What to Pack for Paris

That’s it! You booked your airplane ticket and a cute B&B room… You get your special copy of « MyParis », the strolling e-guide that avoids you from losing time in uninteresting crowded touristic places…

Paris « Capitale de la Monde », here you are!

One question arises then: what should you pack in your luggage to feel as a perfect Parisian insider?

Do you need a « béret« ? A sailor stripes tee-shirt? A long evening dress?

Here are my 5 packing tips so you won’t wear one of these « cliché » outfits that grow on the net and just pack the right adequate clothes for an amazing Paris trip.

By the way, if you want to travel chic and comfortable, I think these tips also work for any  fashionable capital city (New-York, Rome, Milano, London, Madrid, Barcelone… sorry for the ones I forget!), except maybe for the choice of neutral colors that is really so Parisian!

 

1/ What NOT to pack:

– Really small shorts (or skirt): « Paris Plage » isn’t really a beach and you don’t want to be followed by sexual perverts in the Metro.

– Leggings wore as pants

– Large 3/4 cropped pants, especially those multi-pockets lace-trimmed ones

– Any sport or hiking clothes as gym pants, fleece jackets, ski jackets, rain coats…

– Lots of flashy colors worn together

– Too showy labeled clothes (as clothes with big labels on it or the whole outfit of a high brand…)

What to pack to Paris

Too much of Burberry?…

What to pack to ParisWhat to pack to Paris

– Except for an evening, any bag that you have to carry on your elbow or in your hand: you’ll get too tired

– Fanny pack, (we call them « bananes » – bananas in French :). You can eventually use a thin one underneath your clothes to secure your passport or cash.

– Sporty backpack

– Hiking shoes

– Exercise sneakers

– Plastic or nurse sandals, flip-flops or (even worse) crocks…

– Evening or cocktail dress. Unless you’re get invited at a very formal event, don’t pack them for a night in Paris. Actually, if you wear an evening dress or a gown in a bar or in a restaurant, you might be looked at as overdressed

– 12cm heel pumps: or maybe if you plan a very special evening (but don’t forget that they’re a lot of paved streets in Paris…)

 

2/Pack some comfortable and elegant basic clothes

Chose them in neutral colors: this is what Parisian women wear and you will easily mix them together

– 1 jeans (even in Summer take a dark color one: it will stay clean longer than a white one)  + 1 pants as a chino for instance (and don’t forget to roll up the hems like below)

What to pack to Paris

– A skirt or a printed dress (one you can walk with) or elegant short pants for the daytime

– Blouses or shirts (also roll-up the sleeves)

– Loose T-shirts

– One or 2 cardigans, pullovers or sweatshirts

– A trench (for Spring or Summer), a coat or a stylish parka (for Fall or Winter)

What to pack to Paris

Duffle coat from Urban Outfitters

What to pack to Paris

Parka from Maje

 

– A navy blue blazer / a jean jacket / a leather jacket or a black woman tuxedo (you can both wear these, day and night)

 

What to pack to Paris

Leather jacket Urban Outfitters

What to pack to Paris

Black tuxedo jacket from Maje

What to pack to Paris

Jean Jacket from Urban Outfitters

What to pack to Paris

Leather jacket in Vestiaire Collective

Vestiaire Collective


– A dress for the evening: but keep it simple, Parisian women are barely overdressed

What to pack to Paris

This Urban Outfitters dress is perfect both for a strolling during the day or for a night out

Dressing French chic

Comptoir des Cotonniers printed dress

What to wear for a night out in Paris

Most of Parisian women don’t wear super fancy dresses when they go out at night.

Just add an « evening touch » to your daytime outfit as a black tuxedo jacket, an elegant lightly transparent blouse, a sequin top, a pouch, or a few sophisticated accessories + a colored lipstick. That will perfectly do.

You also can match feminine clothes with masculine ones : pants with high heels, a tuxedo jacket or a blazer with a skirt, a black leather jacket with a dress…

Same for bars and clubs: girls are sexy in a subtle way.
If you wear short bodycon dress + high heels + heavy makeup, you take the risk of being considered as tacky …

Always remember the essence of French alluring: being sexy AND chic at the same time. Here are 5 tips to help.

 

3/ Add urban walking shoes

– If they are stylish, sneakers are an option. Vintage style ones are even more trendy. Check for New balance, Stan Smith, Converse, Nike etc… but not the one you use for exercising (generally thick and in fluo colors).

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Sneaker from Brooks

collection-new-balance-comptoir-des-cotonniers

collection-new-balance-comptoir-des-cotonniers

 

 

– Any kind of nice flat shoes: boots, low boots, oxfords, chelseas, derbies, loafers, mocassins, ballerinas, leather sandals, etc.  Avoid the brand new ones that might hurt your feet… they have to be chic AND comfortable.

 

What to pack to Paris

Boots Mellow Yellow

What to pack to Paris

Boots Urban Outfitters

What to pack to Paris

Derby Minelli

Wedge or large heels if they are comfortable enough to walk with.

