Monday Musings- Packing Plans and Outfit Of The Week

Happy Monday, ladies. I can’t believe how fast our cruise has snuck up on me. I am not organized, I have no idea what I will pack, and I almost wish I had another week to prepare. Knowing me, an extra week wouldn’t help anyway, so I’m just going to dig in and start putting things on a rolling rack.


I’ll probably pack lots of black and several scarves because those are always lifesavers when I travel. I already own plenty of black and lots of scarves, so that should make things easier. Do I want to travel with lots of black, knowing it’s not my best color? I’m totally fine with it. I love knowing the most flattering colors on me but refuse to be a slave to that palette. I think we can limit ourselves to the point that it’s hard to get dressed, and that’s the last thing I want to do to myself. Getting dressed should be easy and fun. Plus, I always feel stylish in black. The way I want to wear black has changed. I’m now paying more attention to the contrast between colors, so I’ll wear it with deeper colors and less white.

You may enjoy- How To Find Your Personal Contrast Level And Why It Matters


I ordered these compression cubes that I’m super excited to try. I’d never understood the value of a packing cube until I found these. They have an extra zipper that you zip to flatten things to save space.

The cruise line requires a negative COVID test before boarding the ship, but to be honest, that isn’t overly reassuring because someone could who caught it the day before could be a carrier. We just plan to be very careful and hope for the best.

I ordered these new low-profile Evolve Together KN95 masks, which are much comfier than my big cumbersome ones. And yes, it did not go unnoticed that my masks match my new bag 🙂 They also come in black, white, navy, olive, gray, pink, and combination packs. Evolve also sells mask decals so you can personalize your mask to say whatever you like. What would you put on your mask?


This is a great company that focuses on quality everyday essentials that are earth friendly, like this ingenious dissolvable hand soap for travel!

Outfit of the week

I’ve had several requests for outfits in a winter palette, so this OOTW is just that.


I wore Russian Red lipstick in my late 30s and always felt it overwhelmed my face, which it did. Even at that age, I knew when something felt wrong on me, so I encourage you to listen to your instincts.

I clustered the red near the top of the body and chose black shoes intentionally. If I’d put red shoes with this look, the eye would be darting all over the place rather than focusing attention on the face. The outfit would begin to look choppy, and nothing would look special. Even the red sunglasses are a stretch, but they’re so cute.

The jewelry has a decidedly avant-garde slant, so they kick this look up a notch. I love the quality of Brahmin Bags, and this one is pretty amazing. The red with magenta ombre combo is just stunning, and both are both “winter” colors.

This classic look has just enough texture and pattern to be interesting but not overwhelming.

Ladies continue to email me for direction with their 3 style words. I think it could be helpful if we begin to think of antonyms for our style words. For example, this OOTW is not delicate, feminine, or subdued. Nailing down what we don’t want our style to be might make it easier to zero in on what we want it to be.


I’m looking for a book to bring on my trip. What’s an escape reality type book you recommend? I need one that’s easy to put down and pick up because that’s the kind of reading I’ll be doing.

Have a great day, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.


  1. I always pack black when travelling, except if I’m going to a very warm country, then it is a colourful wardrobe. Black is so easy to dress up with a simple change of shoes and jewellery. It’s also not as memorable as most pieces, so it can be worn again and again. I also think it looks chic.
    Don’t forget a rain jacket. One that packs into it’s pocket takes up very little room. Layers are the way to go. Mornings can be cool but lovely by noon.
    Bon Voyage!

    1. Great advice! I have a black one and a white one:)

  2. I love the outfit of the week. I’ve always gravitated towards red and black. If you haven’t read anything from Elin Hildebrand I think her books are good for a vacation. Easy to follow. Enjoy your cruise, sounds so fun.

    1. Karole Sherlock says:

      Thumbs up for Erin Hildebrand. I was going to recommend Golden Girl by Erin Hildebrand. It a compelling novel with a unique approach to family and life. Perfect for a cruise.

      By the way I love black and think every women can rock her personal look with black.

      1. I need to give Erin’s books a try!

      2. I’ve got to get that one to read.

    2. I just read one of her books “The Island” . It was terrific!

  3. Enjoy your cruise..I love wearing black with a pop of color, I’m sure you’ll look amazing.One of the best books I’ve read this summer is The Change by Kirsten Miller. Women of our age taking charge, lots of humor, I’m currently re-reading it. Any ideas for a Eastern Caribbean cruise wear for late January ’23? I’m already thinking of a wardrobe. Happy cruising….

  4. Judi Knapp says:

    Happy Birthday for yesterday Jennifer! You and I are now the same age.
    I also have a rolling rack out for both my husband and I . We leave at the end of August for a month in Europe, including a river cruise. I cannot take carry on for that length of time and I am relying on black and scarves to pull me through, although it is not my best colour.
    I took out the one dress I had planned to take and will make do with dressy wide leg pants and silk kimonos which look dressy enough. I think accessories can make or break an outfit. Can elevate a simple column of colour.

