Packing for Paris

We get asked about packing a lot.

Basically, you’re taking a mini version of your Haute Closet on the road. Thus, everything should already be a perfect fit and in great condition.

The evening before leaving for Paris market ss12 we snapped our packing session:

Allow us to illustrate via the alphabet and caution: you should never get to Z unless you are packing to start a closet in your second home.

OK, so (a) belts. An essential accessory if you’re into belts. And if you’re not into belts ask yourself why not and are you sure about that … right now. Ok. So. One black, one oxblood, both working with all the shoes and bags and both easily transition from day to night and expand from short to long. Tricky … and trusty.

On to the shoes: we’ve brought four, a pair of Nike high tops (f), tough little boots (b), a sleek pair of flats (h), and (d) a Céline oxblood bootie. Notice how there is only one pair of heels, the Célines. Make this your packing ideal. When you’re on a trip you’re walking. A lot. If you plan for it, this one heel can drive a diverse set of evening looks.

Moving along, foundation. You’re going on a trip — take things that are functional, beautiful, ripe for layering AND laying on the seduction a la (c) this corset can work as a bra, a top with a high skirt or pant OR a surprise piece of lingerie. See also: fresh hosiery (g), an essential foundation for every trip unless you’re traveling to the equator, and even then. Basically, stockings serve as insurance against the chills and can also incite another (excellent) kind of chill. Purchase wisely and with abandon (not to mention they’re totally fun and can transform a black tunic in a second.) Undies and bras, you got this.

On to globe-trotting garments. Your selection should be basic, minimal and versatile in the biggest way, a la: your favorite jeans (i), a non-fusty flannel (j), essential sweatshirt (k) and a style-driven piece (l). There’s also a Topshop tank in there sporting Chicago Art Deco — it goes without saying, represent when you’re away. The takeaway: 3:1 tops to bottoms, think strategically, make sure you have solids and a few signature prints and they all play nicely together. This is the KEY.

On to the handbags and the other half of our case:

With the Jerome Dreyfuss (m) and pink (e) and white bags from above, handbags are covered (although our never-dies, apparently camera-shy LeSportsac serves as our carryon and secure day bag, this bag is black nylon but really it’s gold bullion). We could have edited out the white one, but we didn’t. We love it. Purses are perfect places to store your hair accessories and jewelry, saving space and ensuring the safe passage of all that is precious. (Also, dust off the dust bags — essential to cover all your shoes and bags if traveling commercial.)

Then there’s the dresses: a dressy black for that very special evening or every evening (q), one that goes day to night (r) and a signature piece (white leather, yes.) Again, here is that 3:1 rule: when it comes to packing and eliminating the bulk, soak in the fact that there are three flimsy dresses and one basic black coat (s) here. The dresses are easy to stow. Jackets, not so much. Everything works with the black jacket and the black jacket works with all of the accessories. Can’t wear dresses every moment, though, so we added, in addition to the jeans, two more highly versatile bottoms, a leather A.L.C. skirt (o) and a pair of shocking blue silk shorts (t). Both tightly packable, both interchangeable with all of the tops and the hosiery, which brings us to (p) socks. Socks are so often overlooked but one of our favorite categories. Don’t overlook.

Going back to (n), that’s where we’ve stowed our nonbreakable/nonspillable personal items. It’s a little Baggu ziptop, infinitely useful on trips, this one came in a set of three.

The lesson: when packing, less is more. All things in the case working together = yes. You can indeed take four pairs of shoes and three handbags without feeling badly, you just need to make certain each has its purpose. And always, always leave room for more. What’s a trip if you aren’t shopping to score some flavor from your destination du jour?

Perhaps that won’t be necessary if you’re going to an ashram, but that’s a whole ‘nother packing lesson. As in life, just remember your purpose. And don’t be too fussy when it comes to the clothes — bring out the best of your capsule wardrobe with smart accessories.

X April

PS: We were photographed a few times working a certain outfit concocted of the above.

by April | November 2011

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  1. JenS says
    30 November 11 at 11:37am

    This is very insightful, thanks! Were you carrying on or checking luggage?

    • April says
      06 December 11 at 11:13am

      10 days in Paris calls for a checked bag, m’lady!


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