A month from now I’ll be in London for the Fashion and Textile Museum’s short course Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors. More than a week ago I started thinking about what to pack in case I needed time to sew or buy something for this trip.
I’ve traveled quite a lot and packed many a suitcase in my time. More than a decade ago, I saw how many preparations are the same from trip to trip and wrote out a stack of index cards as memory aids.
Nevertheless, every trip has characteristics that distinguish it from all the others I’ve taken that may influence what I pack. That’s the puzzle I still have to work out every time. What will be or could be different this time that I could plan for? (Would it surprise you that I scored high in foresight in that battery of tests I took at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation?)
Can my chart help me think about this?
Well, when I pack for a trip I think a lot about what I’ll be doing. What occasions will I or might I participate in? (I’m using “occasion” until I find a better way to describe activities governed by some kind of social rules.)
- a class at a museum taught by a master tailor
- going through airport security
- eating out with classmates
- going to fabric stores with local sewing bloggers
What would I expect the moods of these occasions to be?
- serious (airport security)
What physical activities will I do?
- hoisting my suitcase on and off trains and up and down flights of stairs
- walking miles of city streets
- reading maps
- sitting in airports, on planes, and in the classroom
- sleeping (trying to, anyway) on planes
- hand-stitching in class
- writing by hand and on computer
- doing light housekeeping at the flat where I’ll be staying
- doing mat-type Pilates exercises at the flat
You get the idea.
What roles will I be playing on this trip?
What physical conditions will I encounter?
- On the plane: could be drafty, overheated or underheated, and cramped. There could be glaring light, or noise from passengers or the plane.
- London: darkness. Short, overcast days. Chilly, damp, raw weather. Possibly windy, especially near the river. Rain, maybe even snow.
- London Underground and train platforms: chilly
- Indoors: probably fine, but could be drafty
Answering these questions helped me visualize my trip so much better than before:
- Walking along the Thames on a winter day with sleet stinging my face
- Sleeping in a cramped position on the plane
- Being around people who sew at a high level, or aspire to
And that helped me start gathering clothes for my trip.
Packing is when I become extra aware of how versatile garments for travel need to be. When I pull a clothing item for a trip, I ask, What other wardrobe items could this go with, and are they appropriate? What are the gaps?
Maybe the gap can be filled sewing from my stashes. What patterns, fabrics, and buttons could I use?
Some gaps may have to be filled with purchases. I may look for sturdy, warm and dry shoes or boots for this trip.
All of these questions so far are about what I can reasonably expect based on past experience and present circumstances. But what about the future? What could I be moving into?
- What new occasions might I be initiating or participating in?
- What new roles could I be playing?
- What new activities might I be undertaking on this trip, or as a result of it?
I don’t know yet, but they’ll probably involve getting things sewn.
I’ll be ready.