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SXSW: Packing for Austin

3 8 2012

Valentino Rockstud Small Clutch 212 872 2577

I’m no seasoned packer like Linda or any of the rest of our buying team.  To be completely honest, this is the first time I’ve ever travelled for work (unless you count my daily commute in from Brooklyn)… and I couldn’t be more excited.

So how will I pack for eight days of geeking out, seeing new and old faces (even family!), listening to music; brunching, lunching and tech-crunching…?  Well, whatever it is, it will have to do some major day-to-night multi-tasking.  Fortunately, that’s a skill that I know quite well.  

weather reportCheck the Weather

Oy. Looks like we’re in for some classic Texas spring storms. Better pack the trench & umbrella.

Make a list

Sounds silly, but I always make a list (you should see my itinerary).  It never fully makes sense but it’s still nice to have — particularly since you’re more keen to note not to forget your iPhone charger and toothbrush.

Laying it Out

Lay it Out

Unfortunately my apartment is too tiny to store a hanging rod a la Linda Fargo, so my couch is the playing field… it’s all about teeny-tiny stacks.

Things I always Pack

  • — Gray t-shirts (Vince’s feel terrific)
  • — Thin cotton scarf (colorblocked from Theory! you can get one next week)
  • — Statement jewelry
  • — Isabel Marant and Elizabeth & James blazers (wear one on plane; pack the other)
  • — Small, cross-body bag
  • — Skinny belts & black grosgrain ribbons — black ribbon is a secret weapon
  • — Theyskens’ Theory tee with tuxedo tail
  • — Flats/skimmers/slippers
  • — Playing cards & books (never know when the occasion arises – but it’s good to be prepared)


Thoughts on Accessories:

Travelling really gives your accessories a time to shine — keep ready-to-wear pieces edging on basic (gray or striped tees, wide-leg or printed jeans) while relying on more adventurous accessories like an electric pink skinny belt (worn traditionally or as a bracelet), a crazy belt from Marc Jacobs’ boho S/S11 Collection, grosgrain ribbons, brightly-colored scarves and statement necklaces & Peter Pan collars to transform my look.  I also like packing my Ippolita hoops (212 872 2518) because they look great with a low or high ponytail.  Accessories are small, compact — think about it.
Packing tip: Store your accessories in whatever handbag you pack.

Secret Weapons:

  • — Daytime ball gowns (or maxi dresses) — consider it two looks in one (three if it’s a simple fabric).  Wear as a dress or layer it up with a printed top; loose, long-sleeve tee or oversized blazer.
  • — Gray T-Shirts — This is the thing about a gray tee: it kind of fades away.  In other words, it goes with everything but, then again, it isn’t anything that’s too memorable.
    Favorite Tees: Vince, Joie, T by Alexander Wang and Theory
  • — Striped Mariner Shirt — Is there anything more simple and chic than a striped mariner shirt?  Looks good with high-waisted cigaret pants and boldly-colored skimmer… or you can play Prints Gone Wild with a flirty floral skirt and printed top.
  • — Printed Blouses — We all know that prints are where things are growing this spring… so printed blouses are perfect for wearing on their own, layering over tees, and wearing in lieu of a jacket.  Printed tops are also great because they’re good at concealing moments followed by the word whoops.  Plus, they steam out easily.
    Favorite blouses: Equipment, Acne, Tucker and Theory.
  • — Valentino Rockstuds (212 872 8947) — Kitten heels are tricky territory, particularly when you’re 5’1″.  A few years ago, Valentino’s dynamic design duo dreamed up this uptown/downtown mix that is the most comfortable kickin’ kitten out there.  If you’re keen for the Rockstud, be sure to stop by our Valentino Rockstud event in a few weeks – we’ll have all sorts of singular, springtime color mashups that are pretty extraordinary.
  • — Stain Remover
  • — Black Grosgrain Ribbon —Now this is a real gem because you can cinch it around your daytime ball gown a la Lanvin, twist it ’round your wrist with a jumble of bangles or give yourself a keen bow tie (this one’s a trick I learned after reading an interview with Daphne Guinness).  It’s also helpful when a skirt’s just a smidge too big and you need to conceal the safety-pin trick.
  • — Shimmer Nail Lacquer — Unlike most weeks when my keyboard is an ever-changing blur of electric polish colors, there won’t be time for midday or nighttime touch-ups.  Enter the season’s metallic lacquer colors (think Chanel’s Gold Fingers, Le Metier de Beaute’s Eris or Tom Ford’s new Silver Smoke): your nails still look modern and tidy but the likelihood that a chip will be noticed is far less than if they were polished in neon.


