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What should I pack for Paris?

by habituallychic

03 . 24 . 14
Now that I have the dates of my summer sojourn to Paris planned, I’m already thinking about what I am going to pack. I will be away for four months and will have to be prepared for a temperature fluctuation from around 50 degrees to possibly 80 degrees or more, especially as I travel to other countries. Everything will have to fit in one large suitcase and one carry on so this should be fun. And by fun, I mean stressful. I recently read Joseph Altuzarra’s observations on Paris vs. New York style which I found very helpful and informative. His article and the styles in these photos are inspiring my Parisian packing list of neutrals and no patterns. Of course, I can buy whatever I need in Paris but I don’t want to have to buy things I already own. I’d rather save my money for the flea markets and brocantes but that’s a story for another day. 

I look forward to perfecting messy French girl hair in Paris. 

Don’t worry, I never smoke and have no intention of starting in Paris. I’m sure I’ll get enough nicotine from the secondhand smoke anyway. 

I love that a camel hair coat can easily go from day to night and looks great with black. It will also come in handy when the temperature drops. 

I’ve already reached out to my friend Heidi Wynne to get one of her large black cashmere scarves.  The French love themselves a scarf and hers are perfect for Paris and traveling. 

I will definitely be packing a trench coat since you never know when it might rain in Paris. 

I don’t wear that much black but I’m going to have to start since the French uniform is often black from head to toe. 

I just ordered a pair of black Italian Pony Hair Loafers from Emerson Fry that look very similar to the ones in this photo.  I’m hoping they’ll be a good walking around the city in the rain shoe. 

Trying to figure out which handbags to take is a test in and of itself.  I will definitely have to take one clutch for evening. 

I can’t wait to wear sandals but before I can rent a bicycle, I have to get a European credit card with a chip in it. 

I’m going to have to look at more photos of Sofia Coppola for inspiration.  She exemplifies the simply chic French style. 

I can’t wait to sit at French cafes and instagram all day. 

Once it starts to get warm, I’ll transition to lighter colors like white. 

This Emerson Fry white dress that will be available this week would be perfect with my black Roger Vivier sandals when it gets really hot. 

All photos from tumblr and Pinterest
  • Whatever you do, be sure you have shoes with a bit of padding in the sole that you can walk in ALL DAY. Everything else is gravy. 🙂

  • I second the shoe insert comment. However on the topic of French vs. American ( NY) style: bring whatever makes you feel the most “you”. It is not just the clothes but far more importantly the attitude of feeling good in one’s skin that characterizes French women.

  • V.

    First time leaving a comment on your blog, so let me start off with: this blog is one of the most stylish I know, and I know many.

    Also, camel coats are a good investment not only for trips to Paris, as well as ankle length cigarette trousers. Très chic! I’m looking for one myself. It’s the perfect basic.

    Have fun packing 🙂

  • V.

    Oh, and the shoes comment is very true! One word: cobblestones!

  • Hey Heather:

    Congratulations! So exciting & I do hope you’ll be posting while there. I have not had a chance to comment in awhile; since I’m here I thought I should let you know how much I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Especially your New Years resolution post & I’m glad to see that you’re knocking that off your list. As always, love all your pics here!

    Best Regards,

    Lisa Mule’

    P.S. I have a friend in Paris this week & sent her to LADUREE…she better go!

  • one of each please! love them all

  • Heather,
    Just got back from Paris last night and yes, lived in my camel coat, a day/night scarf and black skinny jeans.
    I’m guessing you’re heard of these but places to hit that don’t have an outpost in NYC, if you want the suggestions:

    COS – chain clothing store that I believe is owned by the same company as H&M. Minimalist, clean lines with a scandinavian influence. You’ll see young 20-somethings and older, chic Parisian ladies in the same line.

    Pierre Herme – forget Laduree. PH is the real deal in macarons. And the pastries aren’t bad either. 🙂

    Faure Le Page – my big find this trip. has been around for years but only has one store in Paris (off the upscale Rue St. Honore) and a small section in Galeries Lafayette. Very similar look to Goyard but not all over Manhattan (which I love). Scooped up a tote bag to bring back with me. A beautiful lux and exclusive brand that’s not over the top expensive and I think you’ll like.

