Our trip to Italy (and Paris) will cover a little over two weeks. We’ll be in Rome, Lake Como and Venice, then finishing up in Paris for two nights. As of today, the forecasts indicate mild temperatures and pleasant conditions in Rome and Venice, and chilly, possibly wet conditions in Lake Como. The last time we were in Italy, much of Europe was experiencing an unusually hot spring, so I’m happy for the cooler temps, as I find them much easier to pack for.
When push came to shove, I opted for a “no muss, no fuss” wardrobe. I’ve selected pieces that will layer well to accommodate changing conditions. As always, I don’t include outerwear, accessories or underpinnings as part of my 12 items. And at the last minute I’ll give myself the option to add a “wild card” depending on weather and my mood.
So let’s dive right in to the details…
I really wanted to include some non-black footwear, as it just feels more seasonally appropriate. But because of the rain currently in the forecast, I’m including my black weatherproof ankle boots.
- Low-heeled pumps, left. (similar) We have a few dinners on the schedule that are a step up from casual, so I decided to include these leopard ankle strap pumps. I know they’re comfortable for long periods on my feet (though I’ll probably limit their wear to evenings) and the leopard print gives simple outfits a nice lift.
- Slip-on sneakers, middle. (similar)I wanted something a little fun and funky. And Not Black. I’ve road-tested these the last couple of weeks and they’ve passed with flying colors for comfort and durability.
- Weatherproof ankle boots, right. (similar)For wet and/or chilly weather. I also like to wear ankle boots on travel days to protect my feet. You never know when that Dude In A Hurry is going to run over your toes with his heavy suitcase.
After some dithering, I went with what I know works. Two pairs of slim leg jeans (one lighter wash, one medium), and two pairs of Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants (one slightly cropped, the other hits just below the ankle).
- Medium wash jeans (similar).
- Lighter wash jeans (similar). I decided to include a lighter pair in case the weather warms up.
- Slim black knit pants, ankle length (similar).
- Slim black knit pants (similar). Both of these black pants can dress up easily if needed. They also can be hand washed in the sink if necessary, and will hang to dry overnight. They’re comfortable and breathable even if the weather warms up. Best travel pants I’ve found yet!
I decided to stick with tees and sweaters this time.
- Black merino wool pullover (similar). Mine’s Uniqlo from last year. It’s a little different from the style currently available, has a high-low hem and covers my bum.
- Cashmere blend striped tee (similar sweater option, similar tee option).
- Lightweight long grey sweater (similar). Mine’s from last year, but it’s a nice sweater that’s not boxy or bulky, so can layer underneath a jacket.
- Striped 3/4 sleeve tee (similar). This is a very lightweight tee, good in heat.
- Long-sleeved black silk tunic (similar).
- Pink graphic tee (similar, more options here or here). In case the weather warms up, or I hit the wall with neutrals.
I’m bringing two jackets this time rather than a cardigan. One jacket can dress up for evening, the other is lightweight and can be dressed up or down.
I’m using scarves to add color and pattern. As I described in an earlier post, Color And Neutrals In A Travel Wardrobe, I’ve limited my tops to stripes and graphic prints, and scarves to florals. The pattern mix works so that any of the scarves can be worn with any of the tops.
- Silk-cashmere blend long scarf (similar).
- Cotton-silk blend long scarf (similar)
- Silk square scarf (gifted).(options here)
- Cashmere poncho (similar style, save option here).
Outerwear And Bags
(Don’t worry, those are just sun spots on the Gucci; it hasn’t faded.)
I opted for two water-resistant jackets, one that’s a bit heavier and warmer, and one that’s a very lightweight shell. I still haven’t found a day bag I like better for travel than my Pandora, but will also throw in a smaller crossbody bag for variety and a pop of color.
- Utility jacket (similar). This jacket is several years old from Sandro. I still love it as much as the day I bought it in London.
- Rain jacket (similar).
- Black satchel/crossbody bag.