 

What to pack to Paris

Wedge sandal from Spartoo.com

What to pack to Paris

picture from Urban Outfitters

4/. Think about a good shoulder bag

Large enough to carry all your stuff (plus the ones you’ll certainly add during the day), comfortable enough to be carried around and classy enough to be stylish. Just as for shoes, a stylish bag really make the difference!

Comfortable bag = light (can be in leather, fabric or good nylon), worn on the shoulders or crossbody.

 Bags found on Urban Outfitters

 What to pack to Paris  urban2What to pack to Paris

 

If you take only one, choose it in a color that’ll match all your outfits and can be worn both day and night (or you can also add an elegant evening pouch for the night out)

Pouch found on Accessorize

What to pack to ParisWhat to pack to Paris

 

Don’t forget to add a cotton tote bag inside your day bag just in case you need to carry more :)

This one come from Etsy

 

What to pack to Paris

 

 

5/. Pack a few accessories

They are small and light in the luggage and they easily add some style at any outfit!

– Different jewels for daytime or a night out. Avoid the gold/pearl or any valuable jewellery that you inherited from your mom or grandma… you don’t want to be sorry if you get to lose them.

Some costume jewelry will perfectly do (these are coming from www.accessorize.com)

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– A scarf (winter or summer: always useful),you can even wear it in your hairs

– Beanie and gloves if it’s winter

– Different kind of belt (large and thin)

– An umbrella (Paris is often wet)

 

Think about changing  your make-up and hairdressing habits

Parisian women wear light make-up: nude foundation + black mascara+a little of pink blush + beige pink gloss  will do. Add a red lipstick for the evening.

Et Voila!

For your hair,  if they are long,  tie them in a nice way (a loose ponytail or a bun) or  if your are under 30 ys you can wear a nice headband. In any case (even if you go out at night), forget the perfect blow-dry and the styling products as hairspray or wax. Let your hairs move naturally.

What to pack to Paris What to pack to Paris

 

And to summarize just always keep those two bits of advice in mind:

always elegant, even during the day
never overdressed or oversexy, even at night

All set for your next trip?

 

 

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18 Comments

  1. Cecile – I love your emails and I am 68 yrs old, petite with long hair and I am always told I look French but not always sympathetic to how to dress French style – some suggestions for my age category please would be much appreciated.

    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elisabeth,

      I’ve planned to write soon about this subject. Keep posted ;)

      • Once again a dilemma – UK fashion is showing the long cardigan for Autumn – how do I (5ft 2inch tall and weight 50kilos) wear this without swamping me and what should I wear with it?

        Thanks Cecile I value your suggestions highly.
        Elizabeth

        • Hi Elizabeth,
          If you have a clearly defined waist, you can try to wear it with a belt. But my best advice will be: just ignore this fashion trend!… go for something else that suits you, rather short or just under your hips!

  2. You’ve done a great job! All bases was covered. The total look sounds effortlessly chic. It’s great to stick with essentials when packing. Thanks Cecile!

  3. Thanks!This is wonderful advice for woman the world over. I wish more American woman would dress like this in their daily lives.

  4. Thank you Cecile. I always look forward to your blog. I love the clothes you choose. I am 57 years young and prefer the Parisian style. I’ve learned a few fashion sites from you that I have used. Ideas for the seasons – how to update a look or look your best during Fall/Winter would be great. Thanks. Wishing you all the best.

  5. interesting and useful tips.

    by the end of this month i will visit paris the second time and travel further to south france. from my last trip i realized there is no way walking around paris with silhouette heel (either high or low) but i was lucky enough to pack in a pair of low heel ankle boots.

    This time i would like to add a bit more of feminine to my outfit (more one-piece dresses) since i am going to meet the parents of my husband. do you have any idea what kind of shoes i could walk in while add a bit raise to my height (yes, i am petite…)?

    thanks in advance.

    • Hi Yao,
      I think you could add a pair of wedges (with thin straps, so you don’t have « heavy » feet) or shoes with square heels. In France, these flat but high heels derbies are very popular too. They are very convenient but easier to wear with pants than dresses…(except if you have thin legs). Boots (like those) instead of ankle boots can be an option too.
      I wish you the best in France (and with your husband parents ;-) !)

  6. Cecile
    Already you have helped to make a difference with subtle changes I have made. Can you believe it – compliments are coming my way – not « NICE » as previously but glamorous and happy (I am smiling) x

  7. Hello! This is a great article, thanks! I love leggings, but am unsure how best to wear them, especially since you said not to wear as pants. Can you offer some advice? I am 5’3 and very petite. Thanks!

    • Thanks Nicole, You can wear leggings with a long shirt, a long pull or sweat or a tunic. But beware that it’s not too long, if you’re petite ;)

  8. Hello! I love your post! You provided us with so much helpful information, about what and how to pack. I am so glad to find it. Thanks for sharing

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