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Fashion & Beauty Packing

Helene Clarkson Clothing Review: A Chic Travel Wardrobe, Quadrupled

Game changer is not too strong a term for Helene Clarkson’s line of chic, travel-friendly reversible clothing for women. I’m always looking for ways to travel lighter; usually, that means lightweight shoes, packable jackets, and featherweight suitcases. But when I found Helene Clarkson’s line of reversible (some two-way reversible; some four-way reversible where you can wear them both inside out and backwards for additional looks) pants, skirts, dresses, tunics, sweaters, and jackets, my brain very nearly melted. Could I whittle a week’s—or a month’s—worth of clothing down to four items that could be worn 32 different ways?

To test the concept, I traveled with two tops that can be worn four ways—front, back, and on both sides—a pair of reversible cropped pants, and a reversible skirt: the Halle Reversible Skirt, Nancy 4-Way Reversible Tank Top, Billy 4-Way Reversible Tank Top, and the Andorra Reversible Cropped Pant.

The Good

The clothing feels good; it’s made of a spandex jersey knit that doesn’t cling, is wrinkle resistant, and is soft. And it looks good: the cuts are flattering and would be appropriately chic for everything from sightseeing to nights out in any major city in the world. It also dries quickly, which is nice if you’re doing hotel-room laundry to freshen up items.

The experience of depending on just four items for a trip felt very capsule wardrobe, which is something I aspire to but have not been able to pull off before (the company has an essential pieces overview of items to pack to embrace this streamlined, carry-on travel style). At the same time, when I got dressed each morning, I still felt like I had plenty of choices.

[st_related]Foldable and Collapsible Shoes Perfect for Your Carry-On[/st_related]

The Challenges

Many looks but still only four articles of clothing, which means it’s important to double down on the anti-perspirant if you want to keep those clothes in the rotation longer. And when traveling with a limited number of items, bringing along some laundry soap to do a wash or two on the fly also becomes a lot more important. Also, pockets. Reversible clothing and pockets don’t play well together, but I did miss being able to stash a tissue or a phone on my person.

The Workarounds

Because I wanted easy mixing and matching, I chose a limited color palette of black, white, and gray/silver. But I wanted to boost the feeling of variety in my wardrobe choices while traveling. So I included a few brightly colored scarves and necklaces—a move that didn’t add significantly to my suitcase, but did offer more color.

Reversible tops and bottoms meant that I felt ready for everything when faced with an entire day—and evening—out. Changing for dinner out was as easy as flipping my clothing inside out, and when I had an unexpected spill that resulted in a minor but noticeable stain (that came out as soon as I washed it), I just flipped the shirt.

Price and Where to Buy: Helene Clarkson’s reversible line ranges from $59 to $200, with additional discounts on sale items.

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Editor’s Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and “cool factor.” Some review products are sent to us to test free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at editor@smartertravel.com.

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