits your needs, loving and using it frequently, and then carefully choosing its replacement, is so much more fulfilling than buying a lot of things that only get used a few times. When I look at my closet, the things that bring me joy are those that I feel great in and wear all the time. The things I don’t really wear much only bring me guilt: guilt that I made a frivolous purchase, am not getting the value out of the money I paid, and took up space that could be better filled by something else.

This is the reason I continually edit my closet: because a wardrobe entirely composed of things that bring me joy is simple and satisfying on a very deep level. If this idea is resonating with you, give me a call and I'll help you edit your closet so that everything in it brings you joy!

LMW

Travel Gear I (Actually) Love

Last week I told you that there’s a lot of gear marketed to travelers that you just don’t need, and will be happier replacing with items you already use and love.  However, there’s an exception to every rule! I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you a few specific things I’ve found that really make trips run more smoothly. And even better, I use some of them when I’m not traveling!

This jacket has gone with me everywhere, from the Arctic to Estonia.

This jacket has gone with me everywhere, from the Arctic to Estonia.

1) A high quality packable Gore-Tex rain jacket

I don’t care where you’re going in the world, there’s always a chance it will rain, and you’ll be totally miserable if you’re unprepared. I love the Patagonia Torrentshell jacket because it packs down to almost nothing and looks pretty cute - and Patagonia stands behind their products to the extent that they will repair or replace any issues due to normal wear and tear at no cost. And a jacket like this isn't just great for active trips - I’ll throw it on for rainy days running around San Francisco, too!

I carry this  Cuyana  pouch with me every single day.

I carry this Cuyana pouch with me every single day.

2) A stash of Kleenex pocket packs and hand wipe packets

I don’t care where you’re going in the world, you cannot count on the availability of TP and handwashing facilities.  This is as true close to home as it is across the globe!

I love pink and I'm 100% ok with that.

I love pink and I'm 100% ok with that.

3) Appropriate luggage for the destination and length of trip

Luggage is frustrating to store, but if you love to travel, you just have to do it.  I keep what I believe to be the essentials: a hard sided carry on and checked bag, a day pack, and bags for skis and ski boots. While you’ll see from my previous post that I use regular purses when I travel, I do also have a couple of soft sided carry ons that I don’t strictly need but adore and use regularly because they’re so cute - I didn’t say I was perfect!

IMG_1374.jpeg

4) Travel wash bag and individually packaged laundry detergent

I’ve talked about this product before and I am here to tell you that it has Changed My Packing Game like nothing else.  I can pack so much lighter knowing that I can have unlimited clean, non-crunchy undies and knits to keep every outfit feeling fresh from the inside out.

Don't leave home without it!

Don't leave home without it!

5) Power converter

Hotels are increasingly supplying a variety of outlets, but it’s always good to have one converter on hand. I like the multi-port interchangeable power converter from Tumi because it packs all the plugs in the smallest footprint I’ve seen.

Just the necessities, please!

Just the necessities, please!

4) Travel size toiletries, makeup, and brushes

Carrying on makes a trip so much smoother - no lost luggage, no baggage check lines, no lugging giant suitcases through airports and train stations. In order to do so, I’ve sourced mini versions of all my favorite products, from moisturizer and eye cream to blush/bronzer/highlighter and makeup brushes.  Yes, I do have to spend some time and energy keeping stock on hand and storing these products, but that’s a trade off I personally am willing to make.

What are the travel products that you truly can’t live without?

LMW

Don't Buy Travel Products!

When you start a project, what’s one of the first things you do? Like most humans, I bet you start buying the stuff you think you’ll need to complete the project. Marketers know this, which is why you can easily find a “must-have” list for every activity under the sun.

This impulse is totally normal, but I’d advise you to resist it!  Why? It’s not just a matter of expense, although that’s certainly relevant. More importantly, your time and energy are precious, and it’s going to take more than you might realize to purchase, organize, and store the items you buy.

