Paris Travel Wardrobe: Early December

cool weather travel wardrobe for Paris

I’ve held off making my final choices as long as possible, but I think I’m ready to pack. The current forecast for my Paris visit is chilly, with only a couple of days where rain is a possibility.

I’ve re-thought and edited a lot of this wardrobe since I began planning a few weeks ago. I’ve cut back to nine pieces which I think will be plenty, as a) I’ll probably be in my outerwear a good percentage of the time and b) I wanted to keep my luggage light and manageable, and save space for purchases. (This will be a great opportunity to find some holiday gifts!) I’ve gone with three bottoms and six layerable tops and sweaters. The choices may seem a little dull, but I’ve stuck with pieces I know I’ll wear. I’ll rely on scarves to provide color and pattern, as they’ll be most visible with outerwear. And I can always add a new “souvenir” scarf or sweater to the mix.

So, let’s run through the items…

Paris Travel Wardrobe

Paris travel wardrobe for Winter

Shoes

I always start with shoes to build my travel wardrobe, but living where we do I don’t have much in the way of “winter” footwear, at least not that’s made for walking all day. After some deliberating, I decided to stick with two pairs of ankle boots, one of which I’ll wear in transit. I want a backup pair of shoes in off-chance one gets soaked, and because I like to give my shoes a rest between hard wearings.

  • I know I’ll be taking these black suede Chelsea boots for sure. They are weatherproof and have passed the all-day-walking test. They look dressy enough for anything I’ll be doing.
  • I’m still debating about the second pair. These bordeaux boots are from a few seasons ago (same style here in black), and while I like them from a color standpoint, they are a bit heavy, and not weatherproof beyond what I can add with a spray. I’d prefer something other than black, but most of my other warmer boots are black. Still on the fence…

Layering Tees/Tops

Most of mine are a few seasons old, but here are some similar options:

Sweaters

Again, I’ve chosen pieces that I’ve had for a while and are in regular rotation during cooler months. I’ve linked to similar styles.

Pants

To keep things simple, I decided to stick with slim-leg pants.

  • Black ponte knit.  These are my go-to’s for travel days, and for sleek comfort. I can hand wash these in a pinch if I have to, and they’ll line dry.
  • Dark-wash denim jeans. Jeans are my Default Setting, and I’ve learned not to leave home without at least one pair. This particular pair (similar here) have no distressing, and a slim straight leg, long enough to cover the top of my ankle boots.
  • Black sateen jeans. Style like a jean, but look dressy enough to go out to dinner.

Outerwear and Accessories

mild winter travel outerwear

  • Puffer jacket. I decided to go with this parka which is packable and is supposed to be water-resistant. I like that the hood is removable on this style. I’m not taking a raincoat in addition…the forecast being what it is now I really don’t think I’ll need one.
  • Scarves. The exact scarves shown above are no longer available, but my preferences for travel are cashmere-silk blends, and wool blends.
  • Cashmere beanie. Basic, but will keep my head warm. I may shop for something more interesting in Paris.
  • Bag. My trusty sidekick. I’m not taking a second bag.
  • Gloves (similar). I’m planning to purchase some warmer gloves once I’m there if needed. (These are all I have aside from my ski mittens, and a fingerless pair.)
  • Not shown: a (very) few favorite pieces of jewelry and a folding umbrella.

As always, I allow myself one or two “wild card” pieces that I’ll select at the last moment based on weather and whim. Stay tuned…

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58 Comments

  1. Marguerite
    December 3, 2016 / 3:59 am

    I’m in London now, after 6 days in the Netherlands for a business conference. The weather has been very good. So surprised. No rain forecast for the next three days. I brought waterproof aquatalia boots, but haven’t needed to wear them, even though I’d like to! Your choices look good to me. Pretty much what I’ve packed. Three colors, all blendable. Have fun!!!

  2. Susan
    December 3, 2016 / 4:43 am

    Have fun!We will watch for you on instagram?

  3. Lizzy
    December 3, 2016 / 5:07 am

    Great choices, know you’ve used a few different brands/ pieces of carry on luggage over the years, which will you take on this trip?

