Hello from Paris!
Apologies I did not get this packing list up before I left! This post has been weeks in the making! It has been so long since I wrote a packing post. Or PACKED for anything, especially a Europe trip! But it feels SO good to be back!
Because this is the first time I’m traveling to Europe in two years, I’m allowing myself to break my own rule and check a bag. I usually LOATHE checking bags (so much waiting around! So much lugging! Gah!), but I want to do some shopping while I’m there, and I want to allow myself plenty of outfit options. Plus, we’re only staying in one place, so I won’t be needing to haul my suitcase to multiple locations, haul it on the train, etc. (UPDATE: I ended up checking a big bag and bringing a carry on as well so I don’t have to worry about having room in my suitcase when shopping! United allows one free checked bag and one free carry-on, so I took advantage of the policy!)
Regardless though–if you’re packing heavy or light, traveling to Paris, elsewhere in Europe, or just staying in the US, I think this post is a great jumping off point if you’re trying to plan a fall wardrobe of any kind!
Tips for packing for Europe in the fall/winter:
Tip #1: Check the weather forecast A LOT:
The forecast can change quickly, but as of right now. We’ve gotten SO lucky with it being unseasonably sunny and very warm. Therefore I only packed light jackets and a trench. (See below). But that’s not necessarily typical, so just make sure to check the weather ahead of your trip so you’re prepared! (Or just leave enough room in your suitcase to buy a coat in Paris.)
Tip #2: Try everything on beforehand and try your pieces on *together*:
Try on EVERYTHING you pack beforehand. Especially after the two years we’ve had–it’s highly likely your clothes are going to fit a little differently! (Which would be normal even outside of a pandemic, by the way!)
I can’t tell you how many things I thought would be at the top of my packing list only to find that A. It didn’t fit anymore or B. I realized upon putting it on that it wasn’t as versatile as I thought.
You also want to mix and match all your different pieces together to ensure that they go together as well in real life as they do in your head. This brings me to my next point…
Tip #3: Pack in a color scheme:
Tops, bottoms, and shoes should all be interchangeable. The exception to the rule can be dresses and jumpsuits, as they are one-piece outfits. (However they still need to match your shoes!) You want to avoid the whole, “I’m bringing this pair of shoes for this outfit, and this top for those pants, etc.” That is not an efficient use of space!
If you want to steal my color scheme–it’s almost always black, white/cream, and camel/brown.
Tip #4: Layers are your friend!
You probably know this already, but layers are your friend! A mix of thin layers and thick layers that can be worn day or night will be your best bet!
What I packed for Paris in October:
(UPDATE: I have marked everything I wore with an asterisk, but still recommend any of the essentials listed even if I didn’t happen to wear them!)
In general, I’m packing quite a few sweater options–some light, some heavier. In particular I love Sezane sweaters because they’re a little extra special–easy to dress up or down. So they’re very versatile, but they are always a bit more special with beautiful details, in my opinion, than any old sweater!
In addition to sweaters, I love a couple good turtleneck tees (especially if they’re striped–extra cute!) because they’re amazing base layers but also look really cute on their own. Additionally, a couple pretty blouses, which can also be dressed up for night or worn casually during the day.
Black reformation sweater tee: I am new to the whole “sweater tee” phenomenon but I’m very much on board. This one by Reformation is my first, but it won’t be my last! I love the snug ballerina-inspired fit. It’s like a t-shirt, but a bit warmer, and a lot more refined and polished.
*Cream knit sweater: I recently purchased this one from Sezane for the trip and love it so much! It’s so beautiful, it’s chunky but somehow feminine and dainty. I love that it’s reversible! The Alma sweater is also very similar and equally as versatile! It just has slightly different buttons!
*Gaspard sweater: My Sezane Gaspard sweater has been a favorite ever since I got a couple years ago. I wear it day and night for so many occasions. And it’s reversible–so you can wear the buttons up the front or the back. I like to undo a couple of them for a night out so it falls off one shoulder. I have it in both light pink and red.