Let me give you an example: travel.

download.jpeg

Travel is a big deal. It takes a lot of resources (money, vacation days, planning, stress) and there’s always an element of the unknown involved. As humans, we like control, and this combination of high cost and high risk makes us nervous. As a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we just buy all the right stuff, a trip will go well.

However, I encourage you to treat travel is just like the rest of your life: use things you love that serve you well, and organize them in a way that works for you. Here are a couple broad categories of travel specific products that are relentlessly marketed and commonly purchased - but that I believe you can substitute with things you already have, love, and use.

The Longchamp Le Pliage is a travel classic for a reason: it's lightweight, zips closed, and...

The Longchamp Le Pliage is a travel classic for a reason: it's lightweight, zips closed, and...

...and look how tiny it folds!

...and look how tiny it folds!

1) Slash-proof or concealed travel bag or wallet

There are surprisingly few places where you truly need to take extraordinary measures to protect your valuables on your person. Remember: almost anywhere you travel, people go about ordinary lives, so follow their lead! I generally carry a lightweight tote bag that zips or a small leather crossbody bag when exploring cities all over the world, and I have never been pickpocketed or mugged. I simply take common sense measures like staying aware of my surroundings and appropriately calibrating the amount of jewelry and type of clothing I wear.

Yes, I did go ahead and customize through  Nike I.D.  with a rose gold swoosh. No regrets.

Yes, I did go ahead and customize through Nike I.D. with a rose gold swoosh. No regrets.

2) Walking shoe

Walking shoes marketed for travel may be extremely comfortable, but they’re also heavy, bulky, and ugly. These shoes take up valuable space in your luggage (and in your closet, because you likely won’t wear them at home) and, like it or not, mark you as a tourist. Instead, pack the shoes you wear when you’re going to be on your feet a lot in your normal life!  I’ll often bring my Nike Flyknit sneakers, which pack flat, add a streetwear vibe to variety of outfits, and can double as gym shoes. 

Much of this photo came as a sample or point perk from  Sephora .

Much of this photo came as a sample or point perk from Sephora.

3) Travel size toiletry containers

These sets are so cute, right?  A set of tiny bottles all ready for your lotions and potions, and TSA approved to boot!  In practice, when I come across travel bottles in clients’ homes, they are usually goopy and unidentifiable.  These sets only work if you are willing to be diligent about labeling bottles, repurchasing the same products and decanting them before every trip, and cleaning up after each trip. And if you’re not, that’s ok! I keep a small stash of all the products I need in travel sizes so that I’m always ready to pack without having to fuss around with containers.

My workout clothes served me as well climbing The Peak in Hong Kong as they do in the gym at home!

My workout clothes served me as well climbing The Peak in Hong Kong as they do in the gym at home!

4) Travel clothing marketed as sun protective, wrinkle free, and/or multifunctional

You know what I mean: those lightweight, drab button down shirts and pants with zip-off legs that companies insist you need for of travel. Instead of thinking of “travel” as your activity, however, I suggest you think about the activities you’re planning for your trip and pack the clothes you’d wear for similar activities in your normal life. For example, for a sightseeing trip to a European city in the spring, I’d pack outfits I’d wear for a day of shopping or museum-going at home in San Francisco: a mix and match assortment of jeans, silk pieces, and lightweight sweaters. For a week long hiking trip, I’d include various pieces from my workout and outdoor wardrobe including Lululemon pants and Patagonia layers.  I always feel prepared for my trip while at the same time feeling totally comfortable and like myself - which makes travel a lot more fun!

As you might have gathered, my philosophy on travel is that the best strategy to maximize both your personal safety and your enjoyment of the trip is to blend in, rather than mark yourself as a tourist. To me, travel is about expanding my perspective through authentic experience of people and places, and I can’t do that if I’m visually separating myself from my surroundings.

How about your favorite hobbies and activities: what things are we told we absolutely need but you know we can easily live without?

LMW