Packing For General Assembly

What I did first was go to my closet and figure out what I already had that might work for a conference setting.

I decided on a color theme (browns, white and touches of blue or bright pink), which helped limit my choices immensely. I will include some black pieces but most of my outfits will be in the brown-white general category. I made a conscious choice to avoid anything drab, anything remotely pastel, or anything very soft (no florals!!). No flowy garb, no ankle-length broomstick skirts, no being swallowed up in fabric. All my prints and colors are bold and there is a definite bohemian touch.

I had a manicure and chose a very dark, dramatic polish, which helped me decide which jewelry to pack (bold pieces, some shine factor, nothing small or delicate).

Other accessories will be a faux pashmina shawl (the kind you buy on the streets of NYC and that my mom and I refer to as pashmiNOT), a scarf for my hair, a belt, and one small purse (in addition to my huge shoulder bag).

I am deciding on shoes: they have to be comfortable enough to wear all day, to walk considerable distances in, and still have at least a modicum of fashionability. It’s a tough decision, because I’d like to bring five pairs, but no way! It’s got to get down to two, plus flip-flops for the travel day.

I am bringing three pairs of pants (nice jeans, black and brown trousers) and one skirt. I will bring one blazer, one cardigan and four blouses. I am packing a dress for the first time ever. I have to bring an alb and stole.
This is a lot, I realize. However, I just feel better with a lot of outfits; it makes me feel less like every day is an exhausting repeat of the day before it.

It’s nice not to be doing much presenting or presiding at GA this year. Therefore, I don’t have to pack any very professional outfits: the white blazer is a little strange (white!?) but it’s just a comfortable jacket and it’s bound to be cool in Portland. I love white in the summer.

Tomorrow I tackle the toiletry and cosmetics bag!

For those who are in a similar packing phase, a few tips:

1. Do decide on a color theme and stick to it so everything mixes and matches.
2. Do pack an umbrella — it’s the Pacific Northwest.
3. Do pack things that you’ve tried on and know fit. I went up about a size or so in shirts — dammit! — but rather than sit around pulling at my blouses I purchased two very useable tops on sale.
4. Do consider that you’ll be interacting not only with colleagues during Ministry Days but with lay delegates the rest of the week. Let’s look like we respect our work and our movement, people. Wear your tees and Crocs on professional days if you must (and must you?), but consider spiffing up a bit for the larger convention. Pleeeeaze???
5. Hotel rooms and convention halls are notoriously dehydrating. Pack a rich facial moisturizer and use it every night. A pair of white cotton socks and a good emollient foot cream (Shea It Isn’t So makes a great travel sized one) can be a great help in avoiding cracked heels.
6. Start getting good sleep, eating especially well and taking Vitamin C now. If you’re traveling cross country, you’ll be spending a long time in under-oxygenated, filthy airplanes. Bump up that immune system stat!

24 Replies to “Packing For General Assembly”

  1. Just a note about the Pacific Northwest (went to college there)…the best way to be noticed is to use an umbrella. Really…no one expects you to be dry upon entering any building. Life goes on with or without the wet hair, and in the drizzle the umbrella is often more bother than it’s worth. Remember your baptism and walk wet.

    Have a great time out there.

  2. Wow.

    Color scheme? I don’t have enough clothes to divide things into color schemes. I’m taking what’s clean and fits. 😉

    And I don’t think I even own five pairs of shoes!

  3. I’m about to haul out the big suitcase. I do the professional stuff and have some things to knock about the hotel room and the fitness area. Sneakers take up a lot of room!

  4. I wouldn’t bother with an umbrella since you can pick one up for $5 anywhere (there’s a Walgreens half a mile up the street from the OCC, too – and it’s open very late). But if you’re going to bring an umbrella, it should be small enough to pack in your tote or purse or whatever it is one will have all day at conference. It rarely rains hard enough to carry an umbrella – but when it does, it comes with sunshower-like randomness. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone out for lunch, or an errand, and been caught in a shower – while my umbrella is snug and dry in the backseat of my car, office desk drawer, etc.

