Packing for Europe: What Not to Do -or- Panic at the Mall

I think in the interests of trust, I have to admit something to you. I may be a packing ninja, but that doesn't stop me from panicking just before a trip. I tell you this also because I'll bet it has or will happen to you sometime. It's not a totally bad thing, I made some pretty sweet scores today. If I'm shopping on a normal day, I'm not usually driven to find what I need. As I'm leaving tomorrow, I'm pretty focused. I also had my two sons with me shopping, which required even more focus and less time.So here's what happened. In the midst of packing and documenting my process for later posts, it became clear to me that I absolutely hated every piece of clothing I own. Well, that's not exactly true, but that's how it felt. Something was missing. The clothes I had set aside all fit into my criteria which I discussed yesterday. But the gods had not smiled on my choices somehow, I could feel it. So I did the worst thing possible, I went to the mall. Once at the mall, I employed my best strategy. Only buy things from the clearance rack. Buying expensive things for travel has only made me sad. Clothes have a hard time surviving long in my world. Either my clothes get stained, worn, stolen or ripped beyond use, or I just can't stand to see them again after 4 months of the same outfits every day. So I buy cheap things I won't stress out about. I've thrown shirts away before (always white shirts, by the way) because I couldn't get the pasta sauce or wine out of them. Lesson learned-buy cheap stuff from the clearance rack and never bring anything white.This isn't to say that I don't have my long-standing favorites. I absolutely do. My zip-ankle jeans from Old Navy are light, comfy and turn into capris in a pinch. My black cashmere cardigan will always be in my bag. I have a dozen basics that I'll chronicle later which are always there and I always feel good about.At the moment, what I really want is something specific. Beige pants that don't look like khakis. A super light long-sleeved top. A skirt since my old ones are all a little too worn out to look respectable. And dresses. My personal crusade to find the perfect travel dress. That's another topic I'll cover later.Maybe you are curious about what the damage was? My panic shopping this morning actually worked out pretty well. I found a perfect pair of beige linen pants at Old Navy for $13, and my son even combed the racks for a pair in Tall- score! Other finds are a long sleeved tshirt for layering, inexpensive ankle socks, dress, skirt, and....a white tank top. Yeah, I just said that I'm a disaster with white. But I can't help myself, white goes with everything! No worries though, it was from the clearance rack for $5. If I get 5 days worth of use out of it, I'll call it a success. What is the lesson to take from my panic? Pack well ahead. I suggest at least two weeks. Sort through everything on occasion and take something out. Take your bag for a walk and see how the weight works for you. Have your best friend come over a few days before departure and critique your selections.  But above all, if you panic and go shopping at the last minute, buy cheap stuff and keep in mind that panic is totally normal. Even the pros do it.