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A Foolproof Packing-List Formula for All Your Summer Trips

Make frantic last-minute packing a thing of the past—and fit everything into a carry-on.

By Madeleine Kim

Going somewhere this summer? We had a feeling. If flight prices right now are any indication, this season is going to be full of travel. And whether you’re getting back on the business-trip circuit or hopping on a plane for a wedding or three, there’s nothing like the promise of an upcoming trip to make you question your entire wardrobe. 

For me, packing has historically been an all-night affair full of procrastination, frantic laundry cycles, and impulsive online purchases that I’d later regret. But that was then, and this is now. And not to brag, but these days, I’ve pretty much got it all figured out…at least when it comes to packing. 

It all comes down to a formula that, when followed correctly, will give you a multitude of outfit options and fit into a carry-on. The key? Make sure that each of the pieces you choose can mix and match with one another. Read on for our ultimate summer packing-list formula, plus five examples of how we’d apply it to different aspirational vacations we hope to go on this year (a girl can dream, right?).

The Tropical Getaway

One thing you’ll notice about every packing list in this story is that their color palettes are consistent. While this isn’t strictly necessary, it does make it a whole lot easier to choose pieces that pair with everything else in your suitcase. For your tropical trip, take cues from the Wren top in arpeggio print and try a beachy blue-and-white palette with a hint of minty green. The Wren top, Cordelia top, and Annika tee can each be paired with either the Lane skirt or the Archie jeans for six distinct looks. Add the Anna jacket to any of these pieces when you want an extra layer.

The City Vacation

For the city vacation, try a spectrum of neutral pieces that transition seamlessly from day to night. For example, you could throw on the Janet jumpsuit and Koio sneakers for an easy daytime look, then swap in the Ella sandals and the Scotte jacket for a night at that recently reopened speakeasy. The Paige tank plus the Sammataro jeans would be ideal for a day at the museum, and when it’s time for your evening plans, simply sub in the swanky Monica top.

The Trip Upstate

You’ll likely want to keep things casual for the majority of your upstate trip, but you should bring a few special pieces for nice dinners out—or in case you want to dress up, just because. Reach for the Caitlin shorts and Lisey cami or the breezy Renee dress on those super-hot days. For slightly more elevated occasions, the Edith dress plus the Cookie cardigan and Koio sneakers is just the right balance of dressy and laid-back.

The Relaxing Resort

According to our very scientific calculations, there’s a 99% chance that this place will have a calming light-neutral color scheme. Naturally, you’ll want your outfits to reflect that. Wear the Toni top and Felix shorts for lounging, grabbing coffee, and moseying to the spa. The Kelsey and Elsa dresses with the Langley bomber on top will be ideal for dinnertime.

The Hamptons Trip

We created this packing list with the Hamptons in mind, but really, it would work for any destination with a fancy beach vibe. After you get in from the beach and shower off, you’ll feel great slipping into the silky Aubry top and linen Chester pants before dinner. Although the Gali dress is the most eye-catching piece in your suitcase, we don’t think you should be too precious about it. Yes, wear it to a nice restaurant, but also wear it just to sit on the porch and read—you’re on vacation, after all.

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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