Pack By Numbers: How to Make Packing Easy for Any Trip with Color Coordinated Packing

At Home, Packing, Wanderlust

Looking back on my travel photos from this summer, I started to see some recurring themes. Actually, they were less “themes” and more “all the same clothes on every trip.” As I looked back at my white shorts and navy tops, my denim jacket and navy dress, and my blue shorts and white top, it hit me: I’m packing all the same colors every time I travel.

Remember when we were kids and we used to paint by numbers? I think that’s what I’ve been doing when I’m packing. I call it Pack By Numbers.

Packing in a similar color scheme makes it easy to pack quickly and avoid having to pack a million different pairs of shoes and accessories to go with everything you’re bringing. Instead of having to bring both black and brown heels, packing by numbers allows you to decide which color scheme you’re going with, and stick to it.

Let me break it down for you.

Step One: Assign Your Numbers

Start by picking a couple of colors that you’ll wear for your trip. For me, I generally start by choosing either black or navy, since they’re both pretty neutral colors that I wear a lot of, but that I don’t like to wear together.

Then, I pick a coordinating color, that I’ll wear with my black or navy. (In the summer, I often choose white as a second color, since it goes with everything.) I pack most of my clothes in these first 2 shades. Third, I choose a color for accessories that goes with both of the colors I already picked. For instance, I often do it like this:

Color 1: Navy Blue
Color 2: White
Color 3: Brown

Step Two: Pack Clothes That Play Nice

From there, you just pack most of your clothes in your main 2 color scheme, with accessories in your accent color.

In this example, I would pack tops, shorts and dresses in navy and white, with brown accessories. This works out great, since I can wear a blue and white striped top with either navy or white shorts, and I can also throw on a navy top with white shorts or a white top with navy shorts. Brown accessories complement any of those looks, and also work with the navy dresses I’ll throw in.

Step Three: Mix it Up

Of course, it gets rather dull to pack entirely in one color scheme, so I usually also pack a dress or two that works with the accessory color I picked, even though it doesn’t match my color scheme.

The important thing is not to bring anything that requires another pair of shoes just for that one outfit. So, if I pack brown accessories, I’m probably not going to bring a black dress, since I don’t like to mix black and brown.


Like my idea of packing by numbers? Here are two more ways I envision the packing possibilities with this scheme:

Color 1: Black
Color 2: Pink
Color 3: Maroon

You could mix a pink top with black jeans and maroon shoes. Have some fun bright pink shorts or pants? I bet they’ll play nice with a black top. Finally, bring a pink blazer to wear over a black dress with a maroon bag.

Color 1: Mustard
Color 2: Denim
Color 3: Brown

Mustard is so in this season, and a mustard yellow dress would look great with brown booties and a denim jacket. Those same booties would look great with a chambray dress and mustard tights. Of course, you can always throw on a mustard top with jeans.

Would you try packing by numbers? Try it for yourself and let me know in the comments what you think!


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