Chunky black turtleneck: I love a chunky turtleneck with a skirt or a pair of jeans! Versatile for day or night!
*Chunky stripe turtleneck: I’m wore mine on the plane (a good tip…wear one of your chunky sweaters on the plane to save room in your suitcase!) I also wore it today with black jeans and loafers!
Blouses and other shirts:
*Tissue turtlenecks: These kinds of turtlenecks are the backbone of my fall/winter wardrobe! I have several colors (including several striped color ways). They are perfect for layering but are cute enough to stand alone! (Madewell also makes great ones too! I find that theirs are looser/boxier fitting and J.Crew’s are more formfitting! Order your normal size in both.)
Slinky camisole: I LOVE a slinky camisole as my “night out” uniform. It’s an essential part of my year round date night uniform. A slinky cami with a leather jacket on top is the perfect subtly sexy outfit that works for everything from beers at a pub to a nice dinner to a concert to a dive bar.
Silk ruffled blouse: I went with navy in this style to mix things up, but I also love the chambray (and the white, obviously). You will rarely be inappropriately dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a pretty blouse!
*White silk button down: Probably the most versatile top I own. I’ve had it for more than 6 years now! You truly cannot beat it, it falls beautifully, you can wear it tons of ways, it’s a great base-layer. You can wear it buttoned up for a preppy look or undo a few buttons for a date. It’s come with me on pretty much every fall/winter/spring trip I’ve ever taken because I can wear it for so many occasions. I take my normal size (small).
Oxford button down: Another go-to I rarely travel without! It’s such a versatile staple! I also love a good men’s Oxford as well! (As in, from the actual mens section, but your normal size–so it’s an oversized boyfriend fit! J.Crew is a good place to look!)
*Dark skinny jeans:
I love a dark blue pair that–I know I’m a broken record at this point–is easy to wear day or night. I haven’t bought skinny jeans in a while so my pair is super old, but Madewell’s skinny jeans are the #1 favorite of GG readers! Skinny jeans are also a must if you plan to bring any tall boots! I think this is going to be your most versatile pair because skinnies also tuck well into boots (whereas straight leg jeans do not!) *UPDATE: These were the pair I wore the most!
Black jeans are another favorite versatile denim option–especially because they don’t show dirt or stains! I just got this straight leg high rise pair from Madewell that I give two thumbs up! I think they’re true to size! They’re soft with some stretch but not TOO much!
Straight leg crop blue jeans:
I brought my Levi’s 501’s (can also get at Revolve). I love the fit (super flattering, make your butt look great!) And I think they’re fairly true to size (hard for me to tell these days postpandemic/postpartum). A couple other pairs I love:
The Madewell Vintage straight-leg jeans would be great too. I have and love both! They’re a similar cut, and the main differences are the denim (Madewells is lighter weight) and the fly (Levi’s is button, Madewell’s is zip). I would say Madewell’s is a bit slimmer cut in the leg! This type of jean is my preferred go-to jean at the moment, but feel free to sub whatever blue jeans you love most!
Levi’s Wedgie Straight jeans (pictured above): these won’t even fit over my hips these days (photo above is old!) but I would still be wearing them if I could! This is my exact pair and they’re on sale! They tend to run a little small if you’re in between sizes, so go up, not down, if in question.
Wide leg crops:
I love a good wide leg crop, and I’m bringing two pair–this olive pair from ABLE (runs slightly big so go with your smaller size if in question) and my black pair from Everlane! (Run TTS, but my ABLE pair also comes in black! Use code JESSKEYS10 for 10% off!)
*Straight leg crops:
This pair in “sandstone” have been my go-to for years. At the last minute I threw them in. It’s hard not wearing your favorite “real clothes” for two years and then having to narrow it down, you know!? I love them because you can wear them with sneakers during the day and some cute dressy flats or low heels at night and they always look pretty and polished! Run TTS.