Perhaps it’s that I’m super, super short, but I tend to keep pants, shorts and skirts to a minimum.  Styles tend to be classic but relatively forgettable (dark jeans, white jeans, leather and city shorts, cigaret pants) because they need to be worn with, well, everything.  Although Austin is known for its casual, relaxed style, I can’t forget that I’m still representing everything that’s spinning around on Fifth Avenue and 58th Street…



Shockingly, I tend to pack between two and three pair of shoes for any given trip; this time, however, is a little different because, well, rodeos require different footwear….hence my Luccheses that I got — gulp — twenty years ago.  I’m addicted to Valentino’s Rockstud collection (the leopard ones got me through most of Fashion Week) and can’t wait to test our latest spring colors for them (more on that below).  Also, since the weather is forecasted to be gloomy, so I may throw in my beat up Chucks just in case.
Tip: always pack your shoes in their original felt bags… particularly if you live in a big city like New York.

Valentino Denim Single Handle Bag, 212 872 2577


I’m quite fortunate this trip because Valentino (212 872 2577) wanted me to test-run a few of their bags to see how convenient they are for a tech-girl on the go (sadly, I must return them & the Easter-egg hued skimmers & kittens upon my return to New York) but typically when packing handbags, I prefer cross-body bags so that my hands can be free to take pictures and the like.  Alexander Wang’s Marion (212 872 8901) is a favorite; I’ve had it a few years now and it still looks brand new.
In terms of tech-gear, I’ve temporarily replaced the iPhone kitty with a shagreen style from the Seventh Floor (212 872 2570).  I wish I could say that my bag is packed to the gills with all of the fun tech gear I photographed yesterday & today… however, my iPad conveniently fits in the denim Valentino single-strap bag and I believe that my laptop will fit in the larger ankle-strap clutch.   Needless to say, I’m curious to see how these two styles will be and cannot wait to share the results with you.

Beauty LevelFrom the Beauty Level:

Seeing how the schedule rolls, SXSW seems like it will be a thousand times more intense than Fashion Week… so makeup must be minimal and long-lasting:

  • — Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe (212 872 8612) — If you want your skin to glow like it’s the best day of your life (while secretly fighting wrinkles & blemishes with Retinol and such), get to know Le Metier de Beaute’s Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe. It’s magic.
  • — Guerlain Terra Cotta Touch (212 872 2734) — Perfect for brightening under-eye circles and allergy shiners… plus it can be easily concealed in your clutch.
  • — Le Metier de Beaute Lustre Creme (212 872 8612) — Is it a sheer eye brightener or a lip gloss?  Felicia & I still are at odds about this funny clear gel but I know this much: you can smear it on your lids, lips or cheeks and you instantly look perked up. Smudge in a little pigment and that colored figment will go a long way.
  • — Tom Ford Foundation Stick (212 872 2813) — It conceals and blends quite well.  Plus, it doesn’t take up much space.
  • — Sedu Anti-Frizz Polishing Treatment (212 872 2621) — Since I’m growing out my locks to donate, the ends can get a little scraggly; Sedu’s Pure Argan oil corrects, detangles and adds shine.  Note that a little bit goes a very long way.
  • — Baby Powder — Never travel without it…sure is useful when there isn’t time to shampoo.
  • — Tom Ford Eye Quad in Crushed Amethyst (212 872 2813) — I never thought I’d encourage anyone (no less be a user myself) to wear plum eyeshadow…but here I am singing its praises.  This eye shadow quad easily transforms from day to night, plus the two double-ended brushes are more than enough for application.
  • — Oribe Dry Texture Spray (212 872 2621) — We call it a petite blow out in a can.
  • — NEST Travel Candle (212 872 2775) — Honestly, I’ve never traveled with a candle… but Felicia insisted that I take one because it’s a lovely thing to burn at the end of the day.
  • — Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Silver Smoke (212 872 2813) — Typing means many chips.  Best bring the polish with me.

In the Carry-On:

  • — Laptop, iPad, iPhone. Obviously.
  • — Book (Patti Smith’s Just Kids at the advisement of Linda)
  • — Extra set of contacts, travel-size solution and glasses. tip: store sample packets of eye cream in your eyewear case!
  • — Face spritz/mist I secretly snagged from Felicia (shh! don’t tell)
  • — Tom Ford Foundation Stick, Hourglass cheek stain & Chantecaille eyeliner (going straight from 6am flight to badge registration; I’d like to look relatively awake). Also, you’ll think I’m crazy but I always have a brow pencil on hand because enhancing your brows is like getting a petite face lift.  Currently testing Chantecaille’s Modern Brow Pencil; it’s quite savvy, you can learn more about it in Felicia’s product review.
  • — Itinerary, moleskin, #2 mechanical pencil and Uniball EYE pen (co-workers get them for me when traveling in Europe)
  • — My SXSW folder with presentation slides (eek! can’t believe this is really happening….!)


cannon hodgeCannon oversees all social at BG — from sending out tweets to managing all that is posted here on 5th/58th.  She will be speaking during SXSW, addressing Fashion and the new Taste Graph; during her time in Austin, she’ll also be studying tech innovations, discovering Austin City Secrets, recalling how to drive a car and reporting it all on 5th/58th.  In other words, she can’t wait to return to her native Lone Star State.