    Can’t wait to read your posts!

  • I am also leaving for Paris this June and will be staying a year…talk about stressful packing!

    You’re right about Parisians loving their neutrals (and black!). It’s a good thing I love it too, makes it a little easier to use items I already own. Here’s what I’ve got down on my packing list:
    -Sam Edelman Flats with cushion inserts (I just got a new camel colored pair that go great with any color outfit)
    -Sandals (I have some flat sandals and then some “mid-heel” ones with the chunky heels for days where there will just be some light walking)
    -Banana Republic camel trench, which is a total must as it can rain on a moment’s notice there
    -Relaxed, short-sleeve tees from Everlane to tuck into ankle pants or jeans
    -Ankle pants because there as French as you can get in my opinion(my favorite are a pair of Sloan pants from Banana Republic)
    -Blazer (black, white, and navy) to throw over tees and create a casual chic look. Also, it can be slightly chilly at times (especially in June)
    -Some favorite sunnies…my favorite are Gucci 57mm Oversized (very classic and chic)
    -Scarves, cashmere for the colder days and silk for the warmer days (thanks for sharing the Heidi Wynne line btw!)
    -Simple summer dresses that can be repeated, preferably solid colors (as you mentioned, Emerson has great dresses…I also like BP, Ann Taylor, and J.Crew)
    -A couple of J.Crew’s chino shorts
    -My tank watch and diamond studs because that’s about as much jewelry as any French woman wears and it’s practical for everyday!

    Maybe we’ll cross paths there this summer. Do you know which arrondissement you will be staying in yet?

  • Une Femme – Merci! I definitely plan to bring comfortable walking shoes. My Chloe flats have no padding but they have worked out well in New York and on my last trip to Paris.

  • Pickensnoble – good point! I only want to pack only the pieces I love and know I’ll wear often which means I’ll be comfortable in them.

  • V – Merci beaucoup! I was thinking about buying a pair of slim black jeans instead of trousers. But you might like the J.Crew Minnie.

  • Monty the Pug – I looked at Cos before but didn’t love it as much in person as I did online. Maybe the summer clothes will be more my style. As for Pierre Herme, I found them a bit gummy but I’ll try them again. I’ve tried macarons everywhere and still love Laduree! I think my friend Carson might have gone to the last store you mentioned too. I will check with her and make sure I visit while I’m in Paris! Merci!

  • Miss Sophisticate – I can’t image packing for a year! I might go back in the fall but at least I’ll be able to come home and unload my summer clothes and pack for winter if I do. I’m staying in the 1st for the first two weeks while I look for an apartment. I figured it would be easier than trying to find one from NYC. I hope we do run into each other!

  • I’m so jealous of this trip. Enjoy it!!!

  • That’s so exciting that you’re going to Paris! I recommend:

    – light knits in spring colors
    – a leather jacket
    – more than one pair of flats so you don’t wear them out
    – a small umbrella
    – white button downs and slim trousers

    Hope this helps, can’t wait to hear of the adventure on the blog!

  • I second Lisa’a advice about the black leather jacket. Last summer all the European girls had them and looked so chic. I also like the idea of black jeans and lots of scarves, and comfy flats and sandals. I almost never end up wearing heels in Paris, due to the amount of walking. Also, the last 2 Summers I was there were extremely hot and there is little A/C to be found! You may want to bring a few sundresses- or better yet, buy a few there. You’ll be there during the big SOLDES (sales) time. I love that and always find fun Summer items at Zara and H&M that you cannot get here.
    Super excited to read all your posts!

  • Here’s a tip:
    When your friends find out you have an apartment in Paris, they will all want to visit. Be cautious about casual invitations, we discovered that everyone we even mentioned visiting to accepted! You don’t want to spend every day ferrying people to the Eiffel Tower. On the upside, this could be your solution to the switch in seasonal clothes. You can ask guests to bring a bag for you that you give them in advance, or take some things back to NYC for you when the season changes. Small price for a free week on your couch.

