Packing for France is incredibly simple and entirely possible to do in a carry-on, even if you are going there for over a week! If you want to have a Carrie Bradshaw - high fashion moment of big couture dresses and high heels like she did in Sex in the City, go for it! The only other people you will see dressed like that (if any) are other foreigners. However, if you want to be comfortable and blend in, go for skinny jeans, a blazer, lightweight cashmere sweaters, cotton long sleeve shirts in neutral colors, sneakers (Adidas are always a good option) and ankle boots. A small heel is fine, but make sure it is a chunky one as stilettos are not practical for cobblestone streets nor the amount of walking you will do.
A hooded parka or bomber is ideal from late September to early April. Always wear a scarf (the bigger, the better) and bring an umbrella. When in doubt, wear black with a pop of color in your scarf or glasses. Regarding purses, it is wise to wear a cross-body bag for both security and convenience. When visiting Paris, or any other area in France, chances are that you will be outside most of the time walking around visiting the sites and taking public transportation. Therefore, what you are wearing underneath your coat does not matter, and can be re-worn at least once during your trip. My tip is to bring fewer shirts and more scarves if you want to change up your look!
In the spring and summer, feminine knee-length dresses with strappy sandals are perfect. I like to wear light cotton pants that tie at the waist with a fitted t-shirt. Top each look off with either a blazer, a trench coat, a light leather or jean jacket, and a scarf if it gets cool. Scarves are worn almost year round, but in lighter fabrics during warmer weather. Shorts and hoodies are uncommon and usually worn only by tourists.
In France, I tend to wear less makeup. Although it is the perfect place to test out a red lip, a sharp contour and smokey eyes are unnecessary. Keep it simple with only concealer, bronzer, mascara, and lipstick. I also care less about how my hair looks, often letting it air-dry or pulling it back into a bun. The jewelry I bring is minimal, opting for just a pair of stud earrings, a watch and maybe a necklace along with my wedding rings.
In a nutshell, when it comes to Paris fashion, simplicity and classic pieces are best. Coco Chanel may be the name on some pretty remarkable haute couture items, but her most iconic pieces to date are the simple blazer and little black dress. Dior's debut collection consisted of calf-length, full skirts with a cinched waist. Yves Saint Laurent is noted for his popularization of women’s trousers. Hubert de Givenchy, the creator of Parisian Chic, launched his first collection with tailored tops like the "Bettina blouse". The best thing about France is that no one truly cares what you are wearing or how you look, but still, leave the collegiate hoodies, sports caps, and shorts at home. Au natural will always be favored over a full face of makeup and perfect barrel curls. So take back those extra 10-30 minutes you would normally need to get ready and enjoy sleeping in or linger a little longer over a café – you are on vacation after all!!
My husband and I love to travel. We have our favorite places, like Nantucket, France and Disney's Epcot, but we love discovering new ones too. We have vowed to visit a new country every year, as well as discover a new place within our own continent. Together we have visited; France, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Italy Luxembourg, Monaco, Bahamas, Morocco, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Aruba, Sweden, Bermuda, and The Netherlands. Our next destination - TBT!