What Is an “Outfit Grid?”

Photo credit: stevepb, CC BY 2.0.

I know I’ve mentioned this before on The Billfold—Ester and I did a chat about it once, back in the day—but last Friday I told Ruzielle that I was going to make an “outfit grid” for my NYC/DC trip this week, and it was clear in the comments that y’all wanted to know what that was.

So. An outfit grid is a packing list. I break down everything I’m planning on doing, every day of the trip, as well as everything I’m planning on wearing.

Here’s how a sample entry might look:

I create a header for each day that includes my location, the expected weather, and any planned activities. Then I list every item of clothing that will go on my body, down to the jewelry. (Main component/secondary component is, like, shirt and pants. Not every outfit has a secondary component.)

Here’s what it looks like filled out:

Yes, I know that my underthings don’t match. I also told you that I wasn’t buying new clothes until September, so we will all have to deal.

So I make one of these entries for every day of the trip. Seeing all of my outfits lined up in “grid form” helps me streamline my packing; can I get by with only one pair of shoes? Two pairs of earrings? One jacket? Can I make everything—at least the visible parts—color-coordinate?

I also have a column down the side that lists all the stuff I pack for every trip: toothbrush, deodorant, phone charger, etc. That’s also where items like “pajamas” end up, plus that extra outfit that I’ll pack because it’s always good to have an extra outfit.

For this upcoming six-day trip, doing the outfit grid made me realize I didn’t need to check a bag. I could roll all my clothes into a tote, use the toiletries provided by the Pod Hotel, and save $50.

That’s the outfit grid. When it’s time for me to pack, I open up the spreadsheet and make sure I pack everything on the list—and when it’s time for me to check out of the Pod Hotel, I’ll check the list again to make sure I haven’t accidentally left anything behind.

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