Travel Wardrobe Recap: Paris In December

Two travel outfits in Paris, worn by style blogger Susan B. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Over the years I’ve found it quite helpful to do a written assessment of my travel wardrobes: what worked, what didn’t, what I didn’t need, what I wish I’d brought. I’ll refer back to these recaps when planning the next trip, and (hopefully 🤞) refine and improve my selections.

My Paris Travel Wardrobe

Winter travel wardrobe capsule. This one's going to Paris! Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Click here for my complete travel wardrobe.

Overall, I’m giving this travel wardrobe a grade of B. Packing for weather conditions that are potentially quite different from what I experience at home is challenging. The good news is that I was warm enough and comfortable the entire trip. I wish I’d packed fewer clothes and more outerwear options. But let’s break it down…

MVP’s

These were the pieces that I wore most often and that worked well for my activities and environment.

  • The down coat (similar style). Was plenty warm and lightweight. With so many people wearing various styles of puffers, I felt as though I fit right in.
  • The grey jeans.(c/o) Boy, do I like these jeans! They’re incredibly comfortable, good-looking and don’t stretch out.
  • The black ponte knit pants. Comfortable and polished, one of my travel stalwarts.
  • The black Chelsea boots. No surprise here, as this is a style that’s worked well for me on prior trips. This pair was purchased a few weeks before the trip, and was comfortable from the get-go. I walked for hours in them over a variety of surfaces with nary a complaint from my finicky feet.
  • The silk thermals. (Top / Bottom) I only needed them on the first three days in Paris, but I was SO glad I’d packed them! They kept me warm without added bulk, and I didn’t overheat indoors. Even my skinny jeans slid right over them without bunching.
  • The black cashmere and dark green merino wool sweaters. Wore one or the other of these almost every day.

Pinch Hitters

  • The knee boots. (Similar style) They were comfortable on my feet all day, and helped keep my legs warm.
  • The Goyard tote (similar). I carried this on days when it threatened rain, and I needed room to bring a folding umbrella. The tote was light enough that I didn’t get tired either with it on my shoulder or over my arm. Mine has a top zip which makes it more secure, though I see plenty of women in Paris carrying the open style. I also used it as my “personal item” for the flights in both directions.

Benched

  • The black and dark blue skinny jeans. Just wasn’t inspired to wear them.
  • The ivory v-neck blouse. In fact, I didn’t even pack it ultimately. Didn’t miss it either.
  • The velvet jacket. I’d planned to wear to a couple of meet-ups that fell through at the last minute.
  • The heavy-duty winter boots. Didn’t need them.
  • The merino v-neck sweater. Stuck to my thicker, warmer pullovers.

Wish I’d Brought…

  • A second outerwear option. When you’re always in a coat, it’s nice to have some variety. Though bulkier than my down coat, I wouldn’t have minded having either a teddy coat or a wool overcoat as well.
  • A pair of boyfriend or straight-leg jeans. Even though they wouldn’t have worked with the knee boots, they would have provided a bit more wardrobe variety. (I also wouldn’t have felt out-of-place in these, as I noticed many more women wearing looser denim styles, often cuffed at the ankle.)

Do you travel during the winter months? What are your winter travel MVP’s?

Stay in touch.

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

48 Comments

  1. Sally
    December 28, 2018 / 4:13 am

    Susan: your boyfriend Jeans example from AG are cute but are they ‘acceptable’ with the distressed areas? If so, I would definitely go for those.

    • Kathleen
      December 28, 2018 / 5:16 am

      Funny you should mention the distressed area as I was trying to figure out if that was “distress” or a logo. I only saw it on the left front thigh. The 2% elastane is what keeps these jeans from stretching out, I believe. The only thing I don’t care about on these jeans is the white stitching. Makes the back pockets a focal point so not great for many. Oh, and, no returns on sale items but I’m tempted to buy these!

      • Nicole K
        December 28, 2018 / 7:58 pm

        I owned a pair of these and they were comfortable, but they run fairly big. I remember having to go down a size. And I ultimately decided they weren’t for me. Sold them at a consignment store.

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 28, 2018 / 6:05 am

      Hi Sally, personally, I’m fine with a bit of minimal distressing like that one. If you’re asking about wearing in Paris, one doesn’t usually see huge holes and rips (except on very young people), but I did notice softer washes with a bit of fading, and even some raw hems. It really depends on your comfort zone.

  2. December 28, 2018 / 4:16 am

    I do always bring two coats when I travel in the winter. It’s the item that’s the most “seen” and I get tired of the same one, same look. Looks like you had a great trip.

