Travel Wardrobe Recap: Europe (Summer 2016)

Europe summer travel wardrobe

Even though we missed most of the rain, as you may surmise from my outfits above, we experienced quite a few cooler days.

As I mentioned when planning this travel wardrobe for London, Normandy and Paris, I find packing for warm conditions more challenging. Traveling in early July, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect some heat. But most of the time it was cooler (60’s F) and quite pleasant. I’d packed for warmer weather than we (mostly) experienced, and for that reason alone I’d give this wardrobe a score of 6 (out of 10).

But let’s break it down…

12-piece Europe travel wardrobe

You can see my original packing list here. I made two last-minute changes, adding a very lightweight wind-breaker/rain jacket, and tossing in an older pair of loafers that I didn’t have to worry about in either wet or muddy/sandy conditions.

MVP’s

  • Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants, of course. I wore them most evenings, and on a couple of travel days. I hand washed twice over the trip.
  • Silk zip-front blouse (similar). This was my go-to top for dinners out in London and Paris.
  • Jeans, skinny (similar) and boyfriend (similar). Wore one of these most days.
  • Black long-sleeve tee (similar). Was the perfect weight to handle fluctuating temperatures. Also wore this for air travel days.
  • The leopard loafers. Was so glad I’d tossed these in, as the sneakers suddenly started irritating my big toe our first day in London. Wore the loafers almost exclusively except for a couple of sandal days, and for dressier dinners when I wore the wedge heels.

Pinch Hitters

  • Long lightweight silk jacket (same style in navy). Perfect to dress up separates for nice dinners out in London and Paris.
  • Olive chinos (similar style). Nice on warmer days, and as a break from denim.
  • Linen 3/4 sleeve tee. Good for some color, and perfect for warmer days.
  • White linen shirt (similar). Wore as a lightweight jacket on a couple of the warmer days/evenings.

Benched

  • The linen dress. Was never warm enough that I wanted to wear it.
  • The blue striped cotton blouse.
  • The linen side-button sweater.

Wish I’d Brought…

  • A pair of lighter-weight ankle boots. Seriously. I would have worn them on cooler days, and saw many women in both London and Paris still wearing some sort of ankle boots.
  • A lightweight cardigan. (Actually I cheated one day and wore one I’d packed for the photo shoot.)
  • A pair of slouchy or softly tailored black trousers. I’ll be on the lookout for something for future travel wardrobes.

Over the years I’ve found that I often refer back to these recaps when planning future travel wardrobes, to remind myself of what worked and didn’t. Do you make notes after you travel?

PACKING LIST…

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20 Comments

  1. July 21, 2016 / 3:56 am

    For years, my main travel has been back to the U.S. to visit my parents. Same place, same things to do. It’s the only place I wear shorts–same two pair for a decade (when you wear them for a month a year, they don’t wear out). In fact, I tend to pack the same clothes year after year.
    When I first moved to Europe, with the intention of staying a maximum of two years, I wanted to see as much as possible and traveled every weekend (50 out of 52 weekends in one year). I had a set of travel clothes that were classy but wrinkle-resistant. They didn’t overlap with my work uniform of business suits. Wearing the same thing almost every weekend could be boring, but it meant my suitcase was always ready to go and I knew the clothes were appropriate.

  2. July 21, 2016 / 4:31 am

    Amusingly, if you were here in London this week the weather has been in the 80s and 90s and that linen dress would have been invaluable! Just one of the joys of living in a country where the only reliable thing about the weather is that it is unpredictable.

  3. GingerR
    July 21, 2016 / 5:06 am

    Even though you benched the linen dress, if it’d been warmer you’d have been glad you had it.

    Given that you aren’t a big dress wearer maybe it wasn’t even the ideal warmer day pick?
    I think the question to ask about the dress would be, if you’d wanted to wear it more, could you have layered it with the other things you had so you could have still been comfortable in cooler temperatures?

  4. July 21, 2016 / 5:09 am

    Very pragmatic choices and they worked well and you looked fantastic. I’ve packed a couple of the same dresses I’ve worn for years and years and years. Safe bets, I call them! Can you do a “winter” pack post?

  5. July 21, 2016 / 5:12 am

    I am so glad you had a great trip! You always look appropriate and elegant.

  6. Ellen
    July 21, 2016 / 5:59 am

    I always take a mental note when I unpack of what was never worn, or did not work well, but I have never made a written list and kept it. My dress for travel…and at home…is a black, Eileen Fisher tank dress with an asymmetrical hem that can be dressed up or down for almost any occasion. It is the only dress i own, and it has gone to weddings, on cruises, as well as casual restaurants at home.It takes no more room than a Tshirt so it is easy to pack. I would have never taken this trip, or any other, without a cardigan…its good that you had one along for your photo shoot. Other than that, I pack much as you do, with about the same number of clothes. One tip that has helped me a lot: I keep my toiletrie bag packed and ready all the time. When i come home, I refill all the bottles of shampoo and such and replace anything that has run out; the biggest plus of this is that i never forget anything as its already all there. I use an extra large, soft leathe mens Dopp kit; it’s never filled to capacity, and because its soft, it can be mushed around to fit in almost any sized space in my carry-on sized suitcase.

