Packing for Paris

6 March 2015

Considering that Paris is generally accepted as the style capital of the world, I feel the need to step up my game for our upcoming trip! Plus, my friend Lisa just posted about her packing plans for Rome, so I wanted to get in on the action :) My goal is not to be mistaken for a Parisienne (I am proud to be an American, after all), but I like to dress for my destination and so our trip is a great excuse to dip a toe into the ex-pat life and get a little fancy. I’ve been doing my homework, and here is what I have learned about blending in in the City of Light:

— yes to scarves
— no to denim
— stick to simple palettes (namely BLACK)
— wear cobblestone-friendly flats

Lots of folks also recommend packing light, in just a carry-on if possible, since we will likely be wheeling/carrying our suitcases on and off public transportation, along said cobblestone streets, and up the stairs of our flat.

According to Wikipedia, the average Paris June high is 73, and the low is 57. With that in mind, here are a few pieces I either own and am packing, or hope to purchase in the next few months!


Striped shirt | A French classic! I just bought this one and love its heavier weight.
Chambray tunic | Lightweight, chic, and simple. I just bought this, too, and am excited to wear it belted with leggings. Cuter in person :)
Patterned shirt | Love the graphic pattern of this shirt and its silky feel!
White button-down shirt | Crisp and classic! This one from Loft has great reviews.
Black leggings | Perfect for layering.
Red lipstick | I just got the Nars stick in Cruella as my Sephora birthday gift and it’s the perfect bold red! Great for dressing up basic outfits and looking put together.
Navy shift dress | Mine is a few years old, and can be dressed up with jewelry or down with Toms. Comfortable enough for walking around all day.
White jeans | More Paris-appropriate than denim jeans! Mine are from J. Crew Factory last year.
Black ponte pants | A step up from leggings. Mine are here.
Neutral ballet flats | I have these and they are comfortable – about as good as I can get in terms of a comfort/fashion ratio.
Leather booties | This is about as high a heel as I like to go! The reviews say these are very comfortable; I’m hoping that’s so.
Toms | The only type of shoe (aside from sneakers) that I’ve been comfortable walking all day in. Not the MOST stylish, but I’m hoping everything else can carry them! :)

Not pictured: scarves and accessories! I actually don’t own that much jewelry, but I always admire the pieces others wear! My issue is that my wardrobe budget is not really big enough to buy a wide variety of pieces, so I end up buying nothing. To help with this, I just signed up for Rocksbox, a subscription service which gives you unlimited access to rent from a rotating collection of designer jewelry. I have my fingers crossed I’ll have some perfect pieces on loan in June! If you’d like to try Rocksbox for one month free (and why wouldn’t you??), you can sign up with my code – emilythomasxoxo.

Anyone have any other Paris packing tips? What are your most comfortable (and stylish) city walking shoes? I’m all ears!

P.S. Packing inspiration for Provence and the Cote d’Azur are in the pipeline!

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March 6, 2015 7:56 am

Such cute looks! I definitely second the idea of packing some clothes for each of you in at least one carry-on. Our bigger bag was lost when we were in Paris and instead of enjoying the city, we spent so much time on the phone with the airline trying to locate it. So excited for you!

March 6, 2015 8:21 am

So chic! I am jealous you’re going to Paris at such a beautiful time of year–I had gone in early February and wore a big coat :P Not nearly as fun!

And yay for new red lipstick! Please wear it next week so I can see it :)

March 6, 2015 8:53 am

Ah, how exciting!! I think you are spot on with your choices. When I studied abroad in Paris in college, I made the mistake of packing items that I thought would help me look just like a Parisienne, including berets (yeah, I went there). Neutrals and subtle patterns will definitely help you blend in. Flats are smart, but I would also recommend stowing away some shoes with support as the cobblestones can be tough on the tootsies without some cushion. I can’t wait to see all of your photos!

March 6, 2015 9:05 am

I have to say, I disagree about the denim! I studied in Paris for three months and was jealous of how women looked in their skinny jeans and boots! A cool sneaker goes a long way there, too! Layer up too! It always looks great! So so envious you are going- can’t wait to go back! :)

March 6, 2015 10:16 am

As someone who is half-French and used to live in Paris….. I think denim is fine! Especially dark-wash, skinny jeans (and definitely black jeans). Just my two-cents ;) I love Paris in the summer. Enjoy!