    I do plan to pack our suitcases half him, half me in case of lost bags as suggested earlier here.

    I always use cubes, so convenient for grouping daytime clothes, evening clothes and workout pieces.
    Any Jodi Picault book is wonderful reading.
    Have a great cruise holiday!

    1. Have a wonderful trip!!

  5. I am in the middle of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (author of Gentleman in Moscow), and can recommend his Lincoln Highway, also. I just finished John LeCarre’s last book, Silverview and it was wonderful–maybe my favorite of all of his.
    I have tried to use packing cubes multiple times and always do better without them because my things are not the sizes of the cubes. I can get a custom effect with purse and shoe storage bags. These with the multiple zippers might be worth trying.

    1. Judi Knapp says:

      Loved Rules of Civility as well. I read Lincoln Highway as well!

    2. I just finished Rules of Civility. Liked it so much I’m recommending it to my book club. Not your run of the mill novel.

    3. I read Rules of Civility twice! I loved it!

  6. I too hope you had a terrific birthday! My feeling is that you will pull this packing for a cruise just fine. You seem very organized and if the itinerary is agreeable you should be in great shape. I like to vary my tops and possibly jewelry/scarves to bolster my wardrobe when I’ve traveled. I think you’ll be doing that too.
    And i love the winter palatte pieces you’ve created! I’m a cusp Spring-Summer but identify as Spring totally. Yet, deep dark reds are the only red I feel I can wear – similar to the jacket you’ve presented here!
    As far as a book you may like that’s not too complicated but interesting (my opinion) I’d suggest The Maid or The Last Thing thing He Told Me.

    1. Wearing what we love is what really counts

  7. I agree with you on wearing black. I wear it often and feel comfortable. I look forward to hearing about your cruise. Wishing you a great time. I loved Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. Wonderful book!

  8. Thank you so much for not eliminating black! I just can’t get why people are practically slaves to one color palette. Sure it might make it easier to pull things out if your wardrobe, but totally eliminating one color is kind of limiting. Your hair changes, your skin tone changes, your shape changes, and colors change. Since my hair grew back after chemo, none of my warm colors work any more! But black always works, with a jewel contrasting color or a nice scarf. I expect I’ll never not wear it!

    1. I expect to never not wear black either 🙂

  9. Deborah H says:

    We just came back from our Alaska cruise, I found it surprisingly warm but very wet in some ports. Bring a waterproof jacket and shoes. So many ladies only brought sneakers…I brought my ducks as hunters took up too much room. And everyone was very casually dressed, no “formal” wear at all. Nice jeans and sweaters are what ladies were wearing. We had two formals and I brought one black dress and wore a scarf over it one night and a cardigan the other night…no one remembers what you wear.
    Have a great trip!

    1. Great point. They don’t remember what you wear 🙂

  10. Try Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes. It was wonderful, empowering and set in Italy, of course!

    1. I just LOVE this book. I’ve read everything Mayes has written, and this may not be her best, but it really speaks to me.

  11. Hi Jennifer,
    You’ll definitely have to do a complete packing post, maybe after your trip to tell us what worked and what didn’t! I just finished a novel called Horse by Geraldine Brooks that was great and a perfect vacation read. Bon voyage!

  12. I enjoyed Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid about growing up in Des Moines in the 1950s. He really knows how to make you laugh! The book brought back many memories of my own childhood. If you were born in the late 1940s to 1950s it should do the same for you.

    1. Marcie, I have The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – if ever I feel a bit down, I just have to find the bit about the toity jar and I’m rolling on the floor in stitches!

  13. Have a wonderful cruise! I am sure that you will look great as you always do. Love packing cubes, especially as they are reusable. Ziploc bags have many uses but please let’s not use disposable plastic unless we have to. Nice OOTW; although as a clear winter, I’d generally go for a more vibrant red, this outfit is very polished and understated. Emily Henry’s novels are great for traveling.

  14. Enjoy your cruise. I loved the debut novel, Haven Point, by Virginia Hume. Bounces back and forth between WWII and present day.

  15. A Gentleman in Moscow is a good book to pick up and put down.

    1. Michele B says:

      I loved that book!

  16. I love the color and pattern in the houndstooth pants–but sadly, can’t purchase because they are again “ankle pants”–and with a 34″ inseam, they will not hit my leg at the right place. When will we see full-length pants again–and why can’t the vendors make Longs or Talls in every style?!!

    1. Most chapters are a stand alone story so you can put it down and come back to it

    2. Katie, have you tried Talbots and llbean for extra long pants? I believe both companies make them.

      1. Thanks for sharing that Marcie. J Jill, Anthropologie and J Crew also make many pants in talls.

  17. Good morning, Jennifer… this was another great post. I hope you had a very Happy Birthday, and many more!
    That winter palette outfit is outstanding. So cute, it makes it (a little) easier to say goodbye to summer.
    I, too, am a huge fan of the 1 and 2 gallon plastic zip bags for packing. Have a wonderful time on your trip!

