Travel Wardrobe Planning: Paris In Late Autumn

Paris travel wardrobe for late autumn

As I mentioned last week, I’ll be heading to Paris for a week early in December, and I am thrilled! I’ll be traveling with only carry-on luggage (and hope to do some gift shopping while I’m there), so need choose well and pack light. While I’ll select my final wardrobe pieces closer to departure, this pre-planning helps provide a framework and reduces last-minute scrambles.

Core Wardrobe

core pieces, carry-on travel wardrobe for Europe

December can be the coldest and wettest month of the year in Paris, though I’ve been told snow is unlikely early in the month. As always, I’ll be relying on lightweight layers, with lots of cashmere in the mix. It’s been my experience that interiors can sometimes feel overheated, so being able to remove a layer or two is crucial. (That’s one reason I avoid turtlenecks.) In addition, I usually wear a “base layer,” either a silk camisole, or a fitted long-sleeve top (silk or thermal) depending on temperatures and what else I’m wearing.

Top row: sweater | jacket (similar)* | tunic
Middle row: tee | cashmere teecardigan
Bottom row: knit pants (similar) | jeans | trousers

I’ll probably add another couple of pieces, tbd closer to departure. I’m not planning to pack a dress at this point; a silk blouse under a jacket with black pants should be more than formal enough if needed.

*Because it will need to fit underneath my outerwear, I’ll opt for a softly structured or knit jacket.

Outerwear, Shoes and Accessories

Paris travel wardrobe shoes, outerwear and accessories

I’ve had several people recommend the Uniqlo packable puffer coats and jackets, so I’m going to give this one a try. In navy.

Jewelry: earrings | earrings (similar) | watch (similar) | bracelet | necklace
Scarves: paisley | hearts
Bags: day | evening (similar)
Boots: knee | ankle

I’ll probably also include a third scarf in a solid color, tbd. I’ll pack a pair of black weatherproof ankle boots for sure, and haven’t yet decided what my second footwear choice will be. I’m considering knee boots. And though not shown, I’ll bring a cashmere knit cap and cashmere-lined gloves. I always pack a folding umbrella no matter what time of year.

Outfits

Cohesiveness is key here; I was easily able to create several outfits using just this 9-piece core. (These should all fit underneath the puffer coat too.)

Paris travel wardrobe for late autumn/early winter
creating outfits with 9-piece Paris travel wardrobe
Paris travel wardrobe late autumn outfit mix

Do you have any late autumn or early winter travel planned? What pieces do you always pack for that time of year?

A note about the collages: images used here are collected from retailer’s websites. Some of my personal wardrobe pieces either are no longer available or are not shown in a format that works for these collages. I try to include pieces that are similar in style, theme and color to what I own and would be packing. I’ve also lightened some images to better show detail.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

48 Comments

  1. October 19, 2016 / 4:13 am

    Snow isn’t likely but rain is. So you want to waterproof your footwear and maybe choose leather that’s easy to clean. That pretty pea gravel on walkways in the parks leaves white muddy traces when wet.
    Tall boots look great, but if you aren’t wearing dresses/skirts, they aren’t indispensable and they do take up a lot of space. In any case, take extra socks. If your feet get wet, you can change your socks. If it’s really cold, you can wear two pairs at a time.
    A soft, crushable hat could be good in the rain. Or you could plan to buy one here.
    And gloves?

  2. October 19, 2016 / 4:21 am

    This is a great post. Love, love, love your style!

  3. Heidi
    October 19, 2016 / 4:21 am

    I traveled to Paris in early December a few years ago. It was glorious! I, also, used a carry on (for a week). Your wardrobe plan looks great. Bring gloves and a hat, too! We did have light snow and bitter cold. You’ll enjoy the Christmas markets! Have a wonderful time!

  4. Mary
    October 19, 2016 / 5:30 am

    I have traveled to Paris in early December and your wardrobe plan seem pretty good, though I would agree with FranceTaste that the knee boots would take a lot of carry-on space that might be needed for returning gifts. Perhaps take another pair of ankle boots instead? I will be traveling to London in mid-January and, as always, will travel with only a carry-on. Can’t wear puffers, so will use my 3/4 length black wool coat (same one I wore in Paris) for winter coverage. My wardrobe plan is similar to yours, minus the jeans, the jacket and one of the handbags. Overheated places, particularly stores, can be a real pain–so lightweight layers are really necessary. Will travel very, very light in hopes that the January sales might yield a treasure or two.

