Monday, May 23, 2016

Japan trip Spring 2016 Part 1: Packing (Liz Lisa outfits) for Hokkaido to Osaka in May

I thought it might be fun, if not also possibly helpful, to kind of explain how I pack my outfits for trips. This specific trip had particular weather requirements that made it a little more tricky, but I'll basically try and outline my thought process.

Starting broad & gathering options:
I tend to like to wear Liz Lisa during my trips (activities permitting), so the first place I start when brainstorming is my Liz Lisa wardrobe post! I scroll through the post and begin by saving the pictures of whatever I am potentially interested in packing in a (computer) folder. Of course, I also consider non-Liz Lisa items as well. I don't mind having too many choices, but if I have too few, that's usually a problem. The easiest items to identify for packing are most, if not all, of the items I have from the current season. Usually it's not very many items because hopefully I was saving for the trip and not buying a whole bunch of stuff lol, but I'll typically have at least one or two pieces that I couldn't resist buying and definitely want to bring them with me. I'll often start about one month before the trip which gives me enough time to figure out if I'll need to purchase/order anything new.
From there, I look through the folder and eliminate what I already wore recently and what I took on trips before because I don't want to repeat too much if I can help it. I'm lucky that I have quite a few options, and I want to take advantage of that.
(Don't mind the picture names. I minorly changed some so that they would be in the order I want, but other than that, they don't mean much.)
For slightly colder weather (early spring, late autumn and winter), my goal is to bring one outer item and one layering item (a cardigan, knit or turtleneck). Regardless of weather, I typically plan on bringing just one purse and one or two pairs of shoes. Once I determine each of these staple pieces, I start looking at the rest and eliminate anything that severely doesn't match (with the outer, shoes and purse). I like to have at least one top and bottom/separates outfit but usually I'm heavy on OPs because I'm more of a dress person personally. Double bonus points if a top can be used with two different bottoms or if something can be used two different ways.

The try-on test:
I then try on the remaining clothes options with the static items (shoes, purse, layer piece and outer) to have a good idea of what to expect on the trip if I were to bring them. I try them both with and without the outer(s). Knowing what both will look like are important to me because it's best if pieces can be used in both chilly Hokkaido and warmer Tokyo & Osaka areas. I know that I will end up with some less than perfect coordinates especially with the shoes and outer, but if it's still OK (i.e. not omg-my-eyes-hurt, it's terrible), then I usually just live with it. I know these are not the A+ best, best, best coordinates but based on what my priorities are, it's what I can live with. I would love to bring 10 stunning outfits, each using the perfect shoe, bag or outer, but that's just not possible with my suitcase space.
Note that these photos weren't taken with the intent to share so obviously the lighting, poses, background etc aren't perfect lol. And my hair looks like crap. I didn't have the idea to do this blog post until later and the photos are an important part of my planning process, so I do want to include them but yeah, I realize they aren't great photographs. This part of the post is just very raw and honest except filters because the original lighting was so bad lmao. These are just a few examples so you can get an idea. And you can see that not all are great. Some are bad ideas and therefore I eliminated that items or coordinate idea from the plan. Sometimes I will also add legwear or accessories when trying stuff on but in this case, it was humid and I was lazy so I didn't bother.
I realize that it gets kind of monotonous to see the same outer, purse and shoes all the time, but I rely on the rest of the clothes and styling to help make up for that. Tbh, I just can't bear to take up extra space with another outer from home just for fashion's sake, especially since I anticipated that won't need it for the second half of the trip at all. And I always see it as an option to potentially buy another purse, pair of shoes or outer during the trip and immediately start incorporating that into an outfit as well. (Most of the time, I actually anticipate buying at least one pair of shoes during the trip either way.) I definitely don't want to sacrifice space for new things because I brought too many things from home.

Narrowing selections & determining outfits by occasion:
When deciding on the number of outfits to pack, I'll usually bring enough to cover just over half the days of the trip. For example, for a 10 day trip, I'll plan to bring at least 5-6 outfits with me. (As always, it helps to have more options than that and eliminate from there.) I always anticipate doing a lot of shopping when I'm in Japan and new clothes are usually a highlight of that. However, I know that sometimes unexpected things may come up during travel or stores don't have the ideal stock, so I want to be sure I have enough to cover at least half of the days and then have the option to rewear items if necessary with feasibly enough time in between to launder the garments.