  5. Actually, nobody has bought an umbrella in Portland in years. This is how it works – when a downpour starts, walk into the nicest restaurant within a few steps. Just say, “I was dining the other night and I’m afraid that I lost my umbrella. Can you please help me?” At this point the helpful restaurant staff will ask you to please describe the umbrella. All you have to do is say that it was a black one. When they present you with the array of blackumbrellas, you simply say “Why yes, it looks like this one.” The system works because eventually, you will leave the umbrella in a restaurant.

    Technical points – you really didn’t say that you lost the umbrella in their fine establishment. You have lost an umbrella and are requesting their assistance. How different are umbrellas?

    I think that, as others have intimated, the source of umbrellas in unending abundance is either visitors or it truly is a mystery.

  6. I’m glad you wrote. I wonder if people most realize What Brown Can Do For You, particularly men who might not have seen the value of chocolate and light pink or mocha and periwinkle.

    (I’m on a hunt for US-made brown slacks, as my Dockers are wearing out.)

  7. flip-flops for your travel day? My feet couldn’t take the strain at all. Travel days one wears one’s sneakers (thereby avoiding packing them.)

    love the umbrella tip! And I’ll procure my first umbrella from the church lost and found. Down here in the desert, it might be raining when you set out for church, but since the sun will be shining by the time you leave church, you will leave your umbrella!

  8. Handy tip: if you carry an umbrella, also carry a plastic grocery bag to stuff it in so the rest of the things in your tote bag don’t get wet.

    I found this great article on how to pack your clothes so they don’t wrinkle: http://www.onebag.com/pack.html#bundle
    Quick diagram: http://www.onebag.com/popups/bundle.html

    You basically wrap each item around a central core until you have one big bundle. Really different than my technique, but my stuff is always wrinkled, so I’ll try it! Especially good for GA, where you will just unpack once for the entire conference.

    On the other hand, I am coming to GA in my motorhome (which is my ONLY home), so I will have all the comforts of home with me. That makes me sort of “local,” so if a fellow reader forgets something critical feel free to ask to borrow it! My email is louise (dot) hornor (at) cornell (dot) edu

    We have at least four umbrellas, including my fabulous huge rainbow one: plenty to share. Stephanie is right that only tourists carry umbrellas, but hey, I’m always a tourist so I don’t worry about that stigma.

  9. PB you will be so proud, last week I set out (and wrote down) all of my outfits for GA (right down to the undergarments) and packed them all in order so I won’t even have to think about it while I’m there, just reach into the suitcase and pull out that days put together outfit!

  10. Ew, pet peeve! Say you didn’t suggest you wear flip flops to travel!! Esp in airports, I would not want the bare skin of my precious feet touching the same digusting floor where thousands of others have walked on with their who-knows-whats that have been who knows where! Yuck, yuck! (yes, very bad theology, I’m sure)
    Invest in a decent pair of closed-toe Birks or wear your sneaks, if you must. But pedicure or no, flip flops are ew when traveling! You’ll want the little socks for the cold plane. I always take a pair to wear in the shower, though. But then again, Rev. Bee is a little phobic of slipping in strange tubs. Her Sister thinks she’s wierd.

  11. Thank you so much for this packing list — I’m going to the UCC’s Big Meeting in CT next week, and have been pondering the what-to-pack question all weekend. (Last time I went, I was working with youth all weekend, and it was a matching-T-shirts-and jeans/khakis kind of a job)(This time, I’m going strictly for networking and job interviews: eek!)

    Oh, and I always dress nicely for travel — skirt, heels, the whole get-up. I find that people (airline employees, restaurant waitstaff, etc.) treat me more respectfully if I’m dressed well, and I feel less sloppy and gross when I get off the plane. You can always slip off your shoes once you’re on the plane and seated (and put on socks if you’re inclined to get cold feet, like I do).