    Hope you have a lovely time and a safe trip.

  5. Ellen
    October 19, 2016 / 5:33 am

    Uniqlo is not available between the coasts so I have never tried their coats, or even seen them, but as a Minnesotan I do know coats, and I am a huge fan of packable down, but I have reservations about this one: I am not a fan of hoods that cannot be detached, and especially not of the style pictured, that zips up to the chin. When zipped up to the top, that zipper can be annoying and irritating, and when only partially zipped, the hood can puff up and obscure your side vision. Packable down is packable because in inner lining, holding the down inside lttle tubes, is eliminated. That inner lining is waterproofed, while the outer shell of the coat is just a thin layer of nylon or poly, and is about a waterproof as a cheap windbreaker. (I know all this because i once took apart a down coat on purpose) Wet down is not warm, and without a dryer handy, it takes a long time to dry. For cold and rainey weather, Primaloft is a better option than down. (Lands End has packable Primaloft coats and Jackets, with a waterproof shell, as do similar stores).

    I would also agree with the suggestion to leave the tall boots at home. There is unlikely to be deep snow, so they are functionally unnecessary, and boots are not at all easily packable. Wearing them on the long plane ride would be less comfortable. Although they are still being worn, it seems to me that the idea of wearing knee high boots with all manner of clothing is fading, and being replaced with boots that come to the lower calf (10″-12″?), reserving the tall boot for times when they are functionally appropriate.

    One other note: you did not picture gloves and hat. If it is cold enough for even light weight down, you will need them if you are to be outside any length of time. I like the inexpensive gloves from H&M for travel because if you lose one, it is of no matter. I actually have a pair in the pocket of all my fall and winter coats. People rarely actually rarely wear their hoods unless it is wet and sleety, but hats are a necessity (even though I hate them) . If you don’t have one, the thin merino wool ones from Smartwool are lightweight and quite warm.

    • October 19, 2016 / 6:47 am

      There is almost never what we’d call deep snow, in Minnesota or Montréal, in Paris. Usually it is soft and melty and calls for something at least water resistant. The nasty cold rain is much more of a factor there.

    • October 26, 2016 / 4:37 am

      Tall boots are actually coming back in style. I like to wear them, not so much for snow, but they add an additional layer of “warmth” on cold, wet, windy days. They are an issue with regards to packing/wearing on a plane. I usually wear them on to the plane, and bring a set of lighter shoes/slippers (sometimes even slipper socks), to wear for the actual flight, and stuff the boots into the overhead bin.

  6. Christina Spada
    October 19, 2016 / 5:34 am

    I’d be cautious about mixing that down coat with rain – that could be a big mess. I know by experience. I’d consider adding a packable gore tex/water proof trench to the mix. Patagonia – North Face – HH – all make packable trenches that would work over the down. Or, you could do something like the the North Face Apex bionic grace jacket.

  7. October 19, 2016 / 5:54 am

    WOW – there are many fantastic pieces you have put together. It will definitely fit well for a trip to Paris!!

  8. Marcy
    October 19, 2016 / 7:12 am

    Your travel wardrobe looks stylish and well-coordinated as always! We go to Paris a lot in December, and I’d say you are right on track with layers. You can expect cold and drizzly weather outside and often overheated interiors, which makes for a challenging combination. Galeries Lafayette always seems to be about 100 degrees!

    One thing I often do for winter Paris trips is to take very few clothes (mostly plain black with scarves), but a second coat. I know that sounds crazy, since I also do carry-on only, but the coat is what I get the most tired of since it’s what actually shows every day. I wear a wool coat onto the plane, and smush a down coat into my carry-on. I’d make sure to have a heavier, warm, outdoor scarf, too.

    I follow your travel wardrobe posts with great interest, as we seem to go the same places and have similar style. Right now I’m packing for a trip to Japan, so your trip was amazingly well-timed, and I’ve been studying your input on packing for it. I’m hoping that our weather is slightly cooler than yours was.

