So what should you pack for a trip to Paris? Me, I have no idea. But maybe you’ll learn something from this guest post by Paris-based shoe designer Lina Nordin Gee, co-star of The Honeymoon Season of The Earful Tower podcast.
When you’re a foreigner living in Paris, you end up receiving guests from back home on a regular basis. These guests always ask the same question before their arrival: “What should I pack to wear in Paris?!”
Here are my top tips for what to bring to the City of Light if you really want to blend in with the locals.
Note: This story is mainly for women (though men may learn something too!). And while the pictures below feature the trendiest women in Paris, these tips are for everyone, regardless of age, shape or size!
UPDATE: Lina was a guest on The Earful Tower podcast talking about this very story. Listen here.
1. Pack smaller accessories
Parisians are naturals when it comes to making a simple outfit look ultra chic using only a few accessories. Instead of overfilling your suitcase with clothes, focus on the accessories. They generally take up less space, and can transform an outfit in an instant.
For example, a silk scarf can be worn in infinite ways. Lately I’ve tied my little hand-stitched silk square around my ankle when wearing cropped trousers, but it can just as well be worn around your wrist, ponytail, bag-handle (à la Jane Birkin) or neck like Brigitte Bardot below.
2. Bring a big(ish) handbag
Parisian cobblestoned streets and winding stairs look fantastic in photos, but the reality is that they’re a nightmare for heel wearers. Trust me, I’ve ended up walking said cobblestones, barefoot late at night, stilettos in one hand while the other is frantically searching for closest ride home. To avoid this scenario, bring a pair of soft ballerinas in your handbag.
Bag-related pro tip: Pack your toiletries in a cute toiletry bag, it can double as a handy little clutch!
3. Pack for the rain
While rain in Paris is often a (picturesque) reality, you shouldn’t let it spoil your look – even if it does ruin your chances of marching around the Marais in that silk suit.
So imagine: You’re dressed up in a trench coat and boots, but you don’t want to look like a clone. Simply add a pair of statement earrings (preferably which hold a great affectionate value to you, as Parisians might love their heirlooms even more than their morning coffee). A headband, hat, or my personal favourite, the silk scarf, also work perfectly for this scenario. And always, always have a pair of sunglasses ready, even in the rain. Aside from protecting your peepers, sunglasses are Parisians’ no.1 trick to instant chicness.
4. Focus on matching neutrals
Parisians are more often than not dressed in a palette of neutrals. Beige, black, white and navy is the general dress code, and I can understand why. It’s much easier to combine a successful outfit if your cornerstones match.
This is also a great tip when packing. Bring clothes that can pretty much be matched in any sort of constellation, you’ll maximise your outfits as well as blend in with the Parisians (… if that’s what floats your bateau).
5. Don’t forget your red lipstick
After four years in Paris, I’ve picked up a few sartorial cues from the natives. One of my favourites (as I’m inherently lazy at heart) is to wear the same outfit when you go out in the evening as the one you’ve worn during the day, with one exception – red lipstick!
Imagine you’ve been wearing a black turtleneck and some vintage jeans, now add a red pout. Voila! You’re ready to hit the terraces for a bit of people watching (you may even become the subject of said activity). I’ll often switch up my shoe game for the apéro hour, but hey, that’s just me 🙂
6. Leave your hairbrush at home
This goes for both men and women (and it’s not just a way to save precious space in your suitcase). Parisians have a knack for looking like they just rolled out of bed, in the best way possible. There’s something unexpectedly chic about a ruffled head of hair teamed with a sharp, tailored suit (and don’t forget the mandatory scarf, guys!), or a quick, slightly messy chignon with a lbd (little black dress).
Well there you have it, my top six Parisian packing tips. Now all you need is the ticket over. See you on the terraces!