When it comes to packing for fashion week, or any overseas trip that requires keeping up appearances, I've learnt a lesson or five from my comedic errors. Well, only comedic in hindsight.
I type this week's entry onboard a flight from Paris to Milan (for men's fashion week) after a 12-hour all-nighter from Singapore to Parée with our travel partner Thai Airways. Smooth as silk? Yes. But, let me tell you, it could have been a whole lot smoother had I not decided to check-in three pieces of luggage amounting to 70kg. And this isn't even taking into account my carry-on luggage and hat bag. (More about the infamous hat bag later.)
Backstory: I'm travelling business and, get this, even pre-arranged an extra 20kg worth of complimentary luggage through a good friend, but still found myself 10kg above the limit. What on God's Earth did I pack? What didn't I pack is more the question: A stunning hand-stitched leather Prada trench (too beautiful to squeeze into a suitcase, and too troublesome to hand-carry); a black pair of Common Projects (already rammed in four pairs of black shoes); and, most importantly, self-control (but I need options!).
Needless to say, the excess luggage costs were cray.
So, take heed and learn from my mistakes. Here are five truths to think about the next time you find yourself sitting on your Rimowa, cursing at the wind, and wondering why the darn thing just won't close.
1. Do not crowd-source an answer
Taking a video selfie while asking, "Should I bring this Burberry quilted bomber or not?" makes for great Snapchat fodder, but it leads to emotional packing. "Yes", they will tell you. "No brainer!" they will holler in unison. But it ain't cute traversing Charles de Gaulle with three big-ass suitcases (plus hand luggage) trying to find your transfer gate; especially when there are escalators to tackle and no lifts in sight. Who designed this airport?
2. More is not more
I know. As I type that sub-header, I find myself cringing. As the people who know me best will tell you — I love options. Here's a glimpse into my internal monologue:
Should I bring a denim jacket as well as a denim jacket with cut-off sleeves?
Why, of course. With no sleeves, the denim jacket is practically a waistcoat; much easier to layer under that gorgeous camel coat I'm definitely bringing.
The result? I'm seeing double: Two denim jackets, two army green field jackets, and two black double-breasted coats. What did you learn? You're not travelling with a twin. Less is more.
3. This isn't World War-Z
Yes, some would consider the fashion world a ruthless battlefield, but when you're stacking 15 coats, 15 tees and 12 shirts for a two-week trip, the numbers just aren't adding up. Think: What do I really, really want to wear? Is it a fantastic hand-knitted woolen cardigan from Ralph Lauren? Or maybe a cropped fur-trimmed bomber from Ermenegildo Zegna Couture? Okay, great. Now that you have your must-have core items, build a wardrobe around it.
4. Remember, you're a shopaholic
Especially if you're reading this column and thinking, "I feel you Norman, I need options too." So, in all seriousness, you're going to buy more stuff. If you're already over the baggage limit, what are you going to do when you find out that Ami is on sale, or that Hermès is going to launch a new range of home wares during Paris men's fashion week? Shut up. Yes, it's true.
5. Keep an eye on your hand-luggage
Because you've maxed out the check-in allowance, you naturally turn to hand-luggage. However, chances are, you're not used to carrying a laptop bag, coat bag and hat-bag all at the same time (guilty!). So my final piece of advice (nothing to do with packing, but just as important) is to count your hand-luggage before you leave anywhere. I've now left my hat bag twice (once in the business lounge and once at home) causing me to: (a) twice throw-up a little in my mouth; (b) twice delay an entire flight to Paris; and (c) twice almost have a cardiac arrest from the sheer panic of not having my head gear game on fleek for fashion week. #FirstWorldProblems. But hey, first-world problems are problems too, okay.
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