Packing Tips: Ladies’ Multi-Use Clothing

Alright packing nerds, it’s time for another lesson on streamlining your stuff. Today’s topic: multi-use women’s clothing.

Part of lightening that load that I carry on my back means having fewer articles of clothing. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative about this, right? It’s good to have a skirt so I can look nice on occasion. It’s also good to have a comfortable little dress that I can throw on when pants are too hot, or for wearing over a bathing suit. So why not have those both be the same thing? We’re maximizing outfits and minimizing actual clothing.

For me, this means thinking about the clothing I want to wear, then sewing it. Here is a skirt/dress that I adapted from this skirt pattern.

I made this dress from a Maxi Skirt pattern, then added straps and a drawstring
I made this dress from a Maxi Skirt pattern, then added straps and a drawstring along the bottom so I can make the skirt shorter too.

“But I don’t have sewing skills,” you say? Well, my sewing skills were really pretty basic, so I learned a whole bunch online via sites like Craftsy. Then I rented time using a serger machine at a local sewing shop to complete the project. And I have to say, that skirt turned out to be kind of pretty! “That’s nice for you, but I don’t want to have sewing skills,” you say? Don’t worry, there are still options for you.

Option 1: You can buy what clever, travel-minded people are already making.
Several years ago, a young traveler named Kristin was facing this same dilemma. How could she manage to have a travel wardrobe that’s versatile, fashionable, and totally minimalist? She took an infinity scarf and toyed with it until she created the Versalette.

The Versalette is a shirt/dress/shirt/scarf designed for the minimalist and stylish traveler
The Versalette is a shirt/dress/shirt/scarf designed for the minimalist and stylish traveler

This super clever garment can be worn 30 different ways. It can be worn alone, belted, with pants, tights, or a top to mix it up. This is a super clever travel solution. Kudos to Kristin for making this happen! And she didn’t stop after the Versalette. She formed a company (Seamly.co) and created a seasonless skirt, a 5-way maxi dress, a convertible cardigan, and lots of other clever clothing solutions. Thanks for being a thoughtful and ingenuitive traveler, Kristin. Your creations are inspiring!  —> UPDATE: Here’s a coupon for $10 off your first order of $50 via my shiny new ambassador link

There are also some tops and dresses that mix it up a bit, but I haven’t found anything as fully versatile as Kristin’s work. For example, these garments have multiple ways to wear them but for the most part, they’re tops or dresses that turn into differently-styled tops or dresses.

None of them really converts into another kind of garment. I’m guessing this is because they weren’t designed by a minimalist traveller.

Italian Dressmaker - photo by Gabriella Fabbri
Italian Dressmaker – photo by Gabriella Fabbri

Option 2: You can hire someone to make something for you.
Although it might sound a little crazy at first to hire a seamstress/dressmaker, it might be one of the best investments you make. You can easily pay $150 for a big label dress… and that dress is made to fit everyone, or really, no one in particular. As a gal with both a waistline and hips, I’m particularly annoyed by paying $80 for a skirt that almost fits perfectly. So consider finding a pattern you like, then having someone sew it for you. Grab a tape measure or your clothesline and a ruler and take your measurements. Then search for someone near you or on ODesk.com or Etsy.com who has done similar projects and has an affordable rate. If you’re traveling in a place that has big open air markets, go find yourself a seamstress there. Choose your fabric ($6 to $40), pattern ($5 to $10), and any extras like zippers.

And that’s one way you can streamline your wardrobe, ladies. What wardrobe tips and tricks do you have? Please share! Also, does anyone have any tips for guys?

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