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Pack smart, and pack light, by sticking to your ‘true’ colors

Stylist David Zyla advises travelers to find and pack their “true colors.”CARMEN ELLIS

Emmy Award-winning stylist David Zyla, author of "Color Your Style," believes that everyone has an individual palette of flattering colors. By wearing these colors, found in our eyes, hair, and skin, "we not only illuminate ourselves, but we build the confidence needed to attract love, enhance our power, restore our energy, make a lasting impression, and show the world who we really are," Zyla says. His strategy applies to travelers who are trying to pack sparingly, but still look great. "It is absolutely possible to avoid checked baggage fees by packing a capsule wardrobe in your 'true colors,' " he says.

Q. What is your "true colors" theory, and how does it make packing easier?


A. We all possess in our natural coloring a unique set of colors. These are the tones found in our eyes, hair, and skin, which make us "pop" and look alive when we wear them. By assembling versatile pieces in a tight palette of these most flattering colors, we not only look fantastic but avoid the risk of overpacking. The best and most versatile travel wardrobe is one created with a trio of these "true colors," consisting of a neutral or "base," an "energy" tone, and a "dramatic" color.

To find out which neutral color to pack, look at the ring around your iris. What color do you see? It will be a dark neutral, possibly even black. You might see charcoal, olive, navy, chocolate, or eggplant. Use this base color in various shades for the basic wardrobe pieces for your trip such as skinny jeans, a coat, dress, and heels. Remember that this color is a neutral and while it supports and flatters your coloring, it does not "do" anything such as give your skin a glow or pop your eyes. Therefore, you should add two more colors to your travel wardrobe that will do exactly that.


Q. So, by sticking to just three colors, you avoid a lot of what-goes-with-what packing decisions. How do you choose the other two colors?

A. The second color for your wardrobe should be an "energy" color that pops your eyes. Use the darkest color in your iris. Some candidates for this color include slate, rust, grass, butterscotch, and pine. In brown eyes, it is not always an obvious color, so try putting swatches or clothing items up to your eyes to see colors like marigold, eggplant, and olive appear. Use this "energy" color in a sweater, blouse, and scarf or tie. The color makes you look friendly and approachable and takes little effort to wear.

Finally, to add a bit of pop to your basic wardrobe pieces, employ your "dramatic" color. This color is the greatest contrast to your skin, and therefore the most dramatic. It is found by looking at the veins on the inside of your wrist. This color will no doubt be a version of green, blue, and purple and can range from Kelly to emerald, turquoise to periwinkle, and royal to grape. This is the perfect color to employ for your most festive "look at me" attire and great to use in a dress, sweater, or jewelry.

Q. What is your secret for "perfect packing"? Take us through your process, step by step.

A. The perfect way to pack a suitcase is to layer your items like a Jenga game tower. If you have a soft case suitcase, you will find a pair of slats across the bottom dividing the case into three sections. Start your packing by "filling in" these sections with small items such as underwear and socks, creating an even surface across the bottom. Then by alternating the waistband ends, layer your pants. Follow with shirts folded flat around 8½-by-11-inch pieces of card stock, alternating collared ends. Add sweaters on top to cushion the items most likely to wrinkle.


Q. Do you prefer a hard shell bag or a soft one, and why?

A. I have migrated to the soft ones. They give me a bit more room to fit a few more items.

Q. What do you consider to be the must-have wardrobe item for travelers who want to look great on the road?

A. Ultra-comfortable and ultra-chic footwear to travel in. When airborne, our feet swell so finding shoes that look and feel great is important. A slip-on is easiest to deal with when passing through airport security.

Q. Give us a sample packing list for a three-day vacation for women.

A. You will wear some of these items on the plane and pack the rest in your carry-on bag and in your personal item. In the "base" color, choose two pairs of casual pants or skinny jeans, a basic coat, a jersey dress, a pair of dressy heels (a metallic is great), a pair of flats or boots, a belt, socks, a pair of tights, and a basic purse. In the "energy" color, bring a patterned scarf (also featuring your "base" color in the pattern), a sweater or blouse (maybe a print with your "energy" and "base" colors in it), and a bracelet. In the "dramatic" color, pack a dressy dress, a sweater, jewelry (including a statement necklace), and a scarf.


Q. And for men?

A. In the "base" color, pack two pairs of casual pants, a basic three-quarter-length coat, a blazer (textured or with a subtle pattern), a zip-front, V-neck, or crew-neck sweater, a crew-neck T-shirt, a pair of casual slip-on shoes or boots, a pair of dress loafers, a basic belt, and socks. If your color is not readily available, find the closest neutral to it or match the color of your hair. In the "energy" color, bring a patterned scarf (the best is if it has your "base" color in the pattern, too), a pair of casual pants or corduroys, and a turtleneck or button-front shirt (this could be patterned with your "energy" and "base" colors.) In the "dramatic" color, pack a V-neck or crew-neck sweater and a button-front dress shirt.

Q. All of this in a carry-on?

A. If you pack it correctly, definitely!

Interview was edited and condensed. Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@earthlink.net.