- Red crossbody bag. (older, new red crossbody options here)
Most of these pieces are from last year or are even older, but I tried to find items that are similar in style or fabric composition. I try to be sure that most of what I’m packing is washable.
I’m often asked about what sleepwear I pack for travel. In warmest weather I’ll pack a silk chemise, otherwise I love my Cool Nights pajamas.
Whew! I think I’m ready….
For more of my spring and summer travel wardrobe suggestions, check out my Travel Wardrobe Resource Page.
Beautiful! I’m going to Italy in the dead of summer, so it’s fun to see how your transitional wardrobe differs from my “Buckets of Sweat Tour” plan. But I glean some ideas from you, no matter what trip you’re taking!
Janice, I LOL’d at your “Buckets of Sweat Tour.” 😀 That was our first visit, when daytime temps often hit three digits F.
I just planned (and posted) my wardrobe for Vancouver and followed similar steps. Somehow, I still want you to pack for me. 🙂 Maybe I should add more stripes? I can’t wait to read your recap and see your photos! Enjoy your trip!
Nice! I brought a similar wardrobe for my recent week in France. Did bring leopard shoes but didn’t wear them at all; I wished for my pointy-toed black flats (I’m not as creative a dresser as you, sadly). My green utility jacket and my black Aquatalia ankle boots were my heroes. I also bought a black leather moto jacket at The Kooples in Paris and wore that very often, and saw many of those style jackets on the street..
I will be interested to see how your sequin tennies fare; I did see TONS of white leather tennis shoes throughout Paris, and so you should be right on trend.
Bon voyage! I do hope you get some sunshine in Como. While rain was forecast almost daily, we had heat and daily sun for our week in July, capped off by a spectacular thunderstorm on our last evening.
All decorative speakers seem to be huge in Paris at the moment, along with white leather sneakers and (more my style) the basic black ankle boot.
Looks like wonderful choices and very versatile. I usually aim to appear dressy casual, but walking around in the city of Florence was the only time I’ve ever felt underdressed! Have a fabulous time!
Hi Marguerite, yes, the Italians seem to have a knack for wearing beautifully tailored clothing that doesn’t look formal or staid. I remember the men in Rome in their impeccable suits.
I’d really like to see how you get that lot into your carry on, it’s impressive! Several European short haul carriers won’t let you carry a hand bag if you have a carry on case so everything has to go into it. Although sometimes it just seems to depend who is on the desk…..
Hi Maureen, this fits into a carry-on with ease. I also carry a larger tote or duffel as my “Personal Item” and my purse goes in there for the flight. There’s often no way around checking a bag with the Easyjets of the world, so I’ll suck it up and check when I have to. And on the way home, I often check as I’ve bought skincare, oils/vinegars, etc. that can’t be carried on. But it’s sure nice to have a smaller bag for train travel and not taking up a massive amount of space in small hotel rooms!
I am impressed this fits into a carry on. Last weekend I went to London for three days/two nights. You know me Susan, I do not travel light. But British Airways wanted to charge me € 92 (return) for a suitcase. And that was the limit for me, so for the first time I got everything in a carry on. Much less than what you carry. AND I had a large tote with me as well for personal stuff and the camera. BA does allow that. I am always very impressed with your travel packing.
That’s what I am wondering! For a one month trip to Rome and northern Italy, I brought 5 long tops/short dresses and 3 prs of leggings, 2 prs of shoes, of course I am wearing one of each of these and a sweater and somehow struggled with packing it all. I ended up leaving one outfit (and the sweater because I bought a super cute raincoat!). I want to get it down to 3 tops and 2 bottoms for the future. I try for dressy comfortable and mostly black. I forgot PJs and my slippers, it was so chilly, I slept in leggings and one of my husband’s shirts….
I should print this out and tape it inside my suitcase. I am the worst packer. What outfit makes sense to me at the time of packing is always missing something when I get to my destination. Also, I could never ever pack in just a carry-on. My toiletries alone are a carry-on sized bag! I seem to pack perfectly for my young son, but badly for myself!
