Packing Light for Men

At dinner the other evening, one of the men who regularly reads this blog asked “Why don’t you do a packing tips for us guys?  John (my hubby) always looks great.  What do you pack in a carry-on for him?”  So here it is for all the guys from the ground up – literally!

Shoes:  Your shoes are the largest and heaviest item in your bag.  Where you don’t pay much attention to them, it’s the first thing women look at so shoes matter.  Wear one pair on the plane and pack another if you need more than 1 for a trip.  John likes the Nike Air Technology in Cole Haan shoes.  I like the classy look in comfortable shoes.  We both like the prices at the Cole Haan outlet store.

John recently bought these black ones because they polish up to a nice shine and he can wear them under either dress slacks or jeans.


When looking for casual shoes to wear with jeans, shorts or khakis, try a slip-on like this.  You will look great and still be comfortable.  These slip-on styles also compress flatter in your bag.

You need a pair of dark wash, flat-front jeans.  In fact, ALL your pants should be flat-front.  Nothing says “old guy” more than pleats!  If you like khakis, consider the jeans cut – you know, the 5 pocket variety.  You will look younger.  John has the 5 pocket style in black and they are probably the most used pair of slacks in his closet.  You can dress them up or down and versatility is the name of the game in packing.

If your trip needs a suit coat, a black sports coat is best.  You can wear it with a dress shirt and tie, a golf style shirt, a turtleneck or even a good quality plain tee-shirt.  With your black 5 pocket pants, it almost looks like a suit if need be but it looks hip with your dark jeans too.

Wear it on the plane.  Take it off in the car and when you board the plane, ask the flight attendant to hang it (they usually will) or neatly fold it and lay it on top of your carry-on.  This will minimize wrinkling.

The “non-jacket” option.  Much of the time a more casual look works fine.  That does not mean sloppy!  John has several full zip-front cardigans and they are the secret sauce of a travel wardrobe.  They are available in a wide variety of styles and price points.  Basically there are the tighter, flatter weaves in cotton or wool that are dressier.

Then there are the chunkier knits or those with accent pockets which are more casual.  I think you need a couple of each kind in neutral colors such as gray, black, oatmeal, chocolate brown or deep navy.


Knits are your friend…at least when it comes to packing.  They travel well and take up less space in your suitcase.  A couple of turtlenecks or mock-turtles (whichever is more flattering to you), polo shirts and a variety of colored, good quality t-shirts will serve you well.

We have a FlipFold shirt folder which makes packing quick and easy.  A worthwhile investment for any home!

A reversible belt (black to brown) also reduces the amount you have to pack and don’t forget to use the space inside your shoes for socks or a rolled up tie!


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