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Pack A Wonderful Time

( Originally Published 1963 )



It's no secret Americans are well-bitten by the travel bug. Europe, the Orient, the Caribbean, the Arctic and the South Seas. Since jets, no spot on the globe is too far for us. Charter flights, tourist-class plane fares, time-payments for transportation have helped make continent-hopping a new habit for millions of people. Now we are even beginning to see more and more of a new phenomenon: the world-weary American who has travelled so much she (or he) happily contemplates a two-week vacation at a nearby resort. But no matter where we end up going, leisure has become a major pre-occupation in the United States. We take our vacations seriously. And what woman doesn't take packing for that vacation just as seriously?

And she should. Vacations are much more than a two- or three-week rest, or a break in the old routine. They mean a new chance for you to be in a new situation with new people and to be a new you. Single women of course think of the new men they will meet. Married women may want to re-enchant husbands in different and more romantic settings.

So pack a new you. Every item that goes into your suitcase can add to the excitement and fun of your time away. Wherever you go, be pretty, be comfortable, be well organized-but don't have to worry about a thing. Remember that the best "old" clothes you have, ones you love, will never have been seen before. They'll even look different to you once they're beautifully washed, ironed, cleaned, re-buttoned, worn with a new belt or scarf, or whatever inspirations may occur to you. Another big advantage of taking clothes you've owned and worn a whileyou know their assets, their difficulties, they've become part of you. Don't put anything in your suitcase until you've checked hemlines, buttons, split-prone seams. But once you set off, be certain the shoes you've packed can be counted on to be friends, not enemies. Keep the bulk of your shoe wardrobe low-sandals, stack heels, strong moccasins, well-made medium-heel pumps. The Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal will not impress you if your feet are in agony.

Dresses that travel well are those which:

a) You look your best in.

b) Hold their shape even under trying circumstances (won't wrinkle, wash easily, have really permanent pleats, etc. )

c) Can adapt to changes of weather (this means a dress that comes with its own jacket or which lends itself to "layering"being worn with sweaters, jackets, toppers, jersey-cardigans, stoles, etc.) Suit-dresses and suits fill the bill, of course, but may be too warm for where you're going.

d) Can change their looks-show one face by morning and, with the help of a few carefully chosen accessories, another, perhaps more elegant face by evening.

Fabrics that travel well include:

Knits of cotton, silk, nylon, wool, or combined textures. They are the joy of travelers. Hours in plane, train, car, or bus make no apparent mark on the knit. It is cool or warm, depending on the fabric and the weave. Trim and flattering as can be, knits are devastating on good figures, kind to almost all, and come in an enormous variety of styles-chemise, sheath, suit, fitted, unfitted, sleeveless, long-sleeved, etc.

Jerseys of wool or arnel are about the most practical breeds. They can be "pressed" by simply steaming them in a bathroom, hung over a hot tub or on a hook nearby but out of range of a hot shower.

Dacrons, Nylons, Orlons, provided they are of good quality and of appropriate texture-that is, lightwoven and porous if they are going to be worn in hot climates.

Also essential:

Cardigan Sweaters-at least one, and cashmere if possible. They add a look of quality to everything you wear, be it sport or dressy.

Hat-substitutes-little packable things of veiling, bows, and flowers should you want or need a note of special formality, and a must for visiting Europe's lovely churches and cathedrals. An all-weather coat-A good-looking, simply-cut "raincoat" whose chemically-treated or foam-plastic lining adapts it to almost any kind of weather. Wool or worsted jersey, smooth or knitted are very light but warm.

WHAT TO WEAR WHERE:

Now you're ready to take-off. But, wait! Where are you going? The right clothes are clothes that look as if they belong in the atmosphere they're worn. Clothes that "go," for instance, in New York City, will not "go" in Knoxville, Tennessee (my home town), or in, say, Pana, Illinois. You would not take black crepe dresses to the beach, nor should you take casual sporty clothes to wear in the great capital cities of the world.

EUROPE

Are you going to Europe? Dressing for travel through European countries is still a bit frightening to many Americans, and perhaps with good reason. We do carry the responsibility of representing our country when we go abroad and of course we are judged by how we look and what we wear as well as what we say and do. Slacks and shorts worn on the streets of Paris, London, Madrid, Rome (or Main Street, U.S.A., as far as I'm concerned) look awful, terrible. Yet there are women and men of all ages who insist on treating the dignified and beautiful cities of Europe as if they were Coney Island.