I can’t wait to see photos from your trip! You’re going to a few of my favourite places in Italy. xx
I would eliminate the lighter colored jeans and bring a another pair of black cropped pants instead.
And, eliminate one of the boat neck, striped tees and substitute a snug fitting black v neck of
some sort for a dressier look. One jacket that you can layer under. I’m sticking with leaving the spangled white shoes for places other than Italian cities.
I live in Italy (in Tuscany, near Florence) and sparkly, spangly, and/or metallic shoes are very popular here right now, on women and girls of all ages.
I will be traveling to Italy this October, whats popular at this time.
Looks very versatile.
A skirt? I guess I don’t see you often in skirts. A nice knit skirt can go from dressy with pumps to being a substitute for shorts when paired with sneakers. (Since almost nobody wears shorts in Europe, a skirt is even better. And cool.)
Although the weather in the south has been balmy, I haven’t worn any skirts lately. Black tights seem too wintery and my legs are too whale-white to be seen in public. I need to get some fake tan on them. Just a little, to lessen the glare.
hi francetaste, I’ve packed skirts in the past, but wore them so rarely I stopped. I don’t wear them at all at home.
I am once again in awe of how little you are able to survive with! Please tell us about your laundry plans – do you send items out, wash them yourself in a laundromat?? How can you trust someone else not to ruin your cashmere items? And jeans cannot be washed out in a hotel sink, can they? I just cannot wear tops more than once without cleaning them (or pajamas more than three times) so would need at least 14 tops for two weeks unless I had access to a washing machine so am curious on how you manage. CMM
Hi CMM, I’ll do an updated post on travel laundry soon, but the short answer is that I bring items that can be hand washed in the sink, and others that don’t need to be washed as often. I find that in cooler weather, I don’t sweat and so don’t feel the need to wash clothes as often either.
I don’t sweat much either when it’s cool. I often wear a fitted black tank under my sweaters or dresses, and that’s easy to wash. Plus I’m in an apartment with laundry facilities.
Yes! I buy silk-cotton mix tanks or undie tees and wear them under the rest. The natural fibres make for less sweatyness and the cashmere waits until I get home, as do the jeans.
Do you find that you get hot layering the tanks/tees under the other pieces? I get so hot, then cold, then hot . . .
I’m looking forward to your laundry post. I tried to pare down my big suitcase on a recent cruise and constantly had things hanging to dry in shower. How do you manage when staying someplace different every night? I made a chart of ensembles to help with mixing & matching but things still were a little crazy by the end of the cruise. Thanks for your help. My trip to Paris last Oct. was perfect. I was so confident in what I was wearing – no tacky tourist here!
Hello Susan, what will you wear on the plane? Is it from the 12 pieces or separate outfit for air travel? Thanks so much.
Hi Debbie, I’ll choose items from this 12 to wear on the plane. Probably will be the longer black pants, the black sweater and boots. My cashmere poncho can be a scarf, a blanket or worn as usual.
Thank you Susan. I leave for Italy at the end end of May. Decided carry-on only so your 12 piece wardrobe has inspired me. Anxious to see if I can pull it off. Have a delightful trip.
Great practical selection of pieces, I wish I could be more disciplined to pack lighter. I tend to wear trousers and jeans on city trips rather than skirts or dresses because I find them much more practical.
I have been reading your blog since I retired two years ago but wish I had found you much earlier. Business trips to Europe required much more “business” wear (jackets/heels) than the US but many of your tips would have been invaluable. Now hubby and I are planning our first real vacation to Europe and thanks to you I purchased the EF washable crepe pants and a silk/jersey tunic (“midnight”/navy, not black!) and have a pretty good idea of which scarves and jewelry to pack so that I can dress up or down. Always look forward to reading you with my first cup of coffee in the morning.
Kathryn51, I love to know that I am not the only one who starts her day with a cup of coffee and a little ‘une femme’!
I like this- and your itinerary!- and will venture that you can get along fine with one outerwear piece: one of the two you have shown- because we are rarely required to stay outdoors in a sideways-blowning deluge.If you have a utility jacket, all you need is an umbrella, which you still need with a rain jacket. Have a splendid time!