Skirts and Dresses:
Totally optional. I am a big skirt lover when it comes to fall fashion, but you definitely don’t need one! Here are the three I plan to bring:
Leather skirt: I also have this leather skirt from Sezane I got a couple years back that I plan to bring! I also love wearing this with tights for a little extra warmth, and it looks really cute with ballet flats, loafers, or ankle boots for day, or dressed up with some comfy low block heels for night! Abercrombie makes a cute vegan leather version for less–less than $50 on sale!
Corduroy skirt: Mine is several years old, but J.Crew Factory has a super similar one this year!
*Flowy maxi: I love a good flowy maxi, especially for travel! It’s warm, it’s easy to dress up or down, and looks cute with a leather jacket (see below!) I’ll be bringing this floral maxi from Sezane and this one from ABLE! (Use JESSKEYS10 for 10% off) Mango also makes amazing dresses that are beautiful and versatile!
Mine is many years old from London Fog, and this is a similar version! And it’s on sale!! I love this coat, I have beaten the hell out of it over the years and it still looks great. Burberry vibes at a $100 price point.
*Leather moto jacket:
I just got this leather jacket from ABLE and it’s WONDERFUL and such a great price! The leather is soft but also durable and naturally water repellant, which makes it an excellent travel jacket. You can get an even better price when you enter my code JESSKEYS10 at checkout! Sizing: I sized up to a medium because leather jackets are usually tight in my shoulders (I have broad shoulders!) I have it in brown and black!
Warmer wool coat:
Note I didn’t bring a warm coat as I didn’t need to, but if you’re heading there in the winter months, you’ll want a wool coat! Winter in Paris usually sees highs in the mid forties, not too bad, but chilly! J.Crew makes my favorite stylish coats that are super warm and beautiful, but not bulky–look for the styles that are made with Stadium Cloth or Thinsulate! I highly recommend the Cocoon coat (runs big) and the Lady Day coat (runs small!)
*Backpack purse: (Use code JESSKEYS10 for 10% off!) I LOVE this purse and plan to use it every day. It’s big enough to fit my essentials, camera and a small water bottle and zips for security. (Update: I used this EVERY day and my leather jacket fit inside of it, which was so nice once the afternoons warmed up so I didn’t have to be carrying around my jacket all day!)
Convertible belt bag: (Use code JESSKEYS10 for 10% off!) Another travel favorite. I love that this can be a belt bag or worn as a crossbody! It’s my go-to travel purse!
*Mini nighttime purse:
I got this cell phone purse from Madewell that is a crossbody and has just enough room for your phone and a couple credit cards/ID! I rarely need much else in my purse anyway, and I love that this can go under your coat to be extra discreet/safe from pickpockets.
Another option is to just bring a slightly nicer crossbody to wear at night if you have room. Sezane has so many pretty new versions!
Ballet flats or loafers (or both, depending on how much room you have in your suitcase!) These ballet flats (pictured above, in nude) are my favorite because they are so buttery soft–they feel like true ballet slippers. I brought *this pair of Rothy’s cap-toe ballet flats and wore them a ton during the trip! (I actually didn’t touch the other ones bc I always opted for these!) I also have a code–JESSK20 gets you $20 off your $100+ purchase!
I also brought my *Gucci loafers–they’re so comfortable! If you’re looking for a dupe, I also always recommend Sam Edelman’s Lior loafers, which are also super comfortable and a much better price point at $150!
I’m bringing my go-to Chelsea Boots that are old that I’ve had for a few years now, but this pair from Treasure + Bond is very similar! Classic, goes with everything, and also water resistant! (Which is great for rainy days!) If you like a lug sole, I have these water resistant lug sole Chelsea Boots from Nordstrom and they’re super cute!
I’m also bringing my Everlane Day Boots, which sadly they don’t make anymore, which is so upsetting because they’re SO comfortable! But it looks like ABLE makes a really similar pair–I haven’t tried them though, so can’t vouch for them specifically! (But my code does work on them!) I like them because there’s a slight block heel which to me is very comfortable for all-day walking! Chances are you also have a perfectly suitable pair of neutral booties in your closet that will work just fine. 😉
I have a lot of favorite white sneakers, but brought my Everlane Court Sneakers on this trip and I wore them a TON. I chose this pair because they’re a super sturdy leather so they’re more practical for rain and they are comfy enough to log tons of miles in every day. Have had them for years! (Run TTS!)
