For our Packing List series, designers and more women we love open their suitcases to show us how they prepare (and what they bring) for their far-flung adventures.
“I spend the majority of the year on the road and living out of my suitcase,” says MIKOH co-founder Kalani Miller, “so every day feels like an adventure.” The sentiment is evident in Miller’s swim and clothing collection, which she started with her sister Oleema Miller, who is also the brand’s designer. Think: Versatile, surf friendly two pieces in a variety of sexy/cool silhouettes, easy coverups, and island-inspired graphic tees.
The sisters were born and raised in California, and basically have the sea in their DNA—a trait they channel into their beach-centric brand. To wit: A tropical-print MIKOH bikini is just what you’ll want to wear when on the hunt for the next great surf break. And because any time should be island time, the Millers opened up their suitcases and showed InStyle what they bring along to Tahiti, one of their favorite surfside destinations.
Read on for the sisters’ chic (and extensive) packing lists!
How many bags?
Oleema: I always try my best to follow the baggage allowance, but I tend to usually come home with an extra bag. I am a self-proclaimed shopaholic, though not proud of it. I always travel with my rolling carry on and check-in a matching bag that I’ve covered with stickers collected through my travels. The key is to make your bag stand out enough that you can always keep an eye on it. I love Samsonite Carbon bags as they’re ultra lightweight and hard sided; they keep items inside extra safe and dry.
Kalani: I always have one large check-in bag and switch between a Samsonite hardcase and a soft case from the surf accessories brand, Electric. The only piece that never changes is my trusty carry on. I have a four-wheel dark navy blue carry on from CalPak. It has a separate spot just for my computer in the front so it is easy access for going through security.
Over-packer or under-packer?
Oleema: Serial over-packer. Each New Year’s I promise myself I’ll get better. You’d have thought I’d learn my lesson by now, but I’m constantly convinced I need 16 pairs of shoes and at least 6 pairs of jeans.
Kalani: I made a New Year’s resolution a couple of years ago to keep my bag under the weight limit. I try to keep to it, but my bag somehow always finds its way a pound or two over. I keep a lightweight duffle or room in my carry on for overweight moments.
What’s in the bag?
Oleema: A MIKOH Maili Caftan, Nili Lotan’s silk maxi tank dresses, DVF color blocked maxi dresses, Bassike’s easy cotton throw-on dresses, and March 11 embroidered mini dresses.
Kalani: I always bring the MIKOH Corsica dress–it’s perfect for Tahiti.
Oleema: I’m obsessed with Re/Done denim cutoff shorts and Citizens of Humanity Liya high-waisted jeans. Amo makes the perfect boyfriend jeans and also Iro for a fun, patterned pair of shorts.
Kalani: I always have the Liya High Rise jeans from Citizens of Humanity with me. They have a vintage cut and are the softest things I have ever worn. For shorts, I have a pair of Ksubi shorts that have been around the world. Also, you can’t go wrong with a pair of vintage Levi shorts.
Oleema: Isabel Marant has the best linen t-shirts—I pack one in every color no matter what, Helmut Lang sleeveless silk tank tops, and bright, statement blouses from Chloé and MIKOH graphic tees.
Kalani: I like to have a flowy Chloé top that you can wear with a pair of jean shorts for that perfect island casual look.
Oleema: For shoes, I bring Chloé’s velvet slides, Saint Laurent’s crisp white sneakers, and Alaia’s silver and suede grommet sandals. A good pair of Ancient Greek Sandals slides are usually what I end up wearing every single day.
Kalani: I like to have a pair of black Havaianas in my bag at all times—perfect for jumping on a boat, running to the lobby, or walking across a hot beach.
Oleema: For bags, I bring my bright blue Goyard tote to pack all my beach essentials, an everyday black and classic Chanel WOC, my old faithful Givenchy shark jaw clutch, and my Céline trio for day to day excursions.
Kalani: I just picked up a bright yellow Chloé bag— The Hudson mini suede cross body. Another essential would be the trio from Celine. The bag fits a surprising amount of goodies. I also always have a canvas tote for throwing in wet bikinis and snacks, and I like the MIKOH Mako tote bag.
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Oleema: MIKOH’s Alapio, Belize, and Carmel tops and Lahaina and Kaena bottoms are my favorites and essentials in a bikini wardrobe. I love the simplicity of our suits and how they easily and seamlessly double as lingerie or workout tops.