  12. I lived in Oregon growing up. We never used umbrellas. Most rains were heavy drizzles. When we needed something it was a windbreaker with a hood or a rain hat of some kind. I bought my first umbrella when I moved East.

    Oregonians are not known for being fashionable, though. Jeans and sweats are almost a uniform — so maybe for the beautiful ministers at GA Peacebang is right about the umbrella.

    Another unknown fact about Oregon rain, though, is that summers can be very dry — especially July and August — and it is not unusual to go without rain for days or even weeks in summer months — so all this duscussion might be a moot point.

  13. <--- rethinking the flip-flops, which I throw on for short flights (they are nice f-f's with support, of course), but which won't do at all for running around catching THREE FLIGHTS IN ONE DAY! AAAACK!! I'll wear my Keenes. Bee, you're cracking me up. I hope you never have to walk in NYC. Thanks to the folks who wrote about Portland weather. I am still bringing one leetle leopard-spotted 'brelly. This is going to be a two-bag trip 'cause I have a week of vacation subsequent to GA and won't have room for comfy clothes if I only bring one bag. @Christine: The Spinster Sisters (SisterBang and I) have a strict rule that one does not wear sneakers in public unless one is heading to or from the gym. @Flo: Wonderful!! Smart girl! @Louise: Thanks for the great idea... I may try to pack that way.

  14. Thanks for rethinking the flip flops. . . . I agree with rev bee, and you may chip your pedicure on the way 🙂

    Coordinating ahead of time is good. If it is like our national meeting, you’re lucky to have time to brush your teeth, much less think about figuring out what matches every day.

    Don’t forget some power bars and a water bottle!

  15. following up on BJ’s umbrella system, it works for cell phone chargers. The universe is simply overloaded with them. When you realize you left yours behind on a trip, simply ask at the front desk of the hotel in a generic way, and they will haul out a huge box of them. You fish around and find the kind that fits your phone. Haven’t we all left them in hotels? Now I make sure to plug them in a bathroom outlet and leave them against a bright white sink…much less likely to be forgotten.

  16. I loved the blouse closing tabs link from elastigirl! Here is another mystery of dressing the human anatomy. The won’t-stay-tucked-in blouse problem. I asked my air force son how he kept his shirt tucked in so well in his dress blues uniform. Lo and Behold! He had elastics connecting his shirt tail to his socks, one on either side, under his pants. Well, obviously UNDER his pants. They hooked on with those tabs that only those of us dated enough to have worn garter belts and stockings would remember — the little rubber thing that you put under the stocking and then slide a clip over… Oh dear, garter belts may be a contemporarily retro item for dressing sexy, so maybe you all know about those tabs. Rock on, garter belts. Anyway, for Christmas he gave me two types of elastic straps. My pant suit that had the untucking problem with the blouse now looks spiffy with the uniform trick. Diane

  17. @Scott: I’m pretty certain I found the OneBag site through your blog; thanks for the tip. It took me HOURS to wade through the whole thing, but I’m a geek who likes that sort of thing. I thought I would just post the links to the most relevant pages.

    I have committed to dressing better for GA on the assumption that I will run into She Who Gives Beauty Tips and I don’t want to disappoint her…

  18. On the shoes thing – don’t forget that you will have to take them off to go through airport security, so don’t wear anything with ties!

    And I bring an empty water bottle, then fill it at a water fountain on the other side of security now that they have these stupid liquid regulations.

  19. I intended to wear slacks and shirts at the East Ohio Annual Conference, but as it turns out it is held in an un-airconditioned hall on the shores of Lake Erie. Therefore I suggest that I can be forgiven for wearings shorts, Christian tees, and flip-flops. It’s on a beach, so people can’t expect us not dress for a day on the beach. The lay delegates are just as dressed down.

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