What I Packed For Japan: The Retrospective

Happy Sunday ladies! I am jet lagged but happy to be home. I’m up to my eyeballs in the laundry which surprises me because it all fit into one small carry-on and one handheld. With each piece I remove from my bag, I am reminded of what should have stayed home, what I wished I’d brought with me and what worked perfectly for this trip to Japan.packing list for trip to Japan on A Well Styled Life

Let me start with an easy fix to a dumb mistake I made. Just because you have worn, loved and been comfortable in an item for over 5 years doesn’t mean you can purchase an exact replacement and expect it to fit the same without trying it on before you pack it. Case in point. Archidedico lace up shoe in black

I replaced them the day before we left and discovered I’d inadvertently ordered a size too small. I couldn’t wear them but had to haul them all over Japan, then bring them home to exchange.

Here’s what worked

Three pairs of Eileen Fisher pants which got worn repeatedly. This slim legged pair is a ponte knit. I wore them to travel in and because they’re slightly heavier weight than my other pairs, were warmer in Koyasan.

I also brought 2 pairs of these stretch crepe pants, plus version here, which fold up to nothing. They were as comfy as leggings for a Tea Ceremony and dressed up nicely for dinner and a show in Tokyo.

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled life using a suction cup traveling magnifying mirrorI’ve traveled with one for years and find them invaluable. You can stick them to the bathroom mirror but honestly, the light is better when you stick it to the window.

mixed jersey tank by Ann Taylor on A Well Styled Life

I brought this tank in ivory, pink dune, and two black ones. They’re the perfect layering tank which looks dressy from the front and is a knit for comfort in the back.

Sassy Cowl jacket from Artful Home on A Well Styled Life
JACKET / HAT similar / SCARF similar

I brought two jackets from Artful Home and wore Jennifer Connolly shows how she packs a hat in her tote

I stuffed the crown of my hat with a soft cashmere wrap then slipped it into my handheld while on the trains and flights.


And remember you can favorite items to get notified when they go on sale!

ecco soft 7 sneaker for travel

Jennifer Connolly wearing Gabriel Lipstick in Currant

Red lipstick for the win each and every time I felt bedraggled. This inexpensive lipstick is cruelty-free and stays on very well. I am wearing it in “Currant”.

What I wished I’d brought

A roller bag. My old one became unwieldy and was heavier than it needed to be. A backpack for travel days. They’re not really my “look” but I can’t discount how helpful it would be to have both hands free.

What I should have left home

Some scarves. Shocking, I know! I brought eight but wore the same four repeatedly. I did not wear a single silk square. I opted for a cashmere wrap, two different silk and cashmere wraps and this colorful long silk scarf from Artful home.


This has been the trip of a lifetime for me. Sharing this special time with my daughter has been priceless. Thanks for coming along on this journey with us ladies. Your comments have meant the world to me.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


  1. Your outfits were lovely! I hope you had the best time there. I just came back from spending 3 years living in Japan and there really is always something to discover. Also, what you said about socks is so true, you always have to remove your shoes so you best not be wearing one with holes haha but I guess that’s why the have such amazing sock stores!

    Naz x

  2. I recently packed for a river cruise on the Danube. I wore everything I packed and had just enough to carry me through the two weeks. It’s the best I’ve ever packed and was very pleased that this time I didn’t overpack. So, with practice we get better. ????
    A nice leather backpack will take you all over the globe, hands free. I have a caramel coloured one, of soft leather, that has travelled with me for almost twenty years.

    1. My husband and are are hoping to do that trip! Good job packing.
      I do have a black leather backpack but the closure is wonky so I seldom use it. Time to think of replacing it because I did used to wear it a lot.

  3. I loved reading all your posts from Japan. I was telling my daughter about your trip, and, while we can’t go to Japan, we’ve decided to go to Los Angeles together for a four-day trip. We’ve booked tickets to see the Tutankhamen exhibit at the California Science Center to start with 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. That sounds like so much fun Cynthia. You’ll have a blast

  4. This is the best packing list! I especially like the magnifying mirror on the window. Mine doesn’t have rhe suction cups and it is still hard to see in the light it gives off. I also liked the idea of putting a scarf/wrap in your hat. I finally found a hat I can wear this time of year that suits me. I need to order those tank tops too! All good ideas I wish I had when I packed for 3 weeks to Italy two years ago! It sounds like your trip was life changing. That’s how I felt about Italy and I can only hope I’ll get back again someday. p.s. I agree with the crossbody for travelling. I bought one from a travel store that is amazing and it saved my shoulders.

    1. I did use a cross body but found the one I’d brought too persnickety so I have set my sights on another one. Ease is everything while traveling.

      1. Thanks Kim, it looks like a great one. Tumi is a great quality too.

  5. The mirror and the lipstick! I have a small 10x mirror that I keep in my carry on, but it does not have suction cups–not to mention that I think 15x will be more helpful for the eyebrows. It’s amazing how a good lipstick can finish off a look. You look very nice in the color you chose. I am continually surprised at the different colors and intensities that are flattering on you.

