Want the secret to packing light? Pack things that are also other things.
Huh? Well, you can work this in two ways. Way One: Pack clothing that can be used for multiple purposes, such as cute pants that are also soft and stretchy, meaning they can be worn either for a night out, or for lounging and eating marshmallows.
Way Two means entering the world of reversible clothing: shirts and dresses that flip for fresh new patterns and necklines when you tire of the old ones. Let’s dive into both clothing type options!
This month I got the opportunity to try out a clothing company called Betabrand that specializes in creative, travel-friendly clothes, many of which are multi-use or reversible. The “Beta” in the brand’s title has a fascinating reason: Clothing items are designed by real people, and the audience gets to vote on which proposals should be manufactured!
Have an idea for a shirt, bag, hoodie, or anything that doesn’t yet exist in the way you think it should? You can enter your own design concept on the site and stand to earn yummy, ongoing commissions if the design wins.
After seeing Betabrand ads repeatedly pop up in my social media feed (ahh, the power of persistent marketing), curiosity called, and I contacted the company to try out some of their most famous travel-friendly products: the reversible Round-Trip Dress, and the Dress Yoga Pants, plus the stretchy “Work-It Peplum Top.”
The day the package arrived was 90 degrees and dripping humidity. My friend Terri and I trekked to Boston’s stunning Arboretum for the photoshoot, pulling the van into a spot that might be described as semi-legal.
“Better put on some face powder,” said Terri as we slid the van door open to a wall of heat.
“Uh, powder?” I replied awkwardly. I never wear makeup because it confuses me and feels creepy on my face, but slicked with sweat that day, I suddenly saw one reason for it!
We decided it wasn’t worth it to buy the makeup, since we both had to do daycare pickup and time was tight, so I slopped the sweat off as best I could with an old tissue from my purse. Class incarnate. Did I mention I’m not a real model?
Through marginally indecent costume changes in the back of Terri’s van, we managed to photograph all four sides of the Round-Trip Dress. I can officially declare that it is an awesome garment.
What are the four sides of the dress? High Neck, Low Neck, Print Side, and Solid Color Side. A fifth use for the dress that I didn’t try because of the heat would be layering it on top of a shirt. Could be mighty cute.
I like this dress, first, because it packs so many options in one, and will be perfect for my summer situation: I need to pack for four destinations over two months in one small suitcase. I get sick of clothes when forced to repeat the contents of one bag, so the Round-Trip Dress will be a breath of fresh air, come the fifth week living out of that suitcase.
The other reason I enjoy the dress, however, is the fabric: it’s stretchy and durable as a bathing suit, light enough to be tolerable in 90 degrees, yet opaque enough to be modest and to hide the fact that there’s a totally different pattern on the flip side.
I also tried a second version of the Round-Trip Dress in a blue pattern which I loved, but the gray it reverses to made me look like a manatee. (Why do I always forget that I can’t do gray?!) I have therefore opted not to include any photos of myself in the gray side of that garment (vain censorship), but would awkwardly like you to know that the blue dress does reverse.
The lesson there is to pick a reversible dress that has colors on both sides which work for you, otherwise what’s the point of it being reversible if you’ll only wear one side? In general, I prefer solid colors that are darker, anyway, due to the many gooey substances my children smear on my clothes.
Speaking of children, let’s move on to the Dress Yoga Pants. Ever since having kids, normal pants annoy me. I don’t know if it was being spoiled by the comfort of maternity wear for 9 months, or simply having my belly shift shape so much, but normal dress pants make me want to punch things. It was, therefore, with great excitement, that I learned of Betabrand’s signature stretch dress pants.
Basically, the Dress Yoga Pants have a fake fly and fake pockets, plus real belt loops, so even though they’re stretchy, pull-on bliss, they look like regular office slacks. They come in Bootcut, Straight Leg, and Skinny-Leg, and a variety of colors, but what’s really key for 6-footers like myself is that they come in LONG! The long was so long, in fact (34 inches) that I had to get them hemmed an inch shorter to fit. This is plain shocking.
So, do the pants stretch? They sure do! They officially fit the bill for “things that are also other things” in order to pack light.
Not only could I do a high kick in them (see the third photo in this article, snapped shortly before almost toppling into the river), but when I was seized by a sudden urge to do a sweaty, modified Tree Pose (in heels, on a boulder), by golly, the pants stretched to accommodate that yogic impulse. Photographic proof:
Finally, a love song to the Work-It Peplum Top. Though I never can remember that “P” word (Plomplom? Pelumpadum? Pompadamp? Plop?), that waist ruffle is splendid for making a gal feel hourglass-y.
Terri and I proceeded to gorge ourselves on tacos after this photoshoot, and the pep — plua — perp — er, ruffly stuff on the shirt kept my resulting potbelly hidden from my family when I got home, so they were none the wiser that I noshed it up without them. Burp!
Let us review the lessons of this article, shall we? #1: Purple flowers are lovely. #2: Precarious yoga poses are not advisable to do in heels next to bodies of water. And finally, #3: Pack things that are other things, such as multi-purpose or reversible clothing.
So what do you think? Which clothing items and brands work best for you in order to pack light? Have you tried any of these Betabrand items, and are you scheming to? Which looks are your favorite? Do share!
Betabrand provided me with clothing items to review, but all opinions and questionable “modeling” pose choices are my own.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!