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Packing for Winter Break: Less is More

by Kelly Keenan | University of Notre Dame

F Posted in: Sports and Culture P Posted on: December 16, 2011

As I ran back to my dorm from my last exam, mentally preparing a list of the million things I would need to stuff into my two deceivingly small pieces of luggage, the relief that finishing that test brought me was quickly replaced by sense of panic. How could I possibly fit the five heavy wool sweaters I planned on taking? Could I squeeze my raincoat and parka in with three pairs of boots?

As I struggled to shove skirts, dresses, blazers, and countless cardigans into my bag, I realized something. I had no need for all of these items. It was time to scale back. I thought about what I would be wearing on a typical lazy break day and packed for that. I considered visits to Manhattan or other short trips I might be taking and packed for those. I thought about what I might wear for holiday festivities and threw that in the suitcase as well. So if you, like me, are struggling to fit your entire wardrobe into a limited number of duffle bags, think before you pack:


Do you really need every sweater you own to join you on your journey home? Whether you are headed toward cooler climates or returning to warm, sunny weather, there is no need to bring all of your sweaters. These will weigh your bag down and limit the amount of space you have for other items. Bringing a few versatile cardigans (maybe one heavier one and one lighter) that can be worn over both jeans and dresses might be your most efficient option. I am never more comfortable than when I am wearing my oversize boyfriend sweaters, so it was absolutely necessary that I had at least one of these for my days of lounging around the house. Unfortunately, they usually take up quite a bit of space, so I limited myself to just one.


When packing pants, it is again important to consider versatility. Think about which colored jeans or corduroys will match the majority of what you packed. Also consider bringing home a pair of basic black pants since winter break may be a convenient time to schedule summer internship interviews. Of course, one of the best things about jeans is the fact that they match everything and can be worn over and over without anyone knowing. So try packing just two or three pairs: one skinnier, one wider and maybe a darker pair that could be worn in dressier situations.


Shoes are always the greatest struggle for me. With shoes, it is necessary to be prepared for so many different situations, so my best advice would be to cover the basics. If you are headed to cooler climates, make sure you have at least one pair of boots with you as you will probably spend every day of your break in them despite your best efforts not to. Also make sure you have a pair of classic flats or loafers that will go with almost everything you pack. Try a pair of basic black flats and maybe a leopard print or tan colored loafer in order to cover all bases. And if you, like me, never know what to expect from the weather at home, bring your rain boots, along with a pair of fleece welly socks or thicker knee socks. Not only will you be protected from rain, but your boots will certainly keep you warm and toasty in the snow.


For those lucky few, the weather at home is highly predictable and easy to dress for. For others, there will be little shock if Christmas day brings fifty-degree weather or negative ten. My best recommendation for coats would be to bring at least one versatile piece along. A good wool pea or toggle coat can be worn layered over sweaters or over lighter tops and dresses depending on the weather conditions.

As you load up your suitcases or pack up some boxes, make sure you consider how you will be spending your break. Think carefully about the weather in your specific locale and pack accordingly. Reflect on what you will be doing on a daily basis over your break and how you would like to be dressed for these specific events. In my opinion, running out of clothes might be better than lugging hundred-pound bags through the airport. Plus, you never know what kind of purchases your stylish younger sister may have made since the last time you were home.

Kelly Keenan Kelly Keenan Kelly Keenan is a junior at the University of Notre Dame, where she is studying Marketing and English.

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