Joan Crawford interspersed advice on sophisticated living with autobiography in 1971's My Way of Life. There is a fun chapter on travel, a subject in which Crawford was an expert. As a board member and goodwill ambassador for Pepsi Cola, she traversed the globe.
The job required her to headline official functions and be the guest of honor at cocktail parties. That meant traveling with countless pieces of luggage, with formal wear for the evening and dignified clothes for daytime. Whatever the event, however, those attending expected to meet a glamorous Hollywood film star. Crawford did not disappoint. Household organization, as daughter Christina reminded us, was one of Crawford's fervent pursuits. She instituted a system that made travel go smoothly, which she outlined in her book.
Step 1: Make Lists
Before getting my suitcases and hatboxes up from the storage room I make a list of the number and kinds of costumes I’ll need and then go through my closets.
Step 2: Dress Rehersal
I try on everything to make sure it fits perfectly. I already know its spotless because nothing goes back into the closet until it is.
I always pack in daylight. In artificial light when I’m in a hurry it’s too easy to grab the wrong accessories and find myself in Kansas City or San Juan with a hot pink dress and a shocking pink hat—and that’s a catastrophe.
Step 4: King Cotton
I love preshrunk cottons for traveling. Mamacita can wash and press them overnight—another space-saving trick.
The dresses are put into the suitcases on their hangers, with the gloves pinned to them, still in their plastic bags. The accessories are placed right next to the dresses they go with.
Step 6: Hat Packing
My hats go into their own boxes. The cases are so big that the final assembling is done in the hall.
Step 7: Joan--Fourteen; Mamacita--One
At the end, Mamacita and I have twelve to fifteen pieces of luggage between us—mostly mine. On arrival, everything is whisked out and hung up.