The Secret to Becoming a Light Packer Is 54321


(Image credit: @louisefollain)

If you're like me and packing gives you anxiety, you've come to the right place. If you're also like me and have been known to overpack, you've also come to the right place. My packing process has always started with a very detailed list and ends with several hours of actually putting things in suitcases. I've never been able to streamline my routine and end up second-guessing every outfit I write on my list and basically starting over. Needless to say, I'm always on the hunt for packing hacks that will actually work. While I usually plan to pack the exact amount of pieces I'll need for a trip, I rarely pack things that can be re-worn, and my shoe and accessory count is typically more suitable for a trip that's twice the length.

Becoming a light packer has always seemed like a pipe dream to me, but I recently came across a simple hack that holds the key to actually being a light packer—hence the title of this story. It's as simple as 54321. (Upon further investigation, I found that it's already viral on Pinterest.) Now, if you're a serial over-packer, this might take some getting used to, but it will change the way you pack.

The 54321 packing method means that all you need are five tops, four bottoms, three dresses, three pairs of shoes, two swimsuits, two bags, and one of each of a few miscellaneous accessories. Obviously, the actual items will vary depending on what season it is and where you're going, but the general number of items should remain the same. The key to succeeding at this method is choosing versatile items that can be re-worn and mixed and matched, so I advise choosing your items accordingly.

Keep scrolling for our version of the visual aid and to shop pieces to pack for each category this summer.


5 Tops

Depending on the season, you'll want to pack a T-shirt, an appropriate jacket, a going-out top, a long-sleeve tee, and a cardigan (or another type of versatile sweater). 

4 Bottoms

For bottoms, keep things simple and pack jeans, a skirt, a pair of pants, and shorts.

3 Dresses

As a rule of thumb, plan on packing a casual dress, a versatile slip dress, and something a little fancier. 

3 Pairs of Shoes

A pair of flats, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of walkable heels should cover all of your travel footwear needs. 

2 Swimsuits

Even in the winter, you should always pack at least one swimsuit. You never know when a heated indoor pool will grace you with its presence. 

2 Bags

Do yourself a favor and pack bags that are big enough to hold your essentials and that you can wear either crossbody or as a belt bag (so that your hands can be free to take photos, naturally).

One of Each Relevant Accessory

The last thing you'll want to spend your time doing when traveling is putting on tons of accessories, so don't bring them. Instead, stick to just the essentials. 

Next up, six trends no one is wearing on vacation anymore.

Allyson Payer
Senior Editor

Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.