Tall boots/Waterproof boots
You all know what a fan I am of Blondo boots! They make stylish waterproof footwear and my longtime favorite is their tall suede boots. They come out with a slightly different iteration every year, and this pair is their 2021 version! I think they’re a must for your packing list if you’ll be encountering typical rainy weather. BUT, we had no rain in our forecast and the weather is so warm, I left them at home this trip. I couldn’t not mention them though!
I DID however, bring my classic brown riding boots. My pair is old so I can’t link, but ABLE makes a beautiful version at a really great price (plus JESSKEYS10 gets you 10% off!) I tried them but they’re too big for my child calves–however, I think anyone with average sized calves would find them to be perfect! (Make sure to measure before purchasing any tall boots!) I also love this low-heeled version from Madewell, but they weren’t going to make it in time for my trip!
Brown statement belt:
Sometimes a pretty belt is all you need to spice up an outfit! I highly recommend the Carolina belt from ABLE.
Bringing my classic black leather J.Crew belt with a gold buckle! Adds the perfect amount of polish to any outfit!
*Silk scarves and bandanas (for hair and neck)
I LOVE Madewell’s bandanas, they have so many cute ones and make the best accessory to spice up an otherwise simple outfit. (Note, they’re too small to tie around your head like a headband, but they are cute for around the neck!) If you want one to wear in your hair, you’ll want a square scarf that’s about 35″ x 35″ (see more on how to tie a hair scarf in this post!) Honestly almost all my scarves are vintage or picked up in local markets when I travel, but if you’re looking for a budget friendly version, I found this one on Amazon that would be cute! (See my neck scarf tying tutorial here.)
Both of mine I’m bringing are old standbys, but I’m bringing a plaid scarf (this one is almost identical and on sale for $33!), and a thicker solid scarf similar to this one! If you are saving up to treat yourself during your trip, I highly recommend buying an Hermes scarf as a little souvenir! (Which we did our first day here! This is mine, the colorway I got doesn’t seem to be on their website though!)
I honestly don’t have a favorite pair of tights. I typically don’t spend much money on them because I ruin them. But I like having a couple pair–a cute more fun polka dot pair and a more opaque pair for warmth!
Suitcase and other packing essentials:
Delsey Paris Chatalet 24″ suitcase: I am a HUGE Delsey suitcase fan and have been using their Paris Chatalet suitcases for years. I have the carry-on in white and the 24″ roller bag in brown. (Definitely go with a dark color for checked luggage so it doesn’t get scraped up!) Super cute, roomy, and almost always discounted on Amazon!
These toiletry bottles: I love these little squeezable bottles, plus, they’re super easy to fill! Great for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, etc!
Clear travel pouches: I needed some new travel pouches and I LOVE these! I’m a big fan of the clear pouch so you can see exactly what is in each bag and where things are! I use these for my makeup and toiletries.
Blister bandages: I do not travel anywhere without blister bandages. There are several brands that make them–Compeed is the OG, but they sell cheaper versions on Amazon! They are GAME CHANGERS! Not like regular band-aids–can help with blister prevention and prevent rubbing on already formed blisters.
A packable umbrella: I like this one because it’s clear! So cute!
A phone case that charges your phone! It is truly a godsend!
Your CDC vaccination card!
You will be asked to either present this or the French Health Pass at all establishments. They accept either form everywhere. I applied for the health pass but still haven’t gotten approved for it, so if you do that and don’t receive it–it’s TOTALLY fine. Not a big deal at all. Just carry your CDC card with you and keep it very safe at all times!
Any necessary travel forms:
Make sure to read the fine print from your airline as to what is required as it’s constantly changing. We were told to print and fill out a sworn statement form basically saying we did not have COVID symptoms, but they only collected it from half of our group at customs.
I hope this would be a given but, just a reminder to ensure it is not within 6 months of the expiration date.