Are you wondering what to pack for Paris this summer? I've got you covered. Read on to learn how to pack for a trip to Paris. Find out what to wear and what to avoid in The City of Love. Scroll down to get your Paris Packing list.
What to Wear in Paris
The first thing I do when planning outfits for a client's trip is research the weather. You need to do this too. Fortunately, Paris experiences mild summers. Highs hover around 70-75 degrees. Of course, there's always a chance for rain or a day over 80. Plan to bring a light jacket and breathable clothing.
For such temperate weather, you need to be prepared. Think versatility. You may be cold in the evenings and hot during the day.
The Parisian locals tend to dress up more than Americans. If you want to look like you belong, stick to classic, tailored pieces in neutral colors. For this list, we'll be working with a palette of black, white, blush pink, and olive green,
What Jackets to BriNG TO Paris
The reality is it will probably rain at least one day of your trip. Plan accordingly. Pack a light trench or raincoat in black, tan, or my personal favorite, clear. Add in another light jacket and a cardigan so you're prepared for breezy days and chilly nights.
Tops You'll Need in Paris
A classic white button-down can be paired with jeans, pants, or skirts. It looks great layered under a sweater or worn with a scarf. Since it's such a versatile piece, I highly recommend bringing one on your trip. Bring another button-down in a shade of blush or baby blue. Or, add another faux-neutral that pairs well with your travel capsule.
In addition to the two button-downs, bring 2-3 nice tops in breathable fabric like linen, cotton, or silk. Paris is not the place for cheap polyester.
Also, bring 2-3 chic t-shirts. Try something with a whimsical print or cheeky graphic. Skip the French words though. C'est très cliché.
What Pants and Skirts to Pack for Paris
While Parisian style is dressier than American, the French still love their jeans. Pack a pair of dark-wash jeans and medium wash boyfriend jeans. Slim-cut pants in black, navy, or grey are also a great choice.
If you're a dress-wearing gal, go ahead and pack a sundress or two. You could also throw in a mid-length skirt.
Avoid wearing leggings or shorts. In Paris, these aren't considered appropriate unless you're at the pool or gym.
What Dresses to Pack for Paris
You'll want to pack 1-2 day dresses as well as 1-2 evening dresses, depending on your itinerary and length of stay.
Accessories You'll Need in Paris
Parisians love their accessories. Don't be shy about packing scarves and earrings. Here's what you'll want to bring:
What Shoes to Pack for Paris
Though Paris is known for haute couture, it's necessary to pack comfortable shoes. Like most old European cities, people travel by foot on cobblestone streets. They use public transit en masse. When you're packing for Paris, remember you'll be spending each day walking for miles. And, you won't have a chance to change your footwear.
Four different clients have confessed that they bought outrageously expensive, hideously ugly shoes in the middle of Paris. Why? Because their feet were so uncomfortable in the shoes they'd brought from home. They couldn't take it anymore. Of course, now they have me to help plan their trip-packing. We avoid such shopping emergencies.
As I always say, you don't need to be frumpy to be comfortable. You'll need stylish walking shoes. In addition to your flats and sneakers, bring one pair of fabulous booties for nights on the town. No matter how chic, sneakers don't feel right at a nightclub. Skip the stilettos because Paris is full of cobblestone streets. See below for my exact shoe recommendations.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR IN PARIS
Sometimes style comes from what you don't wear. As you may have noticed, the blog post is littered with advice on clothing to avoid wearing in Paris. To review, don't bring flip-flops, active wear, stilettos, leggings, or uncomfortable shoes. None of these will work in Paris.
Further, don't wear camo print while visiting the City of Love. Though it's fashionable in the US, in Europe camouflage is reserved for military duty.
On another note, don't be cliche. Skip the berets and tees with French sayings.
Paris Fashion Faux Pas: What Not to Wear
As with any trip, don't bring valuable jewelry. Don't bring anything with sentimental value. These things are better kept safe and sound at home.
And, whatever you do, don't wear sweatpants in Paris.
Below you'll find my packing list for a Parisian Summer. If you want the printable version, get the PDF here.
PACKING LIST: SUMMER IN PARIS
LINGERIE AND LOUNGEWEAR
Shopping suggestions: Summer in Paris
Check your closet before you go shopping for your Paris trip. You may find you've got plenty of the essentials already covered. And, if you get to Paris and find you don't have what you need? You're in the fashion capital of the world. Go shopping! Comme c'est merveilleux!
Despite what you may have heard, for most of us, a 33 piece wardrobe is actually not a good idea. A few years ago, the idea of a very limited, easily mixable wardrobe took the world by storm. I'm not sure where the 33 items rule originated. Yet, it is by far the most common standard I hear from people who discuss capsule wardrobes. Of course, there are certain occasions when a person can be successful with a capsule wardrobe, like during pregnancy, travel, or some other temporary circumstance. Further, there are the die hard minimalists out there who feel even 33 pieces is excessive. For those situations, creating a capsule wardrobe is ideal. For the vast majority of us, however, the capsule wardrobe is unlikely to be successful. Why? There are a lot of reasons. Let's get real.
You have a job (with a dress code).
Sure, you can get a pair of white skinny jeans and a chambray shirt, but what are you going to wear to work? Say you swing the other way and throw out all your casual clothes and your 33 pieces are just ten different work outfits. Good luck going to Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a Sunday and not being mistaken for a real estate agent. Enjoy going to the beach in your sensible heels and shift dress. Clearly, a capsule wardrobe is suited best to someone who can wear the same thing for home, work, and play.
You have hobbies.
If you lead a very active lifestyle, you may need specific clothing for a beloved hobby. If you enjoy surfing, hiking, ballroom dance, yoga, or any other hobby that requires you to wear something other than jeans and a t-shirt, you're going to need more clothes than a typical capsule wardrobe allows.
