How I Packed for Paris and What French Women Were Wearing

French women are famous for their classic, chic style so packing well for my trip was a priority, as was observing the local fashions once I got there. Here’s what I brought and what the Parisians wore, as illustrated by my stalker-y street photos.

What I Packed

I had two goals: 1) fit everything in a carry on bag and 2) bring clothes that would allow me to fit in with the Parisians but still feel like me. This took a lot of careful planning and editing. And I couldn’t have done it without my new packing cubes! The weather was quite warm in late October but cool in the evenings, so layers were important. I used a rough color scheme of black, tan and purple so I could mix and match easily. I tried on everything and made sure it would work a couple different ways (dressed up or down) because I intended to wear things multiple times.

Minus socks, lingerie and cosmetics, here’s what I took:

In my tote bag I took my laptop, Kindle, chargers, umbrella and a few cosmetics for the flight.
  • A pair of leggings to wear on plane
  • 3 pair of pants – denim, black and tan
  • Leather skirt and tights
  • Leather jacket, black blazer, black cardigan and two pullover sweaters
  • Two patterned blouses, and a mix of five solid and patterned short sleeved tops/tees.
  • Two scarves and two belts for accessorizing
  • Athletic sneakers, stylish sneakers, studded boots

Everything I brought worked, but I could have pared back further. I would swap the black jeans for a nicer pair of black pants and skip the skirt and tights. I only wore them once out to dinner and nice pants would have sufficed. Also, I could have left one of the sweaters at home. I did buy two scarves and two pair of earrings in Paris, but if I’d had more room in my bag…..

Here are few outfit pics from my trip:

What French Women Wore

Walking the charming streets of Paris, I was constantly on the lookout for stylish women and the latest trends. But Parisian women, while very put together, aren’t super trendy. Still, I did pick up on some subtle ways of dressing well that are different from how we dress at home. And I like them! You’ll notice a lot of photos of women from behind. I was trying to capture them without being noticed. (Felt a bit like a creepy stalker, but oh well!)

  • Layers, worn creatively. I got the feeling that women dressed for their entire day, so even though the temps were warm, they always had a jacket or sweater on hand. They’d wear their jackets tossed over their shoulders or half on/half off, and tie sweaters around across their body like scarves. It was practical and cool, and created a complete look.
  • White pants as a fall neutral. Women mostly wore black but the pop of white felt fresh and clean and perfectly in season.
  • Stylish women often accessorized with designer items (like a Dior purse or a Hermes belt) with subtle branding. I appreciated the lack of loud logos. The women were the focus, not their expensive luxury goods.
  • The overall vibe seemed to be ease. Women wore clothes that skimmed the body, allowing for movement and comfort. I didn’t see anyone teetering around on high heels or wearing skin tight clothing (not a Skim in sight). Loose fitting jeans were everywhere. Trying too hard in Paris seems tasteless.
  • Short black skirts often worn with black hose (not tights). Not a crop top or plunging neckline in sight, but women seemed happy to show off their legs.
  • Boots (especially western boots) and cool sneakers. Paris is a pedestrian city and the sidewalks are narrow and uneven. Comfortable shoes are a must.
  • Leopard prints dresses. This was the pattern I saw the most, not including the classic Breton stripes, which I saw all over the city. I’m glad I packed my leopard blouse.
  • Your daughter (or mom) as an accessory. The streets were full of stylish women of different generations walking happily together, which is lovely.

I know my photos aren’t great, but hopefully they give you the idea. I really did love seeing so many chic chicks on the streets of Paris. They inspire me to dress better, in a relaxed way. What do you think of these French fashions? Let me know if I’ve missed anything.

4 thoughts

  1. This was a very interesting article for me, Marjie. I was intrigued to read that the French ladies opted for “leg” action (and hose not tights) over “boob-age”!

    I love that you noticed the Mom / Daughter duos on the streets and your observance of so many other things.

    I am not a fan of “western wear” so disappointed to think about French women in cowboy boots but hopefully “this too shall pass” as trends so often do.

    I know you had THE BEST TIME! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!!!


    1. Thanks Berit, I know you would have noticed many more style details, with your keen eye. People watching was another benefit of travelers alone. I had plenty of time to observe!


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