How to Travel Like a Supermodel

Joan Smalls x W Hotels
Photo: Courtesy W Hotels

The holiday season is upon us, and that means family time, heaps of Thanksgiving food, and one necessary evil: travel.

While traveling (and packing specifically) can be a headache for many, just because you’re jet-setting doesn’t mean you have to leave fashion by the wayside. Just ask Joan Smalls. The supermodel is such a pro at looking polished and poised right off a plane that W Hotels partnered with her to create an “Off Duty” closet collection inspired by her.

Seven emerging designers created pieces using Joan Smalls’s style as inspiration, and the results are impressive. They include Smalls’s hand-picked looks for an on-the-go woman, but that’s not even the best part. All the brands involved are fronted by women, and on top of it, Smalls is donating her portion of the proceeds to Puerto Rican disaster relief—and W hotels is matching it. Talk about a win-win.

“Joan and I came up with words that would describe her style: urban, feminine, and tomboy. She’s really very consistent in a picture from 2007 to 2017 because she always looks like herself when she’s off the runway,” said “Off Duty” Creative Director Sarah Easley. “She always has a cool leather moto jacket or distressed denim, and broken down it’s pretty simple pieces, but they fit her perfectly and then she does really feminine makeup and hair, so it’s a balanced look.”

You can shop the "Off Duty" pieces here, but before you do, check out our interview with Smalls below to hear her tips on how to travel like a supermodel, how to pack for specific abroad locations, and why she’s donating her portion of the project's proceeds to Puerto Rican hurricane relief.

What’s your go-to street style piece?
I always have a relaxed jean, like a baggy jean. I feel like that looks sexy on a woman, like that boyfriend cut. It always looks sexy when a woman wears heels with them because it’s a good balance of her feeling empowered that not everything has to be super tight because she’s still in her own. I think that’s my go-to piece all the time.

What's the best packing travel tip that you ever got?
Go with neutrals. It’s easier to mix and match when you pack neutrals like blacks, grays, blues. Or pops of red sometimes.

When it comes to earrings or ear cuffs, layering jewelry pieces can make something more interesting, even if it’s a white T-shirt.

Do you have a favorite accessory?
I like ear cuffs. When your hair is pulled back, I feel like ear cuffs are like extending your ear, and it’s just a cute detail.

In general, when you’re packing for abroad destinations, what do you reach for?
It’s just about packing smart. Making sure that everything is versatile and you can reuse pieces and make it look like a whole new outfit the whole time.

I don’t like checking a bag because I love getting off of a plane, straight into a car to my destination, so I make sure to put some thought into what I’m packing.

VIDEO: Get That Look: Joan Smalls's Silvery Smokey Eye

What motivated you to donate your portion of proceeds to Puerto Rican hurricane relief?
When a natural disaster happens, everyone tends to give money without receiving something, and when you shop you might feel guilty. So feeling like there’s a backstory, that this is going to a good place and a good cause, people are more willing and less guilty of spending money when you’re buying something for yourself or a loved one.

Puerto Rico is my home. It’s where my family is, and it’s where I grew up, and it’s going to be at the forefront of whatever I do. In whatever capacity I can, I’ll help. It’s always going to be there.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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