It can be a long stretch between the end of the summer and Christmas, so a quick weekend away is a welcome break – whether that’s a half-term holiday with the kids, a sunshine break with the girls or a romantic couple of nights in a country house hotel with your lover.
You may have got your summer packing down to a fine art (bikinis / flip flops / t-shirts – done!), but preparing for chillier climes isn’t always as simple, especially when you can’t rely on knowing exactly what the weather’s going to do. Additionally, a cold weather break tends to include a more diverse range of activities – long walks through muddy fields, sightseeing, visiting museums and art galleries, pamper sessions in a spa.
Even if you’re getting there by car and have the option to take your entire wardrobe with you, it’s no fun lugging bags and bags halfway across the country. Traveling light is so much chicer!!
Personally, I’m a big fan of the mini-break at any time of the year, but here are my tips for packing the perfect winter weekend getaway wardrobe to ensure that not only do you arrive in style but that you’re Instagram-ready at every photo opportunity!!
How to Pack
Fall / winter clothes use up much more space in your suitcase as they are generally chunkier and have more fabric in them than summer clothes. In the summer you don’t need to think about throwing in an extra top as it barely takes up any space, but that’s not the case for winter jumpers. This means that when you’ve only got a small suitcase for the weekend, you need to make every item count.
As I mentioned in my Winter Wardrobe blog (read it HERE), layering is your best style tool at this time of year – and we can also benefit from it when packing.
Save space and weight in your luggage by wearing heavier items for traveling. For example, if you are taking both flat boots and sneakers, wear the boots and pack the sneakers as these are likely to be both smaller and lighter.
I usually roll up things in my suitcase, but this is not quite as easy with bulkier items, so I have to fold them instead (luckily heavier fabrics don’t crease as easily as lighter ones!). For this, I use packing pods (plastic bags are a great alternative) and divide my things either based on outfits or occasions (night, day, etc.). I also always separate my intimates and my pyjamas from everything else.
Make sure you have bags for your shoes as well, particularly if they’re likely to get wet or muddy. I use Samsonite luggage, and each piece comes with a drawstring bag which I repurpose for this. Never throw a complimentary drawstring bag away – they are invaluable for efficient packing!!
I travel a lot, so I keep a “mini” beauty case full of cosmetics in small sizes ready to go. It’s transparent on the front, so it easily goes through any security checks, yet it’s more durable than those plastic bags that you get at the airport.
Preparation & Planning
I like to plan out everything down to the last detail so that there are no surprises when I arrive.
Before traveling, I spend some time learning about my destination - weather, transportation, hotel, possible activity programs, etc. That way I know that there’s a spa in the hotel and therefore I need to pack my flip-flops and bikini, while if the hotel is on a lakeside or close to nature, I can take the appropriate footwear.
Winter Weekend Getaway Key Items
A light wool overcoat will serve you wherever you go. If like me, you’re permanently cold, you can add a cashmere jumper or cardigan underneath and a big chunky scarf over it.
A waterproof layer is useful in this season, such as those waterproof windbreakers that you can just wrap up in a small bag. They are light, slot into your handbag and are practical all year round - in the autumn you can just pop them over your coat or a thick cardigan / jumper to keep the rain off!
When it comes to tops I always start with my wool Initimissimi camisole, and usually, I wear a blouse, shirt or a plain top over it.
I love chunky jumpers, but I go for ones that have a special touch, for example, metallic fibers, embellishments or just an interesting detail. This means that I have more opportunities to wear them as they can also be worn in the evening.
So, when travelling I choose one “main” jumper (which works with my choice of shoes and jeans) to wear during the day, and then I pick a more elegant item for the nighttime (although I ensure that it’s something that could also be worn during the day – just in case!)
In addition, I take a couple of options for the “middle” layer - denim shirt for the day, silk blouse for the night, and a wool top in case it gets really cold.
For a winter city break, you’ll only need two jumpers, especially if you alternate the tops underneath.
Picking the right shoes is crucial. You want them to be comfy yet stylish - something that serves you when strolling around the city during the day but that would also be suitable if you end up in a nice restaurant for dinner.
While in the early autumn I still wear my slip-on sneakers, when it starts to get cooler I switch to ankle boots. Personally, I love both biker boots and the oh-so-trendy oxford type of masculine flats - you are good to go with both depending on how casual or elegant you want to look.
Add some sneakers to your packing list if you plan any outdoor activity and a pair of classic stilettos for a night out.
As always, your outfit planning should start with the shoes - so once you’ve decided on them start working your way upwards. Jeans are great for the day, and if they aren’t too faded and ripped, they equally work for the evening.
A warm scarf is essential. It saves you from the wind, works as an extra layer if you find the temperature chillier than expected, and it jazzes up any plain outfit.
My rule is to choose natural fibers - wool, cashmere or silk, because not only do they look more luxe (therefore elevating any outfit), they are warm yet breathable.
Remember to take some pretty jewelry for the evenings – a good range of accessories make your core items work harder without taking up too much space in your suitcase!
For winter I use larger handbags (for my recommendations read my blog HERE), but I like to keep my travel essentials (laptop, book, etc.) with me in a leather rucksack.
Now here it really depends on the flight operator’s rules as to whether they allow you to have a handbag besides your hand luggage or not but personally I tend to fly with those which do. I often use a mini bag as well so that my passport/ID, purse and phone are all easily accessible.
This way, when I arrive at my destination, I can choose between the smaller and larger options depending on what I am doing, and I can use the mini bag during the evening. If I am attending an elegant event, I’ll also take a small clutch.
As well as my main outfits I make sure that I pack something cute and comfortable to wear in the hotel room.
If weight and space are no issue, I love to take some luxury scented travel candles with me (like THESE) to help me relax and create a nice atmosphere.
Your Winter Weekend Getaway Checklist
Color match your items so that you can make up several outfits from just a few pieces.
Style match your items - especially your coat & shoes (i.e. all relaxed or all smart)
Take matching accessories for the day and night (remember - the right statement necklace can transform your outfit from daytime casual to nighttime glam!)
Consider the purpose of your trip (e.g. city break, spa weekend, concert/musical trip)
Look up the weather forecast for your destination.
Plan your activities in advance.
Think about your mode of transport (your packing will be more restricted if you’re traveling by plane, for example).
And one final tip – leave some space in your luggage for impromptu shopping! You never know if you’re going to see some great souvenirs or presents that you just “have” to have!!
Veronika Nemeth is a Personal Branding & (Life)Style Coach, based in Milan, Italy. Her mission is to inspire and empower women to live their own truth and become the best version of themselves inside and outside.
She works with women who are ready to step into their power, break free of old limitations and create a life and an image that is true to them.