  18. The Old Duck’s Club by Maggie Please is a marvelously funny, endearing book about women in their 60’s with a little romance thrown in. So nice to read books about women our age. I listened on Audible and they’re British so also love the accents. It’s a beach/cruise read. Thanks for all you do.

  19. Another terrific post! Most of my wardrobe is sporty casual with lots of cottons. I have decided I need a separate more polished look for church, symphony, events. I am working on a capsule wardrobe with black and low contrast pieces.

  20. First off; HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY to you Jennifer and wishing you many more! Love this outfit of the week particularly the coat as perfect for our climate if one should add a heavy sweater underneath. Re your trip, like Terry (below) I just opt for zip-lock baggies to keep things compact, organized etc. and found they always work for myself. As to masks; I still am making my own (with a filter pocket) as even with disposable clinical ones I’ve had to resort to child’s size namely due to the ear loops being too long. (Knotting them doesn’t work because I wear hearing aids then when you add sunglasses to the mix, they then become more of a hassle … lol!) Last but not least; re packing know you got this Jennifer so get out that rail and go for it. -Brenda-
    P.S.: Just a thought, if you think that there is a remote possibility that you and your suitcase will be separated you might want to consider dividing up the contents between you and your husband. It is something I always did even with our children, in event a piece of their luggage went astray.

  21. Good morning, Jennifer. I covet that red coat, but I am not sure I can justify the price. The outfit is something I might duplicate for less money, though. It is definitely something I would wear. Have fun packing for your cruise. A book I recommend is The Last Flight: A novel by Julie Clark. It is perfect for vacation reading. Enjoy!

    1. I loved The Last Flight! I recommend it to everybody!

  22. Hi Jennifer, another great post! I love the OOTW! For your book to read, I recommend the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What a mouthful, eh? It’s a lovely post-war story set on the beautiful Isle of Guernsey. It’s an epistolary novel and so is easy to set down and pick up. It’s one of my favorite comfort reads.

    1. Oh I loved that book! A fun, easy read are the Richard Osman Thursday Murder Club books.
      Enjoy your trip Jennifer.

      1. Thanks Yvonne

      2. Just finishing The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand and really have enjoyed it.

    2. It sounds marvelous, thanks

  23. May I ask where you’re going Jennifer? Always looking for new and interesting places for travel. Love packing cubes. I’m a horrible packer and always take more than needed. While packing cubes don’t eliminate my ‘habit’, they do make me feel more organized.

    1. We are going on a cruise of the Canadian Maritimes, which I have always wanted to see.

      1. Love the look of those masks, I will be ordering! Debbie Downer here, but be safe as you can on your cruise. Ours was ruined by Covid, and we were ultra careful. Go prepared with meds, thermometer etc. I truly hope it goes well for you and that we will see lots of great photos! It’s a wonderful area to cruise.

      2. I’m so sorry yours was ruined. We will be as careful as possible.

  24. The antonyms to style words is a great idea! I also love your approach to colour seasons: be aware but not a slave. Always very practical, useful advice and insights. Thank you.

  25. Evelyn Bailey says:

    Excellent post!
    I like the outfit a lot.
    I agree with gallon bags for travel.
    I like to fine a historical fiction book in the setting of where I’m traveling.

    1. I love the idea of a geographically relevant book.

      1. Oh, you should read No Great Mischief by Alastair Macleod…fantastic story takes places in Nova Scotia.

      2. That sounds so fun!

  26. I will also be packing for a cruise in Dec. our cruise line wants a PCR test done 4 days before we leave. Problem could be the results may not be sent in time. Also, non-vaccinated are welcome.
    This does not make very going sense. They have to test negative, but I don’t see the point.
    Maybe by Dec new rules will be in place.
    Back to packing: black and colored accessories are planned for my bag.
    Can’t wait.

    1. They are giving us the option of getting the PCR or the quicker one

  27. We just returned from an Alaska cruise/land tour. The cruise line offered that style of mask and I really liked it. Beware. Two of the couples on our tour contracted covid even with two boosters, test before we left, and test after land portion before we got on the ship.

  28. Agree with West with Giraffes! – another is Miss Benson’s Beetles which was not my ordinary read but very good. We travel lots – cruising our happy place. I have tried all sorts of packing bags – my very favorite are one and two gallon zip lock bags! Tip from a packing class early on in our travels. I “never leave home without them”.😂

  29. West with Giraffes might be a good book to take with you. I read it in short burst during a recent trip and really enjoyed it! Love your posts!!

  30. Lovely! Love the outfit, just enough of a casual feel and still very classic. My style, for sure!
    Im interested I. How your masks work out for your trip, I have purchased some for a New Zealand trip in the fall. Enjoy your cruise, and stay safe.

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