    Your trip to Paris should be so much fun! You can enjoy all the holiday lights and window displays, and have some hot mulled wine and roasted chestnuts from the street vendors. December is a great time for Paris!

  9. Leslie Coe
    October 19, 2016 / 7:50 am

    I love your choices, especially the subtle lift provided by the accessories. To me you have soft, delicate coloring which (again my opinion) looks pretty with the medium contrast accessories you’ve chosen. I have no experience with cold, wet weather so I am reading with interest the comments of those who do. Thanks for the post and your other ones on travel wardrobe planning. So helpful.

    We are traveling to Santa Fe at the end of the month for a few days. Easy peasy wardrobe since it is a casual place – jeans, sweaters, and walking boots and shoes.

  10. Julia Carling
    October 19, 2016 / 7:56 am

    Really interested in this post as we’re travelling to Philadelphia and then New York on Dec 2nd so want to plan early . Wondering if anyone can advise how cold it may get ? We’re sailing home on the QM2 so need to pack formal gear but would like to leave lots of room in the case for shopping ! Any advice gratefully received ! We live in Yorkshire , England so do have plenty of warm clothes !!!

    • LAURIE OWEN
      October 19, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      Julia, we were in New York over Thanksgiving two years ago and the weather ranged from a balmy 70 degrees to a snowy/sleety/windy low 30’s, all in one week! I would watch the weather reports but be prepared for anything, especially over-heated indoor spaces like museums, train stations and restaurants. If it’s rainy or snowy, the coat check rooms get piled up with wet coats, sometimes stacked on top of each other. Whatever coat you bring should at least have an outer layer that is water repellent. Unless it’s just cold with no rain I wouldn’t bring a pure down coat. I brought a coat that had a removable inner liner that worked out very well given the temperature fluctuations. Oh, and if it’s in anything but black you’ll stand out for sure in the New York crowd! Sounds like a great trip.

      • Julia Carling
        October 20, 2016 / 2:12 pm

        Thank you Laurie !

    • October 19, 2016 / 3:41 pm

      I’m an ex-Manhattanite in the suburbs just outside of Philly. The weather actually gets more damp and gray then bitter cold in early December, but you never know! If you are going to be walking around the cities, I would suggest warm layers because that damp chill goes to your bones. It could be windy so bring a hat that is warm and a scarf. If you are going shopping, leave the heavy coat at home because between the crowds and the heat pumped up, the stores get really hot. Bring an umbrella.

      • Julia Carling
        October 20, 2016 / 2:12 pm

        Thank you Catherine !

        • October 20, 2016 / 6:04 pm

          You are most welcome. And have a great time!!!

    • October 21, 2016 / 7:33 am

      Philly and NY at that time can be cold/damp so a lined raincoat is a good idea. Comfortable shoes or booties! and also layering as indoor places tend to be overheated.

    • November 7, 2016 / 5:39 am

      Weather here ranging from 30s to 70 this week! I second the importance of a wind & waterproof outer layer. I find a raincoat w zip out lining and a hood is great, no need to carry a heavy umbrella and using an umbrella on crowded sidewalks or subway stairs is awkward anyway. I recommend a thin down vest you can layer under your coat or wear alone. Warm circle scarf (won’t get lost on subway like a straight scarf), gloves you can leave on while using touch screen, and a hat that fits in your purse. Comfy walking shoes!!! I do ankle booties and bring legwarmers for cold walks – easy to remove & stuff in your purse once at an overheated destination.

  11. October 19, 2016 / 7:58 am

    Seconding the suggestion to rethink the Uniglo puffer – I had one a few years ago in NYC and can say firsthand that it did not mix well with rain/wet snow! Also, no wind protection so it wasn’t very warm.

  12. cindy
    October 19, 2016 / 8:03 am

    Cant believe the Alexander McQueen scarf is not making an appearance in this travel wardrobe. I drool and am envious every time it appears in a post. Surely it deserves to travel to Paris!

