- The Washington Times - Monday, July 25, 2005

When your job requires frequent, yet short, business trips, minimizing your time in airports becomes a quality-of-life issue. In pursuit of this goal, many busy executives travel light, skipping baggage claim by toting nothing but a carry-on tote. This can decrease travel time, but requires smart packing. To reap the most from your day and your suitcase, make a list of everything you’ll need, giving yourself ample time to pack. Stressed-out last-minute packers often forget crucial items. If you’re leaving in the morning and going straight to a meeting, dress accordingly — that’s one less outfit you’ll have to pack. For the remaining day or two, select one or two understated yet versatile pieces that you can mix and match with bolder items to create multiple outfits. For men, one suit can carry you through two days if you change your shirt and tie. Or pack a “trio,” such as that offered by Jos. A. Bank, which includes a matching suit jacket and pants along with a pair of patterned trousers, which can be paired with the jacket for a slightly more casual look. Ladies, you can follow much the same pattern by shopping for multiple matching pieces. Many brands, such as Ann Taylor, offer collections that include suit jackets with matching skirts (sometimes short and long) as well as pants. Pack a pink V-neck knit, a white blouse with a ruffled collar and a red shell and you’re set for two or three days. Roll your socks, undergarments and any casual clothing you will need. This will help to prevent wrinkles and, more importantly, will save space in your suitcase. Pack foundation garments last, using them to fill in the “holes” in your suitcase, rather than letting them occupy valuable chunks of space at the start. As for minimizing the need for clothing care during your trip, the secret is tissue paper. Fold it into your clothes, place it between items in your suitcase, stuff it into your suit armholes and inside shoes to keep them from being crushed. To further avoid wrinkles, choose synthetics over natural fibers when possible, or look for apparel specifically designed to be “wrinkle free” as discussed in the Q&A; below. Dear Jordan, How can I avoid wrinkled dress shirts? Henry - Dupont Circle Dear Henry, You can’t. Ironing before you walk out the door is a must! However, you an avoid excessive wrinkling if you carefully choose the shirt material. Linen is a 10 on the wrinkle scale where as cotton is a 6 and polyester is a 3. Keep your eyes open for brands offering “wrinkle-free” options which still maintain a classy and elegant look. Dear Jordan: I love my arm tattoos but unfortunately many interpret them negatively. As a result, when I wear khaki shorts on casual days in the office, I pair them with long sleeves. How do I deal with questions from peers and clients when the temperature shifts and I should be rolling up my sleeves but never do? Perry - Fairfax Dear Perry, Tattoos - for better or for worse - are not just for bikers anymore. That said, large tattoos on your forearms will definitely attract attention and generate questions which you may not care to answer. Consider very thin linens or near-shear color fabrics for those really hot days. Even if your tattoos can be seen through - it will be clear to your co-workers that you prefer to be discreet. Dear Jordan: We have a relaxed casual day with lots of branded logo apparel. Are baseball caps okay since they are so cool? Sam - Vienna Dear Sam: Baseball-style caps are okay in the copier room but remove it before a meeting in the boardroom. While your attire reflects your individuality, it also speaks about your professionalism so if you wear a celebrity or slogan logo make it fun not controversial. Dear Jordan: My office is mostly “under 40” but I am in my mid-50s and look it. Should I color my hair? Daniel - Chevy Chase Dear Daniel: If it makes you feel more confident, sure why not. Keep in mind, being older has its advantages and lots of us think “salt and pepper” is very attractive. Dear Jordan, I like to be comfortable when I travel. Is it acceptable to wear shorts on an airplane? Gabrielle - Alexandria, VA Dear Gabrielle, If you’re vacationing in the Bahamas, that’s fine. If you’re heading on a business trip, it’s not a good idea: A lost suitcase can mean your travel clothes might be working double time, and if you show up in shorts you’ll be greatly underdressed — and cold. Ms. Jordan Speer is the senior editor of an apparel business magazine and has been writing about the industry for more than nine years. Send workplace or corporate fashion questions to [email protected]

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