  4. Ellen
    December 3, 2016 / 5:13 am

    I am a big fan of the inexpensive gloves from H&M. The cost about $1.50, and fit better than most of the similar inexpensive gloves. Here in Minnesota they are an underlayer for the ubiquitous, but not very functional, fingerless gloves that are very popular right now, but there is a pair in the pocket of every coat I travel with…if they get lost, and its easy to lose gloves, its no great loss. I find that in the 40 degree range, which would be likely in Paris, its important to keep hands covered from the air, but super warn gloves (like my shearling lined suede) are totally unnecessary.

    Have fun!

  5. December 3, 2016 / 5:23 am

    I see 30s at night, 50s by day, with no rain until next Sunday. Sounds nice!

  6. Patricia
    December 3, 2016 / 6:28 am

    Love seeing your travel wardrobes and links to the actual items when available. The puffer jacket seems perfect for travel. I may order one for a trip to Ireland in early May. Thank you…and enjoy your trip.

  7. December 3, 2016 / 6:51 am

    Have a wonderful time! Looks good.

  8. Brenda Balch
    December 3, 2016 / 6:57 am

    Excellent choices, very similar to what I have learned to pack, whether for a week or 6 weeks. My thinking is black pants for day, a little dressier black pants for night, and basic workout pants. All three are interchangeable if one gets really ruined. ( For a longer trip, I usually don’t take actual denim, since it is so hard to dry in a hotel room or cruise ship.) All are sink washable, and dry perfectly overnight. One pair is light weight, one a little heavier depending on the weather. Then six tops, usually including one short sleeve, one mid, and one heavier or long sleeve. The tops also have to be washable except for one which is a very light weight wool sweater. A coat if indicated, scarves, a few pieces of fake jewelry. Also, pjs are always washable, as are undies.

    • Emily
      December 6, 2016 / 4:13 pm

      Exactly how I do it, for 3 weeks or 6 weeks, with only a carry-on.

  9. susanburpee
    December 3, 2016 / 6:59 am

    Lots of travel wisdom here, Sue. Born of experience as we know. I take my light Nike running gloves everywhere now…except for summer travel. And at least one scarf…even in the summer. I hate to be cold when I’m supposed to be having fun. Unless you know you’re going to a dressy event, I think it’s smart to take one bag/purse. I always take a light cross-body travel purse more for ease of walking than worry about how it looks with an evening outfit.
    Now what packing advice can you give me for my six week trip to South America in February/March???

    • Jacqueline
      December 3, 2016 / 12:30 pm

      Hi! It depends on what countries you’ll be in. I was in Chile, Buenos Aires, and Mendoza, Argentina for the wine grape harvest in 2014. February/March there is the end of summer, so Indian Summer type of clothes. I took a couple of short sleeve tees, a three-quarter sleeved top and a couple of long sleeves. I took a long sleeve silk blouse for dining out, which we only did in Buenos Aires for two nights. I also took a thin merino sweater, and a light fleece (for the wineries, those barrel rooms are really chilly)! I always travel with a silk cami, as I get cold easily (Reynaud Syndrome can kick in at any time). Enjoy your trip! I’m sure you will have a great time!

  10. Janet Jensen
    December 3, 2016 / 7:09 am

    I would bring one warm scarf. The ones you have look too thin. Have a wonderful trip.

    • Susan B
      December 3, 2016 / 7:22 am

      Hi Janet, I’ll also be bringing a cashmere poncho for the plane which can double as a heavier scarf until I have a chance to do some shopping… 🙂 Thanks!

      • December 4, 2016 / 9:50 am

        I’m glad you’ve mentioned that. It can get very dank and chilly in Paris in December, even without rain, and though snow is unlikely and rarely more than a decorative dusting (though there are exceptions!) I come from freezing Montréal but definitely take a warm muffler to Paris, not to mention to Amsterdam…

        The main feature of Paris weather, its challenge but also its charm, is how changeable it is.