  13. Joanie
    October 19, 2016 / 8:12 am

    Great post! I love your travel wardrobe posts. I have only been to Paris in the spring. I am traveling to Palm Springs from Boston in early December and would love any wardrobe recommendations.

  14. October 19, 2016 / 8:19 am

    Hopefully, you’ll get some nice weather. My last trip in April was the coldest, wettest I’ve ever experienced. Great outfits!!

  15. October 19, 2016 / 8:21 am

    Does Pittsburgh compare to Paris? Hmmm? Leaving this morning for Pittsburgh. It will be raining and I am completely unprepared for rain. My hair will get kinky and shoes for rain? We don’t do rain in Los Angeles so I’ll be a mess! The umbrella will just have to do. Let us know how you deal with that rain thing. Maybe I’ll be prepared for my next trip.

  16. Marcy
    October 19, 2016 / 8:54 am

    My favorite travel coat for cold rainy weather is the Eddie Bauer Girl on the Go Insulated Trench Coat. It’s not the height of fashion, but it sure keeps you warm and dry, and looks decent enough to go to dinner.

    • Tracy
      October 19, 2016 / 11:48 am

      I also have this coat. The liner (which includes insulation in the sleeves; quite unusual) is removable for warmer weather, so the trench is adaptable to varying conditions. I would say the temperature range for this coat goes from low 30s F to mid 60s F. I get compliments every time I wear mine. And, it comes in a range of colors, and it looks like it’s currently on sale! (And no, I don’t work for Eddie Bauer!)

    • October 19, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      I have the non insulated version of this coat, and it is a workhorse. Great for layering over a thin down vest or jacket. Truly waterproof.

    • Nancy
      October 19, 2016 / 2:57 pm

      Yes, Eddie Bauer Girl on the Go Insulated Trench Coat is my most versatile coat for any weather. Windproof and waterproof, and the perfect length.

    • October 21, 2016 / 7:56 am

      I’m traveling to Munich in November and have been searching for a coat like this! just ordered …

    • Debra
      October 23, 2016 / 6:16 am

      Will be going to NYC to see my daughter in early November. Rained when I went last year right before Christmas – never got cold, either. Just ordered the Girl on the Go insulated trench for this trip. Will be practical for our warmer Texas weather by taking out the lining. Thanks for the tip!

  17. sybes1
    October 19, 2016 / 11:37 am

    Susan: is the Puffer coat true to size? If I take a size 4 in most US clothes (XS in EF) would I order size small for that Uniqlo coat? thanks! (love the knee high boots BTW)

  18. October 19, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    Winter and early spring/late fall are our favorite times to travel so I’m no stranger to winter carry – on only travel. As for the knee boots – I always take mine and wear them on the plane – they get slipped off and replaced with a pair of inexpensive flat slippers for the flight. Low ankle boots are always my other “shoe” choice – and at least one pair is waterproof!
    Agree with the comments re the puffer jacket for December in Paris – so here’s what I’ve done that works for me.
    I also take two coats – a lands end primaloft (this year going with the parka) and an unlined raincoat/shell. For packing purposes, I just slip the sleeves of the primaloft into the sleeves of the raincoat/shell and carry it on as one coat. I’ve found this works really well for varying weather conditions. Cool and sunny? Just wear the parka? Cloudy, windy and wet – I wear both!!
    For winter travel – yes on gloves, 1 heavier scarf (which of course would be a perfect purchase to make in Paris!) and a hat of some sort. Also, love the Uniqlo heat tech tights. Whisper thin but they can make all the difference in the world under a pair of jeans/pants and are very comfortable and can be sink washed and dry overnight!

  19. October 19, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    Now that I’m working full time, I haven’t even given a thought to what I’ll be wearing on our upcoming trip to Paris. Luckily it’s only for three days so I can pack a minimum. I won’t even bring a heavy coat. It’ll be a trench coat for me and an umbrella. I want to stop by JB Guanti on Rue du Rennes for a pair of gloves because I need a new pair.
    My packing will most likely be a pair of J. Crew Pixie Pants; a lightweight black turtleneck and a heavier black turtleneck. I’ll add a blazer and a silky shirt and heels for the film premiere. Black tights and black over-the-knee boots. Yes. I am packing thigh high boots because they are very pliable and will look great with the camel mini skirt I’m planning on bringing!!

