Pack Like a Ninja, Look Like a Lady

May 6, 2015

The excitement of traveling around Europe for four weeks was just bubbling out of me. My OCD colors were flying free at the thought of packing for such a long trip. But as I started thinking more about it, I realized that I had some planning ahead of me. I mean, how exactly does one look fashionable, feel durable, and pack versatile for a whole month? Oh, and also fit into a 26″ suitcase?

I rolled up my sleeves at this welcomed challenge. I analyzed weather conditions, European fashion trends, and planned activities. Oh yeah, I got really into this. And now that I’ve become a mini-expert on the subject, I feel confident in sharing my discoveries and data with you.

Fun fact – the three outfits featured above are created with one dress, one shirt, one pair of shorts, one pair of shoes, and a handful of accessories. 


Here are my tips in how to pack cute and versatile outfits

Things to Note:

  • I’m traveling to England, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and Greece. I’ll be there in between late spring and early summer which means I’ll experience an array of weather temperatures and precipitation levels. It was important to me to pack things that can be layered for the cooler, rainy cities (London, Paris, Lauterbrunnen), but can also be lightened for the warmer cities (Barcelona, Rome, Athens).
  • Just because I found a way to wear different outfits every day, it does not mean that I’ll be wearing new items of clothing every single day. This is strategy, not sorcery. All of my packed items will be worn multiple times on this trip, and I fully intend on running a load of laundry or two while I’m gone.


Pack Like a Ninja, Look Like a Lady | Meagan Tilley



The first thing I did was evaluate how the shape and form of each item matched the other items I planned to pack.

Oh yes, we’re going to get all geometric over here.

Since I was going to be in Europe over the summer, I obviously wanted to pack a few summer dresses. I also wanted them to be a bit more versatile than just a one time use. So I evaluated the way my dresses fit. Most of them had a free-flowing bottom with a tighter bodice.

Light bulb!

What if I could pair the dress with a tight top that matched the shape of the dress and can be worn over it? There aren’t any rules against that – it’s fashion. Practically anything goes.

So now I can wear just the dresses in the warmer cities, and wear my dress/top combo in the cooler cities where an extra layer is welcomed.

Still a little skeptical? Take a look at the picture directly up above. It’s actually a dress with a shirt layered as a top. It looks perfectly normal, and rather stylish if I do say so myself.



Pack Like a Ninja, Look Like a Lady | Meagan Tilley



The second thing I had to consider were the colors I wanted to pack (don’t worry, a color wheel will not be needed to follow along). Think of it this way: if I pack a bunch of clothes that don’t match, I’m limiting the combinations I can put together.

So I considered my color bases (black, brown, navy, white…etc.) and decided to go with a black base. Every item that I packed can be worn with black shoes/sandals which limits the amount of shoes in my suitcase. Side note – I personally love black/fall colors even in the summer. That’s just a personal preference, but you can supplement whatever colors you want.

Setting my primary color as black helped tie my outfits together, which allowed me to be more lenient with my secondary colors. So what does that really mean? Because I have a black, underlying theme, I can wear colorful combinations without looking like a random rainbow.

Bottom line – try to match as many things as possible when packing. I once heard that you should be able to randomly pull a bottom and a top out of your suitcase, and it match.


Pack Like a Ninja, Look Like a Lady | Meagan Tilley



The third (and most effective) thing I did was figure out which accessories I would pack. Because accessories are so small, they’re so much more efficient than packing another pair of jeans or shoes.

  • My favorite accessory is my gray and white scarf. A scarf adds a sophisticated, put together look, while remaining rather effortless. When searching for a scarf, try to find one that matches a majority of the outfits you will pack.
  • I’m a huge fan of wearing hats when traveling. Like the scarf, it makes you look put together without putting too much effort into it. It also hides a bad hair day.
  • Statement jewelry is another great thing to pack as well. It takes up minimal space in your suitcase, but it can really spice up an evening look.


With the below items, I was able to create 32 variations of outfits.

  • Four dresses
  • Seven Tops
  • One Pair of Black Shorts
  • One Pair of Blue Jean Shorts
  • One Long Sleeve Black Shirt
  • Two Cardigans
  • One Jean Jacket
  • Three Pairs of Shoes
  • Scarf and Hat
  • Various Jewelry


items to consider bringing in case of cold evenings, rain, etc.:

  • Black Skinnies
  • Blue Jeans
  • A Few T-shirts
  • Running Shoes
  • Rain Jacket


a few of the outfits I’ll pack


Packing Conclusion

I hope this guide will help lead you in a successful packing direction. Once I learned the basics in how to pack efficiently, it left me with lots of room to mix and match. Allow yourself to be creative with colors and see what new combos you can come up with.

And lastly? Be sure that you pack clothes that are a reflection of your personality. That’s what fashion is all about after all.


Have any packing tips? I’d love to read about them in the comments!

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter – you know, if you want to.

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  • Reply Anna May 6, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Nice! I like how your outfits turned out! I’ve watched a few YouTube videos on how to use one outfit three or four different ways and I think it’s so creative! It cuts out the excess clothing and let’s you see what you actually do and don’t wear. I feel like I need to go through my closet now, haha!

    • Reply Meagan Tilley May 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Exactly! I was able to cut out all the unnecessary items and find stuff that I’ll actually wear regularly. Plus it gives me a reason to get creative with finding new ways to wear things!

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