  • bonjour,
    i’ve been living in paris for years (husband’s job.)
    absolutely no athletic clothes, shorts, sandals or color. or you will stick out like a sore thumb.
    and no starbucks paper cups leave the shop.
    you’re best accessories are a scarf, modesty and a “bonjour”, “au revoir” and “merci.” even to the bus driver.
    don’t smile at passerbys or coo at gorgeously dressed babies–they will think you are insane.
    a little tip–have coffee in the lobby of all the fabulous hotels and watch amazing things walk by.
    ps–thanks for fixing pinterest for me.

  • Super chic and pretty outfits collections.

  • This sounds like a phenomenal 4 (F-O-U-R) months. I love it: black, black and more black and then camel and charcoal…..and white. Perfection and easy.

  • One of my favorite posts, Heather!It’s amazing how these women make it looks so easy but I’m beginning to think it is with the right eye for tailored classics! Have a grand tiem in Paris!
    – Caitlin
    Citrus and Cedars.com

  • I LOVE posts like these! So much inspiration! Have fun packing… and a great time there.

  • I LOVE posts like these! So much inspiration! Have fun packing and a great time there.

  • First of all …four months! A dream. Layers, lots of little knit sweaters, a long lightweight sweater ,slim pants,scarves and the images above say it all! So Very Exciting!

    The Arts by Karena

  • This is fascinating and inspiring. So one of my questions was answered here: I was wondering if you already had a place to live or would wait until you got there. Other things swirling in my head: do you speak French? Do you know anybody there? What will you do when you are there/how will you manage work/career? This all sounds so thrilling.

  • Eeeeeeeee! How exciting!!
    Love it all!
    xx SP

  • Shallow Gal – I was going to give more details later but I do speak some French and hope to work on it while I’m in Paris. I know a few people in Paris and other people I know will be passing through the city over the summer. I can work anywhere and will work on projects while in Paris. Merci!

  • Chic, chic, chic! I expect no less, mademoiselle!


  • visiting Sevilla? Please let me know.

  • Visting Sevilla? Please, let me know.

  • Thank you for this wonderful collection of photos! This is probably the best series of Parisian inspired style photos that I’ve seen. I definitely agree with wearing neutral tones. But attitude is a big part of getting the look. Have an amazing time!

  • A few years ago I stayed in London and Paris for a month, and the things that worked very well for me were print dresses from Etro and Pucci. They pack into nothing, the patterns are forgiving of little spills, and you can change them up with various layers. I usually don’t wear as much color or pattern, but I loved these and they were a lift from all of the neutrals. They are still my go to items for travel, and although they were investments, I’ve used them so much I feel like they have paid for themselves. Bon chance!

  • I just got back from Europe this week and I packed way too much. All I really needed was a nice wool coat, a blazer, a couple of scarves, flats, a few transitional pants/tops, two handbags (one day and one evening), one black dress, and one pair of black heels. I noticed most of the women wearing flat ankle boots. I would have loved a pair of suede ones.

  • First let me say I have devoured your blog every morning for over 3 years, even when I’m traveling. We missed one another in Paris last year by one week! You have captured the best of Parisian style and I concur with all that your other frequent- traveler readers have said with respect to neutrals, shoe comfort, a trench coat and scarves! Let me add this: be sure the tread on the sole of your walking shoes is not worn down as you can risk slipping on the wet stone in even a light rain (speaking from experience)! To help you with your packing I recommend Smart Packing for Today’s Travelers by Susan Foster (www.smartpacking.com). Susan will help ensure you take only what you need! I look forward to your posts from Paris!

  • such a fantastic post. i have kept it open since I came across it on Keep It Chic. i could study these images again and again. looing forward to your post from your trip to Paris. kind regards, a.

  • I hope you have a brilliant time in Paris!

    Who designed the beautifully cut trench worn by the woman with long dark hair featured in 2 photos? It has no buttons and is gorgeous! Would really appreciate any insight you can share.