Two weeks, one carry-on

I just got back from two weeks of having fun in New Orleans and teaching in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and all I took could fit in a carry-on. (I actually also packed 16 copies of my book All Over the Map, so I did check the bag, but that left me precious little space for clothes and shoes). I have traveled a lot, and I think this was the best I’ve ever packed (and, ahem, I wrote a story on the topic for O Magazine a few years back). I managed to dress to party and be professional, to ride bicycles and to be on a panel discussion in front of 500 people. I taught four classes and saw five bands. A super-versatile wardrobe.

I mainly packed clothes by gr.dano. The designers are friends, so I’ve worn their clothes a lot over the years. Jill Giardano and Brian Scheyer are incredible designers–their drapey, sophisticated designs manage to look flattering on tiny, thin Jill as well as robust me. I have a navy dress from gr.dano that is my go-to, ace-in-the-hole professional dress, but I had no idea how versatile their clothes could be when traveling–not to mention wrinkle-proof and fab for every occasion. Their clothes work together, and I only added a few other pieces.

Here’s the list:

Black zip-up sleeveless tunic vest with leather trim, gr.dano

Blue-grey tunic top, gr.dano

Black ponte leggings, gr.dano

Purple faux wrap dress, gr.dano

Cowl-neck light knit tunic top, black, gr.dano

Black and white duster, gr.dano

Black cowl-necked heavy cotton jacket, gr.dano

Short-sleeved tunic dress, Eileen Fisher

Long-sleeve black T, James Perse


One pair leggings, one pair tights

Colorful long scarf

One long and one short San Benito necklace from VSA Designs

Diagonal-zip black ankle boots (Eileen Fisher)

Sparkly cap-toed flats (Jimmy Choo)

Silk chiffon poncho (Johnny Was)

Black and white polka dot tulle dress (uncertain origin)

That’s it! it all fit in the space of a carry-on. I wore the ankle boots, ponte pants, black T and duster on the plane.  I wore everything at least twice, sometimes more. It was great how I could layer pieces–the zip tunic vest over the tunic top, with the cowl neck jacket or the duster over it. I could wear the flimsy tulle dress over the Eileen Fisher tunic or under the g.rdano vest. By far the most versatile piece was the zip tunic. I was riding bicycles in it all over NOLA, and then teaching seminars in it in San Miguel. The faux wrap dress came in second: I went to a fancy dinner in NOLA for my birthday, then dancing afterwards, and two days later appeared on a panel discussion in front of 500 people, looking totally professional. I hand-washed the tunic as well as the ponte pants, and they came out perfectly. Special mention to the cozy duster: I wore it on the plane, and then when my B&B had our private bathroom down the hall, it worked perfectly as a bathrobe. That’s crucial with a carry-on! The chiffon poncho was great over the Eileen Fisher tunic dress for a dressy party look, as was the tulle over the tunic dress. The VSA necklaces, long and short, dressed everything

So there you have it. Fabulous wardrobe in a carry-on. Above, a not very good p hoto of the gr.dano ponte pants, tunic, and cowl-neck jacket with Mardi Gras beads and mask!

The excellent blue dress:Laura-Fraser-198x300