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Paris Packing List: Travel Capsule Wardrobe

May 26, 2016


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If you read this big announcement post a couple weeks back, you know Neal and I are heading to Paris at the beginning of July!

While we’re pretty low key about flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to travel plans, of course, I’m already envisioning what my wardrobe is going to look like for the 8 days or so that we’re there! I’m a huge fan of packing light, so I’m going to do the best that I can to carry on for the journey. We’ll be staying in an Air BnB, so we’ll have access to a washing machine, and I plan to pack some versatile basics that can be mixed and matched as needed!

I typically try to pack more along the lines of a capsule wardrobe–a suitcase full of staples that can be worn several different ways, dressed up and dressed down for whatever occasion necessary. Sound intriguing? Here’s how to pull together your own Parisian travel capsule wardrobe!

Why a travel capsule? 

I know what you’re thinking–why the capsule wardrobe? When heading to the most romantic city in the world, wouldn’t you want a ton of options to choose from when it comes to your clothing? Well, not necessarily!

I love bringing a well-curated, thought out list of items that make getting ready a snap. Yes, of course I want to look fabulous in whatever I’m wearing–which is why you should only bring a handful of items that you absolutely adore, vs a ton of things that you just “like.” When you know you can blindly pull two items out of a suitcase and know they’ll look great together, it makes getting dressed much less stressful!

Plus, traveling is a big enough nightmare as it is–who wants to wait an extra 30 minutes for their luggage when they land in such an exciting city? Not me! Plus, losing your luggage upon arrival would be one of the quickest ways to ruin the start of your trip. Not to mention, checking luggage requires a LOT earlier arrival times. I want extra time to sleep in, and extra time spent exploring, not spending more time in the airport. (Woof.)

Best Carry On Luggage

The key to making it work is to pack in a color scheme–you’ll see that I’ve kept along the lines of navy’s and blues, reds and blacks, with neutral accessories that can be mixed and matched as needed. Also, your suitcase matters. I recently purchased this suitcase, which is insanely roomy, carry-on sized, and comes with some really easy zip compartments to make packing a breeze. (And also happens to be the prettiest suitcase I’ve ever laid eyes on.) I can’t recommend it enough.

For more info on it, you can read my full review on it right here.

Okay–let’s get into that packing list, yes?

Packing List: Clothing 

1. Striped Tee 

I’m a firm believer in that you cannot have too many stripes, especially when traveling. Not only do stripes make every outfit look cuter (and make you look adorable in photos!) but stripes easily disguise dirt and stains, which are inevitable, especially in a big city like Paris. Plus, these tees fold up into basically nothing, so you can easily fit a handful into your bag while taking up little to no space.

2. Slinky tank top 

Slinky tank tops are great for layering (essential, as Parisian weather is a bit unpredictable)–they look perfect under a jacket and will keep you cool when the weather is hot. Slinky tanks are ideal for dinner dates or an afternoon out sightseeing.

3. Long sleeved tee 

For when the weather is a little cooler than anticipated, it’s always great to have one long sleeved tee in your bag. (These are great to wear on the plane as well.) I prefer to pack them in a darker color so they’re easier to dress up at night, when the weather is a little chillier. I’d wear this with jeans and ballet flats for a casual picnic dinner in the park.

4. Gingham button down 

Again, patterns are ideal for travel because they disguise dirt, and wrinkles too! Plus, they add more character to an outfit–kind of a “less is more” scenario–when you wear a cute pattern, you have less of a need for piling on accessories. I love a classic button down, because again, they can be worn for virtually any situation. It’s just as great for a day perusing the flea markets as it is paired with a skirt and wedges for a late dinner.

5. Eyelet Midi (AKA a day to night dress) 

Parisian women are often seen wearing summery dresses in lieu of shorts, so ensure there are quite a few versatile dresses in your carry-on. I love this midi dress because it’s slightly more elegant than the others due to the dainty lace details and midi length. It will look adorable with Keds for daytime and perfect with wedges for an upscale date. I would also feel ultra chic sipping hot chocolate at Angelina’s in this number, paired with lace-up ballet flats.