  3. Karen Boucias
    December 28, 2018 / 4:36 am

    I carry silk thermal tops everywhere I go. In the summer, you never know about plane temps, air conditioning, rain, a drop in temperatures. And if I don’t need them, they are worth the tiny bit of packing space used. I wear bottoms only when skiing or late season/winter hiking.
    I also find short, comfortable boots and all the options of stylish sneakers to be wonderful.
    Karen

    • Patricia B. Chapman
      December 28, 2018 / 6:07 am

      In 1998 we were in Florence at Easter and it was unexpectedly freezing rain and very cold. I was not prepared. While sitting next to a lovely 80 year old woman at Easter dinner she said she always packs silk underwear for every trip “just in case”. I have followed that advice ever since and even worn them under pjs in cold Irish bnbs !

  4. December 28, 2018 / 4:45 am

    I get all of this. With your heavy duty winter boots you mean the shiny ones? They are also cute though.
    You are a cleaver packer. Usually you have more variety in scarf colours. Am I right?
    Greetje

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 28, 2018 / 6:01 am

      Hi Greetje, yes the shiny boots. They’re fleece-lined and what I use for après-ski boots. I usually do add more color with scarves, but I’ve recently cleared out my scarf collection to get rid of ones that are either worn out or that I don’t wear often. The others that were left didn’t go well with the colors I chose. I was hoping to find more scarves this trip, but only found the one (green on left).

  5. Cathy
    December 28, 2018 / 5:02 am

    I am watching you post with great interest as I am going to Italy in April. I have two questions.
    1: what type of travel mirror do you take. I am over 60 and need one side to be magnifying .
    2. I am short like you. I have purchased several scarves to take however they seem to Swallow me. Have you ever had scarfs cut in half to make two so they wouldn’t be so thick? I think 18 in wide would work for me. They are still going to be longer than I need but I didn’t want to loose the cute
    border

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 28, 2018 / 5:56 am

      Hi Cathy, regarding #1, I love this makeup mirror: http://bit.ly/2CDMvR6 It’s small, has its own light (rechargeable) and is easy to hold or hang with the ring on the back if there’s a hook at eye level.

      #2 I have never cut my scarves (though if there’s a way to do it without the cut end fraying it’s probably fine), but have found that you can reduce the volume by twisting them. If the ends are too long, wrap twice around the neck.

    • Lyn
      December 28, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      I have cut many of my scarves in half lengthwise to reduce the bulk. The ones that already have the “eyelash” style of fringe on the ends are perfect for this — like Susan’s lighter scarf with the big dots. I have also done some with regular fringe, but never with a rolled hem! After cutting, I often pull out about a half inch of threads along the cut edge to give me eyelash fringe there as well. With patience, good light, and a little courage, it is easy to do yourself. The trick is to cut as close to the grain line as possible. Buy a cheap used scarf and give it a try.

  6. December 28, 2018 / 5:34 am

    Although we often go away in winter to other wintery places, it’s always by car. So much easier to bring more than one heavy coat when one only has to sling one of them into the back seat. And if we travel from our winter to a warmer place down south by car, we always laugh that the back seat becomes a visual record of the weather as we shed layer after layer the further south we go. Then do the reverse on the way home.
    Hope you had a good Christmas, Sue. Freezing rain here today, layers of ice all over our windows. Makes one happy to be retired, able to pour a second cup of tea, read blogs, and NOT have to navigate all that ice on the way to work.

    • December 29, 2018 / 8:37 am

      Well, I do have a bit of shopping to do in the neighbourhood; nothing far but a bit of a walk and hope the sidewalks have been properly cleaned! No car.

      I usually make do with one coat, as it is such a bulky item, even though modern ones are far less heavy than the (prettier) woollen coats we used to wear. I find most other people, whether here, in nearby cities or in Europe, do the same and change accessories. Bought new boots in the Boxing Day sales that seem to have very good traction. I am not ashamed to take my late mother’s cane with cleats if it is really icy.

      I always take the train if going to Ottawa, Toronto or Québec City. Love the train!

      As far as jeans, I find straight-legged ones make my short legs look stumpier. I prefer narrow legs, but not too tight.

      • Rita Prangle
        December 30, 2018 / 3:15 pm

        I agree on the extra coat. It’s great to have if you’re traveling by car, but otherwise it takes up too much space and weighs too much.

