I recently returned from a one-week trip to France to serve as a witness for my best friend’s wedding. I wanted to pack light, making sure my wardrobe was chic enough to stand up to the stylish Parisians, comfortable enough to wear for long stretches of exploring, and versatile enough to take me from the countryside to the Eiffel Tower. The weather was in the 40s and 50s, but there was a chance that it might turn colder, so the versatility had to extend to keeping me at just the right temperature.
Here’s what my carry-on duffle held, with room to spare:
Short-sleeved black Rita dress
Gray cashmere sweater
Black cap-sleeved shirt
I wore a sweater tunic and leggings with ballet flats and my trench coat and pashmina to fly. Moop’s waxed canvas Letter Bag served as my second carry-on and my handbag. The size and organization proffered by the many pockets makes this a great travel bag. I felt like Mary Poppins with how much I was able to put in the bag!
What makes Rita the perfect travel companion?
She’d be great on a plane. Once she’s wrapped around you, Rita feels like the loveliest of bathrobes, but is, in fact, a classic dress.
She doesn’t wrinkle. A last-minute flight change meant that I had about ten minutes to pack. I rolled Rita before putting her in my bag, but I wasn’t as careful as usual with my packing. When I unpacked in Paris, she was ready to wear.
She’s low maintenance. Wash her in the evening, hang her to dry before bed, and put her on again in the morning.
She’s versatile. With my Fluevog Chinoa boots and a long sweater, I felt as chic as any Parisian I saw. Leggings, and ballet flats kept me comfortable for long days of walking.
She flatters. It’s no tall tale. This dress is not only stylish, but the fabric skims my body and the skirt swishes around in a satisfying way. Really, when running down the stairs of Montmartre, the experience is heightened by a swirling skirt.
Tips for packing light without sacrificing style
Select a basic wardrobe color. I usually go with black and have gray accessories. Everything I pack will mix and match.
Make a list ahead of time. My last-minute flight change meant that I had to pack in a hurry. Luckily, I’m an avid list maker, and I knew exactly what items I needed in my bag.
Choose one key piece. Rita was my key piece for this trip. I knew I could create several different looks with minor changes.
Be willing to repeat outfits. Simplicity trumps variety!
Research your destination. I like to fit in when I travel; I’m not a sneakers and jeans tourist. Before I left, I spent several delightful hours researching classic Parisian wardrobes and packed accordingly. I also, of course, took a look at the weather when making my decisions.
Remove items from your list. I tend to list far more than I need. Instead of bringing everything on my original list, I pare down ruthlessly until I know each item I pack will be worn more than once. The exception on this trip were the clothes I wore to the wedding, but if I had stayed another day, I might have worn the party dress with boots for a funky, casual look.
Share your travel fashion tips in the comments!