How to Pack the Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe for Travel

Many times while traveling, things do not go as planned and my trip is extended (cancelled flights, opportunity to stay longer, whatever).  My first reaction was to add a couple new items to my wardrobe (yay, excuse to go shopping), then I learned the secret to extend my original wardrobe for another week (or more). I discovered how to pack the ultimate capsule wardrobe for the most mix and match options with a limited amount of luggage.  A little preparation while packing can give you loads of outfit combinations during your travels!

I spent many years traveling for work, and many more years traveling for fun.  Here are a few of my top packing tips to build the ultimate travel capsule wardrobe.
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How to Dress to Avoid Muffin Top

Women come in all shapes and sizes, pear, apple, curvy, tall, but most of us do not resemble a muffin.  So how did we get the muffin top?

High waist skirt - NO muffin top

High waist skirt – NO muffin top

Muffin Tops are created by a garment too tight around the waist pushing the skin (and maybe a bit of pudge) up and over the waist band. On Men this is comically described as a middle tire, or dunlap disease, where the gut dun lapped over the waist.  Haha, yes very amusing.  The “cure” is the same for middle tires and muffin tops.

Muffin Top example, just too small

Muffin Top example, just too small

Here are the 3 most common problems, and solutions to avoid the muffin top!

  1. Problem:  The garment is too small.  The garment waist is smaller than your waist, everything is just too tight!  Solution: Wear a larger size.
  2. Problem:  While technically the correct size, the garment squishes at a weird spot below the smallest part of your waist, resulting in that horrible muffin top.  Going up to the next larger size results in the garment looking baggy or falling off, but not eliminating the muffin top.  Low rise jeans and pants are notorious for bad fit on tall or long torso women.  Solution:  Skip the low rise and select a higher waist.

    Low rise jeans 3 inches from the natural waist, resulting in muffin top

    Low rise jeans 3 inches from the natural waist, resulting in muffin top

  3. Problem:  Muffin top below the waist band.  Solution:  While this rarely happens, it is caused by the outside garment (pants, skirt) waist is too high and is squishing above the waist, usually for petite or short-waist women.  Try a lower rise closer to your natural waist.
Midrise jeans, the right size, sitting close to the natural waist

Midrise jeans, the right size, sitting close to the natural waist

Here are some simple steps to look leaner and slimmer through good wardrobe choices, and eliminate that Muffin Top once and for all!

  • Every layer of clothing should fit properly.  Control top panty hose, shapewear, and underwear all need to be the correct size!  If any of the undergarments are too small or poor placement at the waist, then you are setting yourself up for possible muffin top.
  • Curvy women look best in garments that fit close at the narrowest part of the waist.  This accentuates the hour glass shape, and nothing resembling a pastry.
  • Straight or slim figures are less likely for muffin top due to high or low waist, and can benefit for a bit of stretch at the waist.

how-to-dress-to-avoid-muffin-topBonus tip:  Avoid pleats around the fitted hip, especially with high waist pants, since the result is the “Mom Jeans” look.

Not sure what the correct size is for your waist?  Here is a quick chart of waist measurements and corresponding sizes.

Want more?  Here are 5 great tips to avoid or reduce Back Bulge!

5 Tips to Avoid Back Bulge

The perfect bra (for you) should support the breasts, provide smooth coverage over the breast cup, and be tight enough to stay on your body.

Back bulge is skin that spills out on the back, often around the bra line due to restrictive garments.

Example of good fitting bra, no back bulge

Example of good fitting bra, no back bulge

Many girls and women with back bulge are not actually “fat”, the back bulge is created by merely wearing the wrong garment.  Others may actually have an extra layer of body insulation and can reduce the appearance of back bulge with these same 5 simple tips.

  1. Back bulge paired by double boob (the bra cup cuts into the breast and creates the appearance of boob on boob for each side) means the bra cup is too small.  Go get fitted properly for the correct, larger cup size.
  2. Back bulge, on a bra with the correct cup size, can often be reduced or eliminated by adjusting the bra band.  Try adding a bra extender on the bra band.  The bra band should fit comfortably while still providing breast support.
  3. The bra may technically be the correct size (cup and ribcage measurement) but still emphasizing back bulge, try wearing a bra with wider band.  Larger breasts and ribcages are better supported with a wider bra band around the body.  All of my bras are 3 hook wide bands for great support and to reduce any appearance of back bulge.
  4. Try a bra with more coverage.  The bra itself may be the correct size, but skimps on coverage underarms and around the back.  Compare the underarm coverage on a few bras, try each of them on and determine if more or less coverage reduces back bulge.  Again, the underarm and back should not be too tight to increase back bulge and make matters worse.
  5. As women age, the breast naturally sits a bit lower on the body.  Try adjusting the shoulder straps on the bra.  Bras designed with shoulder straps rely on the extra support from those straps to fit properly.  Back bulge specifically near the underarms is often reduced by adjusting the bra straps to be a smidge longer.  Adjust 1/2 inch longer and try the bra on again.  Keep adjusting until it feels supportive without digging into your shoulder or underarms.

5-tips-to-avoid-back-bulgeBonus Tip:  Even washing bras by hand or the delicate cycle (in a mesh bag and always air dry, NEVER use the dryer for bras), the bra straps can slip and both the bra band and shoulder straps can stretch.  If the bra seems too big, try adjusting the straps and band shorter.

What Size am I?

Junior, Misses, Missy, Women’s, Plus, Petite, Tall – What size am I?  With so many size types, where should I begin?  How do I know what size clothes to try on, or buy from the website?SizeChart

There is so much confusion on women’s sizing.  There is simply no standard size chart for all clothes – we are different heights, weights, proportions, and shapes.  I have created this handy chart comparing several different stores sizes to demonstrate how to determine what size clothes to try on.

The first step is to know your measurements.  Here is a quick tutorial on How to Measure Yourself. You will need all of your measurements, but for this session we will focus on waist measurement only.  The style of jean or pants will be largely based on the hip measurement (curvy, straight, low rise, high waist, etc), but the waist measurement tends to be the real deal breaker for fit.  Chest or Bust measurements are obviously important for shirts and dresses.

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Women’s Clothing Sizing is a Lie

A women’s size 6 is not the same as a size 6 label from 20 years ago.  In fact, today a women’s size 6 is not even consistent across stores.  Since women’s clothing is not standardized to actual measurements, clothing size becomes a starting point only.  The lie behind Women’s clothing sizes is further confused by odd number Junior sizing versus Misses even number sizes and inconsistent Plus and Petite options.

Same same waist

All of these are the same size waist and similar fit

Here is a sample of skirts and shorts from my closet.  All of these fit right at my natural waist (just above my belly button).  All of these are the same measurements at the waist.  In every real definitions, each of these are the exact same size.

Except when you check the label.  Top down; J. Crew skirt is size 8, Boston Proper size 12, WHBM size 6, WHBM size 10, and Ann Taylor Size 8.  Even within the same brand, the shorts were totally different sizes!  It is time to stop obsessing over the size printed on the label. Continue reading