A trip to Europe very definitely demands a fairly sophisticated and varied wardrobe. If your vacation is a two- or three-week one which includes visits to northern countries as well as southern, you will also of course have to plan to take clothes that can meet weather changes but which will not hoist the total poundage of your suitcases over 44 lbs. (for Tourist flights), or 66 lbs. (for First Class). This all makes planning and packing a perfect European wardrobe a great challenge, or an obstacle course. It depends on your point of view.

It helps, I think, to know something about the atmosphere and personality of the country you're going to visit. Here are a few important things to remember:

In England-clothes are usually subtly feminine and in good taste. For example, the big printed floral-chiffon and silk dresses featured in magazines for the past few years are very right for high garden teas or London summer parties. Strong bright colors, very daring lines seem wrong. Most important, remember that England-any part of it-can be cold even in July and August. Light wools, jerseys, and knits in pale colors seem ideal for much of British climate.

In France-and of course that means Paris, the way to dress is chic and elegant, where words like chic and elegant come from. Unless you are still "studenting" or plan to travel rough-bicycling perhaps from one youth hostel to another-well-cut sophisticated linens, cotton knits, silks, fine cottons are what you'll be happy and at ease in the fair capital of France. For evenings, wear little black crepes, chiffons, or silks as "high fashion" and French as you please.

In Italy-don't think about practicality. Don't wear your good little shirt dresses. Dress as female as you can to reap the most fun from being eyed by the handsome Italian men who are so good at it. Blossom out in rich warm colors but keep the styles simple, feminine. Italian girls seem to have an instinctive sense of artistry and no matter how much or how little money they have, they manage to dress well and groom their hair marvelously. You'll be competing with them so don't settle for anything less than wonderful sheaths, decollete cottons, subtly figure-emphasizing cotton and silk knits. Evenings in Rome, Florence or magical Venice call for clothes just as romantic.

In Spain-where the atmosphere is somber, dark, mysterious, you will become aware that the women are not as free as they are anywhere else in Europe, and that "good" women dress carefully so as not to be confused with "bad" ones. You'd better do the same. More or less stick to dark or pale-colored clothing, modest and simply cut but of very lightweight materials because most of Spain bakes in summer and much of spring and fall under a hot Southern sun.

In Greece-think of the classic Greek look adapted to today. Wear simple, straight-cut linen or cotton dresses, but be sure if you are going to wear them with flat strong sandals (that are perfect not just for looks but for walking in the beautiful Greek ruins) that the dresses are short enough. If you wear much make-up you'll feel uncomfortable by comparison to Greek (or Italian) women who wear almost none. Well-cut culottes, by the way, are wonderful if you are going to be doing any difficult hill-climbing.

FOR EUROPE'S RESORTS

This fastest tour of Europe yet attempted leaves you I hope with some better idea of what to bring with you if your trip is short and you plan to spend most of your time in European cities. Two or three weeks (the average vacation-time) really does not leave room for much more than that, which is why I haven't gone into what to wear if you are going to be on Europe's beaches or at any of her spas or mountain resorts. Should you, however, have time enough to add the Italian or French Riviera to your itinerary, it's good to know that European sport and resort-wear is usually more sophisticated, imaginative, and sexy than what we wear at home. The jazzy little beach dress began there. So did the big ski sweater. Shorts are worn short and tight, slacks are beautifully tapered and well-fitting, the bikini abounds everywhere, jersey tops are classy and come in an enormous variety of very feminine styles, and the sands of Europe seem covered with gorgeous women who look like Bardot and Sophia Loren.

Wait! Do not decide to avoid Portofino, Capri, Positano, Nice, Cannes or anyone of those delicious Mediterranean resorts from fear of competition. Remember you start out with several advantages (according to a host of European men I've spoken to). American women are famous throughout the world for their bright smiles, their open comraderie, their wide interests. And as for vying with the beach-Bardots and Lorens why not go to the same delicious little resort shops they go to to buy some of those gorgeous clothes. They are no more expensive than what you'd buy in the U.S. and since most of our new resort clothes are imported anyway you needn't worry about hurting American business. What you buy in the little boutiques there will delight you as much when you get back home as it did there. And you can also defend your more daring purchases (if you feel you must) in the name of high fashion, since American sportswear is becoming more and more continental each year.

RESORTWEAR ANYWHERE

The #1 item in every woman's summer wardrobe is her bathing suit. I was always a one-piece bathing suit girl. I used to spend my entire time at the beach pulling it up at the top and down at the bottom. They couldn't make suits long enough for me. Last year was the first year I ever wore a two-piece suit. It was a revelation. I ran out and bought 7 two-piece bathing suits immediately. I picked all two-piece suits of solid-colored wool.