Susan, I admire your small packing theory but I wouldn’t be able to do it. I pay extra (for 2 cases 1 cabin). I need choices depending on my mood that day. I find I only ever wear black if I am low or depressed or at a funeral. If I am not depressed and then decide to wear black I always have a terrible time. So always colours for me.
I love black and don’t find it depressing at all. It makes me think of my succession of black cats, with their beautiful green eyes. Livia has a red collar of course. But black can be too hot in summer heat, especially in the Mediterranean.
Many Italian garments have beautiful colours that aren’t too loud and garish, too dull, or too pastel. But that is the fruit of a long heritage.
Your trip sounds just delightful! I aspire to Carry-On travel and have been looking to buy a new bag. Do you carry a ‘domestic’ carry-on or an ‘international’ carry-on?
Just got back from three weeks – Paris-Bruges-Amsterdam and my packing list looked very similar to yours! Weather ranged from a high of 76 to a high of 47! MVP’s of my trip (most valuable pieces) were my black, waterproof jacket, black boots and my packable primaloft jacket from Lands End! Can’t wait to see what your “wild card” item is!!!
One travel packing tip I use (I think I picked up from Mighty Girl http://mightygirl.com/) is that my loungewear (I sleep naked) should be multi-purpose -I think her example was leggings she ended up going horseback riding in once. For me, it might be a coverup I could wear to the pool/beach, or exercise tights, or…..
Four pairs of pants but not one dress or skirt?
Hi Susan, nope. I don’t wear them at home, and I’ve found that when I pack them for travel they go unworn as well. 🙂
It must be the name, as I rarely take skirts on holiday these days!
I always take a couple of skirts – and a dark jeans or similar trousers. The skirts also to wear on the plane. When it was possible to get a couple of free seats, a midi skirt to stretch out in – planes are so horribly uncomfortable. I don’t wear shorts except to do yard or heavy housework in hot weather, and jeans are hot in hot weather…
Nice! I’ll be watching for your report on two things: 1) How the Sam leopard/cheetah shoes fare. I have the same ones with the black heel and they are crazy uncomfortable. Your linked choices are slightly different, so maybe they are better. And, 2) jeans? Do you see women wearing jeans often in Europe? (I am headed to Belgium/Netherlands for two weeks in May and will be noticing.) And do you have jeans that can be washed in the sink and dried overnight?
Jeans seen constantly in Paris. Things like jeans, plain or striped tops, scarves (always scarves), puffer jackets, moto jackets, leather sneakers. But I think that you can wear most things really. No denim mini skirts noticed, but at 47 that was never going to be on my list. Oh, and embroidery is here, on tees, jackets etc.
Plenty of jeans in the Netherlands and Belgium as well. The one thing I’d avoid is overly bleached or distressed jeans. I take dark jeans, but also skirts, as I frequently wear skirts, and find it much easier to wash out tights or leggings than jeans (I can’t wear jeans more than two or three times without washing them…).
Remember that the Dutch are among the tallest people in the world, so if you have long legs it is a good place to shop for trousers. (Not my case; I feel very height-challenged there).
Thank you. I guess I have morphed mostly away from jeans here at home, too, now that I think about it. And they do seem heavier and bulkier to back than other choices. But look great in most outfits.
Cynthia Allen. Are you the same.???
Your packing ideas keep getting better and better! Hope you have a wonderful trip. We’re headed to Croatia, France and London in September.
Just a comment from a fair skinned reader- No hat?? I have a pretty sturdy woven straw-(ish) hat from Eric Javits that I love to bring to sunny destinations- helps the heat and helps the sunburn. I think I toured Pompeii on a 90+ degree day and needed to carry my own shade with me. I know a lot of ladies think twice before wearing a ball cap, but a packable straw hat is a great thing to have.
I’d take your navy puffer if you are leaving for Paris soon. It was 20 and hot in the sun in Annecy over the weekend…. Now it’s cold and about 12 in Paris today. I followed your lead and bought a puffer jacket to bring and it has been invaluable. Nights also quite chilly. But I am from Australia!