  7. Jean
    December 28, 2018 / 6:30 am

    I really enjoy reading your travel posts, they are so helpful. And the recap is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Rondi
    December 28, 2018 / 7:05 am

    I love reading your recaps. I always mentally critique my packing after the trip. I wonder if its possible to be 100% satisfied with your choices? I agree that two coats gives you more variety with your look. Leaving out the 3rd pair of boots should give you room for that second coat. I find it fairly easy to pack only 2 pairs of shoes in the winter but usually end up with 3 pair for warm weather trips!

  9. December 28, 2018 / 7:31 am

    I traveled to Italy in October and packed for more dressy activities than I needed. I also found that footwear is totally casual. Most women were wearing some type of athletic shoe, and the patent flats I packed were worn only once for a dressier dinner. I brought a cotton knit EF jacket and another more structured EF black blazer that were both useful and traveled well, but in general I had too many clothes!

  10. Chris
    December 28, 2018 / 7:36 am

    I packed a black Alpaca cape at the last minute on a recent trip to Chicago. So glad I did. It provided a chic outer layer at night for a fresh look. And it didn’t take much room in my suitcase. Capes seem to be very popular this year. Thanks for sharing all your lovely photos with us! Happy New Year.

  11. P T
    December 28, 2018 / 7:55 am

    Just returned from a two weeks traveling on the European continent this December. Very happy with my packing choices. Brought four long sleeved cotton rich tops that I left behind after a couple of wearings. (This made room for two bottles of Cremant on the return trip.) Four Lands End cashmere sweaters: two short sleeve, one cardigan and one long sleeve pullover. Only wore two. Three pair of skinny jeans. Only wore two. One cashmere long scarf which I wore every day, wish I had brought another for variety. Silk scarves for accents. Two velvet outfits for evening. Pair of dressy flats. Pair of Vionic sneakers. Sketchers Ugg-type boots. Happy with these choices. Saw Ugg styles on everyone. A short Lands End puffer jacket and my trusty Lands End 3/4 length winter coat with compact thermal lining. Very content with all my choices. If I had left the one pair of jeans and two cashmere sweaters at home, I could have brought home another bottle of wine in my Rick Steves rollaboard that I checked for the journey home!

  12. Jody Campbell
    December 28, 2018 / 8:26 am

    Great guide for the future! Always enjoy reading your posts. Curious… what brand were the winter boots you did not need?

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 28, 2018 / 8:28 am

      Thanks! The boots are from a Finnish brand, Pertti Palmroth. I purchased them a few years ago on a ski trip in Colorado.

  13. December 28, 2018 / 8:52 am

    I frequently travel in the winter – in fact just got back about 10 days ago! My winter MVP’s – Uniqlo heattech leggings and long sleeved crew tops. Inexpensive, warm and take up very little packing space. For this trip, my new Uniqlo puffer vest was my new BFF. The coat I brought was rated to 25 degrees but I don’t agree – maybe it’s my thin California blood – but without the vest I would have been really cold. Two pairs of boots – one knee high and waterproof the other ankle high. My other “must” travel with item – insoles. I have one set that works in both pairs of boots – provides additional insulation for the sole and also more support so I can put in 17,000 steps without missing a beat!

  14. Nancy Hupp
    December 28, 2018 / 9:02 am

    Hi Susan,
    I have followed your blog for several years now. Lots of great travel advice and updates on sales.
    FWIW – I have to tell you that I like your hair much better shorter! I know one gets tired of wearing the same style, but I know I have better lengths and styles than others. Your short pixie style is very flattering on you!

    Wishing you a Happy New Year and great travels and wardrobe finds in 2019!

  15. Anon
    December 28, 2018 / 9:25 am

    I took two coats on a spring trip to a northern climate. One was an ultra-thin packable three-quarter length winter coat suitable for -20C. The other was a spring water-and wind-repellent coat, which I wore for the first week. This is the one I wore on the plane, due to its bulk. Two coats were worth it. The climate varied from cold and windy to 25C.

    I usually find that I wear only two pairs of footwear during a trip, but always take three because I travel during the transitional spring and fall months. You never know when footwear will get wet. It can take forever to dry. Plus, there was that one time when my boots were sliced open on sharp rocks…and on the same trip, another pair of boots proved unsuitable on the terrain.

    • December 30, 2018 / 5:50 pm

      It is necessary if you are travelling to two different climates; me, to Amsterdam and Perugia, Central Italy, to work at conferences, but one hopes that the milder-weather one won’t be bulky, or can fit under the warmer coat!