  20. Maryann
    October 19, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    I will be in the UK next week & will travel with a Uniqlo packable down jacket. It is water resistant & will have an umbrella so it should be fine. The down is warm plus it is easy to take off in overheated shops etc. it should be noted that there is a significant different between puffer coats & down jackets. I really hate the bulky feel of a puffer. This is not the case with a down jacket. Also puffers don’t tend to pack down like a down jacket.

    I have travelled to Paris in December & it is a truely lovely time to be there. I never needed a hat but gloves were essential for me. It is unlikely to snow but I would recommend ankle boots as they look chic and go well with your wardrobe. I am sure you will have a great time no matter what you chose to take.

  21. October 19, 2016 / 9:12 pm

    Paris in December is an old friend. I would ditch that puffer coat and use my layers and take a substantial rain coat. I take my Icebreaker “underpinnings” as well as Icebreaker black Henley zip sweater and my Eileen fisher silk tee shirts. Likely my Icebreaker turtleneck which is lovely on its own. I take an Icebreaker neck warmer and that way I can use less bulky scarves. Icebreaker sock liners are thin merino and are wonderful as are the glove liners which allow you to wear stylish gloves and still stay warm. Have fun…Paris in the cold and rain just means brandy and pastry!

  22. Pamela
    October 20, 2016 / 2:15 am

    It can be really cold in Paris even in November. Remember walking through the Luxembourg Gardens in a bitingly cold wind, having flown in from Sicily where it was still balmy. Luckily I’d bought a handmade warm hat in Palermo in a well known pizo free shop near the Teatro Massimo. I was so pleased to be able to pull it on and a warm woolly scarf over the top of my waterproof coat. Would never wear a pair of long boots on a plane for long haul travelling. It your feet or ankles swell in flight you’ll never get them back on at the end. Either that or you might be terribly uncomfortable wearing them in-flight.
    Have a great time. Pamela

  23. October 20, 2016 / 2:57 am

    Our weather in Vancouver is quite similar to Paris’ much of the year, and if I ever get to spend a December week there (and we’re close this time, leaving at the beginning of the month), I’d consider bringing a trenchcoat, my Uniqlo ultra-light jacket (which I use as a pillow for the flight and which I love to wear back in the hotel or rental apartment in the evening, so comfy), and my JCrew peacoat. As Marcy says, I like having the coat variety — even when traveling carry-on — because that’s really what most people see of me. I always wear gloves from October on, and I find a good cashmere scarf around my neck makes a big difference. And a good umbrella that truly keeps the rain off (I always bring the smallest folding size, but it doesn’t do much more than keep the shoulders dry if there’s much of a wind).
    Last October, I was surprised how chilly the city was, especially since there was a layer of fog that didn’t lift until midday, if that.
    But of course, you’ll be warmed by all the wonderful Christmas windows! So exciting to be going back at this time of year!

  24. Kristien
    October 20, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    I agree with everything above. No puffer coat. Something waterproof and layers. I will be spending the same week as your Paris trip in Boston. Early December can be schizophrenic there, with the possibility of unusual warmth and extreme cold. Last year, I found a heavy sweater, jeans, scarf and boots to be sufficient for walking around shopping. But during the same trip, I needed a coat, gloves and head band(I hate hats) to attend the local tree lighting. In both cases, I was comfortable. Have a wonderful trip. Pre-Christmas in the City of Lights sounds magical.

  25. Jane2
    October 21, 2016 / 7:26 am

    Great wardrobe, and I agree with others re the puffer coat – they don’t stand up well in wet weather. I just returned from Paris, and surprisingly my most versatile piece was a fine-knit merino wool top from Costco of all places. It did the job, and looked fab with my new and much more extravagant scarf purchases!

  26. Candian
    October 21, 2016 / 2:42 pm

    That coat is overkill. That’s more suitable for a winter deep freeze. I know you’re from California so you don’t understand seasons, but you will roast to death & be soaked! Layer a waterproof anorak over a sweater and you’ll be fine.