    Laundry: yes! My husband and I just returned from an 8 day trip, during which we did no laundry and it’s amazing how many loads I had to do when we returned home, though we only took 2 standard size carry ons.

    1. I have two reds by this brand and love how they stay on. I am a firm believer in bumping up eye makeup to make colors work for you;)

  6. Christine says:

    I’ll third the Bombas socks recommendation. I take the train, use tennis shoes for travel, keep my work shoes in my office, and I love both the no shows and the short ankle style. Plus, for each pair you buy, they donate a pair to the homeless. Eileen Fisher has great items, too bad her pants are 30-31″ and I need 33″. Oh, well…. I haven’t purchased yet from either company myself, but have received great reviews from friends for the bags and luggage at Osprey Packs and Away Travel. Thank you for sharing your trip, the armchair travel was a nice respite at work!

    1. I have my eye on an Away bag. They look affordable and easy to maneuver.

  7. Thank you, Jennifer! You not only shared the details, sights and tastes of your wonderful trip to Japan, but the details if your packing…….My husband traveled extensively for work so has “trained” me (ha) on how to pack and it means LIGHT! Light means I have run out of clean clothes, mainly tops, on more than one occasion. Hand washing is a pain as I ended up carrying along damp things in outer pockets…ick. I now pack fewer pants, and more tops, scarves, layering pieces in lighter fabrics, using color as the pop. Black, tan, grey are my go-to colors with brighter accessories.

    1. That’s why black tops served me well. They hide the dirt and are never memorable.

  8. Can I suggest you might want to take a look at Fjallraven’s TotePack. Looks like a regular tote with leather handles and shoulder straps until you pull the straps through and use them as straps for a backpack.

    I’ve travelled for a week with this bag (with my EF travel pieces!) and a small crossbody bag. Super easy if you are taking local buses and trains. And comes in lots of colors! Be prepared, though, for strangers (including flight crews) to stop you in airports to ask you where they can find the tote when you suddenly slip it on from your shoulder to wear as a backpack!


    1. Thanks for the tip!! I will check it out. Super easy has my name all over it.

  9. Always helpful to know what worked for travel. There are many weights of cashmere wraps… Tissue weight that knots up like a scarf to blanket weight…like a poncho. Which did you take?
    After extensive search and reading reviews, I bought a travel purse that is both crossbody and converts to shoulder for evening. It is designed by two women and it shows. Lightweight but great quality and practical pockets galore. I’m home, but can’t put it away. It is the Paige by MZ Wallace. It is pricey but I say worth every cent of packing value. That and supportive shoes and I don’t need much else.

    1. I’ll have a look for that bag, it sounds amazing. I brought a medium to heavier weight cashmere wrap. When it was cold it was a lifesaving blanket! My scarf wraps were tissue weight silk and cashmere which gave me lots of versatility.

  10. Great article and suggestions. I’ve come home from a trip and wished I had brought certain clothing and/or bags. I have bought those items immediately so I will have them for “next time”. I have also brought items that I thought were foolishly too heavy and unnecessary, only to find out that I desperately needed them due to unexpected weather. You never really know what you will need.

    1. You never do know so I give myself permission to buy things on the road if I really need them.

  11. Julie Anne says:

    Thanks for finding the energy to put together these recommendations and comments.

    I use an Eddie Bauer Stowaway pack pack for my hand held carry on. It isn’t padded and stiff the way other packs are that were designed for heavy use. It scrunches up under the seat, is small enough that the airline doesn’t object to the the size. I take it off my back and carry it by the handle as I go through broarding or into places were packs are discouraged. It’s more compact than the computer bags that some people carry.

    I’m going to check out the links to the EF pants you carried. I may need another pair.

  12. Your trip looks like perfection to me! While I am unable to travel much currently, I expect to be able to in the future and I will keep the things I learned from your trip in mind when planning.

  13. Wonderful trip, Jennifer, and I agree about the backpack. A backpack with a strap that fits over the handle of your roller bag is a lifesaver! They’re not easy to find, but the search is worth it. In airports, slide the backpack on top of the roller bag, and wheel away. For train, bus, and subway days, wear the backpack. That way, you only have to wrangle one piece of luggage. For day trips, a small nylon backpack is essential. A trick I learned from a museum guard in Paris: before you go in, slip off one strap of the backpack and carry it under your arm like a shoulder bag. No one will object.

    1. Great suggestion because I do know backpacks are frowned on in many places.

  14. Looks like a wonderful trip! All the travel tips are so useful. I have bought things from travel stores, like socks, that lasted for years, and I can’t find a replacement. I don’t use a backpack, I had to keep taking it off to get to things, a wide strap cross body bag works for me, with a top zipper. Jackets or coats with zippered pockets are very handy. I have had trench coats with liners and hoods work well, especially with rain proofing fabric. Light weight pack able down jackets and coats are the best investment I ever made, Uniqlo makes good ones. The EF pants don’t fit me as well, I have a long rise, and prefer my pants to cover my shoes more, if NYDJ made a light weight “ travel” pant, that would work perfect ( hint, hint, Nordy). My favorite style shoe so far has been ankle high lace up Clarks with small 1” heel for cool weather, and Ecco lace ups like yours for warm weather. I avoid open toe shoes if possible, between the cobblestone , rain, and dirt, it’s less desirable. If I had to, I would look for a fisherman style, that had some toe coverage. If I’m visiting cities, I stay away from anything that looks like camping clothes, just my preference. Thanks for your travel tips!

