Planning Outfits For a Business Trip

Packing for a business trip is a bit trickier than for a holiday. My last business trip was when I went to London for the Young Creative Entrepreneur Media Award. Not only did it involve meeting a lot of people, I also had to go to a few different places and events which I wasn’t too familiar of, therefore wasn’t too sure what the dress code should be like. But as my motto is “better be overprepared than sorry” I made a list of what to pack weeks before the actual trip. Trip itself was about 10 days and it was Fall in London so it really did require some thoughts and planning into making sure I didn’t pack too much or too little.

First, I made a list of the “essentials”, the items I absolutely must have, like a coat, pants, shirts, dresses, shoes and so on. Then after I’m happy with this list, I added some accessories that I wanted to bring, such as shawl, necklaces, belts or other additional clothing pieces that I think would be good to bring. After my master list was ready, I made an “outfit chart” or a complete list of what I was going to wear from the day of my departure all the way to my last day in London, using items from my master list. I know, I know, sounds geeky, right? But this way, I could rest assured that I wouldn’t end up running out of things to wear before my trip ended. But I could always shop for clothes! I’m sure that thought run through your head, right? It crossed mine too :) And having this kind of list doesn’t mean that I didn’t allow myself to do some shopping, but I wanted to make sure that I brought what I needed to wear for the trip because I wasn’t sure when exactly I would have time to run to the shops as my schedule was quite packed. Anyway, to do this list, I simply used pen and paper, but if I were to do it again in the future, I would most probably use my favorite apps du jour, such as Evernote. Evernote is great for this purpose, because you could also attach images or clips from the web as inspiration when planning for your outfits.

Anyway, about a week before I was due to leave, an email came from the British Council, informing me that there will be no dress code at all for the whole trip :D But I still stuck to my list anyway because I thought I had prepared quite a good one and I had dedicated enough time to plan it, there was no way I was going to abandon the list!

So here are some tips from me when planning for outfits for your business trip:

  1. If you go to a place with colder climate, warm clothes are a must. If you can, bring 2 kinds of coats. One in solid color and in heavier material (like leather or tweed) and another one with interesting prints or colors. I brought one red leather jacket which proved to be quite versatile and one batik peacoat, which I could wear with my basic-colored items. The batik jacket was also something Indonesian that I was quite proud to wear too as  I was representing the country there :)
  2. Keep the rest of your clothes in basic colors such as black, grey, white or khaki, as they will be very easy to mix and match.
  3. Bring one or two pants which don’t crease easily. I have a pair of grey, wide-legged Forever 21 slacks that I love so much and brought for this trip because they never creased no matter how I packed them.
  4. Jersey dresses in basic colors are your saviors. Really. You can wear them underneath your coat, wear it with a scarf, with a pair of tights or on its own. You can also wear them for a dinner or cocktail party.
  5. It’s a good idea to buy items like tights or shawls in your destination as they are probably cheaper. I was quite lucky to be able to run to Primark on my first day and grabbed two pairs of tights in black and grey for £3 each. I still can’t get over how cheap they were!
  6. I brought 2 pairs of shoes for this trip. One pair is my safe black ones in cone heels that go with virtually everything I own and the other pair is a La Spina flats in yellow and green because I couldn’t stand to wear just one black shoes for the whole trip. A pair of fun-looking shoes can brighten up your outfits in an instant (especially when you will be wearing mostly basic colors) and can be a great conversation starter too.
  7. Of course, it goes without saying that a pair of jeans is also a great item to have in your suitcase. You probably want to explore the city you go to in a more relaxed outfit, so jeans is the perfect choice. It can also keep you warm during those cold and windy Autumn nights.

Here’s one of my outfits during the trip. The first photo was taken (without me knowing) by the British Council team while we were on our way to an agency office, while the second photo was when I was presenting about Female Daily Network to the rest of the YCE participants.

  • Custom made batik jacket
  • Zara black jersey dress
  • Primark tights
  • MNG shoes

And here’s another photo from another day with me wearing the same jacket, which I’ve paired with a white tank top, red Cotton Ink shawl and a military green Zara skirt. Too bad there wasn’t a full body shot from this day so I couldn’t show you the whole outfit!