Borderstyle: Packing for the Campaign Trail (and Other Adventures)

by March 2, 2012 at 11:00 am 1,606 0

bag, campaign, trail

Tumi-Tech Kobbe Tri-Fold Garment Bag featuring Tumi bags 2. (Khelan on

From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]

For more images on, click on each photo in this story.

Howdy, Borderstanis. I hope you’re having a lovely week. Mine started off splendidly: I grabbed an afternoon cocktail with lovely journalist/media personality and fellow Borderstani Julie Mason (read Borderstan’s profile of her, it’s a must).

Mason is a veteran of the White House Press Pool for two newspapers and now hosts the national political talk show “The Press Pool” on Sirius XM radio.

campaign, trail, blazer

Rag & Bone Dagger Blazer. (Khelan on

We had a grand time chatting about politics, fashion, that we had both lived in Texas for a several years, etc. Since she’s a veteran of the campaign trail, I shared my most recent experiences (both sartorial and professional) in the early states, as well as my last column.

campaign, trail, packing

Take a pair of  khaki-chinos. (Khelan on

We commiserated over the fact that, unlike other cities, DC doesn’t have much of a biz casual culture, which can result in some inappropriate fashion choices by campaign staffers and journalists alike. (Jules, I’m totally giving you props for succinctly making a point I’ve attempted to convey through this column for over a year!)

BTW, I have to ask: If DC is known as the Hollywood for ugly people, is New Hampshire our equivalent to Sundance? Think about it.

My chat with Julie led me to think about how, through trial and error, I’ve learned to pack smartly and efficiently for long bouts of travel. Here are a few tips from Julie and yours truly, that have helped us along the way (and probably couldn’t hurt you on your next business trip).

campaign, trail, packing

To add a little pop, add a rep tie. (Khelan on

Luggage. Buy the right piece of luggage: large enough to carry about a week’s worth of clothes, yet small enough to fit in an overhead bin. Honestly, who has the time and patience to wait at baggage claim these days?

I highly recommend the Tumi-Tech Kobbe Tri-Fold Garment bag. It’s compact, can hold a couple of suits (or blazers/slacks), shirts, ties, jeans, an extra pair of shoes, toiletries and your super-slim Macbook Air with no problem. At just over $200 it’s also a bargain.

campaign, trail, packing

A shawl-collar cardigan sweater is one option. (Khelan on

Blazer. For your trip, take the all-purpose blazer that goes with … well, everything. The one-button Dagger blazer by Rag & Bone works just as well with a pair of dress slacks as it does with a pair of dark-rinse jeans. Plus, the slim lapels and pewter buttons are very chic.

Pants. Speaking of which, pack one pair of dark jeans that are slightly dressier than the rest of your denim collection. Also, take along a pair khaki-chinos for contrast.

Shirts and Ties. Since we’re trying to make the most of limited space, leave the louder, more casual shirts at home. Instead, go minimalist and take three non-iron extra-slim fit solid button-downs (one in white, one in blue and one in grey). To add some pop to your outfits, feel free to tote around a few rep ties, or even a “little-critter” tie, if you decide to go a wee bit crazy.

Air Franklin’s by Cole Haan are comfortable and affordable. (Khelan on

Sweaters. Even though it’s been a ridiculously mild winter here in the District, you could be off to some frigid climates. Be sure to stow away one shawl-collar cardigan and one pull-over. I’m partial to a well fitted fair-isle sweater myself.

Shoes. Comfy, yet stylish, shoes are a must. The Air Franklin’s by Cole Haan are affordable (under $200) and won’t kill your feet, thanks to their nifty Nike-air technology.

Skin Care. For the love of God, pack a facial scrub and eye cream! Chances are you’re not going to get the most nutritious meals or sound sleep on your travels. If your experiences are anything like mine, you’ll have about ten minutes to eat and about two hours to sleep. To help battle the effects of campaign funk, I highly recommend the travel size versions of the facial scrub and eye cream from Anthony for Men.

That’s it from me this week! See you next time.

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