SAFE TRAVELS………………SAY CIAO to ITALIA from ME!
Another great packing post. I am curious about the EF knit pants, do you need to wear a tunic/hip length top with them? Can they work with a regular tee/sweater? I have a week in Ireland this August and I keep asking myself what would Susan pack!
Hi Mary, it really depends on your comfort level. They’re thicker and looser-fitting than leggings so don’t need a longer top to look appropriate. I always like to have a top that covers at least to the top of my hips regardless of what pants I’m wearing.
Thank you for the information. Think I’ll head to Nordstrom and try some on. Have a wonderful trip, looking forward to seeing your items in action.
I’m planning to go to Milan and Venice this September. As I’ve never been to Venice before, I’m hoping for lots of recommendations of places to stay, sights to see and great places for dining out! Enjoy your trip!
I was in Tuscany April 14th through 21st. Your list was perfect for the weather we encountered. I took two sweaters and a water resistant jacket. I wore several layers each day, except for a warm Easter Sunday in Cinque Terre. Glad I didn’t pack sandals. I did notice that lightweight puffer jackets were very popular for both men and women.
We flew EasyJet from London to Pisa. My daughter and husband got on the plane with wheeled bags, backpacks, and a third bag each. I got stopped with two bags and had to pay 40 Euros to check my suitcase. It definitely depends on who is at the desk and whether the flight is on time. We stayed in AirBnBs and small hotels. I brought a travel clothes line and planned to hand wash a few items and use either a hairdryer or an iron to complete the drying process if necessary, but there were none to be found. I may pack one of the other for the next trip. Also, Downey Wrinkle spray.
Thanks for your organizing and especially style advice. Can’t wait for an update on your trip.
Thanks for another great packing guide. I started following you when I semi retired two years ago and your travel tips updated my wardrobe and lightened my packing all at the same time. I love the stripes/florals/denim basics. As always you are so modern, youthful, classic & chic at the same time.
Have a wonderful, wonderful time!
This is such a timely post for me! In 2 weeks, we are headed for a 10 day trip to Copenhagen and Paris. I’m always a over packer and this gives me a better idea of what to pack. I’ll be definitely taking black pants and striped tops and a few scarves. Merci!
Thank for another great packing wardrobe. I like so many of your updates! What about adding a summer button shirt or popover for those sunny days? I wore a light cardigan or shirt almost every day while traveling in Italy in May. I wore cashmere and light wool cardigans at night. Your jacket choices will be so lovely for dinners. I agree with adding a hat. You are smart to take two coats, one heavier and one very light weight, as you are showing. Have a wonderful trip! You deserve it!
This will be unpopular, but I don’t see the sophistication here in your travel wardrobe that I see in the clothes you feature in your daily life. I am going to Paris for a month soon, and I want to look more cosmopolitan, while still being comfortable. Washable silk shirts and structured jackets come to mind. Why so many t- shirts? I am afraid you have assembled a very tourist look.
Hi Gloria, what I’ve found over time and many trips is that more tailored, structured clothing is more difficult to pack in a small suitcase and often requires pressing. I’ve included a silk top that dresses up quite nicely, as do both of the jackets. Our vacations often involve traveling between 2-4 cities on trains (and occasionally busses) and having a small, light bag that I can carry up and down stairs and stow easily is a boon. Were I to be staying in one city for a longer period, I’d probably include more pieces with more variety.
Great choices, Susan. I find I always wear more casual outfits than smattering holiday and usually take home the latter unworn. Maybe your wildcard could be a loose shirt for warmer days, just in case Rome gets hot.
I love your blog. I am a new follower. I will say that I am disappointed in your travel wardrobe. You are a style blogger. Jeans and tshirts and sweaters?!? Not impressed this time. The athletic wear shoes are like you are trying too hard to be “cool”. What happened to your new found
Inspiration to up the style wow?
