A Lighter Touch

Oh, hello there, little bloglet.  I’ve missed you.  Please PTI (pardon the interruption — apparently a very popular sports program, but I’ll lift the phrase and shed it of any athletic connotations for my own purposes.  PS: You know you’re getting old when you refer to TV shows as “programs.”)  I was in Sausalito for work and then San Francisco for play over the last week, and am now back, very happy (love ya, friends!), very well-fed (thanks for all of the recs, Jillian!  — Tartine in particular blew.my.mind), and…very sickandjetlagged.  But I have to take a break from wallowing in my own I’m-so-tired-and-congested patheticness to brag about a huge fashion-related coup: I packed perfectly for this trip.

{Henri Bendel’s “Disturbed” Luggage Set — $450 and up per piece}

This is a source of great pride for me because:

A) I actually wore everything I packed.  Hold for applause.  I normally overpack, i.e. roll up with 34 bags for an overnight trip (think I’m lying?  Ask Mr. Magpie.  My honeymoon suitcase was pretty much a closet on wheels).  This time, I packed light and strategically, and it boggled my mind how much easier it was to get ready in the a.m., and how much happier Mr. Magpie was while traveling.  Mr. Magpie still miraculously stuffed a week’s worth of clothing into what I would consider an overnight bag, while I took up a full roll-a-board, but hey!  I’m still impressed with myself.

B) The weather was all over the place — cool/foggy to sunny and 80 degrees.  And — thanks to layering — I was just warm/cool enough.

C) We undertook a variety of activities, and I managed to have just the right outfit for everything — again, thanks to layering.

The secret to success?  (And this post is for you, Jessica!  Try the skinnies!) I packed versatile basics and then loaded up on light, easy-to-carry add-ons.  Everything was intermixable and dress-uppable or dress-downable.  I began with a slew of basic tanks in white or gray — I like Splendid’s or J. Crew’s “Perfect Fit” —

I’d layer them beneath demi-sheer blouses, wear them for hikes/work-outs, and sleep in them.  I also packed three pairs of skinny jeans, which may have been my only packing over-indulgence: I packed a pair of whites, dark washes, and inky blacks.

I’m telling you that these were the fulcrum of my vacation wardrobe —  I wore them tucked into boots on the cooler days, with heels in the evenings, and with flats when it was warm.  I also tossed a few pairs of leggings in, which were perfect for travel (so comf for the long crosscountry plane ride) and for working out.  For footwear, I brought my favorite mid-calf boots (if I didn’t own a pair, I’d invest in these Joies, on sale for $170, Bergdorf Goodman), my Loeffler Randall brown leather low-wedge boots ($695, Loeffler Randall), some patterned flats (like this funky gold style — $135, Pretty Ballerinas), and my new Nike Free Runs (freaking phenomenal for running — $85, FinishLine).  I keep all of my shoes in shoe bags because I get weirded out by the thought of the bottoms of my shoes rubbing up against my clean clothes — these Baggus (2 for $12, Baggu — great to pack a couple of extra in larger sizes as well for stowing dirty laundry, running clothes, etc.) are perfect for this purpose.

The only other staples: outerwear (my favorite rose-colored blazer; a heavier-weight, structured trench; and a green field jacket) and two bags (one over-the-shoulder tote and one oversized clutch).  Then I loaded up on statement jewelry…so, for example, day 1: the morning began with an alternately warm and chilly ferry ride from Sausalito to San Fran, and peaked in a couple-hour-long hike Mr. Magpie and I took around San Fran’s hilly streets (mad respect for the native Franciscans…your calves must be like rocks).  I wore my green field jacket ($148, J. Crew) over a navy blouse (kind of like the Madewell Bromwell blouse, $98, Madewell) with my white skinnies and Loeffler boots:

I finished with an easy leather tote ($685, TravelTeq — I’m drooling over these…must.have.one.for.work):

And then accented with shades (I absolutely must.own. this Elizabeth & James pair — $155, Nordstrom) and a wood-bead necklace ($135, Charm and Chain):

For dinner, I swapped out the necklace for some oversized studs ($36, Max & Chloe) and my Loefflers for my heeled booties:

I left the tote behind for an oversized clutch (I’d wear this pouch as a clutch in.a.flash — $50, Russell & Hazel) — love the bright green against the navy (so fresh) — and a structured trench (DVF, on sale for $339, Barney’s):