    • Tracy
      December 3, 2016 / 8:00 am

      I bought that same pink paisley scarf when Susan first shared it here. I live in Michigan, and I’ve found it quite cozy for 30 degree (Fahrenheit) weather.

      • December 4, 2016 / 10:01 am

        If it is woollen, then it will be warm enough. That is what, about -2°C? It rarely gets much colder than that in Paris during the day, and pseu won’t be doing long commutes waiting for a bus outdoors. But silk isn’t necessarily warm enough. Silk-woollen blends can be.

  11. Patricia
    December 3, 2016 / 7:29 am

    I love the EF long sleeve silk tees: they can look casual or dressy depending on what one wears with them. And they wash up so well. I do wish the white silk tees weren’t so sheer. Is the cotton tee that you show in your post a little thicker?

    • Susan B
      December 3, 2016 / 7:46 am

      Hi Patricia, the one I have is thicker than the silk tee, but I still prefer a camisole underneath. I haven’t tried the long sleeve tee linked in the post, so not sure how sheer it is. The EF cotton white ballet neck tee HERE is one of the few I’ve tried that’s opaque enough that I’d wear on its own.

  12. December 3, 2016 / 7:55 am

    My only thinking has to do with the pants. I know that often, as a Californian who lives in jeans, when I get back to the East Coast in real winter I remember why they invented lined wool trousers. It’s possible your puffer is long enough that you won’t get cold legs, but, if not, it might be optimal to add in a pair of wool pants.

    Love your leopard gloves BTW. Those will turbocharge everything:).

    • December 4, 2016 / 4:59 pm

      Yes! My legs were cold under my jeans in Paris last week (temps just at freezing) — the second day I wore a pair of tights under my pants and was much more comfy.

      • December 5, 2016 / 5:10 pm

        I certainly wear tights or leggings under jeans when it is very cold, but never lined woollen trousers. Even when I was a very slim slip of a girl I always wore those out on the inner seams.

        And to be honest, back then they looked far too bourgeois. Nowadays there are lots of warm options, but some look far too sporty for urban wear for over 30s…

  13. Amy
    December 3, 2016 / 8:12 am

    Was recently in London and was glad I brought my REI silk base layers (long sleeve top and bottoms).These weigh nothing, add virtually no bulk under clothing, and take up hardly any space in suitcase or even purse, but give a lot of versatility in warmth to a limited travel wardrobe. The silk liner adds just enough warmth under jeans if needed. I have even layered them under tights, they are that thin, and felt buffered against the wind. Have a great trip!

      • December 3, 2016 / 4:03 pm

        Hi Susan! Currently in Boston and heading to New York – temp today was a high of 44. Wore my heattech top and bottoms and honestly can’t recommend these pieces enough! Perfect base layer under my jeans and sweater. Looking forward to following along on your Paris trip!!!

  14. December 3, 2016 / 8:12 am

    I’ve been traveling with worn out pieces of clothing for decades. It’s a great idea to leave them behind and shop for new pieces while on the journey.
    On one trip to Paris years ago the housekeeper kept putting the turtleneck I’d thrown in the trash back on my bed. She didn’t think it was ready to be pitched out!
    Now I leave a note saying I’m throwing the items out, but anyone is welcome to them if they don’t think they’re ready for the trash bin. 🙂

    Les ensembles a l’air tres chic et encore comfortable. Bon voyage Susan!

    • December 3, 2016 / 11:07 am

      I’ve done this before with underwear. When I buy new, I save the old, thinking I can wear them one more time. I take them on vacation and discard as I go along. That way, I can take enough sets for everyday (if the trip is not too long) and not have to bother with hand washing along the way. Plus it frees up a little space (admittedly, not much) in the suitcase for purchases.

      • December 3, 2016 / 11:24 am

        Space in a suitcase is premium! 🙂
        I’d rather not have to handwash while on holiday either.

