What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

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What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

So you have a wardrobe you love: versatile separates that function for everyday, that make you feel like a million bucks at work; casual styles that keep your weekends easy, breezy and stylish; special pieces that help you shine on date nights and at parties.  But then you’re confronted with the ultimate closet conundrum – what to pack for a 4 day work trip? in a carry-on???  After all – enjoying an amazing wardrobe means that you have many things that you love to choose from, but packing for a trip means committing to what you want to wear, how you want to appear, and who you want to be in advance.

I did a presentation at Bloomingdale’s for a group of meeting professionals who travel A LOT.  They saw my favorite travel styles, and also my ideal wardrobe for a 4 day/4 night business trip.  Here’s how I showed them to pack for 4 days and 4 evenings with a hectic work agenda, along with my main tips for concisely packing for productive business travel – so that what you’re wearing is the least of your worries, and you look (and feel) fabulous, as well!

What You’re Packing

  • 2 tops – a black/white print blouse & a lace-trimmed sweater
  • 2 third pieces – a pink cardigan & denim jacket
  • 2 bottoms – charcoal pinstripe trousers & dark jeans
  • 1 solid knit dress
  • 2 pairs of shoes – pink suede heels & black booties
  • A metallic crossbody bag & jewelry

What You Wear To Get There Counts (AKA Plane Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

Although your first urge might be to wear sweats on the plane, that’s not an option when you’re hitting the ground running on a business trip.  And what you wear to get there counts in your travel wardrobe – it can be an extra blazer, jeans for a casual evening, or flats for when they’re needed.  What do we love as a plane outfit?

  • A professional blouse, because it never hurts to have an extra
  • A blazer that moves with you, but looks totally pulled together
  • Pants with a little stretch
  • A bag that holds everything, and goes with every outfit
  • Basic jewelry that also goes with everything
  • Metallic flats, just in case you must run to make your connection
  • Heels to change into, when you’re walking off the plane and into a meeting

Versatility Is King (AKA First Evening Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

If you can’t wear something multiple ways, it doesn’t deserve the space in your carry-on.  A tweed-y blazer is the ultimate in versatility in cool weather (with a dress, tailored trousers, jeans, etc), and a solid dress comes in a close second.  And together, they make a great look for your first evening/dinner meeting.

Start With One Outfit (AKA Day 2 Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

When you’re stuck with what to pack, start by creating one outfit – like this pink cardigan, print blouse and pinstripe trousers.  Then take one piece from this outfit, and make a second outfit (like the pink cardigan with jeans for the trip home).  Then take another piece, and make a third outfit (like the print blouse with black pants and a denim jacket for dinner) – and so on, and so on…..

Think Through Your Agenda (AKA Evening 2 Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

If your work travel is more than just office time and hotel food, think through all your needs.  Will there be a casual dinner?  Grab jeans or a denim jacket to take the edge off of professional separates.  Are you giving a presentation?  Pack colors that flatter your face, especially if your under-eye bags may be bigger than your carry-on.  Do you have time for a fun bar night with local friends?  Bring jewelry with attitude and attention-getting heels.

Stick To A Tight Color Palette (AKA Day 3 Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

When everything goes together, it’s easy to create multiple outfits out of a handful of pieces.  For this travel capsule, I chose a simple black/white/grey palette with pops of raspberry and pink.  Yes, you can stick with neutrals – but why not add some pizazz???

Add Some Fun (AKA Evening 3 Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

Just because you’re working, that doesn’t mean that your personality can’t shine through.  So go ahead and pack those kick-ass booties, that chain link bag and your favorite wrap bracelet – and then pepper them into your outfits for day, or wear them all at once when it’s a ‘we got the account’ celebration dinner!

No ‘One and Done’ (AKA Day 4 Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

This one bears repeating – if you can’t outfit something at least two ways, it doesn’t deserve to be in your bag.  So yes – you can wear the same dress to dinner one night with heels and a blazer, and then again to the office with flats and a denim jacket.

Accessories Are Neutrals (AKA Evening 4 Outfit)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

Accessories are neutral in the sense that the ones you choose need to go with most every outfit – but that in no way means that you should only wear black.  Bring a pop color heel!  Go for a versatile metallic bag!  Then you’ll be ready when the agenda changes from dinner with clients to a let-your-hair-down evening with your peers.

Be Careful What You Choose (AKA The Flight Home)

What to Pack and How for a 4-Day Business Trip

Business trips are hard enough, so your wardrobe shouldn’t be extra work.  Select styles that are comfortable, versatile, and resilient.  Knits, sweaters, denim, lightweight wools and stretchy fabrics are just a few choices that can flawlessly survive time in the overhead bin – and then just need a quick hang up to look fresh.  And when you’re flying home – it’s time for comfy jeans and a simple cardigan.

What are your favorite styles to wear on a business trip?  Let us know in the comments!


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4 Responses

  1. Pat Oliver says:

    Absolutely loved all of the pieces and how they worked with each other. Would love to see this done with warmer colors. These colors do not work for me. Also would like to know where these pieces could be purchased.

  2. Paul Julch says:

    Hi Pat – I’m so glad you love the article! And the great thing is that this can essentially be replicated with a warmer palette that may work better for you.
    This article was actually published originally on my own website last year – so you can find links to all the items there, but they may no longer be available. But at minimum, you can see the stores/designers to find something similar. You can access the original article at this link: http://urbsuburbstyle.com/blog/2016/10/4/the-update-how-to-pack-for-a-business-trip

    Thanks so much for reading and for the comments!!

  3. Denise says:

    Paul- let’s work on this for me when we see each other next!!

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