Packing for Paris – or Anywhere
In just a few weeks I leave for my yearly sabbatical to France.
I used to be a delayed gratification girl – you know, celebrate after the journey is done and the war’s been won (rah, rah). I waited to go to Paris for years as the prize for some unnamed accomplishment. But life has taught me that not all journeys end up where you plan, and not all wars are won, at least not in the way you expected. And so now I’m more of an instant gratification person. Or in true French style, a continual gratification person.
I believe pleasure comes in three phases – the joy of anticipation, the joy of doing the thing, and the joy of celebrating fond memories – and I want to milk them all to the max.
Part of the joy of anticipating travel for me is planning what to wear on the trip. It’s an opportunity to leave the work clothes and stay at home clothes behind and splurge on a little creativity. And while Paris is the fashion capital of the world, packing for Paris is surprisingly simple because the basic capsule wardrobe is simple.
This year’s trip is a little different, spending 3 or 4 days traveling around the Dordogne Valley before wrapping up the trip with 4 days in Paris. It’s early fall so the weather will be cool but not cold, and as always there will be some rain.
For this trip, here’s the basic capsule wardrobe I’ll be bringing –
- Two pairs of jeans – black velvet and denim (dress up, dress down)
- Ivory wool trousers
- Black boat neck sweater
- Black cashmere turtleneck sweater
- Tan V-neck cashmere sweater
- LBD (‘cuz you gotta)
- T-shirts (drapey V-neck, great under a leather jacket)
- Trench coat (of course)
- Leather jacket
- An assortment of scarves
Everything I am packing goes with everything else, so that my basic 3 pairs of pants, 3 sweaters and a few T-shirts, along with scarves and outerwear, turn into about 150 different looks (ok, maybe I exaggerate a little) which leaves room for shopping.
Here are some tips for being prepared for Paris – or anywhere:
Try on everything in advance.
It’s very disappointing to envision an outfit in virtual reality and then find out too late that it doesn’t work in real reality, as I’ve experienced before. In my mind, this jacket, that dress and those shoes might work perfectly, but putting them all together in the real world can be a different story.
I remember a trip a few years ago when, after a few months of working to drop a few pounds, I excitedly packed my favorite jeans and casual clothes that I didn’t get to wear often (I was living in business clothes most of the time), only to discover that everything I had brought was now too big. I know, I know “boo hoo, poor you, you lost weight” (insert eyeroll). But seriously, I had one pair of pants that sort of fit for the entire week.
Try on the outfits you want to wear with the shoes and all the accessories, and make sure you’re satisfied and ready to strike out with French-woman confidence. Plus it’s like playing dress-up.
Be casual. But not too casual.
French women walk. A lot. So flat, comfortable shoes are a must. But as I’ve said before, gym shoes should only be worn to the gym. On the other hand, a cute fashion sneaker is one of the most flexible wardrobe items you can own. They work great with casual clothes or can be juxtaposed with almost any kind of dress or trouser. Ballet flats, loafers and comfortable boots/booties are great choices too.
Jeans are a wardrobe staple for the Parisian woman, but not all jeans are created equal and it is important to know what jeans are flattering for your body type. Here’s a style guide to help you out. Try on several different brands to find the one that flatters you most.
|If you have||Try|
|Wide hips||Boot cut jeans to balance out the hips by giving a longer straight line.|
|Flat or small bottom||Mid-rise jeans with larger pockets or extra pocket detail, sculpting jeans.|
|Thick thighs||Straight-leg jeans or boyfriend jeans, to allow a more relaxed fit.|
|Tummy troubles||Mid to high-rise jeans to provide added support and minimize lines.|
|Short legs||High-waist skinny jeans gives the illusion of longer legs by creating a longer vertical line.|
|Plus size body||Darker rinse denim in a straight leg, or trouser style.|
|Petite body||Slim boot cut or skinnies.|
|Tall, slender body||Wear whatever you want, just don’t stand near me.|
Don’t worry about wearing your jeans multiple days – they will actually last longer if you wash them less. I’ve heard of recommendations to wash jeans as little as once every 6 months! That’s not for me, I’m just sayin’…
And a few final necessities.
A travel umbrella, because it always rains when you least expect it.
Band-aids, because you don’t want your day ruined by a blister.
Any ointments or medicines you may use for allergies (Claritin, etc.), because you never know.
Zip-lock bags for anything that could leak.
We’ve got some great destinations planned and I am looking forward to sharing them with you in the coming weeks. If you’re planning a trip to France and need some ideas, please email me!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
Bonjour! Je suis Kelley
Hi, I’m Kelley – thrower of parties, drinker of wine, and lover of all things French. I hope you enjoy my Lessons in Becoming French!