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Thursday, 27 May 2010

How to stay the night without becoming a bag lady

Here's an often over-looked problem of modern courtship: if you're planning on staying the night at your partner's place, how do you carry all the things you need around? I'm not just talking about things for the night, it's also the change of clothes and the cosmetics for the next day, all on top of the tons of stuff I cart around everyday - a big old book, packed lunch, diary and notebook etc etc. My history with overnight packing attempts is long and unfortunate: I've left stuff behind on tubes or pushed hygiene to the limit with my attempts to carry less toiletries. I've even been stopped and searched by a policeman on the basis of my over-sized overnight bag.

I'm still far from mastering this and am open to receiving any useful tips you have on this subject. In return I will share my recent break-through with this tricky issue. The bag pictured has changed my life. Though it is nowhere near the prettiest bag we've featured on this site, it's probably the one of the most useful. The reason is simply because you can get masses of stuff in it and somehow it doesn't seem to get too bulky. For example, last weekend I managed to fit in two changes of clothes, including a pair of shoes, and a bottle of wine, as well as all my usual 'stuff'. Delightfully, no policemen asked to look inside it. Because the design looks reasonably smart you can keep up the pretence of being professional at work and best of all, because it's got a drawstring, everything is kept safely inside with no fear of your pants falling out onto the tube platform.

As a bonus, it's not too many pennies either, costing £29.99 from Urban Outfitters. Similarly shaped options that are pretty and practical include this similarly shaped studded drawstring bag from Joy for £35 or this Reiss bucket bag for a much pricier £245.

If you've any tips on how to deal with packing for staying over at their place while still keeping up all appearances of prettiness and professionalism, do add them to the comments below. I (and the female population) need to know!


  1. It may not appeal to some, but I used to free up overnight bag space by doing the 'night to day' outfit thing of wearing stuff for a date that can be played down to not look 'walk of shame' the next day. I don't do that nowadays though as I have a whole second set of make-up and toiletries at his!

  2. The best thing to do is try and minify everything, so buy a small pencil case for makeup and go for basics, so only one eyeshadow in a teeny package (not 5 in a palette), buy a mini-bottle for make-up remover (don't take cleanser, toner and moisturiser).

  3. hanks Sue for the down-sizing tip. I'm going to head to Muji and stock up on their travel bottles. I already like the Soap and Glory Off Your Face wipes for a quick and easy - and light to carry round - cleanse.

    I'm a great admirer of people who can do the 'night to day' thing. It's a great idea but I'm guaranteed to spill wine over myself and have to turn up at work looking like a slob!

  4. Those large shoulder bags/weekenders that Primark sells for about six quid work wonders - they fit loads of stuff and don't look too desperate. They seem to change up the fabrics pretty often, so you can probably find one that appeals if you hang on. I know Primark is a little déclassé, but I really like the bag I have. And I really can fit enough for an entire weekend away into it.

  5. I know the ones you mean, Anne, and I really on mine - it's a lifesaver when you have to do the straight-from-work-to-weekend-away thing.

    I love this post, as I constantly look like a bag lady! My tip when I used to be a frequent dirty stop-out was layering, like an oversized cardigan over a fancy dress, so that for at work it just looks like you're wearing a skirt and jumper, then strip the jumper off, add an extra layer of make-up and you're good to go. Then all you need is a skirt and t-shirt for the next day (light, easy to squash up and preferably cotton fabrics that won't crease), pop the same cardigan on top for another day at work without looking like a tramp...

  6. Wear the same jeans (or generic black trousers, if working in a more serious place) and only pack a fresh top. Doesn't work in early stages of courtship though, when you don't really want to be wearing generic trousers for dates :)

  7. Luckily, I'm a dress girl. I think everyone is always pretty shocked by how lightly I pack. You can throw four dresses into one bag and still have enough room for lots of stuff. And if you go out wearing heels, you've got your flats in your bag to save space. I rarely ever leave the house with more than one bag - life is too short for packing.

    Accessorize do some perfectly sized weekend bags too if I have to cave in and plan for a week!

  8. I got pretty good at this for a while, but I usually had just forgotten my jamas :o$ I found rolling things up helped - smaller space required and less creases. Or around a bottle of wine - less clanking. I used to wear the same work trousers two days in a row with really different tops - no one ever noticed. It's much easier in summer than winter though - I get really cold and it's hard to pack a million layers in a small bag! Drawstring bags are a lifesaver however, as otherwise stuff spills EVERYWHERE. I never went back after my pants escaped out of my bag under the desk - only to have a male colleague pick them up for me, helpfully, whilst he was switching a cable over. Oh, the shame.

  9. It's definitely all about working several outfits from a few things. The day-to-night look is great, also just bringing a change of top works well. Mini toiletries are a must, and face wipes instead of normal makeup remover. I also forgo all jewellry, unless I'm wearing it.

    Also - roll your clothes instead of folding them. Learnt from my mum, it saves SO much space - as demonstrated by this flight attendant on NY times:

    My weekend bag is a Disaster bag - their bags are so cute, with real leather and don't look too big. I've got this one: but an older one with pink leather and a bird not an owl. It's lasted 4 years now. Amazing!

  10. In my Life Before Child(ren!), I used to keep a box file in my filing drawer with an emergency beauty kit in - cleaning wipes, travel moisturiser, basic make up, dry shampoo - and an emergency top. The trick was to not take my coat off so no-one could see what top I was wearing, grab the box file, mutter something about needing to go see someone about something important and go to the toilets to sort myself out.

  11. Oh Helen, I totally sympathize with your story of shame. Having that policeman searching through my bag and the fear he'd pull out my pants was one of the most cringesome moments I've ever had! Thankfully I had so much stuff in my bag my pants were well hidden at the bottom and never saw the light of day.
    Great tips everyone and looking forward to trying these out - I'll probably end up looking more put together on the day after a date than I do normally!

  12. Try going to court on a Friday (not as the defendant I hasten to add) with your suitcase of clothes for the week and having the court staff open it and routle around in your underwear looking for cameras/alcohol/recording equipment/bombs in front of a waiting line of barristers *cringe*


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