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Five Mix-and-Match Fall Packing Lists That Fit in a Carry-On

Here’s what to pack in your carry-on, whether you’re headed to a work conference or a romantic getaway.

By Madeleine Kim

A few months ago, I wrote a story explaining my packing list formula for summer trips. It was an idea that originally arose from necessity: My summer travel itinerary was packed (no pun intended), and to be honest, I’m kind of useless without a list. The simple, carry-on-friendly formula I created alleviated much of my usual mid-packing stress spiraling. Judging by the positive response to the article, it helped many of you, too.

It’s officially fall, so I’m reviving the formula with five new sample packing lists for different types of trips you might be taking this season. As you’ll see in the examples below, the key to making this formula work is to stick with a single, cohesive color palette that allows you to pair every piece with one another, thus maximizing your outfit options. You’ll also want to consider fabric, so with a couple exceptions (such as this luxe wool jacket), almost every piece that appears on these packing lists is machine-washable, and all are either wrinkle-resistant or easy to revive with a travel-sized steamer.

The Work Conference

When you’re packing for a work trip, you shouldn’t leave anything up to chance. Rely on pieces made from OrigamiTech, which was specifically designed for travel and won’t wrinkle in your carry-on. The Gwynne dress doubles as a jacket, so you can wear it on its own, over the matching Maaza dress, or with the Cobble Hill skirt and Lisey cami. Pair the Nia jacket and Colby pants together if you need a complete suit, or break them up when the day calls for something more casual. (And don’t believe the myth that warm and cool colors don’t get along—the Nia in cool charcoal looks great with the Cobble Hill in camel.)

The Jam-Packed Sightseeing Trip

When your itinerary is full to the brim, you need pieces that can keep up with your pace. That’s why this packing list revolves around styles made from light scuba, which is the closest you can get to activewear without actually wearing activewear. Pair the matching Nita jacket and Robin pants with the Koio sneakers for your treks down unfamiliar roads, then switch to the Elsa dress and Lana boots for dinner. As usual, layering is your friend here: Wear the Axam turtleneck under the Elsa dress if it gets chilly and try the Snyder sweater over the Charli top for a cozy, all-knit look.

The Low-Key Family Trip

Family gatherings should be low-pressure and comfortable—but that doesn’t mean you can’t look good. Opt for soft and luxe fabrics, like cashmere, pima cotton, washable silk and Better Than Denim (a Turkish two-way stretch cotton). Pieces like the Shiloh pants and Leslie T-shirt are ideal for lounging around, and if you feel like dressing up for the family photo, you can trade your tee for the Vicky tank and Anna jacket.

The Romantic Getaway

Chances are, your romantic-getaway packing list will lean dressier (and sexier) than usual. Focusing on fun fabrics—like stretchy vegan leather, shiny silk charmeuse, and buttery silk jersey—will give your outfits that extra something special. For daytime activities, wear the Axam turtleneck and Orchard skirt with the comfortable Koio sneakers and cropped Nicky jacket. Come evening, try the Nicky over the floaty Nene dress for an elegant (but slightly edgy) outfit. Or you could just go full-on Sandy from Grease by pairing the Dae top with the Sammataro jeans and Ella sandals.

The Still-Summer Destination

In many parts of the country, fall doesn’t necessarily mean sweater weather. In fact, I just checked the temperature on my phone before writing this sentence, and it’s currently 89 degrees in Austin, TX, where I live. This packing list is for those climates where cashmere is, sadly, not necessary quite yet. When you need a long-sleeved option, try the Lagarde shirt, which is treated with an odor-resistant finish called Polygiene, so you don’t have to worry about sweat. It looks great with the Horton pants and Woolf jardigan for a business casual look, or with the Rowley skirt for a playful, monochromatic ensemble. The Cassandra dress is one of my favorite travel pieces, because you can wear it as-is, or as a chic vest over pieces like the Paige tank and Horton pants.

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is the Senior Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

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