    1. I hear you about avoiding camping clothes. We did see some rather casual outfits on tourists in Tokyo which looked out of place.

  15. I am so glad you had a wonderful time Jennifer! I just returned from 2 weeks in Italy, and also unpacked things I never wore – several scarves. It was warmer than the predicted weather and was glad I had packed a tiny bottle of laundry detergent to wash out short sleeve tops. I was glad I packed enough undies to last the trip. I brought a collapsible backpack as overflow if needed for the trip home but didn’t need it. I was afraid of using one during the trip because it wouldn’t allow me to see my belongings so used a large nylon tote and a waist wallet with my valuables. I was pretty satisfied with my packing and the luggage I brought.

    1. Not seeing my belongings is one of my issues with backpacks too Deanne. My waistpack was too small so I left it home but have already decided a large one is a must bring next time. Hands free is critical! Italy is so beautiful. Lucky you.

  16. Sharon Brown says:

    It’s very refreshing to explore fashion for the over- 50- but -still- interested-in-looking -and -feeling the best we can. And from someone who’s interested in sharing her real-life experiences! While my life style is different from yours, reading your posts has pulled me out of my lack of fashion sense doldrums and into trying new styles, brands and fashion statements. Not knowing what looks good on me at 67 is frustrating! I’m enjoying your posts and appreciate your information, experiences and photos – thanks!

    1. I am so happy to have you here Sharon! Let me know if there are things you’d like me to cover for you.

  17. Thanks for the recap. I have two pair of those Ecco Soft 7 sneakers and love them. And a second vote for Bombas no shows. They’re really comfy, cover just enough of the foot and stay put due to little silicone bits in the heel. I thought they were kind of gimmicky, but they are great.

  18. suzanstew says:

    I do love your glasses and I remember a post about how you selected them. I have kind of looked for something like them unsuccessfully. Can you share what they are?

    1. These are a brand called Aspire. I have only seen them in one boutique eye shop but I bet you could google where they are near you.

  19. What a special trip you had, especially sharing it with your beautiful daughter. And thank you for the good packing tips. I’m the worst packer ever. Pretty much bring everything in my closet….and in my bathroom. Makes for a very frustrating time while traveling. However, when we went to Italy with family we all just brought a carry-on and one smaller carry on bag. And we did just fine. I love reading the comments from others on here with their helpful suggestions. Love your blog.

  20. Thank you for sharing. I always find packing posts both fascinating and helpful. For years I have kept notes of what I’ve packed, what was worn and unworn, and what I wished I had brought. I’ve refined my system pretty well by now, but I’m always interested in the experiences of others, especially when traveling internationally.

  21. Thank you for sharing your fantastic trip. I have never been interested in Japan until I saw your trip. Wow! Eileen Fisher slim ankle pants are my go to as well. I have never tried the Ponte pants, but I will now. Wardrobe oxygen turned me on to Bomba’s socks. They are wonderful. They stay on. I have found even the low no-shows don’t fall off. I have only been able to see them at Bombas site. Once again thanks for sharing. patval

    1. The Ponte are almost my favorite because they seem to hold up a bit better to wrinkling. Thanks for following along on our journey.

  22. One more comment – would love to hear others input. I avoided a backpack because so many places here (Chicagoland)(museums, sports venues, etc.) don’t allow them. I was afraid of getting somewhere (especially on foot) and being denied access. I didn’t really see that restriction on our trip. Is that an issue when you travel anymore?

  23. I’ve decided it’s impossible to travel to a new place and not have a few things you could have left at home. Although weather forecasts are incredibly accurate the weather remains so unpredictable! We returned from a Danube river cruise a couple weeks ago. I packed for the “typical” weather for the area But the weather was warmer than typical. I tried to layer but still ended up with unworn items. So many of the women on the cruise commented that they could have used more warm weather clothing. The Ecco sneakers were good for me but I struggled finding the correct size. I ended up getting them a half size smaller than my typical size. I found SmartWool no- shows that stayed put and truly didn’t show (and were black if they did peak out occasionally). I also took a pair of Vionic sneakers in a black/grey tweedy material and they were unsurpassed for comfort. I was afraid they wouldn’t have enough support but they were perfect. I did take a few scarves – and wore them. I purchased a black cashmere wrap to wear to an outdoor wedding and this trip. It was a God-send and the most versatile.

    1. My cashmere wrap was perfect too. They’re soft and warm but breathe with you. I haven’t tried Vionics yet but have heard great things about them. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *