As an American, touring to Europe is nothing wanting a revelation. Whereas we could marvel at New England buildings and landmarks that date again to the early 1600s, European structure and historical past transports us to what seems like one other world—and in lots of respects, it’s. One of many methods I anticipated that distinction as I deliberate my 2 week keep it up packing listing for my journey to Paris and London final month? The style.
Having lived in Paris for a 12 months prior, I anticipated lots of the sartorial decisions that will peg me as an American instantly. Whereas in Chicago I can comfortably—some could even say, stylishly—sport my sweatsuit to my neighborhood espresso store, loungewear in Europe is reserved for the house. And even then…
However having just lately entered my *maximalist* period, the place colour and sample reign supreme, I used to be a bit out of shape when it got here to dressing because the Europeans do. Fortunately, with time to strategize, I knew precisely what to take and what to depart behind for my two-week journey. In a carry-on.
Featured picture from our interview with Janessa Leoné by Michelle Nash.
Mild layers, monochromatic colour palettes—and most significantly: prioritizing consolation. As a result of while you’re in Europe, you’re going to stroll. Quite a bit.
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It had been seven years since I lived in Europe, so there was a lot riding on this return trip. Would I connect with the cities’ busy, winding streets as I once had? Would I be able to navigate the metro system with familiar ease? Had too much time passed for me to expect to feel any of this at all? Of course, with so much anticipation, I wanted what I packed to be a source of comfort, inspiration, and fun.
Because here’s the truth about getting dressed in Europe. While neutrals and darker colors may be the go-to choice, style is also a source of personal expression. There is a uniform, sure—a sea of navy, black, and white—but within this template can be found idiosyncrasies particular to the wearer themselves. An embellished pin on a lapel, a bright scarf tied around a bag, or a pair of glasses that make contacts irrelevant.
When it comes down to it, if you own who you are and your style reflects that, you’ll fit right in. Why sweatpants don’t work in Europe? Because there isn’t intention behind the choice.
In addition to exploring my own style and tailoring it to a European landscape, I had a few parameters that dictated my packing:
- I would be traveling between London and Paris for almost two weeks: March 13-26.
- There was rain in the forecast and temperatures were predicted to fall in the high 40s/low 50s.
- The majority of my trip would be spent visiting museums, shopping, eating out, and of course, walking a ton.
With these constraints in mind, these were my top three priorities when planning my 2 week carry on packing list:
- Prioritize light layers that pack well. I opted for many silk tank tops, skirts, and dresses that could be layered underneath sweaters in the daytime and worn with a wrap at dinner.
- Pack shoes that could be worn in multiple contexts. I brought a pair of Chelsea-style boots, sneakers, and comfy clogs that were all easy to walk in.
- Minimize bulky items. I packed a light puffer that could be squashed down in my suitcase, two sweaters, and a cashmere wrap that doubled as a scarf.
The Suitcase that Changed My Life
I’m someone who prefers to travel light. Not only do I not have to worry about additional luggage charges, but it makes going from plane to train to in-city transit easier. And while the suitcase has been lauded from just about every corner of the internet, I’m here to confirm: my Away suitcase has modified the best way I journey. I bought mine two years in the past and it’s been all over the place with me.
- One facet options an inside compression system. That is sometimes the place I pack my bulkier objects—jackets, footwear, and so forth. You possibly can clip it down and tighten the straps to suit far more than you thought doable.
- For longer journeys, I at all times fill mine to the brim. However regardless of how a lot I pack, the suitcase at all times feels light-weight resulting from its even distribution of weight.
- Once you’re working via the airport to catch a connecting flight, you’ll love the 360° wheels that by no means (ever!) get jammed. Belief me: after I had 10 minutes to make it throughout the Reykjavík airport, this was clutch.
- Whereas the suitcase can match within the overhead bin of most airways, you will have to test it on smaller or full flights.
My 2 Week Carry On Packing Record
With out additional ado, I’m sharing the 11 necessities that made packing a carry-on for 2 weeks in Europe simple and streamlined. Belief me, that is all you want for the last word European spring vacay.
A Tote to Maximize Your Private Merchandise
Let’s kick issues off with a bang. Regardless of how a lot you put together prematurely, the surprising can at all times happen. For me, that got here within the type of boarding a super-packed flight from Chicago to London and having to test my bag. After which… continuing to have that bag misplaced for 3 days. Fortunately, I might steal from my trendy finest pal’s closet. However that is your signal to maximise your private merchandise. I’ve carried a trusty Everlane canvas tote for years that may match my laptop computer, a guide, toiletries, and a further outfit/pajamas in order that I can really feel a little bit prepped ought to the worst happen.
Journey tip: Although I say maximize, you wish to make sure you received’t find yourself hurting your self lugging your bag round on one shoulder. Preserve your additional outfit light-weight and pack solely the required toiletries: a toothbrush, hairbrush, cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. If you wish to add a little bit make-up to the combination, preserve it streamlined with this glowy set and mascara.
A Mild Puffer
On a number of events as I used to be packing, I requested myself: why didn’t I guide my journey for late spring/early summer time? That approach, I might keep away from the necessity to pack heavier layers like a coat. Effectively, with these tickets booked for months, there was no turning again—and I knew I wanted one thing to maintain me heat on London and Paris’ inevitable windy and blustery days. Enter: a light-weight puffer that packs all the way down to a fraction of its measurement. It saved me cozy with out feeling like I used to be prepping for the tundra.
