Ann Shoket is the former editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine and author of The Big Life, a guide for young, ambitious women. She’s been traveling across the United States for the last three years since the book debuted, talking to women about building the life they deserve.
She recently rented the Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside for a two-week trip.
CASEY: How often do you travel for work?
Ann Shoket: My work takes me to a lot of places. It’s taken me to San Diego, Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, LA, Denver, Saint Louis, Miami, Idaho, and also New Orleans this last year.
Sometimes I'm addressing a crowd of 6,000 people, like I did in New Orleans. I gave a huge keynote speech for 6,000 Avon representatives. Sometimes it's a smaller group; I did a dinner in LA for an intimate group of 50 entrepreneurs, for example. I also did a dinner for Hyatt in Chicago which was a really small group of 35 high impact women. I also attend big conferences like South By Southwest or the Massachusetts Women’s Conference.
But no matter where you go, you’ve gotta look good.
So how do you stay chic on the go? Any tips?
AS: I try so hard not to ever have to check luggage. I mean, I get the equivalent of road rage when I have to check my luggage. So I always have one backup outfit and things that can mix and match together should there be a last minute change.
“I always have one backup outfit and things that can mix and match together should there be a last minute change.”
AS: There was one time when I came in to Saint Louis to do a big corporate speech for Edward Jones, and as i was on the plane I got a message from my agent that the executive team wanted to have dinner with me the night before my speech. But I hadn’t packed an extra outfit. I was wearing sweats on the plane, and I was planning on spending the rest of the evening in the hotel room catching up on work. And so when I arrived in St. Louis, I had to ask the driver to take me to the mall and sit outside while I tried frantically to put together some kind of an outfit.
So now I always have a backup.
How do you stay comfy while traveling so much?
AS: I always pack sweats for this one particular reason: so that when you’re dragging yourself out of bed at some hour that is not what your body clock thinks it is and you’re trying to go get coffee in the lobby, you don’t have to put on your cocktail clothes from the night before.
Do you have a pair of sweats you’re loyal to?
AS: I’ve been wearing this brand Vuori and the pants are so, so soft. They’re great for the plane too. They’re really cute and a good, sleek black, so if you needed to wear them as leggings in a pinch, you totally could.
If I’m trying to look cute on the plane, my go-to look is a 10-year-old pair of Helmut Lang leather leggings. They’re intensely comfortable — I’m actually wearing them right now — and should you have to jet from work to the airport or airport to some kind of meeting, they’re not sloppy, they look great. I’m actually known for my leather pants.
AS: Because I do so much speaking, I have kind of a uniform for my look. This makes packing — and frankly, dressing — a lot easier. You’ll almost always find me wearing something red or something with leather. Those are the two signatures, which are also tied to my book cover, where I’m standing against a red wall and wearing a leather jacket.
Any weird packing hacks? We wanna hear the juicy stuff.
AS: I’m a recent convert to the Marie Kondo method of folding your clothes in your drawers and I did that on my last trip in my suitcase. Everything is folded into thirds and rather than stacked on top of each other they’re stacked next to each other, like a filing cabinet. So if you open your suitcase, you don’t have to dig through anything, you can just see what it is you’re looking for, and you can tell where your tops are immediately.
“I’m a recent convert to the Marie Kondo method of folding your clothes in your drawers and I did that on my last trip in my suitcase. Everything is folded into thirds and rather than stacked on top of each other they’re stacked next to each other, like a filing cabinet.”
Which bag did you rent from Casey?
AS: Usually the trips I take are quickies —it’s one carry-on. And that’s the area of travel where I’m super comfortable. I know how to pack my carry-on; I know how big it should be, what needs to go in, and what needs to go out. I know when I have a garment bag I have to be sweet to the flight attendants so they let me hang my garment bag in the first class closet.
This trip that I was on most recently was, for the first time in a long time, a two-week family vacation and I needed a much bigger suitcase to take for a two-week vacation, and that’s where Casey came in. I live in Manhattan, I don’t have a space to store endless shapes and iterations of suitcases, and so it was like solving this problem that I didn’t even know I had, and I could rent a gigantic suitcase for two weeks. Casey saved the day. I felt very chic rolling through the international terminal of JFK with my graphite gray hardside Samsonite case.
“...I needed a much bigger suitcase to take for a two-week vacation, and that’s where Casey came in.”
I had a lot of people with us on that trip and it was easy breezy to navigate everything. It was great to have such a big case, and then frankly, not to find a place to store it in my apartment.
Oh, and the shoe bag was so useful.