I’m a notorious over-packer. I love to have that back-up outfit, or three, and I’m absolutely guilty of bringing that statement jacket that I never wear at home, “just in case.” But, this past year, I’ve been working hard to streamline my packing, keep it to a carryon, and bring pieces that I can layer and multi-task. Previously, I shared my packing list for Ireland – one of my most popular blog posts ever, and today I have a similar post discussing what I packed for California.
HOW I PACKED FOR 12 DAYS IN CALIFORNIA
It wasn’t the 12 days that intimidated me regarding packing for California – I knew I would have access to laundry at two different times throughout the trip, so bringing basics that I could mix and match wasn’t the issue. The issue was the temperature swings we’d encounter throughout our time in California. From landing in 50 degrees in San Francisco to sweltering 101 temperatures in Sonoma to a blissfully warm 85 in Tahoe, the weather was going to be all over the map and I needed to pack into just one suitcase outfits that wouldn’t leave me wishing I had brought just a few more items.
IT’S ALL ABOUT LAYERS
So, how did I deal with 50 degree temperature swings? Neutrals and layers. I brought plain white, gray, and striped (yes, stripes are a neutral) tops that I could pair with shorts, pants, or a skirt depending on the weather that day. I wore the same striped t-shirt both with jean shorts and sandals as well as white jeans, a cardigan, a leather jacket, a scarf, and flats.
My gray t-shirt and white skirt were as good with a pair of Jack Rogers as they were with flats, a jean jacket, and a scarf. A chambray jumpsuit worked on its own or with a chambray shirt tied over it or a layered sweatshirt on top. The black leggings I wore on the plane were nice enough to wear with a t-shirt and a jean jacket out and about around San Francisco – and my athleisure sweatshirt also took on a new life when I wore it with white jeans and a leather jacket.
It’s really all about picking pieces that you can layer together to stay warm when the temperatures dip and pull apart to pair with shorts or a skirt when the sun is beating down on you. Add in practical shoes, fun jewelry to switch it up, and you’re all set.
MY PACKING LIST FOR CALIFORNIA
Below is my packing list for all 12 days in California. I wore everything, but honestly I could have pared it down even more. I probably could have gone without my crossbody bag since my mini Longchamp tote – which fits my camera – is more practical for day. When it came to shoes, I really didn’t need to bring both my gold AND white Jack Rogers. And, if I’d had fewer “events,” I probably could have gotten away with fewer dresses, which take up a lot of room and aren’t always multipurpose – or at least aren’t if you like a good statement dress, like I do.
Also, if there’s just one thing I leave you with, it’s invest in a pair of Everlane day gloves whenever you’re traveling. There’s no break-in period and you can walk for miles and miles.
- Outerwear: jean jacket (I’ve had this one since high school), leather jacket, athleisure sweatshirt
- Bottoms: white jeans, ankle jeans, printed shorts, jean shorts, white skirt, printed skirt
- Tops: white tops x 2, gray t-shirt, striped t-shirt x 2, Lilly Pulitzer top, chambray button down, cotton cardigan
- Dresses: silk printed dress, silk Lilly Pulitzer dress, Lilly Pulitzer maxi, printed J.McLaughlin maxi, chambray jumpsuit, linen maxi, Mara Hoffman dress, Everlane wrap dress
- Athleisure: black leggings, gray leggings, workout top, sports bra
- Scarves: lightweight Lulie Wallace scarf, silk scarf
- Shoes: Everlane Day Glove flats, nude heeled sandals, gold Jack Rogers, white Jack rogers, gold Jack Rogers jellies
- Bags: Lo & Sons OMG bag, Longchamp mini tote, neutral crossbody, a colorful clutch, and I ended up buying one vintage clutch
A FEW FINAL TIPS
My final tip for packing for California? Be prepared. You don’t want to be caught buying something on the fly just because you weren’t ready for 55 degree days in San Francisco or you didn’t realize just how hot it might get out in wine country. Bring layers with you, get ready to mix and match your pieces, pack lightly, and have fun!