I don't do this for every trip, but in this case, I felt the need to specifically identify outfits since I needed to be sure that I had enough clothes to make it through the first five days, especially in Hokkaido where it would be chilly. Outfits from Day 1-4 could be interchanged amongst those days, but the remaining three were set: the plane clothes, the DisneySea clothes and the transition day clothes (just based on my own personal preferences).
I reviewed our preliminary trip schedule and established the 6 outfits above (+ 1 plane outfit). This determined what I would likely be packing for the trip as I was able to identify a use for each item and acknowledge that the static items would match as needed per the weather. There weren't too many useless items and many of the pieces were able to transition to warmer weather by removing the outer.
I don't always pick out the plane outfit in advance and it doesn't count towards the number of outfits I pack for the trip, but while I was wearing that OP with the pink pumps as I was trying to break them in, and I realized it wouldn't be a bad choice for the flight since it matches easily with both outers and the fabric is pretty resilient. Plus, it could easily function as an emergency outfit if necessary. I know it's not overly practical, but I like for the clothes I wear on the plane to be comfortable but not useless in other possible trip situations. And recently, I've been wearing the same thing on the flight over as on the flight back so that saves me from bringing extra things for that.
Another reason planning outfits for the first five days was so important was because I anticipated that I wouldn't have a lot of opportunities to shop for clothes while in Hokkaido. I'll probably gripe about this in a later trip post, but they somewhat recently closed both Sapporo Liz Lisa locations (Pole Town and Paseo) and also the outlet in Chitose (Outlet Mall Rera) as well. Even though I don't mind purchasing clothes from other stores, the activities we had planned in Hokkaido were not centered around shopping but rather sight seeing or other tourist activities not necessarily around malls. I typically need a lot more time to browse and try on clothes and shoes from other brands because I'm not as familiar with them (as compared to Liz Lisa), and I didn't want to rely on having time for that, so having at least 5 outfits suitable for Hokkaido was a necessity for me.

Projecting outfits:
When I considered what I will be wearing for the remaining days of the trip in the case that I didn't want to rewear anything, I looked through the online shops and blogs for the brands I'm most interested in (in this case, I specifically looked at Liz Lisa, Cecil McBee, Ank Rouge, Swankiss, One Spo, Delyle Noir, DaTuRa, etc) to see what my options might be in store to kind of give me a general idea of what to expect. I didn't know what stock what stores will have, but it just helps to know where I have some interest and focus there. This is especially important for shoes since I planned to only bring one pair and buy the second pair once arriving at some point. If, for some reason, there aren't very many items I'm interested in, this lets me know that I should consider packing one or two more outfits to bring with me since I may not be doing very much clothes purchasing (as what happened during my autumn trip). This helps me budget and also potentially further makes a difference with the outfit planning so I'll know if the top I bring will match with the bottom I want to buy in store or if I need to broaden my search criteria for a second option shoe etc.

Although I wasn't relying on being able to shop in Hokkaido for clothes, I was still sure to do some research and figure out what my options were in the case that I would have time for some casual shopping for myself.
For Sapporo specifically, I knew that there was at least one mall in a semi-convenient/central location I could visit. Sapporo Paseo has a number of choices for "Ladies fashion" including Ank Rouge, Secret Honey and WEGO and a few other stores of interest. However, I still didn't want to put all my marbles in this bucket and definitely needed to maintain at least 4 options for Hokkaido because most of them should also be an easy transition for Tokyo or Osaka.

Packing, adding other basic necessities & luggage choices:
About a week or so before leaving, I do a preliminary pack to see how much room I have in my suitcase and decide whether I need to rethink anything due to bulk. I'll also start to add accessories to my pack list which don't take up that much room, so it's okay if they can only apply to one or two outfits or are specialty items. I don't usually bring anything of high personal or monetary value that I would die if I lost though. So many things can go wrong in travel so I don't want to risk it.
The photo at the beginning of this post is a nice visual, but how I will actually pack is definitely more practical and has nothing to do with aesthetic. My check in suitcase is all business and no fluff. This isn't to say that pink suitcases can't be serious, but color and "attractiveness" is not a high priority for me for the check in piece since it gets thrown around and beaten by airline personnel so it just needs to get the job done. My family has recently started investing in TravelPro bags (I say recently because we had no need to purchase new suitcases for a lot of my life but now we do. It's not to say that we didn't believe in them earlier) and we are definitely happy with the quality. We now have a whole bunch of them for both check in and carry ons. The check in suitcase I used for this trip is very similar to the one I took on my November 2015 one. Prior to that, I was using a suitcase that I had used when I was in college but had a really hard time maneuvering it in Japan while we did a lot of movement and I had to manage it myself a lot. I've found that the TravelPro is a lot easier to handle, and I definitely plan to continue using it. One of the main things I look for personally is that it can fit my entire carry on luggage in it. Since I have full control over it throughout the time I travel, I don't mind this one being more floofy. When we leave Hawaii and go over to Japan, I need everything I am bringing with me to fit into my carry on which I then pack into the check in bag. This has two benefits. 1. it prevents me from bringing too many things and ensures that I should have almost a completely empty check-in bag for new purchases and 2. protects my delicate carry on but allows me to check it in so I don't have to deal with it on the flight over.