6. Striped shift dress

Stripes again–ding ding ding! (You can never have too many, remember?) This dress is just too cute to pass up, and like all other items on this list, can be worn for a variety of occasions with very little effort.

7. Feminine t-shirt dress (also day to night dress) 

I love the feminine sleeve details of this dress. It’s super comfy, and can be combined with any footwear option, depending on the occasion.

8. Slip dress (another day to night option) 

I challenge you to find a more suitable dress for a romantic night out in paris. You simply won’t. In fact, you could wear this dress out every single night, and nobody would notice, or complain. (Certainly not your boyfriend!)

9. Navy shorts 

Per the above, shorts are much more common among tourist in Paris than locals, which is why I kept this to a maximum of one pair, reserved for really hot days when nothing else will simply do.

10. Leather Jacket 

Paris weather can be a bit unpredictable, so one jacket is a must. I love leather jackets as they pair well with anything, and despite their compactness, are really quite warm.

11. Linen mini skirt 

I love this skirt for a few reasons–first, it’s a flattering length–mini, but not so mini that you’ll need to be constantly re-adjusting. It’s also made of linen, so it’s perfect for summer and keeping you cool, yet it’s structured–so you won’t have to worry about it flying up in the wind, and it’s a snap to transition from day to night. It comes in both black and navy to maximize versatility. (Although, it does also come in an adorable punchy red color that is very tempting.)

12. Gingham tank 

Patterns, patterns, patterns! I love this gingham tank for obvious reasons, but it’s also a second, non-cotton top option that you can mix and match for whatever occasion you might night, which is, obviously, always a plus!

13. Jeans

Being Paris in July, one pair of jeans is perfectly fine. I plan to pack jeans that are lightweight and a bit looser than the standard skinnies–girlfriend or boyfriend jeans would be perfect.

14. Ponte Pants 

Ponte pants are awesome, because they’re like leggings, but they’re much classier. They’re made of a thicker material that is suitable for all occasions, rather than just looking like sweatpants.

Packing List: Accessories: 

15. Sneakers

Comfortable walking shoes are an absolute must! I’m a huge fan of my Keds and rarely travel anywhere without them, but converse are also a great option. Make sure to spray them with protectant spray beforehand. That way, if they get dirty, you can just wipe them clean! I prefer them in white so they’re understated, classic, and go with everything.

16. Ballet flats 

Ballet flats are a staple in any woman’s closet, especially in Paris. I prefer the lace-up kind, which I think add a little something extra to your outfit, but feel free to choose whatever you think will make you most comfortable. Its important to bring both open toe and closed toe options, as summer weather in Paris typically ranges from high 50’s (F) to around 75 degrees (F). It also tends to get cooler at night.

17. Flat sandals 

One pair of sandals in a neutral color is ideal so they match everything in your suitcase. I love the tie-up quality of this pair–which is handmade in Italy, yet still surprisingly affordable. They really adds a lot of personality to your simple wardrobe. Again, both open and close toed footwear options are essential.

18. Wedges 

Because, obviously, I’m in Paris, I would like to feel romantic from time to time when we go out at night, so I plan to bring one pair of heels. Usually this goes against my European travel rule, but–when in the city of love, right? If you feel the same, just make sure you’re bringing wedges, not stilettos, as regular heels will get eaten alive in the cobblestone streets of Paris. (Plus, you don’t want to go home with a broken ankle.)

19. Small cross-body 

For nights and shorter day trips around the city, you don’t want to be lugging a bunch of stuff around with you, so a smaller cross-body is ideal for these situations. I love the pink color of this one, because it contrasts everything else in your suitcase, but still goes with everything perfectly. Just make sure it’s a cross-body bag, as something strapped across and in front of your body lessons your chances of being mugged and pick-pocketed.

20. Larger cross-body 

For longer day-trips when you need a bit more stuff in your bag, a larger cross-body is essential. Ensure it’s big enough to fit a pashmina, perhaps a bottle of water, and maybe a granola bar or two to get you by for longer journey.

What would you pack in your suitcase for Paris? If you have any additional tips on what to wear, or what to see, I’d love to hear them! 

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