  7. July 21, 2016 / 8:57 am

    I can’t do without my EF silk slouchy black pants and I recommend them. Dress way up or down…always sharp and perfect for all body types. I always take an EF scuba silk jacket too. One important tip my physical therapist taught me for my feet is to take varying heel heights but none less than an inch. So I pack 3 pairs accordingly and wear boots or booties on the plane. The EMME toiletry kit I saw on your blog is simply amazing and has been my travel buddy all over the world! Thanks for that. As for a dress in summer, EF Silk tank dress is great and can be so easily layered. Welcome home!

  8. July 21, 2016 / 10:52 am

    Yes, I often make notes…and funny enough- one from Paris was a trip in July where we BAKED the entire trip, due to packing for anticipated cooler weather. So, there you go Susan, even when we try our best–sometimes it’s impossible to get it all right. Having said that, i am traveling with layers more and more and it is working. Black trench, black cardigan, black jeans, black tees and cute scarves, black tennies…. and then I go from there!

    • Wiz
      July 22, 2016 / 7:29 am

      Same for me but I’m a strawberry blond so it’s : beige trench, beige cardigan, beige jeans, beige/white tees and cute scarves, beige leather tennis. Thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts

  9. July 21, 2016 / 11:23 am

    I use the Stylebook app to create packing lists, thus they are saved forever. Much of my travel is for work, and typically I see some of the same people. I often refer back to the lists to see what I wore the last time so that I can pack something different.

  10. July 21, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    I love the analysis of the hits and misses of your travel wardrobe! I don’t travel much, but when I do, I loot my donate/giveaway pile for things I can leave behind (it frees up room in my suitcase). My most successful packing was our trip to Seattle and Nashville last year (5 days total), which was 2 dresses and 2 pairs of shoes, plus one outerwear jacket. All I carried was a backpack!

  11. Briar
    July 21, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    Your posts have been great guides for recent later-in-life travel for me, Susan. I have different needs from when I was younger, back-packing and camping! The v neck merino cardigan is an absolute must in my bag to cope with all those changeable conditions.

  12. Gina Losco-Valotta
    July 21, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    Thank you Susan for your wonderful blog posts-I really enjoy reading them and have adopted a number of your hints and suggestions. To answer your question, I always use a packing list and on the flight home I take a moment to annotate it to reflect what I wore, how often a garment was worn, as well as, what I didn’t wear and wish I never packed in the first place. I also keep all of the lists and refer back to them often, especially if we’re traveling to the same place again during the same time of year (something we seem to do often since we have friends and family in Northern Italy, Cote’ d’Azur and Provence).

  13. July 21, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    Yes, it’s so useful to look back, just as you have done, to work out what worked and what didn’t. I found that so useful after a Europe trip last year. I was happy with my choices by and large but knew that next time I would switch two jackets out and add a trench coat.
    I love your wedge heels. I may need to add a pair to my list.
    You looked very chic in every shot.

  14. Mary
    July 21, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    I just love your packing tips. I have used your list for my last two trips to Europe and found that I wore everything in my suitcase. I agree that a cardigan is critical but I had a hard time finding one before I left the last time. We ran into the same problem in May with the weather. It was rainy, hot, cold, sunny and overcast. Your pictures show me how to add color to my wardrobe without adding a lot if clothes. Best advice ever!!!!

  15. Christine G
    July 21, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    This looks like a travel wardrobe that would work for my October trip to Paris. What do you think?

    • Susan B
      July 22, 2016 / 6:04 am

      Hi Christine, our experience with October in Paris is that the earlier part of the month can be quite mild and pleasant (even warm) but that the weather can turn cool very quickly. For that time of year, I’d include a warmer sweater or two and outerwear (maybe a trench) and some ankle boots. A long-sleeved fitted base layer (I use silk tees like this one: http://bit.ly/2aAMJss ) may come in handy.

  16. happinessatmidlife
    July 21, 2016 / 10:06 pm

    I am hoping to take a longer vacation later this year and will need to refer to this post. I am a horrible packer and always over pack.

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

    Hope to see you for TBT Fashion link up.

  17. July 25, 2016 / 1:18 am

    Well, Susan, I don’t think you did badly at all with just three things unworn. You packed a versatile suitcase, especially given the challenging conditions.
    We have had gloriously hot weather in the UK these past couple of weeks. Shame you missed it, you could have worn the dress and improved your stats!
    I’ve been doing a post-analysis of my packing for some years. I did one a couple weeks ago. I think your analysis clearly works for you when I see your successful packing each holiday. Does analysis work for me? You tell me! I had an an embarrassing amount of unworn items. But from my analysis I did identify what panned out as being a capsule travel wardrobe and surely I can crib off that going forward?! Forward being a trip to France in a few weeks …

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