Laundry is not your idea of a good time.
If you've only got 6 shirts, I hope you love spending your free time doing laundry! If you're like me, with two little kids, I know you're doing laundry everyday anyway, so this may not bother you. This is not the case for most of my clients. They are older than me and gladly out of the dirty kids clothes phase. They all tell me they prefer to do laundry as little as possible. Personally, I can't wait to get to the phase of my life where laundry is only a weekly chore.
You don't want to look like everyone else.
Once, I heard someone describe capsule wardrobes as Ikea dressing because everyone looked the same. There was no originality. Like everybody in college has the same Ikea coffee table and sofa, all of the capsule-wardrobe evangelists tend to have the same boyfriend jeans and striped Breton tee. I am falling asleep just thinking about it.
You will be bored.
If you're the type of person who reads about fashion (you must be--you're reading this blog right now) or enjoys shopping at all, you will tire of your capsule wardrobe in about an hour. You will have a weird feeling of deprivation, followed quickly by a strong urge to shop. Additional side effects include spending too much money at Nordstrom and attending clothing swap parties.
You live in an non-temperate climate.
In San Diego, a capsule wardrobe can work. Since our climate doesn't vary much, there is no need for snow boots or puffer coats. If you live somewhere with real weather, you will need more clothes to be warm enough in the winter. If you live in New York, you may wear 5 layers in the winter. With a capsule wardrobe, in 5 days, you would be completely out of clothes. How many trips to the laundromat/ dry cleaner are you willing to take in a week? I will go out on a limb and guess the answer is less than three.
The arbitrary rules will stress you out.
Capsule wardrobes are simply a concept, so hard definitions vary. Some people say it's 33 pieces total, for your whole wardrobe. Others say shoes and accessories don't count. Some people says it's 33 pieces a season (132 garments seems like way more than a capsule wardrobe to me, but I digress...). Anyway, the women attracted to creating a capsule tend to like rules and order. They feel bad when they can't get the capsule thing exactly right. This negates the entire purpose of a capsule wardrobe. It's supposed to make getting dressed easier, not harder.
When does a Capsule Wardrobe work?
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are several seasons of life that call for a capsule wardrobe. These include
Instead of limiting your entire wardrobe to a capsule, I prefer to think of your wardrobe as a series of capsules. You are a multi-faceted person with a full life. You may have a gym capsule, a work capsule, a beachwear capsule, a weekend capsule, and even more. I've written about how to create unique capsule wardrobes before, you can click the tag or search "capsule wardrobe" in the search bar.
There are quite a few ways to build an interesting and functional capsule for a specific area of your life.
Actually, reviewing this list I am the ideal candidate for a capsule wardrobe. After all, I'm a hobby-less laundress without a traditional job living in a beach city. I admit to having a small wardrobe. At last count, it was 68 pieces, but I crave more, especially more jeans and pajamas. I don't want to feel bad about wanting more. You shouldn't either. Have you had success with a capsule wardrobe? Or are you ready for the trend to die?
*A real one, not the one in your head before you order Domino's, Jaquelyn!
As a personal stylist, trip packing is one of my most popular services. It's not hard to understand why--figuring out what to bring, what to leave behind, and what to wear each day in an unfamiliar place is a daunting task. It's one of those sneaky chores that seems simple, yet is actually quite challenging. If you over-pack, you have to deal with overweight luggage at the airport and you can't fit any souvenirs in your suitcase. If you under-pack, you end up wasting money (and time) on things you don't want during your trip. Fortunately, the key to proper packing is simply being intentional.
Research the Location
The first step to successfully planning your wardrobe for a summer trip is to research your destination. This is actually my favorite part of the process. I love learning about the weather, reading tips from expats who may live there, and seeing local street style photos. One key thing to determine during your summer trip research is whether or not the location embraces the heat or pumps up the AC. For example, if I'm traveling to Vegas, I always pack jackets and scarves even in the 110 degree weather because every casino, store, hotel and restaurant keeps it a cool 68 degrees. It is important to know ahead of time if you have access to laundry facilities--and be realistic with yourself if you will actually use them. If you don't want to do chores while vacationing, or don't have access to a washer and dryer, you will need to pack a few more outfits than someone who does.
Plan Outfits around Activities
After you've determined the weather and local eccentricities, it's time to look at your agenda. Even if you have a less structured plan, know what activities you might be enjoying. Are you going to be mostly relaxing by the pool? Be sure to bring a few different swimsuits. Are you going to be sightseeing for hours everyday? It's best to bring at least two pairs of comfortable shoes. Are you fitting in a seminar or a business meeting during your trip? You'll need to bring a professional outfit too.
When I work with clients, I take photos of their outfits. I even do this for myself, especially if I'm feeling particularly great that day. You don't want to forget the combinations. Save them as photos on your phone and make an "outfit album". This is especially important when you're on vacation as you're already out of your element and prone to forgetting basic things--like where you put your phone. Plan your outfits and take photos of them. You can try them on, or lay them out and take a photo of the combination. This works best if you've already worn the outfit. Personally, I like to try on and photograph, as I get a better feel for the proportions and how I feel in the ensemble.
Create a Packing List
If you like to be prepared, you can plan your wardrobe weeks ahead of your vacation. If you follow the above steps, you can easily make a packing list of the items you'll need, based on your photos. Look at the photos and diligently list out all the things in them, including shoes, accessories, and watches. If you're truly overwhelmed, I have a sample packing list below.
Summer Vacation Packing List
Savvy, minimalist readers may realize this packing list also serves as a perfect summer capsule wardrobe. Use what you have or buy what you need and this list can easily get you through summer. If you'd like this in PDF checklist format, email me and I will send one over. Happy travels!
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.