Journey tip: Whether or not I’m in Europe or the States, I at all times go for black or navy outerwear. That approach, regardless of the outfit, my topper will at all times pair completely.
A Versatile Silk Skirt
Washable silk is having a second and I couldn’t be happier. Not solely do silk items feel and appear completely luxe, however they take up minimal house in your suitcase. Belief me, it’s my go-to cloth for transitional put on because it takes you seamlessly from winter to spring. This was the skirt that I packed in my private merchandise, and I couldn’t have been extra grateful for the forethought.
Journey tip: Pair with a silk cami, a easy white tea, or an outsized button-down. Outfit, made.
A Comfy, Flattering Pant
A disclaimer: I am not a hard-pants girl. You can catch me wearing jeans maybe 10 days out of the year, and even then, they’re oversized mom jeans. Point is, when it comes to pants, comfort is key—but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or fit. I scored these pants (with an elastic waist!) for $70 five years ago from a vintage store in Portland. And if we’ve hung out at least twice, it’s likely you’ve seen me wearing them. No matter what cut is in style, I find that a cropped, wide-leg pant is universally flattering.
Travel tip: Because I’m petite, I like to pair these pants with a small heel so they don’t overwhelm my frame. Whether you go for clogs, sandals, or boots, adding height is key.
Reusable Bags (That Even Parisians Like)
No matter what shifting trends convince us to wear, BAGGU bags will forever stay in style. At home, I love using these to carry my groceries and I always keep at least one in my purse in case something cute catches my eye. While I was traveling, I stored one of these bags in my fanny pack to carry purchases and any layers I needed to take off. And I kid you not, my bag received no less than ten compliments from Parisians. That’s when it clicked for me: even if the French often gravitate toward darker colors in the city, the love and passion for color is undeniably present. For proof, take a look at Merci’s, the famed department store, visiting exhibit.
Travel tip: If you’re checking a bag, store one or two of these in your carry-on or personal item. That way, if your bag is over the weight limit, you have extra room to pull a few things out.
A Does-It-All Cashmere Wrap
As a Christmas present a few years back, my mom gifted me this cashmere wrap that I’ve hardly taken off since. While it’s less of a style in America, many European women drape their scarves and shawls around their bodies for an added layer. On many an occasion, my Parisian travel companion and I had to run to make our dinner reservations. Without time to change, I simply pulled off my jacket and wrapped myself in cashmere. Easy and oh-so-elegant.
Travel tip: Use your wrap as a blanket to keep you warm on the plane.
I wear dresses year-round. In the winter, you can catch me with a made-for-spring frock layered over tights and beneath my coziest sweaters. The look feels feminine and stylish, while also being undeniably comfortable. It’s just one of the many ways I like to romanticize my work-from-home life. Similar to my silk skirts, these dresses packed down to nothing (so I didn’t have to make the hard decision as to which of my faves would get left behind). Of course, when you plan ahead with layers, you can take this look from day to night with seamless ease.
Travel tip: Pair with tights, a sweater, and dress-down boots for the perfect daytime ‘fit.
A Structured Blazer
A well-fitting blazer is as timeless as it gets. When you want something a little more elegant than a loose-fitting sweater, a black blazer is a simple layer that’s both functional and stylish. The goal here is to go slightly oversized. That way, should you need to add a layer beneath, you’re all set.
Travel tip: This will easily become one of the key pieces in your wardrobe, so you want something that’s soft but structured. And though the price tag may be on the steeper side, if we’re talking cost-per-wear, it’s absolutely worth it.
Let me count the ways I love this cami. Well, for insight, the skirt pictured above was my friend’s and this is me rounding out day two of this trip’s suitcase-less beginning. But with my black cami at the ready, I could pair it with just about anything in her closet. Whether it’s pants or a skirt, silk tanks and camis are a universally elegant choice.
Travel tip: As with everything on this list, we’re going for comfort. Your cami should rival your softest, most well-loved tee. If it’s at all less cozy, it doesn’t belong in your suitcase. (Or closet, for that matter.)
Comfortable and Cute Shoes
By far, my shoes were what took up the most space in my suitcase. But as someone who likes to have options, I prioritized giving them as much real estate as possible. Because I’ve experienced beyond-painful blisters in the past, I wanted my footwear to seamlessly blend style and function. In addition to nondescript sneakers (black, of course), I also went for elevated clogs that gave me some height and my well-loved boots (that are far more comfortable than they may look). With these options, I could go everywhere from museums to shopping to a six-course meal. Consider your bases covered.
Travel tip: The boots were more of a seasonal pick, so keep them if you’re traveling in the winter or early spring. If not, swap them out for chic slides (I love these).
A Hands-Free Bag
I initially purchased this bag in the summer of 2020, when I only had walks and hikes to entertain me. It was perfect for carrying my wallet, phone, a pair of sunglasses, and another Standard Baggu just in case. Since then, it’s become my everyday bag thanks to the ease of wear and the simple fact that I hate having anything in my hands when I’m out and about (save for a Berthillon ice cream cone, of course). Bonus: While you’ll have to turn your backpack around and wear it on the front of your body if you bring it into a museum, this bag already has you covered.
Travel tip: I learned the hard way that whatever you do, in London DO NOT refer to this as a fanny pack. “Bag” or “satchel” works perfectly fine. For insights, read Merriam-Webster’s take.