And it’s a back to normal post today with ‘How to pack the right clothes for a weekend break’. But first I just want to thank everyone who commented on last week’s post about spiking. I’ve read every one but I haven’t replied because keeping on going over it isn’t doing me any good. However I have a call scheduled with the Inquiry Manager for the Home Affairs Committee on Monday so I’m hoping to fight back and do what I can to help to get spiking stopped. I think what’s needed is a joined up approach between the police, the NHS and the night time economy so that there’s a clear procedure to follow in any kind of attack like this with penalties for perpetrators and a system that is followed through. I’ll keep you updated as we go along. It’s a different mission to add to my stated one of raising the profile of the midlife customer in the retail industry – but it’s a good one!
Today though I’m starting with one of the most requested topics that came up when I asked you for feedback a few weeks ago and that’s how to pack the right clothes for a weekend break. It’s an easy one for me to begin with because I seem to be forever packing now that we have our Newcastle apartment and I’ve developed a pretty seamless routine that might work for you too. And of course I already have examples to show you because I can use the images from our last weekend over there – although as that went a bit wrong I don’t have outfit photos for the last couple of days. Anyway, this is my system for making sure I pack the right clothes for a weekend break.
How to pack the right clothes for a weekend break
1 Keep checking the weather forecasts during the week leading up to packing
I start by keeping an eye on the long-range weather forecasts about ten days before we’re due to go away; it’s a habit that most northerners have anyway because we so often go through extremes of weather patterns, particularly in the winter. When we were in Newcastle in November, we arrived for a long weekend in thick snow, had a 12˚C day in the middle and then left in more snow. Knowing whether it’s likely to be wet or dry; warm, cold or freezing is an obvious starting point for everything that comes next.
2. Think feet first
I always start with the shoes I’m going to take and work the rest of the outfit from there. If we’re going to do a lot of walking it’s critical that my feet will be comfortable otherwise I’ll grumble. If we’re going out in the evening my shoes still drive the rest of the outfit. Always.
3. Dress from the outside in
As it’s a winter break we’re talking about today, my next focus is outerwear. Regardless of whether we’re in the city or the countryside, the coats I take will, quite literally, eclipse whatever I wear underneath so they and any hats, scarves or gloves need to look the part and function well too. For a winter city break I prefer to take wool coats because they’re smarter and I don’t overheat if I’m going in and out of places; for the countryside it will be waterproof padded down.
4. Plan it all out visually
Once I have these core pieces in mind, I’ll spend a lunch hour at work completing the rest of my outfits on my desktop screen in layout form – and I’ll show you what I mean in a minute. There are lots of tools you can use for this, my preference is Canva – it’s quick, intuitive and easy. I don’t spend a long time perfecting my boards as you can see if you scroll down, they’re just a rough guide that I can play around with until I’ve made sure that most pieces will have more than one wear and my packing’s efficient.
In terms of how I do it, if I’m wearing something current I screenshot it on the retailer’s website and upload it. If not I do a quick Google search to find something similar that I can use for the layout. If you give it a try you’ll probably be surprised at how much easier it is to visualise an outfit objectively by doing it this way. Once I’m relatively happy with the pieces I’ve put together, I print them onto a piece of A4 paper ready to take home.
5. Bringing the visuals to life
When it’s time to pack, I follow the visuals and lay each outfit out, one at a time, on the bed. I check if anything needs steaming or going over with a clothes brush. If I’m not sure about proportions I try the outfit on. Then I accessorise it and work out what lingerie to pair with it. When I’m happy I move on to the next outfit but leave the accessories on the bed so that I can try to reuse them with the next outfits, minimising what I take (not the lingerie – I promise I’m not reusing that!)
6. Packing everything up
If we’re travelling by car I take each outfit arranged on a hanger with the shoes and accessories attached in a cloth bag, even if we’re staying in a hotel. If we’re going by train or plane, I reluctantly fold them into a bag along with pyjamas, earbuds, Kindle, toiletries etc. Toiletries are easy, I always have a weekend bag ready packed mostly with refillable minis and if I use something up while we’re away or it’s running out, I pop a note in for next time to remind me to replace or refill it.
7. Don’t forget the crib sheet
The last thing I pop in my bag is the piece of A4 with any notes that I’ve written on it (reminding me to tuck a jumper or expose a cuff for example). It makes it so much easier when we’re away and keen to get up and out, especially if I’ve had to pack things in a bag rather than on hangers.
So let me give you an idea of how it worked last time we were in Newcastle – you’ll see how rough the layouts are but hopefully it will help you to visualise it.
How to pack the right clothes for a weekend break – the system in action
Outfit 1 – a day of meetings
This was such a great day. For a while Mr MC and I have been working with a group to try to save an old Georgian church in Lancaster. It’s been unused since the 1990s and we’re really hoping to keep it within the community rather than see it go for private development or turn into a pub.
Slowly, slowly funding is coming in and here we’d been invited by The Churches Trust to see a similar project that’s just been completed in Sunderland. I dressed for warmth and comfort but still as smartly as I could (forgive the dust at the bottom of my trousers but we’d climbed right up into the bell tower to see how every inch of space had been renovated and repurposed).
It’s another old Georgian church that was originally in a worse state than ours…
… but together with The Churches Trust the local community raised the funds and worked with local artisans to restore it from this state…
… to this. And now it’s about to open as an incredible community space that anyone can use. Hopefully we’ll get to that stage with our church building too – our target is 2024 but that may be optimistic. Mr MC is working on it from a Chamber of Commerce angle, I’m just a passionate local who has a useful head for strategy, either way it’s fascinating project.
