I recently had the good fortune of spending 3-nights on a girlfriend’s getaway to Nashville. The itinerary included air-travel, swimming, hiking, sightseeing, fine-dining, and dancing. I needed to pull off some expert packing to fit all the required get-up in my carry on.

Because this trip would necessitate combing through the entirety of my Spring/Summer wardrobe, I decided to set aside a couple quiet hours after the kiddos went to bed and use my packing agenda as an opportunity to carefully audit my closet.

We all know the formula by now for cleaning out your closet: take everything out, try it all, then categorize one’s clothes into keep, donate, mend, toss. This is all well and good, but unlike before when I employed these tactics, I now added the filter of “is this something I want to pack for a trip with my girlfriends,” which we all know is the ultimate litmus test, right?

I was pleasantly surprised that this added layer of inspection did wonders for my closet, and made packing a breeze. Out went a pile of clothes that were a mix of unflattering, unneeded, or ill-fitting.

I was left with a much more streamlined wardrobe of clothes I actually want to wear.

Through this process I came up with four simple questions to ask myself before each piece passed the test:

1. Does It Fit Well?

As I began auditing my closet for my upcoming trip, I wanted to make sure that everything I packed I both looked and felt good in. And it hit me. Don’t I always want to look and feel good in what I’m wearing? Why in the world would I keep anything that didn’t?

I certainly tend to wear the clothes over and over again that feel and look good on my body. And fit, in my opinion, should always be the number one factor when choosing clothes. If it doesn’t fit well, you won’t certainly won’t be comfortable, and you probably won’t be doing your body any favors either.

I can say that at this point in my life, the maximum amount of discomfort I’m willing to warrant is throwing on a great set of shapewear under a garment, but really, even shapewear can be comfortable these days.

Are things bulging, pinching, or gaping? Too short or too long? It’s time to move on my friends.

Hoping you’ll fit into that too-small LBD again in future? It’s time to let go, because guess what, if you do lose a few pounds, you’ll probably want to reward yourself with some new threads to celebrate.

2. Does It Work with Several Other Pieces I Own?

Having a wardrobe that lends itself well to vacation packing tends to follow the wildly popular capsule wardrobe concept. The basic idea is scaling back the number of pieces in one’s closet to include mostly simple, classic pieces that coordinate well with each other, resulting in several outfit combinations.

When trying on my Spring/Summer wardrobe, if I was contemplating a pair of shorts, skirt, or pants to bring, I’d try them on with all my tops to see what would work with the most combinations. If a certain top didn’t combine well with any of my bottoms, or conversely if I was unable to find anything that works with a specific pair of bottoms, I determined that this item was not suitable for packing, and ultimately my wardrobe.

Obviously the more neutral your color pallet, the easier it is to find items that look good together.

To keep my look fresh and fun I always look to layering pieces, often referred to as the third piece in the fashion industry. These fun little add-ons (think in the lines of plaid or leopard print scarf depending on your style) can amp up your glam, while working with several of your neutral pieces. Layering items, such as statement jewelry, scarves, or sexy sling backs, typically have the added bonus of not taking up a ton of real estate in your closet or carry-on.

3. Is It Flattering?

During my packing prep I pulled on my fashionable pair of white capris. They fit well, and of course went with nearly all my tops because white looks good with practically everything. The problem was, they did absolutely nothing for my legs, at least nothing good anyway.

I also had a similar denim pair of capris where the distressed knee had completely worn through. These were also so comfortable but I was really pushing the boundaries of hobo-chic towards the former.

I knew if I didn’t get rid of both these I’d keep wearing, but neither passed my girls trip test. I’m fairly certain my fashion idol, Jackie O, would not have worn capris that didn’t flatter her. I probably shouldn’t either.

4. Is It Your Style?

Despite being a card-carrying minimalist, even I get caught up by a trend or two that don’t really suit my overall aesthetic.

There are many a quiz online that can help you pinpoint your particular style, but the easiest thing to do is to take a look at the repetitive themes of the clothes you already own and love. This will help you identify the type of clothes you should keep and buy, not to mention pack on vacation because they probably make you look and feel good.

Find those outliers in your closet, such as the hot pink shirt among the sea of navy. Did you pick up a newly trendy pair of bike shorts and realize they are wearing you instead of the other way around? Unless you find yourself wearing these stand out pieces often (which I’m guessing you don’t) it might be time to pass them on.

Next time it’s time to clean out that closet or edit your seasonal wardrobe, try approaching your choices through the frame work of, “would I pack this for a girl’s getaway?”. Ask yourself four simple questions when trying on each piece; does it fit well, does it work with other pieces I own, is it flattering, and finally is it my style? If your clothing doesn’t make you feel confident and comfortable, then it has no place taking up your precious closet or carry-on space!

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Feature photo by Angela Carlyle, ©Happy Mom Life Lab. Article image licensed through Nicole Vaughn (shoes and clothes on the kitchen counter), all in the context of this article are ©Happy Mom Life Lab.

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