I had a hard time deciding which top I wanted to bring to match with the separates. I really like the cropped length off shoulder ribbon top (shown in the above photo examples) and how it matched with the bottoms I wanted to bring, but the bows are very bulky and don't look great under a cardigan and also don't sit well under a jacket either. I decided to move forward with the planning using it as a placeholder for a white top but I ended up choosing a slightly different one. I also really wanted to bring boots since we were expecting some cool weather in Hokkaido and I never get to dress for cold weather at home so I always jump at the opportunity to try it, but I knew I didn't want to deal with packing them after we were done there since they'd be absolutely useless in Tokyo and Osaka. I had to make up for it with a closed toed shoe and legwear which are reasonable alternatives although not as exciting for me personally lol.

Not discussed in detail but obviously included in my suitcase are other common necessities such as sleep clothes, undergarments, cosmetics/toiletries etc + other personal items. On that front, I'm pretty basic and don't take as much time to think about it. I bring what I feel I might need and possibly just a little bit more. I'll start gathering items maybe a week or so before the trip and sort them into these laundry bags based on type or where I'll pack them (check in or carry on?) so I can figure out if I need to do laundry or go shopping.
In my large tote that I actually use as a carry on (not the little trunk that gets tucked into my black check in), I typically keep whatever cosmetics and toiletries are allowed (in the 3-2-1 quart size bag) + at least one complete set of clothing (dress or top/bottom with undergarments). If, god forbid, something happens to my check-in bag, I'll be able to at least brush my teeth, change out my contacts for glasses and have one decent change of clothes.

Other things to consider packing for Japan:
  • 1 month+ extra of (prescription) medication, especially meds that are hard to get in Japan and especially if you don't have any sort of language fluency.
  • A luggage scale to help you pack at the end of the trip (so you're aware of the weight, can distribute it properly and hopefully won't have to pay extra fees or hold up other passengers at the check-in counter!).
  • Japanese outlets tend to be 2-prong, so if you have something that requires a 3-prong outlet, consider bringing a small plug converter.
  • Tylenol/equivalent which is in smaller doses & is more expensive in Japan.
  • Hand towel (esp for restrooms without paper towels or hand dryers).
The good thing about Japan is that if you forget something like a charger or a toothbrush or an umbrella or anything reasonable basic, in most areas, it's not so hard to find a place that will sell it.

I also did a short little packing video for my November trip if you haven't seen it. It doesn't have as much substance (and "truth") as this post, but I thought it was just something light and fun to share. I thought it would be helpful to go into a little more detail than what was shown in the video for this trip since I realized that I really do a lot of planning especially when I have to consider varied weather as well.
This whole thing is a bit of a process, but I don't like to have to worry about fussing with outfits once I arrive, and I find that this really works for me and it's worth it. It's better to figure things out when I'm home and have a plethora of options and can experiment and change out items as necessary rather than get to Japan and realize I brought 3 dresses and 2 skirts that were completely redundant and then have to sacrifice that space in my suitcase instead of being able to allocate it for new things or omiyage.
Japan trip Spring 2016 posts
Part 1: Packing (Liz Lisa outfits) for Hokkaido to Osaka in May
Part 2: Arrival to CTS & Day 1 - Curb Market, Shiroi Koibito Park and shopping in Sapporo
Part 3: Day 2 - Nijo Market, Sapporo Beer Garden & Tanukikoji in Sapporo
Part 4: Day 3 - Exploring Otaru & experiencing the Hakodate Liner
Part 5: Day 4 - Morning Market, Red Brick Warehouses & Mt Hakodate in Hakodate
Part 6: Day 5 - Hokkaido Shinkansen & shopping in Tokyo and Funabashi
Part 7: Day 6 - Tokyo DisneySea
Part 8: Day 7 - Last minute shopping in Omiya and Tokyo & Tokaido Shinkansen to Osaka
Part 9: Day 8 - Kinkakuji in Kyoto & shopping in Osaka
Part 10: Day 9 - Utsubo Park Rose Festival, Namba/Shinsaibashi & departure from KIX in Osaka
Part 11: Liz Lisa shopping, purchases & coordinates
Part 12: Other shopping, purchases & coordinates
Part 13: Travel notes - Hotels, Luggage forwarding & Pocket wifi

Japan trip Autumn 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2014 posts


  1. Lol I like those schedules with outfit pictures XD that's some neat planning! Looking forward to the rest of your trip posts *cough* esp the haul lololol

    1. Lol there's enough serious thought for an entire blog post apparently!
      **working on the posts ASAP** (tbh I can't wait to share!)

  2. My gosh you are so organised! I usually have good intentions to get things ready when I'm going away, but I almost always end up packing in a mad rush the night before. I should really stop doing that though, i end up with so much stuff that I don't need.

    <3 Sarah | Oh So Kawaii

    1. Haha, yeah outfit planning is one of the things I take really seriously!

  3. You're planning is really thorough. I normally just throw in whatever a day before and hope for the best lmao. XD

    1. Lol I think maybe if it was all Liz Lisa items, that would still work pretty well haha.