      Footwear can also be bulky and heavy. I think Pseu’s knee-high boots are lovely, but no, I wouldn’t have taken them. I need somewhat supportive shoes even when working at venues or relaxing in my temporary home. This is very personal, according to each traveller.

  16. Ann M
    December 28, 2018 / 9:37 am

    Excellent recap. Thank you!

  17. Kay
    December 28, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Once I was in Paris in late May and it was freezing! I had taken only a light jacket to wear on the plane, so I bought a pashmina from a little shop near my hotel and wrapped up in that for a couple of days. For me, it is always a challenge to pack light and also predict the weather.

  18. December 28, 2018 / 12:00 pm

    How long was your trip? What would you have taken for a dressy evening outfit? Thanks for the great tips on shoes. I always have difficulty bringing the right ones. Love the silk underwear tip too!

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 28, 2018 / 12:55 pm

      Hi Mary, it was 9 days total. I’ve found that I almost never need a “dressy” outfit, but had I needed to dress up a bit I would have worn the ponte knit pants, ivory sweater, and velvet jacket, with one of the necklaces I brought.

  19. Daniella
    December 28, 2018 / 12:19 pm

    The beauty of traveling abroad for me is not the burden of what to pack but what can I buy while at the chosen destination and being able to mix in well with the locals! I bring only the very basics and then I have a ball shopping wherever I find myself. This year Athens and the islands was heaven for linen everything and anything and Israel for fabulous jewelry. When I return I love wearing the pieces that remind me of the fabulous times spent abroad.

  20. Vicki
    December 28, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    Thanks so much for the recap! I just returned from a trip and again found planes to be very warm. I still carry a cashmere travel shawl with me, but it seems the days of cool planes are over. Is it just my routes? Is it because they no longer provide blankets for the steerage? If this is an artifact, I would love to free up space on my carry on bag. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 28, 2018 / 1:21 pm

      I really think it depends on the plane. On an earlier flight this year, I was freezing for most of the flight over, but was quite comfortable coming home. On this most recent trip, my outgoing flight was a little warm, and the return flight was comfortable. It seems to still be a bit of a crap shoot. 😉

      • k-t
        December 28, 2018 / 2:44 pm

        My personal experience is that the temperature can vary wildly on the same plane. The window seats can be very cold (not well insulated from the sub-freezing outside air) and the aisle seats very warm. I think filling the space under the seat in front of you (and under you) can also block the heat vents.

  21. Lyn
    December 28, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    The wardrobe recaps are my favorite posts! I always try to limit myself to two of any given category. (I suspected that four pairs of jeans would be overkill.) And I always pack something to wear in case it is 10° warmer or cooler than I expect. The two-coat plan works great — a nice waterproof raincoat and a Uniqlo down jacket can be worn together or separately, giving you three options that will take you from 20° to 70°.

    Crocs ballet flats work well as a back-up pair of shoes. Ultra light, easy to pack, comfortable and waterproof. Theoretically you can buy a pair of shoes in Europe if something happens, but that is not always practical. My faithful walking shoes literally disintegrated on a weekend in a small town in England. With no shoe-shopping opportunities available, I would have been lost without a spare.

  22. Jan whichard
    December 28, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    My workhorses are my Scottish tartan wrap, my Lands end 3/4 puffer jacket like yours, my Icebreaker underpinnings and my knee high Born black riding boots And Clark’s booties. If I want another coat, I compress my puffer coat and wear the other on the plane.

  23. Nicole in CA
    December 28, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    I do the same thing now, even while flying home; think about what things in the suitcase can stay behind. Pare down, pare down, travel lighter. My last trip east the weeks before and during Thanksgiving, last-minute to escape the smoke of the Camp Fire-I was glad to have two coats. The first few days felt like fall so I could wear the cotton blend black trench but then quickly turned to winter and it snowed a few times. I laid the coat out as much as I could on the bottom of the suitcase so it didn’t take up any room at all except for the little extra with a glove in each pocket. Choices are sometimes needed! I love thinking up ways to get treasures back home (though sometimes it can be stressful, too, when there is almost no room for one more gift). This time I was quite pleased with my idea to stuff cookie cutters into my shoes. Kept them from being crushed and worked perfectly. It would work well for glass ornaments, too. I feel better about my black jeans now that I see them listed as gray on the website. They look like what the black ones do when washed many times and the color begins to fade. They feel like new again. 🙂

