How I Crammed an Entire Ski-Vacation Wardrobe Into One Tiny Carry-On

I thought the biggest hurdle I would face while packing for a long weekend in Park City, Utah, would be the fact that I didn't own a winter coat, much less an entire collection of snow-ready attire. But actually, the real challenge surfaced the night before my early morning flight while I was starting to fold newly amassed garments into my largest suitcase. My boyfriend strolled into the room, took one look at the size of it, and shook his head. "We're going for three days," he said. "Can't you try to fit this all in a carry-on?"

In spite of my initial indignation (winter clothes and snow boots are bulky, okay?), I knew he was right, and the prospect of skipping the headache of checking a bag was certainly alluring. It also meant that I would have to minimize my capsule wardrobe even further. It was doable; it would just take a little strategizing.

Our plans for the weekend involved exploring the festivities at Sundance Film Festival, as well as skiing and general winter lounging. Ultimately, I had something cute (and warm) to wear for all of the above, even if it meant sitting on my Away suitcase ($245) in order to zip it shut.

Keep scrolling to see my capsule winter wardrobe below.

I bought that Amazon coat.

While hunting for a parka that wouldn't set me back a huge chunk of cash, I remembered the viral coat that apparently overtook Manhattan last year, earning a write-up from New York magazine's The Strategist that has since been cited by tastemaker publications far and wide. The massive hype wasn't what convinced me to pull the trigger, though, so much as the reasonable price tag and Amazon Prime shipping, since I (rather stupidly) decided to hold off on finding a parka until the week before my trip.

It turned out to be money well spent. I bought the black version, and it's stylish in a cool, utilitarian way: The well-placed zippers and orange lining are Balenciaga-esque details that any fashion girl can appreciate. But most importantly, it kept me absolutely toasty all weekend long—even during a particularly chilly day of skiing.

A colorful sweatsuit travels well.

I mean that quite literally, as this all-red number from Cotton Citizen kept me as cozy on the plane as it did in the ski lodge. (It earned me a lot of compliments, too.) The takeaway: In order to save space, make your travel outfit and lounge outfit one and the same. 

I opted for a ski all-in-one instead of bulky separates

I could pretend that I was thinking this practical while looking for a ski outfit, but the space efficiency of a onesie turned out to be a bonus revelation. In reality, I was looking to heavily channel Princess Diana during her many alpine adventures, which almost always featured a brightly colored ski suit. For this, I turned to ASOS, whose 4505 activewear line actually boasts an array of cold-weather gear—including an emerald-green jumpsuit that had my name (and Di's) all over it. It even came with a bonus fanny pack, which kept my phone in ship shape even after a few wipeouts.

I found space-efficient layers that offer serious warmth.

Read: spandex and lots of it. The beauty of leggings is that you can roll them into a wad and shove them in your shoes if need be. The catch, of course, is that you also want them to deliver on warmth. Outdoor Voices' leggings are my standby for this reason, as they're designed for outdoor activity but still breathe. I wore a pair underneath my ski suit and never felt chilly, even after I had been on the slopes for hours.

A black turtleneck is a wardrobe workhorse.

The Sundance crowd definitely has the whole day-to-night transition mastered, which is understandable when your main priority is to stay warm. That's why my beloved, decade-old American Apparel turtleneck became such a staple throughout my trip. It was a great layering piece to wear while skiing but also looked chic with my vintage Levi's when I headed to some of the festival's wellness lounges and after-parties. (The version from Urban Outfitters above has a similar vibe.)

Proper footwear makes all the difference.

True story: During my last trip to New York City, I had the foresight to dig my Sorel snow boots out of storage with the thought that I might take a cold-weather trip this year. While they definitely put the "heavy" in heavy-duty—I always joke that they're great ankle weights—they're also classic enough to wear out at the bar. (Bonus: That extra traction becomes essential after a cocktail or two.)

Next up: nine celebrity winter outfits to try if you've run out of ideas.

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