Kalani: I love to mix it up with swim but always find myself coming back to my favorite MIKOH basics. The Belize top is an absolute essential. I also love the Alapio top or the Bangkok top for when I’m feeling like I need sun protection on my chest. I tend to wear smaller bottoms, so my favorite MIKOH cuts are the Praia or Manoa.
Oleema: I love Janessa Leone for a good basic Panama or straw hat or a Yosuzi straw hat to give a more basic look some life.
Kalani: Our mom always told me growing up to never leave the house without a hat and I have stood by that. My L.A. Dodgers hat has become my go-to! I picked it up at LAX on the way to Fiji a couple years ago. I also love a big Panama hat.
Oleema: I always pack SALT sunglasses, Céline sunnies for more of a fun look, way too many fun statement earrings (Marni, Céline, and Jennifer Fisher are always go-tos), and a huge MIKOH sarong that doubles as a blanket, wrap, or a sun shield.
Kalani: I love mixing it up with earrings, like Jennifer Fisher’s Orb drop or Tusk earrings. I also have a charm necklace that has been accumulating some of my favorite things and charms from around the world.
What's in your carryon?
Oleema: I have a men’s Balenciaga black carry on that I am obsessed with. I am super OCD when it comes to what I bring on the plane. I can’t leave home without my Bose noise cancelling headphones, a huge oversized sweatshirt, sliced celery and carrot sticks, hand sanitizer from Whole Foods, antibacterial hand wipes (which I use to clean the entire area around me like a weirdo), comfy and thick socks, Natura Bisse eye cream, and Caudalie hydrating mist to use throughout the flight. I always get a big bottle of water and a salad once I’m through security.
Kalani: I carry on a four-wheel roller with a tote on the top of it. I switch between a backpack and tote, especially when I am traveling with my dog, Action, and need the extra hands. I like the Marc Jacobs nylon backpack so I can throw it into the wash when I feel it’s been dragged across one too many airport floors. I am excited to see the Stella McCartney backpacks that are all made out of recyclable materials. My essentials in my carry on include my cameras, I have a Sony RX100 IV that is the perfect point and shoot. I also have a Contax 35mm and my on-flight beauty essentials which are basically a mini facial on the go.
What’s in your beauty bag?
Oleema: I’ve had the same nylon Prada beauty bag for as long as I can remember. I can’t leave home without my Phyto-C Selenium in C serum, Natura Bisse Diamond eye cream, Elta MD Tinted sunscreen (I swear by this product) for my skin regimen. For makeup, I love Chantecaille Future Skin Gel Foundation, Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, Cle De Peau concealer, and Glossier’s highlighting bronzer stick. I love a good pop of lip when traveling in the tropics, and Urban Decay and Rodin make the prettiest bright pinks.
Kalani: I have two zippy bags that have all my beauty essentials for the plane. One for skincare which has a Caudalie mist, the Beauty Elixir, that I always have on me. I have a hydrating eye cream and a good on plane moisturizer from Derma E. The hunt continues for the perfect in-flight, deep hydrating mask though. I love a statement lip, like Urban Decay’s bright red matte lipstick Bad Blood. I like the Elta MD sunscreen and always make sure my chest is coated. I also love the Natio rose water toner from Australia. I swear by toner!
What's your ideal airplane outfit?
Oleema: I am obsessed with Bassike’s comfy track pants, and James Perse oversized sweatshirts are my go-to. A must-have is a huge oversized hood to pull over my head and eyes to block out any light. Comfy socks are one of the first things I put on when I get on the plane, and a simple cashmere sweater is the perfect layer—I love The Row’s cashmere. I also always bring a leather jacket to be able to throw on my lap mid-flight if I get chilly and to wear off the plane.
Kalani: I always have a good pair of track pants, like Stella McCartney’s cotton jersey track pants, or an uber-cozy pair like James Perse’s cotton terry sweats. I like to mix it up with my shoes, but tend to wear sneakers in case the airport has a lot of walking. On top, I always wear a dark colored tee shirt and a leather jacket or a denim jacket and layer it with a hoodie underneath so that I can pull it over my head and sleep. I love the new Gucci embroidered sweatshirts with the tiger details.