March 6, 2015 10:26 am

I love all your choices and are definitely putting some of them on my list of things to buy even though I will not be going to Paris any time soon! I love love love the J.Crew Cece flats. I have a pair in Bohemian Red and have been looking to buy another pair when I can fit it in my budget. Once I wore them in, I found them totally comfortable to walk around in all day. Mine have personally seen the streets of Chicago and New York and of course Durham and Chapel Hill :) My personal tip for making flats comfy all day is to sprinkle some baby powder on your feet before putting them on. They won’t rub on your feet as much and, let’s face it, they won’t smell bad either!

March 6, 2015 10:46 am

All so cute!

For a trip to Europe last year, I bought Bensimon Tennis Elastique sneakers and LOVED them. I found them to be super comfortable and work with a lot of outfits.

March 6, 2015 11:39 am

Saltwater sandals are my absolute favorite summer shoes, and they feel amazing even if you’re on your feet all day. They’re a little clunky, so they may not be too Paris style friendly, but they’re a great shoe. Lots of colors to choose from, too. I got mine off of Amazon:

March 6, 2015 1:54 pm

When we were in Paris in June I was SHOCKED at how hot it was.. especially because we went from low 40s and rainy in London the week before.. My favorite outfits for that leg of the trip were cool dresses, with a jacket or cardigan to keep my shoulders from sunburn! :)

March 6, 2015 2:07 pm

I always struggle with packing for trips because I want to take everything! I love picking a color palette and packing clothes you can mix and match throughout your trip. I can’t wait to live vicariously through your overseas adventure!

Victoria B
March 6, 2015 2:37 pm

I should keep up the tradition and post one about my upcoming trip to Barcelona/Madrid/Lisbon, haha! I have been daydreaming and planning about packing smart for this trip for the last month! :)

March 6, 2015 6:51 pm

These lovely items are perfectly Parisian! Your selections are helpful for my capsule wardrobe inspiration too :)

March 8, 2015 4:55 pm

Love it all, so chic! For another pair of walking shoes I would HIGHLY recommend a pair of Reef flats or sneakers ( I bought my first pair on a trip to San Diego when I was walking miles to/from my hotel and the conference center, and none of the shoes I brought were cutting it. The quilted footbed is literally the most comfortable thing I’ve ever put on my feet, I wear them around the house instead of slippers b/c they give me so much support! I think these ( or these ( would be a fun pop of color to your Paris wardrobe :)

March 8, 2015 6:27 pm

i just blogged this too!!! DEFINITELY only pack a carry on!!! roll all your clothes, stick socks and underwear in shoes to save space, you’ll be SO glad you just have a carry on!! we traveled for 2.5 weeks with just a carry on and it’s definitely not that hard to do. just pack items you can mix and match like you’re already noting above. :) i did wear denim in paris and i tried just like you to blend in but people DO wear denim so feel free to bring your jeans just not jean SHORTS. jean jackets are also super popular. i bought a pair of cole haan with nike air flats for the trip and they were a great addition but toms will be perfect too!!

Betsy Ickes
March 10, 2015 8:54 am

Thanks for the tips, Em. I’ll be in Paris in June for a writer’s retreat, and the outfit ideas are great. I’ve been pulling ideas from Pinterest -this is one of the better ones I’ve collected.

March 11, 2015 11:11 pm

Ok, LOVE that chambray tunic and red lipstick! I love that you’re thinking about what to wear now. Feeling confident and comfortable when in a new city–especially Paris I’d imagine!–makes traveling so much more enjoyable. I would recommend packing a travel size bottle of Downy wrinkle release (especially for that white button up), and my most comfortable, fave pair of flats are Tieks. I haven’t found a shoe that beats them in comfort or effortless style. I know you have other friends that love them too so you’ve probably heard them sing their praises already! :) Can’t wait to keep following along your journey to France!

March 14, 2015 10:23 am

You’re spot on with the Toms. I lived in them while traipsing around Europe for four months. They’ll keep you comfy and won’t draw as much attention as sneakers (which scream American tourist).

Enjoy your trip!