  24. Robin W
    December 29, 2018 / 1:26 am

    Hi Susan, I’m in Paris now for the Christmas week – was greatly inspired by your suggestions and list, and will share what my wardrobe updates are while on the trip…. we’ve been doing a lot of walking, and it’s been pretty cold – so my long puffer coat has been on all the time every single day. I also wish I’d thought to bring a second choice to change it up. I brought the Uniqlo long sleeve little jacket but it’s not enough by itself. The black coat has a big hood, which is more of a nuisance than useful; instead of using it I bought here a little knit cap. It’s not very chic but makes a huge difference in comfort. And I’ve been in my winter boots and very thick socks every day also, just for warmth. I brought nice black sneakers, haven’t worn them yet once. And a slightly dressier pair of Chelsea boots were worn for Christmas Eve dinner out, but that’s all. I have been wearing black velveteen jeans every day also .. they’re warmer than denim. As for tops, it almost doesn’t matter because the coat only comes off in restaurants/museums. I brought several sweaters but actually have worn only two of them (changing out the t-shirts and silk underwear underneath – bring two sets of those). My scarf has been one of those cashmere small cape kinds, so it stays on over the rather nondescript sweaters (black v-neck) underneath while inside at the cafe tables and brings color around my face – it’s a pretty leaf green color. A bigger scarf I brought was good for the dressy night out but otherwise too bulky. Have worn my ponte pants only once; and could have worn the velvety jeans in their place; have not worn the denim at all. Hope these comments help the next person packing for Paris

  25. Lynette Lange
    December 29, 2018 / 11:14 am

    I will be in Rome and Venice in January. Based on your observations in Paris, do you have any suggestions for a stylish yet warm hat?

    • December 30, 2018 / 6:02 pm

      This depends on your style and how chilly – (frileuse – freddolosa) you are. I’m a béret person. Rome is very unlikely to be terribly cold, but could be chilly. Venice is likely to be very damp. Some kind of hood could be useful.

  26. Wendelah1
    December 29, 2018 / 11:32 am

    I am very intolerant of cold weather, so if we travel in winter, we go to Hawaii. Right now, inside my heated house in LA, I am wearing the same ponte pants you took to Paris, a silk undershirt, a long-sleeved flannel shirt, a heavy cotton sweater (I’m allergic to wool and feathers), heavy socks and and knitted fingerless gloves. I can’t imagine what I’d have to wear in real winter weather to venture outside.

    I know, so very not helpful…

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 29, 2018 / 1:38 pm

      I hear ya. I think houses in Southern California aren’t as well-insulated, so when it does get cold outside (as it’s been recently…BRRR) they don’t hold the heat. They take longer to warm up too, IMO

  27. Ms. Elise Backinger
    December 29, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    Have you thought of leading a trip of female travelers?or might you recommend something? You are such a great traveler

  28. Chris Mahieu
    December 29, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    I especially like your Goyard. So very French 🙂

  29. RoseAG
    December 31, 2018 / 4:27 am

    I can’t remember if this was a carry-on or a checked bag journey, but I think the velvet blazer results are interesting. That would have been a relatively bulky item. If it’d been warmer and you hadn’t always worn the puffer maybe it’d have been outer wear and made it out of the closet despite the dressy events being axed? Would a dressy sweater (less bulky) sweater have sufficed?

    • Susan B
      Author
      December 31, 2018 / 6:42 am

      Hi Rose, this velvet blazer is actually quite lightweight and drapey. It folds down to nothing. But I do want to find a lightweight cardigan with some structure, and that fastens in front for future trips. I did some shopping for cardigans in Paris, but didn’t find any that worked for me.

  30. December 31, 2018 / 7:50 am

    I love the velvet blazer, but have been to Paris in winter or late autumn several times and it would never have worked as outerwear there, even when it is relatively mild. It tends to get chilly and damp by sundown, which is very early there at that time of year.

    Odd, I’d have called that a jacket, not a blazer, as I think of a blazer as more structured. But the terminology of styles changes quickly.

    • January 7, 2019 / 6:50 am

      I love the velvet jacket too but you’re right: you need to wear it with a larger coat during this season. Still, it’s a very good versatile piece, perfect for a casual outfit or a more elegant one… it will totally change depending on how you accessorize it 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PRIVACY POLICY

We do not share personal information with third-parties nor do we store information we collect about your visit to this blog for use other than to analyze content performance through the use of cookies, which you can turn off at anytime by modifying your Internet browser’s settings. We are not responsible for the republishing of the content found on this blog on other Web sites or media without express permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

error:
powered by chloédigital.