      • Pamela
        December 4, 2016 / 3:35 pm

        How funny! I do the same. Particularly the undies for the long haul travel from Oz to Europe. I take a couple of changes for the flights (it can take at least 23-30 hours, including time on the ground while planes refuel, to get there) and I just drop the used ones in the garbage. That way I don’t carry washing on arrival. Often do the same with an old white cotton shirt to wear on the plane – one that’s clean and unstained but where the collar is getting a bit raggy and maybe yellowing with age. Then I can dispose of this too. It looks perfectly respectable to board the flight as I wear a designer silk scarf at the neck. But I always take check-in bags (as well as cabin bags) going to Europe as it’s so far from home we tend to stay much longer than most Americans travel for. At least a month. Maybe two. So we need more clothes. There’s no way I’m going to enjoy a visit to Paris if all I have is a capsule collection. And for the return we buy another big Samsonite bag for all the shopping. But we both take a few more shirts etc that we’ll throw out before departure – ones that we wear walking around markets in the South for example, where you don’t want to be too dressy. Also my husband takes old socks he can throw out – and then buys some new ones – cramming them in the toes of new shoes he’s bought in Paris or Milan. Plus we send things home by French post – in the grands colisimos. One time my husband insisted on packing an old pair of sneakers he’d worn for about six weeks walking in the South. I wanted him to throw them out. Anyway that box was opened by our Customs people back home because “they had reason to believe it contained something forbidden”. I could just imagine the drug dogs salivating over the smell of old sneaker. The Customs people must have been so disappointed. Pamela

  15. Deborah Lindsay
    December 3, 2016 / 8:16 am

    Always love your travel posts- you are a pro at this!

  16. December 3, 2016 / 11:03 am

    I was in Paris last December and wore low-heeled ankle boots almost all the time. I have a similar puffer coat that I took; it was perfect because I was never cold but it is lightweight to carry over your arm when you want to take it off inside. I mostly wore jeans with a sweater, putting a tee under the sweater when needed for extra warmth. The only time I was ever cold was a Saturday morning, early, at the Porte de Vanves (sp?) flea market. I could have used warmer socks there. I envy you your trip; I had such a great time and thought it was a good time to visit because not too crowded and all the Christmas cheer. Galeries Lafayette dept. store is a good place to look for gloves; much broader selection than I find at stores here.

  17. December 3, 2016 / 11:17 am

    Your packing posts are so helpful…just seeing what you choose is so inspiring.
    Love the thought of you wandering along the rues and boulevards with a festive Paris at your feet!
    I hope you share some of the decorated window displays with us.

  18. December 3, 2016 / 12:36 pm

    Great basic packing list. One suggestion I have found useful if your boots permit liners, take a couple of different ones to vary the feel and pressure points. Your soles look thin to me, so I would need extra padding in them. Enjoy and yes, share pics! I love Paris in all seasons. Bon Voyage!

  19. Canadian
    December 3, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    Since your boots don’t look very warm, my suggestion is really warm socks. It’s the worst to have numb toes while the rest of your body is cozy. I also agree with a previous commenter who suggested a warmer scarf. I love my fleece scarf for protecting my face and neck in cold wind. Staying warm in the winter is more about function, not form!

    • Susan B
      December 3, 2016 / 1:44 pm

      Thanks! The black boots actually have a bit of insulated lining. But I’m also packing my Smartwool socks. 🙂

  20. Gail
    December 3, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    Paris is COLD for us california girls! It’s much further North than we think and the wind whips up and down the streets from the Seine. I walked about 8 hours a day so I needed to be warm. If you’re going to be inside, it is quite warm, especially in museums, so then I was peeling it all off and had to carry it…not great! Last year in October, I wore silk long johns under my slacks, a washable silk shirt over a silk undershirt, black cashmere hoodie and pack able down jacket. Some days I wore my rain proof jacket on top of the down jacket because I was still cold! I bought a cute little wool hat at Galleries Lafayette which really helped, as wearing a hood impairs your peripheral vision. I would rethink your boots by taking one warmer pair as the cold stone streets come through thin leather soles easily. Those boots would never have stood up to 8hours a day walking on hard cobblestone streets, I’d rethink them and get some Merrell walking shoes or boots in black that have thicker soles. It’s really cold and windy if you’re outside at the antique markets or walking through the parks. Bon voyage!

