Lessons From Living With One Suitcase

Ok, let’s talk about some wardrobe wisdom! Actually I wanted to start pouring my heart out over New York, but Vero with her post about style today prompted me to write this one. Honestly, I have been thinking of writing it since I came back from Norway – after 3 months there with only one suitcase. But the inspiration kicked in only now (thank you, Vero!).

This summer I went to Norway for two summer months which turned out to be three months, and very diverse ones. I packed well to be prepared for what a «Norwegian summer» may bring. Two pairs of jeans and a hoodie, a rain jacket, some cardigans, a pair of sneakers, because this is just how summer in Norway can be (and it was. Greeting me with cold and rain). I also threw in a pile of t-shirts, three pair of sandals (why three? I still don’t know why, I never used them all), a summer dress and a pair of shorts.

What I wasn’t prepared for is that we spontaneously had to stay one month more, which was September. And September took us very fast from a mild autumn to almost winter. September in Oslo was suddenly colder than December in Barcelona. And I had to do some urgent shopping. A light winter jacket, a beanie and gloves were just essential for survival. I also had to buy two sweaters since I had none. And my biggest problem was jeans. I was tired of using all the same jeans over three months, and my man said: «Just go buy some new». Haha, if he only knew that finding your perfect jeans is like finding your perfect man. Nothing is as difficult as shopping for jeans, agree?

In a way I was happy to have a good reason for shopping. This time I actually needed clothes. But I couldn’t buy lots because I had to take the same one suitcase back. Also, when you are eagerly looking for something, you tend not to find it – you find it when you are not desperate. But gosh, I missed my dresses back at home and I didn’t like to show up in the dinner parties with a simple solution of a black denim skirt with black t-shirt, when all the girls could come in a dress. And sneakers for every occasion was also very tiresome. I bought myself two new pairs of sneakers though (because one pair is just not enough). But still, sneakers all the time… Ladies, you understand!

This November I had another wardrobe challenge. We went for a three-week trip in USA, traveling on the East Coast from North to South – and I took with me a carry-on full of clothes. We also shared one big suitcase, where I had three pairs of shoes, a rain jacket and my toiletry bag. That’s it. Imagine doing a trip over three weeks – and over three different seasons – with wardrobe in the size of your hand luggage.

I had read about all the temperatures in November for each city and was expecting some mild autumn weather. But New York had a surprise for us, as well as Philly and Washington. The snow storm Caleb hit the country, and though we didn’t see much of snow (only some snowflakes in Philly), the temperatures dropped to almost freezing points. Luckily I packed a pair of warm socks and a sweater, and I looked at times like a Santa’s little elf. We spent a week in the North, and I had to use almost all the same clothes during this week. Phew!

Then there was in-between weather, more resembling mild autumn, in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia. And further we drove down to Florida, all the way to its tropical islands. I even got burned the first day by the pool, having forgotten to buy a sunscreen. And then it was all t-shirts and summer dresses weather, but I had only t-shirts and no summer dresses! So frustrating!

I have some friends who would take two huge suitcases just for a summer vacation or for visiting a wedding abroad. I have spent three weeks – from winter to summer – with a simple carry-on. I look at myself and still cannot believe it! I must be my own hero now! :))

One definite advantage is that when you are driving every second day, a small suitcase makes your trip lighter. We just left the big one in the car, and walked with the carry-ons to stay in the hotels. And it was easier to leave too. Since there are not so many things, you have a smaller chance to forget some (this is crucial when changing 14 hotels in 3 weeks). The disadvantage is that during the third week I started missing my wardrobe at home! My few bags, my dresses, my jewelry. Ah, I was so happy to get back to them now! :))

Now, here are some lessons I have learnt from living with such a small amount of things.

  • It helps to go with a simple scheme of colors that work well together. Guess what, I am a color lover :)) Some of my favorites being orange, violet, pink and electric blue. But this summer I discovered that a basic scheme of these three colors – red, white and marine blue – works very well for me. I look good in them, they work well together, as well as with other colors that exist in my wardrobe (light blue, violet or pink). I especially discovered an unknown love for marine blue. I underestimated its charm before, writing it off as boring. But marine blue is the new black, for my face at least. So I have learnt this: if it works for me, go with it. Thus, I’ve got marine blue jeans, rain jacket, pants and sneakers. And though at times I would feel as some conservative posh (as they would say in the Tory party: «you can go with any color, as long as it is blue»). And so what? I felt great because all elements of my look worked well together. And it gave such a great vibe!
  • It helps to pack the things that match with the rest of your suitcase. This has taught me a way more conscious approach to shopping as well. Before I would buy things that would have 1-2 matches (or even worse, needed more new things). But when you have to live with one suitcase for two months (or one carry-on for three weeks), you just don’t have luxury to pack those items. Everything must work with everything (or almost). That may be difficult to build. But once you’ve done it, pulling an outfit becomes a matter of seconds. Because everything is already a good match with everything, and you don’t have to stand there and think and try and fail. It is already a proven formula. Get it on and go!
  • It helps when everything looks good and feels good. Another great criteria for shopping. Earlier, again, I would stand and view myself doubtfully in the mirror of the trying room. Yes, it is ok, but uhm, I don’t really know… Ok, but I can take it still. Or if it was somehow scratchy or itchy, but still not too much… I would buy it. Now it is a simple NO. If it doesn’t feel good or look good on me – it doesn’t come home with me. It may work well for others. I may have seen it on a blogger and would get inspired to get one for me. But if it doesn’t make me look good, though it was perfect on the blogger, then well, sorry, but I don’t need this. My shopping patterns have changed so much because of this. Before it would be easier to buy – but harder to use. And the things would pile up uselessly in my closet. Now it is harder to buy (I end up trying much much more and buying less) – but easier to use. My goal is to have ONLY the things that I love and that make me feel perfect. Whenever I throw on me something that feels perfect, even if it is a basic jeans with a t-shirt, that gives me a different attitude and puts a smile on my face. Because confidence comes not from wearing the most fashionable outfit – it comes from feeling the best version of yourself.

Now, looking back at this period of living with one suitcase, I really appreciate that it has taught me so much! No pain, no gain, they say. So that was worth «suffering», you know. And why do I put suffering in quotation marks? Ladies, it is a real suffering, no? Who would agree? 🙂

Have  you been in similar situations? What was your learning experience about your clothes and style?

Have a great weekend soon!

And may you walk in beauty!





3 thoughts on “Lessons From Living With One Suitcase

  1. Looking stylish, girl! Go, Marina! 🤗 Would love to read more about your US trip, sounds fun! You had some great ideas here: only buy what looks good on you, not just okay but really good. I have that problem sometimes. Especially when looking for something I really need and can’t find. As you said, when you really are desperate for something, you won’t find it 😂 So true! As for living out of a suitcase, I love packing light! Working as a flight attendant really taught me how to. But traveling through different seasons/climates of course adds an extra level of challenge to it! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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