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Packing Stupid for the Beach: What NOT to Do

(Bodhi and I at Milepost 4, in a cozy maxi dress from Buffalo Exchange. Photo by my Mom. Thanks, Mom!)

This is a list of the five stupidest things I brought to the beach.

A bit of background: I did the Happy Dance thinking about all the stuff I could leave behind. Traveling for showbiz usually means cramming the luggage with makeup, costumes, full-length gowns and showgirl feathers.

But this time—ohhhh, THIS time—I was headed for my family reunion beach getaway! I could leave Las Vegas with anything! I rubbed my hands together, gave an evil laugh, and began planning my effortless seaside wardrobe.

Henry David Thoreau said, "simplify...simplify." I was hell-bent on simplicity. The beach is THE place for wearing a few key items on repeat. The whole reason people go there is to relax. Get away from rules and complications. Right? Right.

I’ll take almost nothing!

But somewhere in my enthusiasm for dressing as “myself,” in "what i liked", I packed as much poundage as for stage show trips. Dressing down to relax, uh huh.

I hefted my burden onto the airport check-in scale. No evil laughs here.

Why did I do that to myself? I was headed to a huge beach house with extended family for two weeks. All I needed was play clothes for dog walking and baby-niece holding and pool lounging, and food eating. How did I arrive in Kitty Hawk with 35% too much stuff??

The two-month old just LOVED my extensive, “effortless” wardrobe. In case you were wondering. (eye roll).’s a list of the five stupidest things I brought to the beach:

1. My entire hairstyling kit. A CURLING IRON? WHY, you guys? My brother’s father-in-law doesn’t give half a British crap if my hair is curly. Plus, humidity! It's a season of sea salt spray and natural texture...and for that one “fancy” dinner, maybe a bun-maker for some sassy top-knot action. Bada bing, bada boom.

2. Sneakers. Are you into wet, salty socks? Me neither. With toes comes freedom. And where did I think I was going with ballet flats? Beach house = sand house, sand on the deck, sand by the pool, sand in the road, sand in the dog’s paws. As God is my witness, I’ll never pack closed-toed again (bites carrot).

3. That one cocktail dress, "just in case". Put that down, girl. Ain't nowhere to wear that.

4. Travel versions of every makeup item. I went to Sephora and dropped a modest load on tiny versions of everything. Watch me beat the system by not packing all my regular makeup, guys!

Turns out, I didn’t need that tiny palette with the beachy, shimmery colors. I cracked it open ONCE: the night we went to see The Lost Colony outdoor drama. Fourteen days. ONE event. The math doesn’t check out, people. (Side note: that palette is AWESOME, and now that I’m back to the grind I use it on the daily. It's by Tarte.)

5. Too many layering pieces. Yeah, I needed a couple of things to combat indoor air conditioning and early morning breezes. I found myself gravitating between a chicly ripped up sweatshirt for morning dog walking, and an artfully constructed, oversize cover-up for prettier outfits.

Clearly, I am a “silly sausage” and a “cheeky monkey” (according to my three-year-old British niece, anyway), BUT, I did manage to layer a few brilliantly useful options into the mix as well.

Here are the five SMART things I had for my beach getaway:

1. A printed wrap scarf. A good wrap scarf is the MVP of accessories. I grabbed a nautical-themed one early in the trip, and it elevated every outfit. Fighting the freezing air-con and looking pulled together was just a bonus!

2. One pair of dress sandals, and they weren’t even that fancy. My 25-dollar block-heeled denim sandals from Target gave me a chic shoe option for the odd trips to galleries and seafood restaurants.

3. A well-constructed hat. An absolute necessity under the hot sun. I picked up a straw hat from Target for 12.99. Skin protection, eye protection, and outfit-cherry, all in one.

4. Maxi dresses. This easy, one-piece look saw me through walking the dog, to lunches out, and back to the pool for an afternoon swim with the kids. Assembling a couple of inexpensive choices from Buffalo Exchange and was super cheap! Why bother with stacks of T-shirts? (Talking to myself: Oh, you gonna work out? Uh huh? YOU ARE NOT GOING TO WORK OUT.)

5. NARS The Multiple Stick. The most useful summer makeup tool ever invented for a subtle, beautiful glow on eyes, cheeks, and lips. No extra palettes, brushes, or tools required.

Options are always good, yes...but volume is a burden. A carefully curated selection of necessary YES items will always trump piles and piles of MAYBE's.

As my fashion sense evolves, those same principals I learned from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Condo apply brilliantly, from my closet to my luggage: I'd rather have one pair of comfortable, well-constructed, multiple-use shoes that can be worn for hours, than a variety of pairs that don't check all the boxes.

Give yourself a quick quiz: is this item a 100% YES or only a MAYBE? From now on, only YES's go into the bag.

The two-month old would totally approve.

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