    • Susan B
      December 3, 2016 / 3:12 pm

      Hi Gail, at this point it’s too late to find another pair of boots here, but if I really need something different I know a few places in Paris to look for them. 😉

  21. December 3, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    Very pragmatic and nice choices. I’m still amazed at how cold it was last week. I hope you are definitely having a great, great time!!!!

  22. Christine Tiley
    December 3, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    I bought a light weight thermal jacket and thermal underwear from Katmandu to wear in Paris recently. Paris was really freezing (more so after arriving there from 36c in Australia) but my Katmandu purchases kept me toasty warm. Both items are machine washable and dried overnight on a hanger on the heated towel rack in the hotel. The jacket is very fashionable and I didn’t feel out of place amongst the chic Parisian ladies. Bought a beautiful pair of Arcopedico ankle boots in Rome the previous year which kept my feet warm and comfortable on my lengthy hikes around Paris. Thanks for all your tips, they are invaluable for travellers! Hope you have a wonderful festive season.

  23. jo
    December 3, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    I am packing this moment for a “roots” trip to Santiago de Cuba. We leave in the am and I am taking my 88 yo dad and his 3 grandkids + hubbie. Most tourists have gone to Havana, but not the opposite end of the island where Santiago is. It will be fascinating because Fidel is being buried in Santiago tomorrow, in the same cemetery as my grandfather. I’m taking 2 shorts, 2 black capris, one maxi dress for the Tropicana nightclub show, 3 T’s to get sweaty, 2 night blouses and one SPF long sleeve shirt…and a roll of Charmin 🙂

  24. Jeanne
    December 3, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    To me, yours looks like the perfect wardrobe for Paris in early December. Stylish, practical. You’re wise to think about keeping warm, as it’s chilly in the mornings just now in Paris. You’ll need the two pairs of boots and your beanie and parka. The jeans will keep your legs warm. P.S.- are the Eileen Fisher ponte pants quite different from the crepe pants ?

    • Susan B
      December 4, 2016 / 6:18 am

      Jeanne, thanks! Yes, the ponte pants are a bit thicker/heavier.

      • Jeanne
        December 4, 2016 / 10:51 pm

        Thank you. Bon voyage !

    • Jacqueline
      December 4, 2016 / 12:11 pm

      I wore the EF pointe pants to a Hoilday Celebration dinner in Napa, CA last night. It was 41 degrees but I was quite comfortable in my black pointe pants and velvet jacket. Love these pants, they can dress up or down.
      The crepe pants are better for warmer temps, as they are thinner, but they are just as versatile.

  25. Peggy
    December 4, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    We’re heading to Rome/London soon and, having lived in Switzerland, I love love love Europe in the winter – the gray buildings, gray, chilly weather, and the warm light shining through shop windows . . . I’ll be taking a waterproof anorak jacket (seriously, it’s warm enough for me with layers), 3-4 cashmere sweaters including my must-have black cashmere turtleneck for evenings, 3 pairs of jeans – bootcut and slim, 3-4 tees, Blondo waterproof ankle boots, Merrell clogs, and athletic shoes. I never do laundry while on vacation unless I’m at a tropical locale in a house rental, but in the winter, I find that clothes don’t get dirty or smelly.

  26. Sue
    December 5, 2016 / 4:34 am

    Great capsule pieces Susan. I took the same Landsend down jacket to Vienna last week, on your recommendation. It was excellent – lovely and warm around the Christmas markets at night. When I was sightseeing indoors around the palaces, the jacket packed down so small that I could fit it into my handbag – it’s so light. Enjoy Paris.

  27. Erin
    December 5, 2016 / 7:31 am

    I’ve been considering buying that Givenchy bag for a while now, but haven’t seen it in person. I also haven’t found many interior photos or descriptions. Are there any drawbacks to the bag – anything that really annoys you?

    Have fun!

