Let's talk about one of the biggest mission prep steps... HAVING A MISSION WARDROBE. Chances are you aren't sure what to pack for your mission. With these simple 9 steps, we've made it easy on figuring out the best way to put your mission wardrobe together. It can be a little overwhelming, but we've got some awesome tips and advice to get you through it. Let's get started!
1. Make a Game Plan. One tool that is helpful at this step is what we call a Wardrobe Builder. This worksheet allows you to take inventory of what you need to take with you in a very visual & detailed fashion. For someone who likes lists & organization, this is a dream! I have included an example of what it looks like all filled out & a blank one you can even print off and use!
**Just a quick note: When filling out your Wardrobe Builder, use the small boxes in-between the skirts & tops as an opportunity to create outfits. i.e. The first top (for me, Pink Stripe) pairs nicely with skirts 1, 2, 4, & 7. It is ok if that top goes with more than just 4...BUT if a particular top does not match with AT LEAST 3 skirts, don't take it!!! It is not worth the space it will take up in your suitcase!
2. Use what you already have. You will be surprised at what you can use that is already sitting in your closet.
3. Packing Enough. Your call packet says to bring 6-8 outfits.....this is not helpful or logical at all. How bored would you get of your clothes if you ONLY had 8 outfits to choose from. That would mean that you would wear each outfit almost 68 times in your 18 month mission!!! So here's our advice: Coordinate & create TONS of outfit combinations! This one comes down to simple math. Use the wardrobe builder to pair up skirts, tops, jackets, scarves, etc. that will create as many outfit combinations as you can! So if you take 8 skirts & 8 tops that all pair with each other, that is 64 different outfits. Then, let's say you take at least 3 coordinating cardigans or blazers. Add those to the mix, and that gives you 192 outfits. Add 2 scarves/belts, that is 384 outfits. Now, let's talk about dresses....they are the greatest! They are just SO. EASY. But, let's say you only take 3 dresses with you....with your cardigans & scarves, that is another 12 outfits. Which gives you a grand total of 396 outfits!!!! Now, doesn't that sound so much better than 8 outfits?
4. Be aware of the climate in your mission. No matter what the weather is going to be like, prepare for the heat, and then layer in the cold. So, on the hottest day of the year, you should have a lightweight dress that doesn't require any layering tee underneath or cardigan over top. Same with your tops & skirts. Then, when the colder weather hits, you can just layer underneath (hello, wool thermals!) and over top with cardigans, jackets & coats. Seems pretty simple, but really important to think about when putting things together. FYI: If you have anything that needs a layering tee underneath...I recommend Half Tees. They give you the coverage that you need, but are not long & bulky & still keep you cool.
5. Don't be afraid of color & patterns! I don't want you to think that because I am telling you that everything should match, that you can only take solid basics. Basics are great and you definitely should take some, but add some color and different patterns into the mix. Gone are the days that Sisters need to wear all black, brown, grey & navy. So go ahead and take that fun floral dress & those red shoes!
6. Mix your patterns. Out of necessity & desperation, sister missionaries have been mixing patterns long before it was the "cool" thing to do! The longer you are out in the field, the more adventurous you get in your outfit combinations. Try getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to your outfits. You might be thrilled with the outcome and become quite the fashionista!
7. Comfort! When choosing what pieces to take with you, consider all of the activities that you will be doing as a missionary. You'll be doing lots of walking, biking, and sometimes running! (I feel like I did this more than I walked- we ran after public transportation, to appointments, to the apartment when we were late at night, etc). You'll also be hopping in and out of vehicles, sitting on the floor to teach, climbing stairs, and so much more. So when thinking about all of that, ask yourself: do my clothing choices provide maximum comfort? Is my skirt long enough when sitting? It is comfortable to run in that dress? Will my shirt stay tucked in while biking? The clothing guidelines for sisters are not there just for modesty, but comfort and ease too. Remember that as you pack!
8. SHOES. I could talk about mission shoes for days on end, but I will try to keep it short & sweet. To be be honest....I took the worst shoes. Ever. I decided that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on shoes, so I just picked up 4 pairs from Payless (Yes, it kills me to admit it). I wore out 3 of those pairs by the end of my FIRST transfer. We walked so much and worked so hard and I wore them until some women in my ward brought me shoes to church one Sunday cause she had noticed the awful state of my shoes the week before. It was humiliating. Throughout the entirety of my mission, I went through 13 pairs of shoes. Yup, it was a nightmare. I would usually spend what little P-day time we had buying new shoes. I spent way more money buying new shoes on my mission than I would have if I had just bought nice, durable shoes in the first place. Plus, my feet always hurt so bad. I still remember crying myself to sleep because of the pain, and I still suffer from some permanent damage in the my feet because of the shoes I wore. So here is my advice: Spend the money to get good shoes. You need arch support. You need a good thick sole (preferably Rubber or Polyurethane). And you need to have a strap to hold your feet in- most of my foot damage is in the tendon of my big toe from flexing it to keep my shoe on my foot. And if you are serving in a walking mission and/or out of the country, pack an extra pair or two, cause it will be hard (& expensive & time-consuming) to get more while you are out. My recommendation is Dansko. To check them out click here.
9. Keep this in mind while getting everything ready: The less, physically & temporally, that you have to worry about on your mission, the more work you can get done. You are going out the serve the Lord and be His representative, so do as much beforehand to eliminate distractions, so you can be the best you can be!!!
Whew! I know that this is a lot of information just thrown at you, but this is important stuff and it really makes a difference in how comfortable & effective you are for the next 18 months!
I hope this helps you as you prepare to begin your wonderful journey as a missionary!