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Answer Angel: Big trip, small bag

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Is it possible to pack for an Alaska trip (a cruise) in just a carry-on, especially if you are a plus size?

I mean, if you are a size zero you can pack for a month with carry-on only. But a 5-foot-10 Queen? Hello???

--Judie C.

Dear Judie: Yes, definitely. It is easier on a cruise where hair dryers and (expensive) laundry service are usually available. Many of us have a favorite packing method. Here’s mine:

*A large backpack and a spinner suitcase (buy quality; Travelpro is my choice). Check airline specifications for size limits for carry-on and believe them! European airlines are different (often smaller than U.S.).

*If you absolutely cannot afford to lose it, carry it on in a backpack (jewelry, medicine, charging cords) since crowded flights will occasionally require checking even small suitcases.

*Wear the bulky stuff: hiking boots, heavy coats, etc. ( puffer coats/jackets are highly packable and well-priced).

*Be prepared to hand wash underwear, gym clothes, socks. Bring only a few changes.

*Packable, lightweight, no-iron, stylish clothes are everywhere, from Target to Lululemon. In plus sizes too and not just in the active wear department.

*Crucial: Between the support “rods” inside the suitcase are small dips of space, perfect for underwear, t-shirts, hairbrush, shaving gear, tiny umbrella, ball cap, small cosmetics.

*Mix and match shirts/skirts/pants. When in doubt leave it out.

*Packing cubes? I used to like them but … now I fold clothes to same size in stacks. Two or three rows only. Pressing down HARD on each stack saves even more space.


*Accessories: Scarves and bold costume jewelry work wonders.

*Learn from mistakes. If you didn’t wear it or only wore it once, pack lighter next time.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Your thoughts on the “fishnet” clothing so popular in fashion press and even big box stores like Walmart, etc. Seems borderline obscene to me. You too?

---Grace M.

Dear Grace: Virtually transparent clothing, or “fishnet,” which looks crocheted with ample see-through holes, has shock value and online attention for celebrities and wannabes. For the vast rest of us, consider these items to be worn over bodysuits, leggings, crop tops, etc. While the bare bosom “freeing the nipple” style is increasingly popular on runways and red carpets, mere mortals should stay away from this trend. I liked the looks of the Wild Fable brand “open knit” clothes I saw at Target (, maxi dress ($35), “Crochet Cover Up Mini Dress” ($20), “Fishnet Fringe Cover Up Midi Dress” (on sale, $15.40), “Women’s Wide Leg Open Work Pants” (on sale, $23.80) and others. But they should be thoughtfully layered over more than just scanty swimwear or underwear!

Angelic Readers 1

Readers succeeded where I failed to find reader C.J. some loose linen pants with no elastic at the waist. Some readers’ suggestions did have elastic in the back of the waistband, not obvious in website photos or descriptions. When in doubt, pose questions on the website to be sure.

As weather warms, some of these reader recommendations were almost out of stock when I checked:

Katy B. and Natasha recommend Garnet Hill ( “Classic Linen Trousers” on sale for $49 reduced from $129. Brenda B-S, Valerie P. and Lauren K. like Talbots ( “Linen Southampton Pants,” $129. Andrea I. suggests NYDJ ( “Marilyn Straight Pants in Stretch Linen” (The stretchy linen blend in these is a nonstarter for reader C.J. who wanted loose and easy fit), $119. Wendy D. had luck at Athleta ( “Although their jogger styles do come with drawstring/elastic waist (and elastic cuffs), I have found both cropped and full-length styles with a front zipper and top hook and bar clasp there.” Andrea G. suggests Boden ( although pricey: “Regent Pleat Linen Trousers,” $160 and “Westbourne,” $140. Muji’s “Women’s Stretchy Hemp Mix Straight Pants” (hemp is a linen-like alternative),, are a favorite of Grace L., $69.90: “Nice tailoring and washable.” (From Ellen: Selling out fast and clearly visible front pockets show through the pants leg in the off-white option; not attractive.)

Angelic Readers 2

From Dianne B.: “I loved your article on crisp, fresh-off-the-line sheets. My favorite brand is Ralph Lauren. Seriously. 100% cotton (not sateen) and any color, pattern or size works! I’ve bought them for years and they never fail even when washed in the machine. We use them in our guest rooms too and I had a friend who stayed over (who doesn’t like crisp sheets . . .) complain that they ‘crinkled’ when she turned over, LOL. Best part? You can find them often at Homegoods or their affiliated stores for a great price and sometimes even on clearance! Happy shopping and sleeping!”

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