The Victorinox Travel Gear team recently caught up with Nicole Chavez, celebrity stylist, creative force behind ShoeMint.com and avid traveler. Chavez is a major influence within the fashion industry as one of Hollywood’s most highly sought after stylists. Nicole was named one of the “Top 10 Superstar Stylists” by Forbes Magazine. She was also ranked #20 on The Hollywood Reporter’s “Most Powerful Stylists in Hollywood,” and “Star Stylist Extraordinaire” at the Hollywood Style Awards in recognition for her exemplary work in styling. With clients including Rachel Bilson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kristen Bell, Nikki Reed, and Katherine Heigl, Nicole’s keen eye for detail and fit has firmly landed her at the forefront of fashion.
Below, Nicole shares her top personal and professional packing tips, her favorite pieces from Victorinox Travel Gear and her own jet-setting agenda for her family and son Zev’s first holiday season.
Victorinox Travel Gear: How long have you been working as a stylist and what is your favorite part of the job?
Nicole Chavez: I have been styling for about eight years now. I started in the costume departments in TV and Film. I was working on “The OC” when I met my dear friend, first client, and now business partner, Rachel Bilson, when I decided to go off on my own. I love that every day is different – there is definitely never a dull moment. I love fashion so it is a gift to be surrounded by beautiful pieces of art all day.
VTG: How much time do you spend traveling?
NC: I travel once or twice a month, but I slowed right after having my son, Zev, earlier this year. Now I am back in the air, going wherever the ladies need me!
VTG: How would you describe your personal travel style?
NC: Comfortable and chic. I always want to look presentable and pulled together anywhere I go, but I need comfort when I travel.
VTG: What is your most memorable travel experience – good or bad?
NC: My best and worst experiences actually happened on the same trip! I was on a world tour with one of my clients; we visited seven countries in nine days. It was an amazing, but exhausting trip – we spent all day sightseeing and attended the movie premieres at night. Our last stop was Berlin and we were trying to get home in time for Christmas with our families. There was a HUGE storm and absolutely no flights. We ended up being stuck for a few extra days and I finally broke down at the airport. All I wanted was to get back to my husband for the holidays. To cheer myself up I spent the following 2 days in Berlin at the spa. With travel, when you want to get home, you want to get home!
VTG: What are your top packing tips?
NC: When I am packing for myself or for my clients, efficiency is always key due to baggage weight limitations. Personally, I always try and do a bit of research before a trip: what’s the weather going to be? What is the culture? I even sometimes research the local street style online.
My top overall tricks:
- For my clients, I always pack a, “911 kit” which typically includes all the essentials one needs to avoid any fashion catastrophes: a needle and thread, moleskin, top stick [double-sided tape], Band Aids, static guard, lint rollers, scissors, etc.
- Pick a color theme and stick with it to make it easier to edit out extraneous items. Everything should work together – eliminate the shoes that only work with one outfit and go for the pair that works with multiple!
- If you have time, take pictures of outfits (accessories and footwear included) so getting ready on the road is a breeze – no thinking required.
When packing my suitcase or my clients’, I make the most of every square inch of space!
- I start with a bottom layer of rolled garments such as knits and cottons that don’t easily wrinkle, to save space
- In the middle I place the heavier, folded items then the lighter items (e.g. bathing suits and workout gear) on top.
- I always wear the heaviest pair of shoes I’m bringing, and place the others in shoe bags to avoid heels poking through delicate fabrics or dirtying clean clothes. Overall, I try to bring one casual pair, maybe flats, workout sneakers and one pair of heels – unless of course I’m headed to Fashion Week! To maximize space, I wrap belts around the perimeter of the bag and tuck small items like chargers and sunglasses inside my shoes.
- Another trick – I always use garment bags or dry cleaning bags to divide the layers and keep my garments clean and protected, just in case any toiletries leak!
- Also, for packing with ease or when you have little time to think in advance, there are several easy packing lists you can download online and print/check off as you go. These always keep me organized.
- I also always bring an expandable or foldable/packable extra bag to tote back souvenirs, gifts and purchases made on the road!
Victorinox travel tip: To save space and organize your belongings like Nicole, try the Victorinox Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Packing Cube Set
VTG: Do you prefer hardside or softside luggage?
NC: I love hardside cases – specifically the Spectra Collection from Victorinox. It’s lightweight, easy to maneuver, efficient and sleek. I’m always surprised that even when I think the Spectra won’t close, it somehow does! I love the protection of a hardside case but room to fit everything I need. The Global Carry-On is a great weekender size. I always recommend Spectra to my clients. I even use the amazing color selection to color coordinate their luggage on trips or press tours (e.g. all gowns are in red Spectra, while all casual clothes are in the blue).
Victorinox travel tip: This holiday season you can find the Spectra Collection on SwissArmy.com in White! This special color, a favorite in renowned international retail locations such as Harrod’s London, will be available to U.S. shoppers for a limited time!
VTG: Are there travel accessories you can’t live without?
NC: I always tuck a small cosmetic bag containing my license, passport, and other travel documents in my purse so it’s organized and easy to access. For jewelry, I use a makeup case – like a Hanging Toiletry Kit – to avoid tangling and so I can see everything more easily.
Victorinox travel tip: Try the Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 Travel Organizer to easily organize and access passports and important documents on the go!
VTG: Why do you recommend Victorinox Travel Gear for travelers of any kind?
NC: I use Victorinox because it’s luggage that lasts. If you’re a frequent traveler like me, it’s important to have quality cases that still look chic and cool and I’ve experienced that firsthand with Victorinox.
VTG: Backpacks are a big fashion statement this season! Do you use them when you travel?
NC: I’m a huge fan of backpacks. They relieve stress on my back by distributing weight, keep my hands free and are great for overhead compartments. I also travel with a tote handbag to store items that I need to quickly and easily access. When traveling with electronics, I usually keep my laptop in my backpack and iPad in my tote.
VTG: Will you be traveling anywhere this holiday season?
NC: I went to Seattle for Thanksgiving and am going to Hawaii for Christmas and New Year’s. We’re taking the baby with us. Traveling with a baby now is crazy. I feel like I have to take the entire nursery!
VTG: What travel-related gifts do you hope to receive or will you be giving this holiday?
NC: I haven’t started my shopping yet, but travel gear would be great for my husband and in-laws. The Victorinox Spill Resistant Pouch Set, All-in-One Charger Set and All-in-One Adapter Plug are great stocking stuffers!
We hope these helpful travel tips from industry pro, Nicole Chavez have helped you take the edge off of your holiday travel stress! Check back on SwissArmy.com early and often for the latest Victorinox Travel Gear additions and from all of us at Victorinox, have a very happy holiday!