If you’re going to go to Paris…

Our trip to France is a mere two weeks away, and we’re starting to get very excited around here. Train travel is booked, passports are ready, and now it’s on to the next big task: what to pack.

The last time we went to France, we were spending almost two weeks in just Paris, and I sent myself into a tizzy over what to pack. I shouldn’t have. Because there’s one very important thing to know if you plan to go to France (and specifically, Paris).

You can shop all you want beforehand, and plan out meticulous outfits for your stay in the City of Light…but you will still feel like a frump-a-dump. It’s just how it is. Better to accept it early on.

French girls…they just have it. Whatever IT is, they got it in spades. The art of mixing high and low? Um, hello, these girls basically invented it. Looking effortlessly chic? Chic is a French word, duh. Even when French girls go casual, they still look unbelievably put together. It’s truly a je ne sais quoi situation.

So what am I going to pack? Well, a few pairs of skinny black pants. Some smart looking jackets and blazers. Last time in Paris, I was far too underdressed (I had never felt like more of a Californian). For the south of France, I’m crossing my fingers for warmer days, and hoping to pack sundresses and bright tops to pair with cropped pants and sandals.

But for Paris? I’ve basically resigned myself to not looking like a cool girl. It’s fine. Funnily enough, I find feeling that frumpy actually inspired my style in new ways!

Have you ever been to Paris? What did you most notice about street style there? What would be your must-pack item in a city filled with so much wonderfully chic ladies?

{Image Credits: Street Photography in Paris, photo by Yanidel; Fashionologie, photo by Greg Kessler; Vanessa Jackman; Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist 1 2 3 4; Fashionologie, Christian Dior Pre-Fall 2012; Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist}


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  1. 5.17.12
    Deborah said:

    I loved my time in Paris. Must have item would be a killer scarf.

    • 5.17.12
      Phoebe said:

      Agree! A scarf can take an everyday outfit to chic.

  2. 5.17.12

    I think frumpy was in style the last time I went so I fit right in :) I’m going back in November. Must start shopping to look as chic as possible.

  3. 5.17.12
    Michelle said:

    Lucky! You will have an amazing time. I went over 10 years ago (at the age of 17) and was so enamored by the city that I failed to notice what people were wearing!

  4. 5.17.12
    Lauren said:

    A trench for sure – easily dresses up even a jeans and tee shirt! Have an amazing time!

  5. 5.17.12

    The thing that stuck out to me most in my trip to Paris was that they wear a lot of basics but look really polished. There weren’t a lot of chic women wearing ridiculous patterns or colors… a more muted palette of well tailored clothing and gorgeous shoes.

  6. 5.17.12
    viv said:

    I 100% agree with everything this post says. I was in Paris six months ago and it was my fourth time there so I felt a little more “prepared.” Nope, I still looked disheveled in comparison to these women. Even just the way they sip on their late morning lattes is so much more chic!

  7. 5.17.12

    You are so right. And you are going to have THE BEST time! My must have would be a great trench and a breton dress!

  8. 5.17.12
    TheNOW said:

    So excited for your trip…and pretty jealous! haha Yeah…don’t even bother stuffing your bag with “planned outfits”. You will get so inspired by the girls’ style, you will want to shop for a new wardrobe there!!

  9. 5.17.12
    taylor said:

    I went while I was in college…. you can only imagine how tres chic I felt in my north face zip up strolling with the boyfriend at the time just staring at everyone! You will look gorgeous and your packing plan sounds perfect! Just remember – you may not be able to walk all day in 5 inch heels like they can, but you have SO much better of a personality – and won’t have achy feet at the end of the day :) can’t wait to see pictures I know you’ll look beautiful/


  10. 5.17.12
    Giulia said:

    When I lived in Paris it was all about the neutrals – black, navy, charcoal…no crazy colours and patterns. Cardigans work well and scarves – don’t forget the scarves! Accessorize with a good quality neutral bag,sun glasses and keep the hair tidy and polished.

  11. 5.17.12
    Natalie said:

    A “frump-a-dump,” haha! That’s too funny, and I’m sure you’re totally right…those French girls know how to do it. I’ve never been but I would love to go if for nothing else but seeing how they live and just watching people on the streets. I hope you take TONS of pictures to share with us stuck in California! :)

  12. 5.17.12
    Dominique said:

    I went to Paris a few years ago and you’re right, no matter what you pack you still feel under-dressed and out of style! I’ve chalked it up to a lost cause! haha I am leaving for Italy on Sunday….hoping I don’t feel the same way there! My new motto is pack light and shop until you drop :)

    Dominique @ http://comfycozycouture.blogspot.com

  13. 5.17.12

    i’m leaving for paris on monday!!! your post made me so happy! right there with you – bracing myself for the feeling of frumpy ;)

  14. 5.17.12
    Kate said:

    All I can say about Paris is that every single cute outfit was ruined because of the need to wear comfortable shoes. The amount of walking we did made it impossible to wear cute shoes. Thats my best advise :)


  15. 5.18.12

    Cute ballet flats are a must! I wore mine out b/c you’re walking a bunch but don’t want to wear sneakers. I ended up packing a lot of sundresses with scarves, which surprisingly did not make me feel that frumpy. However it was chillier than I expected and my sweater options were not pretty w/the dresses. Layering options are necessary!

    Can’t wait for your France posts!

  16. 5.18.12
    valerie said:

    Just got back from a trip to Paris myself and I was struck by how universal the hipster/boho look is. Having lived in Paris 2 or 3 times over the past decade, I really felt like the differences in style from country to country have greatly decreased. All these street style blogs and multi-national stores have us all looking more and more similar…

  17. 5.18.12
    Shannon said:

    When I was there a few years ago I noticed cat eye eyeliner look, red lips, messy and natural but still put together hair (how they are able to pull that off is beyond me), converse shoes and skinny jeans. Have a great time enjoying France!!

  18. 5.19.12
    Susan said:

    Just returned from third visit to Paris. Sadly, you nailed it on trying and failing to be Paris chic.

    I saw scarves on everyone – including men and even young boys!

    The ladies wear pieces that don’t QUITE match (they would be snickered at here), but they manage to pull it off and look amazing doing so.

    So take it as a challenge to dress in things that ALMOST go together, and walk like a Parisienne!

    Bon voyage!