(P.S. San Fran was ubercasual, compared to the District.  I was informed to leave my “frou frou” heels at home, and am so glad I did.  The above outfit was just right for dining out.)  Another quick outfit change I took on?  I spent the morning “hiking” (not really a rigorous hike…more like walking) the paths around the Sutro Bath ruins (gorg.eous.) and accordingly wore my favorite leggings, a white tank, an oversized raglan tee/sweatshirt (like this style — $39, Madewell), a printed scarf (love the entire Jane Carr line, but especially this nougat-and-pink concoction — $260, Jane Carr), and my Nike kicks:

I finished with my Louis Neverfull, but have for some reason been daydreaming about owning this Clare Vivier tote in the unexpected metallic color ($189, Clare Vivier):

It was cooler in the morning, so I layered my field jacket over the top — and when things heated up in the sun, it was easy to tuck it into my bag.  Perf.  After showering and cleaning up, in preparation for afternoon gallivanting (and eating…and eating…and eating — we tried so many delicious San Fran specials!), I opted for a polka-dot blouse ($390, Net-A-Porter) with statement earrings ($99, Max and Chloe), black skinnies, and flats:

My oversized clutch and go-to RayBans brought just the right amount of coolness to the overall ladylike get-up.

For wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, it was all about layering — I wore my rose blazer (Stella McCartney, $1,545, Bergdorf’s), a white voile blouse ($198, Leifsdottir), my black jeans, and my flats:

I wore it with some gold earrings ($80, Emily Elizabeth), a serious statement necklace ($365, Suzanna Dai) and my tote:

For bedtime, I packed some uber-foldable (minimal space-consuming) boxers ($78, Steven Alan) and wore either a Splendid tank or one of my t-shirts, which doubled as running gear ($22, BasicFrench):

The only other packing “trick” up my sleeve?  Loads of compartments / pouches to keep myself organized — one for “shower essentials,” one for undergarments, one for receipts, etc, etc, etc.  Easy way to keep organized when you’re living out of a suitcase for a week.  Some of my go-tos for festive little pouches?  I like 1154 Lill Studio’s pouches for their happy prints (I’d use the taller one below for socks and the smaller for cosmetics — $32 and $39, respectively, 1154Lill):

I also love these lightweight, washable pouches from Rubie Green ($24 a pop, Rubie Green) — my bestie gave one to me for Christmas along with some cosmetics I’d been coveting and I literally carry my essentials around in it every.single.day.  What fab prints!

I received this gorgeous quilted, monogrammed lingerie bag ($59, Preppy Monograms) at one of my bridal showers last year, and actually look forward to traveling just so I can use it:

It almost needs pretty lingerie to accompany it, like these affordable Clo separates, which are currently on my lust list ($38 for top, $24 for bottom — Journelle):

Finally, for actual travel days, I rely on hard plastic pouches like these Toss Designs versions ($6/pouch, Toss), so I can see all of my items and make it through security without all of my mini samples —

— and a jewelry pouch for my fine jewelry (don’t want to check any of that! — $30, Toss):

What are your travel tips?!  Missed you all!


  1. Hi Jen! Love your blog! I’ve been following it since Alison’s cookie party. Quick question for you, who actually makes the navy blouse you picture twice on this post? I’m actually going to San Francisco next week so I loved this post particularly! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Aw, thanks! It was by Madewell, but it appears to have sold out in navy. This is a comparable version, available in black or mustard. I might also check out the line available via Equipment on Shopbop!

  2. More packing suggestions would include:

    Rolling your shirts, undies, scarves as it really gives more space for the bulkier items.
    Zip loc bags in various sizes really come in handy.
    Put socks and tights inside your shoes.
    Put underwear inside an extra purse if you are bringing one.
    Layer nicer tops or dresses in tissue paper or plastic dry-cleaning bags to really keep items from wrinkling.
    Downy Wrinkle Releaser, or The Laundress Crease Release is great if you do have some wrinkles.
    Always pack snacks: almonds, snickers, salty and nutty bar

    Happy Traveling!

  3. LOVE that you came to SF!! I often read your blog from the top of my cable car adorned hill – and I love it when my city enchants others the way it has enchanted me.


    1. Oh my gosh, Shannon, I l.o.v.e. your home terf. And man oh man did we luck out with the weather! You guys have some seriously amazing food (and a great emphasis on locally-sourced produce and fish!) — I would go back for the food alone…

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