Hi Marta, thanks! I actually adore these shoes and they don’t feel like “trying too hard.” 🙂 Over the years, I’ve been working out the balance between items that are versatile, washable, pack well and easy to style, and pieces with a bit more oomph. I’m always on the lookout for those “oomph” pieces that will also travel well. But my primary goal is to keep the wardrobe small enough to fit into a carry-on, yet versatile enough to dress up or down and accommodate a range of temperatures and conditions, and be comfortable. My inspiration to up the style wow is still there, but as they say, “you fight with the army you have,” and of the clothing I currently own, these are the pieces that prior experience has taught me will work well for travel.
In that case, I suggest you refer to The Vivienne Files. She puts together fantastic travel wardrobes for small suitcases and carry on bags. She never seems to fail. I actually found your blog from studying hers.
At the least, I would have expected more EF pieces. This would certainly fulfill your packing/ wrinkle free/ laundry requirements?
Somehow, the travel wardrobe you have put together with the t-shirts and utility jackets and the sparkle tennies look like what many women might wear to the grocery store or pick up garden supplies, etc. I’m just surprised how different the clothes are from what you model for everyday life.
Une réponse parfaite.
Une reponse parfaite, goes here.
I just came back after a month in Italy. I hope your white shoes don’t get too dirty! The cobblestones would be too rough on heels, but Bon Viaggio.
Just one puzzlement…the pink tshirt. NO! You will not be taken seriously. I am of a certain age and live in Europe.
The pink tee is the worst. I was in Rome in September and for the life of me I don’t know where these wardrobe ideas came from here. By the way I don’t wear black much so I get tired of that line of reason too.
Actually my hair is my issue thin and fly away but awful worn short. Any thoughts or suggestions? I also don’t understand why a style blogger is worried so much about what everyone else is wearing. Sincere thoughts on style and travel issues.
I’m still grappling with what and how to pack for Europe in mid-July wi a long Mediterranean cruise. I’m thinking a medium sized bag I can check and not trying to stuff so much into a carry on for three weeks. Will probably base my choices on navy and white, with a few bright linen tops. I love my EF clothing but I think wearing a topper will be too much in July in Venice and Rome. I do like the rain jacket younposted, but I will probably just bring my tried and true Northface rain jacket that I can wear over a sweater if it’s too cool on board the ship in the evenings.
I’m going to bring woolite packs and a portable clothesline and a microfiber towel to suck water out for hand washing and we may have to have laundry done on board the ship.
Thanks for the tips!
Linda, why not bring a beautiful shawl to drape around your shoulders oh, and don’t forget some large, dramatic earrings to complete your evening look
Honestly! A wonderful cruise…and you are planning to throw on the old tried and true North Face jacket every night…..don’t people want to feel special…..as well as comfortable…. having such a grand experience?
Do you have any posts as to how you specifically pack your clothes into the packing cubes ? Roll, or fold, or pack multiple items together ?
I think you are casually chic, which is a form of elegance in my book !
Hi Sherry, I don’t really have a single system. I tend to roll tee shirts and fold sweaters, scarves and knit pants to fit the cube shape and size.
I’m working on a capsule wardrobe for the month of August in the UK. We will be traveling to three places by train and I don’t want bulky luggage. You offer so much great inspiration. Question: somewhere I saw you posted a place where you buy your pajamas. I want to go back to that site. Can you please post again?
I have followed your blog for a few years and have enjoyed many of your shopping finds. I just finished a cruise of the Adriatic coast, where my suitcase was dropped into the Aegean Sea while we were boarding the ship. Lessons learned: 1- everything that was sealed in a Ziploc bag or was under a drycleaning bag was perfectly dry. Everything else was soaked,. 2- Because I went “carry-on”, I had neglected to put the emergency socks, underwear and shirt in my backpack, as I would have if I had checked my suitcase. The casualties are my curling iron and my ballet flats. The ship’s staff did my laundry and were quite helpful.
I had saved this post and now that I am packing for a trip to London and Scotland, I realize how brilliant it is. Thanks!