Outfit 2 – more meetings
The following day I had meetings in Newcastle – fortunately a couple of the agencies that I work with are based there which works out well.
Mr MC had welcomed me home with an M&S gin cocktail (have you tried the pre-mixed bramble ones? I’m not mad about gin but these are irresistible, they come in a can). He was taking this photo rather pointedly, telling me that the day was over but that I was still working… I just had a few quick emails to check…
Outfit 3 – running and brunch
We moved our Saturday run to the Friday morning which turned out to be a very good decision. We always plan a route that ends at a nice spot for brunch so yes, I do plan what I’m going to wear. I didn’t get a hot sweaty photo but I suspect you won’t mind!
Outfit 4 – an afternoon in town
We popped back for a shower and I changed into some old favourites for a wander up into town.
It was warm so I didn’t need the beanie.
Outfit 5 – a night out
And then Friday night – which as you know didn’t end well. I didn’t actually wear this top in the end because Mr MC surprised me with one as a late Christmas gift – it was black and coated like the jeans so the end result looked a bit like a jumpsuit. I always wear a seamless down coat over my outfit when we go out at night in winter – I’m not a native Geordie lass after all. I find it easy to compress when we get somewhere warm and I can put my phone and lipstick in the pockets so I don’t need to carry a bag. Now that you don’t need a purse any more I’m noticing that more and more women are leaving clutch bags at home in the evening.
Outfit 6 – Saturday
We didn’t go out to the cinema on Saturday in the end but I did wear the outfit…
… the only photo I have is this which I sent to the boys to prove I was ok after everything that had happened.
And on Sunday we popped out for an early brunch before leaving for home.
For regular packers all of this will probably have felt a bit obvious but hopefully it’s given those of you who requested it a new way of thinking about how to pack the right clothes for a weekend break. I know it adds a bit of extra prep up front but I find it much easier to be clear-headed when I’m sitting at my desk than when I’m standing in front of my dressing room wondering where to begin. I now take far, far less than I used to when we go away – if we hadn’t had the work days attached, I’d have managed this particular winter weekend with just two pairs of jeans, two jumpers, two coats, three pairs of boots, one blouse, one jacket and running kit. I could even have left the black boots behind if we’d been travelling by train and worn the cream ones all weekend.
Packing will become more complicated as we approach spring and the weather becomes so much more changeable but then layers are lighter too so I can pack more if I need to. I’ll keep on showing you my method every so often – for longer holidays too… if we ever have one. Our long awaited February anniversary trip was cancelled this week so we’re going to rebook it for next year – maybe we’ll get to celebrate our 20th anniversary on our 22nd! At the moment I can’t summon up the enthusiasm to plan anything else and we have a heavy workload anyway so now’s not a good time to go away.
Other recent outfits
January’s been a slog, it always is but at the moment with the whole world seeming to be in a bad way it feels harder work than usual. Everyone I speak to seems to be feeling the same – it’s interesting that other languages have good words for it… ennui… weltschmertz… whereas we don’t. Maybe it’s a sign that the stoic British temperament doesn’t dwell on it.
I haven’t taken many pictures over the last couple of weeks but this is what I found on my camera roll:
Finding solace in Alfie when we got home from Newcastle. When people are cruel you can’t beat the comfort of a cat or dog.
Hush jumper (AW18); Layering tee
Heading out to meet up with a reader in Windermere. I’m wearing my mini-skirts a lot at the moment so I was pleased to see Vogue declaring them to be officially back. They’re so much easier to function in than the swampy midis we’ve been wearing for the last few years. This cord one is half price in the sale now by the way.
And here’s my new reader-friend, Carole Greenland, who is a personal stylist, we had a lovely couple of hours in a coffee bar. If you’re looking for someone kind, gentle and supportive to help you work through your wardrobe and understand what to keep and what to let go, she’s your woman. She’ll also help you to fill any gaps that might emerge with clothes that suit your personality and colouring – you can find her details here.
And this was last Sunday when I’d spent some time compiling a list of the things you’d told me you want me to include on here. As we popped out to the supermarket I said to Mr MC that one of the main things was more everyday outfits so he immediately took you at your word – not quite what I had in mind as you can see from my face!
And lastly for a day of paperwork and accounts at my desk punctuated by a long, procrastinatory walk with Ted. I don’t usually dress down this much for work but as I said, January’s been a long, cold slog and I’ve found myself retreating into the comfort of layering tops with cosy knits.
We’re heading back to Newcastle this weekend with friends who had a terrible second half to 2021 so it will be good to spend some time away with them. I don’t particularly feel like a night of bright lights yet but they need it – and we’ll be going to the rugby too which will be fun. It will be good for me to go back – I’ve been having endless bad dreams since the spiking so I need to fall back in love with my adopted city and adjust my perspective.
Next time we talk January will be over. February is, to me, a month of hope – it’s why we chose it for our wedding and while we may not be heading off on the hot, sunny adventure that we hoped for, we’ll have an anniversary to celebrate anyway. Soon we’ll all start spotting signs of renewal with spring starting to bud. In the meantime most of the final sales are ending this weekend. Boden have just released their first big spring drop here and from now until Sunday you can get an extra 10% off their sale prices here with code EX10. There are some really great things now at up to 60% off so it’s worth having another look. Hush are giving an extra 10% off everything here with code EXTRA10. The White Company also has an extra 10% off their sale here with code JANSALE22. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next Friday.
Disclosure: ‘How to pack the right clothes for a weekend break’ is not a sponsored post
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