    • Susan B
      December 5, 2016 / 9:58 pm

      Hi Erin, this is still my favorite bag design, both at home and for travel. The interior is cloth, with a zip pocket, and two slip pockets. The outside pocket is a nice size for my iPhone 6 Plus. The only minor annoyance is after a few years the zipper is sometimes sticky (just when starting to close) but I rub a little soap or vaseline on it and it frees up.

  28. Cindy
    December 5, 2016 / 7:37 am

    Love that you do it all with carry-on. Me too. I would urge you to look at Athleta. I love the versatility of their clothes and fabrics . Particularly their Ponte pants. I have the Skinnies in both charcoal and black and they are MORE comfortable than jeans. They also have the added benefit of being able to dress up if I need them to. ( I do not travel with jeans. ) They also work as leggings. ( for summer travel I have the aspire ankle pants, which are made of “featherweight stretch” fabric. They absolutely do not wrinkle. I have worn them on 10 hour flights. When you get off you look crisp and fresh. ) Both of these fabrics come in several different styles, and petite and tall.
    I am 56 – travel all the time (airline pilot), these get packed every trip. Have fun!

    • Jacqueline
      December 6, 2016 / 7:13 pm

      I just discover the Athleta pointe pants! They are fabulous for travel, but they do stretch out quite a bit if worn more than two days straight. I have not tried to hand wash them in the hotel sink, have you any feed back on that?

      • Cindy
        December 7, 2016 / 7:51 am

        In January, I’ll take both pairs on a 10-day. I’ll check out the stretch and also the in sink washing!

      • cynthia allen
        February 3, 2017 / 7:30 am

        Mine fit me like skinnies, so the knees stretching out is not too noticeable to me – (most skinnies have baggy knees). I wore them for three days on my trip. I washed them in the sink after day 3 and they came out great, but took a long time to dry. Next time I will use my roll in a towel and step on them trick to get out more water. I may just try to wash parts, as well. Still love them! My 20+ daughter told me they make my butt look good. Quite the compliment from her.

        • Jacqueline
          February 3, 2017 / 4:33 pm

          I am on a 2 week trip to India as I type. I’ve worn the Athleta pointe pants twice now.
          Pros: they are not too hot or clingy in this muggy Mumbai weather. The skinny fit thru the leg has held up nicely.
          Cons: as I said I’ve worn them twice, and the waist has stretched out so much I don’t have to undo the button or zipper to take them off, they just pull off!
          Good to hear they wash well. I will do that today, and Thank You for reminding me of the towel tip. That is how I hand wash sweaters at home.
          All things considered, I would buy these pants again.

          • Cindy
            February 3, 2017 / 8:40 pm

            If you can pull them down, then you must be like me – flat butt! I can do that with many of my pants. For some reason the waist in these does not stretch out. Maybe we have different styles.
            Enjoy – sounds like a wonderful trip!

  29. Nicole
    December 5, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    After my last trip I did what I’ve wanted to for a long time, made a little list/note of do’s and don’ts for packing next time (what worked well/what is not necessary). I left the note in my carry-on so I will see it next time I pack. (I have to admit I am quite surprised at the tossing-clothes tactic I read in comments!) I ordered a packable down coat, knee-length, and I can’t wait to get it and try it out. Still working out the right weight of jacket for this CA winter and I imagine this one will be good for travel as it can be rolled up small. As a New Englander, I packed away the jeans for the winter. They hold in the cold. Winters there I wore cords and velour pants. My most warm outfits had cotton turtlenecks (with closed cuffs to hold in body heat) with a fleece LL Bean pullover. Now, I’m divesting of my collection of turtlenecks and cords that I have not worn once here in CA. Warm and cozy travels, Susan. 🙂 I look forward to festive Paris photos. Oh, I so want to go!

  30. Linda L
    December 6, 2016 / 11:03 am

    Great travel wardrobe! Can’t wait to see you pics!

  31. December 7, 2016 / 4:00 am

    Great travel wardrobe. My concerns about jeans in winter have already been answered, of course, and you are a thoughtful packer. Have a great time!

  32. Cindy
    December 7, 2016 / 7:50 am

    In January, I’ll take both pairs on a 10-day. I’ll check out the stretch and also the in sink washing!

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