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parisian young ladyLet’s face it, Parisian women are, at least by American standards, always stylish in unusual ways. So when visiting Paris, plan to “dress up” more than you would in other destinations. Packing takes more effort to select neat and fashionable clothes that are also comfortable. How?

  • Pack stylish jeans, which Parisians wear everywhere.
  • If you want to blend in, select black as your basic color and dress it up with a blazer, a thin sweater, accessories and scarves. Leave your jogging gear and baseball cap at home. Nobody in Paris ever wears sweatpants, and very few wear sweatshirts.
  • Scarves are a must. French women wear scarves regardless of the season. Pack two or three, and plan to buy more. They can be any color and any material. Sitting in a café I observe fashionable women and copy the fabulous way they twist and drape their scarves around their necks, shoulders, waists and purses.
  • Pack decent- looking walking shoes.
  • Take along a cheat sheet of French words. You only need three: Bonjour Madame, Merci and Au revoir. The sales help in Paris is often rude or negligent; don’t take it personally. When you enter a store, the sales person will say hello to you;  be prepared to say Bonjour Madame in return. Also say Au revoir as you leave the store. You will be treated better if you dress smartly.
  • Dress in layers. Paris weather can change throughout the day, and evenings can be quite cool. You rarely need a heavy coat in Paris, and it will seem bulky and heavy in the warm metro stations, in taxis or restaurants. In the winter, check the week’s weather forecast before you go. Pack a nice black jacket or raincoat, and add warmth with a scarf.

Basic city packing list for a short trip

  • One pair of black slacks in addition to the pair you wear.
  • Four blouses, including one silk blouse for evening wear.
  • A light, colorful cardigan sweater .
  • Colorful scarves.
  • One pashmina shawl.
  • Costume jewelry.
  • One jacket (wear on the plane).
  • Dress shoes, one pair of flats.
  • Walking shoes with rubber soles.
  • Socks, underwear.
  • Lots of Zip Lock bags.
  • Tiny umbrella.
  • Eyeshades and ear plugs. Earplugs are a must if you’re not accustomed to sirens.
  • Duct tape and clothespins or big safety pin to close the hotel room curtain.

Bon voyage!