For most women a good bathing suit depends on a good foundation. Quite honestly a woman should have I good bathing suit rather than 4 bad ones. Skimping on a bathing suit is like skimping on a girdle. You cannot go out and buy a badly made inexpensive foundation, because that's how your figure will look.

But today, with so many wonderful swim suits being made, there is no reason why every woman should not have at least one really sensational bathing suit. And please, girls, don't allow yourselves to even think of-or ever buy-one of those bathing suits that looks like an evening dress. You know, the gold lame ones or the black lace numbers. To begin with, they cost a fortune and then, even if your husband or boyfriend likes it, another one hundred and fifty people will be staring at you and giggling. A bathing suit is a piece of sportswear. It has a purpose. Do not allow the saleslady to sell you a suit that "of course you're not supposed to go into the water in this, but you'll look just wonderful on the sand." You won't!

Learn to take care of your bathing suit. Some women think that because their suit is in the ocean or in a lake all day it doesn't need to be washed. Don't put your suit in hot water and never use detergents on it, but do rinse it and hang it somewhere to dry every day you use it.

A BIKINI?

Should you wear a bikini? Only if you have an exquisite figure. Your tummy must be flat, your fanny tight, your thighs slim, and your bosom-of which you must have some to begin with-must be able to stand up by itself. Even more important,unless you want to be stared at by all the men, but in the wrong way, and whispered about by the women, be sure you wear a bikini where a bikini can be worn. Anywhere in Europe is fine, many places in the U.S. have become used to them, but in some spots the reaction may make you feel worse than if you'd walked into a Bible meeting in your B.V.D.'s. One thing, however, very much in the bikini's favor from a traveller's point of view is the amount of space it does not occupy in your suitcase.

HOW MUCH LUGGAGE DO YOU NEED?

Not as much as you'd like to carry with you, but of course plane regulations regulate the number of suitcases as well. For a two- or three-week trip one 29-inch case plus one 21-inch case, a shoe bag, a bottle bag for cosmetics and toiletries will hold all you'll be allowed to bring, and you'll have to be careful to weigh them beforehand to be sure you haven't exceeded your limits. The canvas and plastic luggage known as airplane luggage is as lightweight as you can get. Naturally, none of this applies to travellers not flying. There's no limit to the beautiful leather suitcases you can bring with you if you are going anywhere by ship, train, or bus. Add hatboxes, jewelcases, even a wigbox if you're so inclined. For long trips, camp-trunks hold a tremendous amount and can be shipped ahead to your final location.

HOW TO PACK

Clever packers have dress rehearsals, whether or not they are packing for a plane trip, so there'll be no last-minute crises. Every really good packer I know has a system that she considers infallible. The best one I know of is based on using tissue paper, lots of it, not just to wrap clothing but to separate layers of clothing, and wadded into bolsters or rolls and placed in strategic spots to prevent wrinkling. For instance, a roll of tissue is put under the fold of a dress or skirt, long rolls can be placed inside the side-seams of straight skirts. (If you turn skirts and sheath dresses inside out the creases will come out far more quickly). Lay bias-cut skirts flat in your suitcase, then fold the two sides down over fat tissue rolls. Dresses should be put face down, and the top of the dress padded with tissue paper, but alternate each dress so that the hem of each dress starts at opposite sides of the case and put tissue paper between each one. But all that tissue paper will take room I can almost hear your question. Tissue paper packers swear you can get more in by using more of it.

A FEW MORE PACKING SECRETS:

Pin, or lightly baste pleated clothes. A knife-pleated skirt can be held up so it falls to its thinnest, then drawn through a stocking with its foot cut off. Pack shoes in a separate case if you possibly can. Don't dump them in with your good dresses. Use knitted shoe jackets or plastic bags to keep your shoecase neat. A separate cosmetic- and jewel-case that can be carried by hand has definite advantages since you can carry it and use its contents at will. Be sure you have a washcloth, soap, and hairbrush as handy as your make-up. If the jewelry you're carrying is valuable, you'll feel more at ease having it with you, even though you've insured it. No matter where you're going to travel it's my experience that there are certain items you will always want to have quickly reachable-if not in a small extra canvas or straw bag then in your purse which should be one of the oversized kind: a scarf for your head in the event of rain or unmanageable hair, a pair of clear plastic folding rubbers, a cardigan sweater, a good book you're reading, a pen or pencil and a notebook, a change of underwear, possibly a bathing suit. All this of course is besides your money, papers, passport, make-up, comb, compact and whatever else you customarily put in your purse.