    • Susan B
      October 21, 2016 / 4:14 pm

      Actually the coat was recommended by someone who lives in Paris. 😉 Thanks for the feedback!

  27. BT
    October 21, 2016 / 11:54 pm

    Instead of the puffer jacket, consider a slim down (puffer) vest. It layers under a coat well or can be worn without a coat, it keeps you warm but not overly warm, it can be used on the plane as a pillow, now that the airlines don’t give you one, and may even fit into your hand bag if it gets too warm. I have been to Paris in December for several years in a row and found this to be a great combo. My go-to colors are black, white, a little grey and red for accent. And it all fits in the carry-on, as long as you wear the coat on the plane

  28. Jill Pontiere PO Box 560733 Orlando, Fl 32856-0733
    October 22, 2016 / 3:19 am

    Once again, love your combos for your outfits. However, I wear a size 11 and to pack a knee boot is out of the question….I would have to fly in the knee boot to save space in the luggage. Can’t wait to see the final suitcase contents. Like your minimal jewelry too!

  29. Debra
    October 22, 2016 / 5:38 am

    The day that I left for France this summer, I ran to Uniqlo and picked up a longish, hooded twill anorak in army green. It was my lifesaver as I think it rained on 20 out of the 24 days I was in France! Even in the strongest downpour it kept me dry…so I do know that the right coat can make a huge difference. For winter travel I am partial to a wool coat but that’s me…I’m headed over in March and will likely take that or a short trench, depending on the forecast. I’ll also find room for my black leather jacket – that’s my fun item 🙂
    I’m having serious France withdrawal and so look forward to seeing your photos!

  30. Dawn
    October 23, 2016 / 6:22 am

    Julia, last November we sailed to NYC on the QM2 after visiting the Cornwall Coast (we live in Alberta, Canada). If you want to pack lightly, I would suggest waterproof, leather footwear for New York such as is made by Aquatalia. Low booties would be very versatile. My only outerwear was a black, knee-length fleece lined waterproof coat. With layers underneath I was toasty warm. Silk long-John’s, such as sold by Lands End, are really handy for chilly days on the deck of the ship as well as NYC. Warm gloves, scarves, socks, and an umbrella will be needed in New York.

    Wanting to travel lightly, I agonized over formal wear for the QM2, finally settling on a long, black, wool skirt worn with a sparkly belt and a couple of sleeveless silk tunics tucked in. The silk took up no room in my luggage. We were not travelling in Grills class and I felt totally appropriate…much more so than the other women my age (60) squeezed into low cut sequinned dresses. For semi-formal nights, those same silk tunics were worn over a pair of Eileen Fisher silk slouchy trousers. Sparkly ballet flats sufficed for evenings, both formal and semi-formal. A Jaeger black, viscose jersey dress purchased in John Lewis, Southampton was also worn for semi formal.

    For day time I had just a few merino wool sweaters (jumpers) over either black, wool St. John slacks or Eileen Fisher black cords. And a Talbots, black quilted vest which I wore constantly!

    If I had not wanted to have my own ice skates for Rockefeller Center I would have been able to travel with carry on luggage only.

    This blog is a tremendous resource for packing advice!

  31. October 27, 2016 / 10:22 am

    great…

  32. Susan D.
    December 2, 2016 / 7:34 am

    We recently returned from a week long trip to Santa Fe. It was a trip that included quite a bit of walking and outdoor time. All of my clothes were casual. My pants were all Eileen Fisher–one black, one gray–both ponte knit. I also took a new pair of EF black/gray herringbone leggings. For tops, I had black, gray, black/gray stripes (two different styles) and a red EF tunic. My main footwear was my beloved La Canadienne suede ankle boots. I did include a couple of scarves. I had a new coat! It was a quilted Barbour (brand coat) and was fleece lined. I was VERY pleased with it. For good measure, I also took gloves and a knit cap, but did not need them. Our casita had a washer/dryer, so I was comfortable taking what I did and no more.

  33. ceeamm
    December 29, 2016 / 4:19 am

    I always pack a couple of skivvies ( cotton turtleneck T-shirt ), one or two cashmere turtlenecks and a heavier knit, usually a crew or V-neck.

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