WHAT TO TAKE ON A WEEKEND

Suppose you're not going to Europe. Suppose you're going away for a long delicious three-day summer or fall weekend to just about anywhere. How long does it take you to decide what you're going to pack? Many women find it as hard or harder to pack for three days as they do for three weeks.

THE 2 SYSTEM

A friend of mine who considers herself a bit scatter-brained finds the following system the only way she can ever pack for a weekend (especially one that comes up on short notice) without finding herself miles from home minus everything she really needs, or, even worse, away for a few days with more clothes than she could use in a month. She calls this her "z system" because she takes z of everything she needs. It works like this.In one zq inch Weekender (made of canvas if she's flying), my S.B.F. (Scatter-Brained Friend) puts:

2 dresses (1 slim and dressy, 1 casual and cute) 2 skirts ( 1 unwrinkable denim, burlap, madras or heavy-printed cotton, 1 white or black permanentlypleated Arnel) 2 bathing suits (1 one-piece, one bra and shorts type) 2 sweaters (1 cardigan, 1 pullover) 2 T-shirts ( 1 sleeveless, 1 short-sleeved) 2 pairs of shorts (or 1 slacks, 1 shorts) 2 bras (1 strapless, 1 strapped) 2 panties (or panty-girdles) 2 slips (1 full and useable for sleeping, 1 half-slip) 2 pr. of stockings 2 pr. gloves (1 long, 1 short, both washable) And-1 of the following: A robe. A raincoat, dressy-type (could double as a robe) A straw bag (in which she carries a silk scarf and all the usual paraphernalia.)

If you are mathematically minded you will find that my S.B.F.'s weekend wardrobe adds up to 25 pieces of clothing-so she might just as well call it The 25 System as The 2 System. It doesn't much matter. The point is, having some kind of system helps, and scatter-brained or not my friend finds that by using this approach to weekend-packing she is equipped for almost any kind of weather (barring blizzards and hurricanes), any kind of occasion short of a formal dance. All kinds of substitutions could be made depending on where you were going, the time of year, any special events (riding, sailing, etc.) that might dominate your wardrobe needs.

Any number of approaches are possible. Another friend of mine bases short-vacation packing around a color-theme. I remember a weekend when everything she wore carried an olivegreen, navy blue, and white motif. Another time she was seen in plum, pale pink, and black.

WHAT TO TAKE EVERYWHERE

The frightening thing about packing to go away is the haunting thought that you may forget some important item you will need and not be able to buy where you are going. Let me assure you that in today's world you can buy just about everything everywhere. Nevertheless it's foolish to buy something you already own so prepare your lists beforehand and be sure it includes: Bags (evening, daytime, beach), bathing suits, belts, blouses bras (right one for each neckline), brushes (for nails, hair, clothes, shoes), coats (daytime, nighttime, rain), cosmetic case (fully equipped), dresses, furs (if you're going to Iceland in January), girdles (lightweight), glasses, sunglasses, gloves, Kleenex, hats (or veils), jewelry, keyring (with all suitcase keys), luggage and luggage tags, a good handlnirror, nightgowns (or shorties or whatever), opera glasses, panties, petticoats, pillboxes (if essential), robe, scarves, shoes, shorts, ski-clothes (if you ski), skirts, sun-dresses, slippers, soap capsules, stockings, socks, suits, sweaters, thermometer, a folding umbrella. (Naturally you won't need all those things.)

Should you be going out of the country the following are more important than anything you'll pack in a suitcase. Don't forget: Passport,Vaccination (and any other shots you may need) Extra eyeglasses, medicine, duplicate keys,Travelers Checks (and record the numbers in several places Leave one record at home),Plane, train, and hotel reservations,Insurance arrangements (for self, clothes, cameras, all valuables),Notify milkman, postman, laundry, etc. Take special phone and address book with addresses of Stateside friends, of European friends, and as many good letters of introduction as possible. Notify your bank you're leaving. Have them give you a letter of credit should you need more money later.

WHAT NOT TO TAKE ANYWHERE:

More than one "good little travel dress" An over-matched wardrobe

Very bouffant petticoats,Hats with high crowns or more than two layers of fruit or feathers Coals to Newcastle-(things you can better get where you're going. e.g.: Chanel #5 to Paris, straw bags, leather gloves, Venetian glassware to Italy, mantillas or bullfighters to Spain, bikinis to the Riviera) Anything you don't like.