Travel Wardrobe for Paris in October

packing list: Paris in October


Below is a repost from last year’s travel planning which included a week in Provence and a few days in Paris. Though our trip was in April rather than October, I’d still go with a very similar selection, including lots of lightweight layers, in knits and neutral colors. You’ll want a lightweight raincoat, and a travel umbrella for sure. I now travel carry-on only; if you’re checking a bag you can bring more, but I urge you to keep your luggage manageable, as spaces in Paris are small and even if you aren’t navigating mass transit, stairways, elevators and hotel rooms are far less spacious that we’re accustomed to here.

Jeans always divide the masses. I find that when traveling I wear them almost daily, but I also pick dark wash styles in a lighter weight fabric. Some people never travel with them. As a rule, I don’t recommend packing clothes that are “out of character” for you. For Paris, at any time of year, here are some general thoughts on what to pack (or not):

Do bring really good walking shoes. See last week’s postDon’t bother with heels unless you are attending a very dressy event and planning to take a cab or limo. 

Do bring a couple of scarves, but leave room in your bag to purchase some once you’re there. Fabulous scarves are available in all price ranges. Don’t bring a lot of jewelry. 

Do bring a relatively lightweight bag that can be worn cross-body. Best option: a convertible satchel with a cross-body strap goes from day to evening. Not only is this a more secure option, but it’s great to have hands free for holding with your sweetie or taking pictures. Don’t: fanny pack.


When traveling with only a carry-on bag, making smart clothing choices is crucial. I try to get smarter about my packing each trip, so went back and reviewed my notes after last year’s Italy/Paris vacation, just to refresh my memory. Weather is always the catch; had temperatures not been unseasonably warm hot, my batting average with the clothes I’d packed last May might have been even higher. Taking into consideration the probable weather conditions for late April in Paris and Provence, I’ve begun narrowing down the pieces I’ll take, with the intention of keeping the total number to 12, not including sleepwear, underwear, hosiery, accessories, or outerwear. (Shoes we covered last week.)

First Round Draft Picks:
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 knit pencil skirt
  • 1 pair ponte knit pants
  • Babette palazzo pants (if weather forecasts skew warm/sunny, replaces ponte knit)


First Round Draft Picks:
  • Silk/cotton 3/4 sleeve jacket (if weather forecasts skew warm/sunny, replaces black cardigan)
  • Linen 3/4 sleeve tunic (if weather forecasts skew warm/sunny, replaces either black or teal cardigan)
Wild Cards
  • 1 or 2 Karina dresses (one with some color)
  • 1 additional silk jersey tee or tunic, grey
  • cashmere hoodie (if weather forecast looks unseasonably cool)
  • 2nd pair jeans
Two or three days before we leave, I’ll make final selections, and do the Polyvore on the Floor.
I have no plans to take any outerwear other than my Eileen Fisher raincoat, as it’s an incredibly versatile piece.
I can’t rave enough about the Eileen Fisher silk jersey pieces, especially for travel. They layer beautifully, can be hand washed and hung to dry overnight, and are comfortable and flattering. And I’m looking forward to giving my Karina dresses a true “road test,” as I can already vouch for their comfort, versatility and washability.  In fact, everything I’m planning to take can be washed and nothing requires pressing. (Yay, knits!) The pencil skirt and black cardigan (or jacket) or a dress will be as formal as I’ll need, so I’m not taking anything specifically “dressy” this time as those garments were the most under-utilized on our last trip.
What are your favorite items of clothing for travel?  Do you have a formula when planning a capsule wardrobe?


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  1. September 20, 2013 / 4:46 am

    This will be similar to my two-week NYC trip in October, so thanks for re-showing. I agree about bringing scarves and jewelry (two scarves, wedding ring, earrings and a bracelet are plenty), and the comfort of footwear cannot be overstated : >

  2. Lisa White
    September 20, 2013 / 6:16 am

    This really helps. I pulled my E.F. pieces and they are front and center. I have the new E.F. pencil skirt and alpaca sweater with matching scarf. Also, the fold over maxi in jersey. The E.F. harem rolls into a tight ball and I have actually taken them in a purse. A grey eskandar cardigan, white blouse, and light swing coat are also going. I will wear the jacket on the plane I will put them in the carry on in case my luggage gets lost. We will be attending a few dressy events as after a week in Paris we will be taking a river cruise through Germany and will spend time in Prague. I have a pair of black NYDJ ponte pants, and a gold mohair pullover sweater. There are a couple of black layering tee shirts:one from E.F. and one cotton. I thought I would throw in a pair of dressy silk pajama style pants and a black blouse with lace 3/4 length sleeves for dressy events. One pair of pointy pumps as well. I ordered my walking shoes and I have clocked in several hours of walking to break them in. I will also bring a pair of suede black wedges for shorter distances or bus /museum tour. I also ordered the E.F. lightweight boiled wool kimono jacket in lava red. If it is light enough, I may bring that,too. Looking for an umbrella as I just checked mine and it is broken. There may be an extra jersey blouse or two, but that will depend on how it all folds up.

    Thanks for the post as it really, really got me going. I will try the polyvore on the floor.

  3. September 20, 2013 / 6:46 am

    This post was perfect timing for me…I am leaving Wednesday and will be in Paris in early October. I am in the midst of “polyvore” on the floor!

  4. Susan
    September 20, 2013 / 7:04 am

    You know, it’s lovely to find out that there are other women out there that plan their travelling wardrobe in as much detail as I do. I make lists and lay everything out on the bed and mix and match outfits. If my outfits feel pulled together and appropriate for the activity, I always enjoy the trip more. None of my friends do this when they travel. In fact I visited one friend a few days before she was to leave on an extended trip and she was in a panic trying to pack. I suggested she should lay everything out, matching things she planned to wear together, and physically try things on if she had not worn them together before…and then make a list for what she still needed to buy, if anything. She was amazed at how well this worked. And she then needed to pack less.
    I then reminded her of the trip she and I and two other friends had taken to London a few years before. They were all at the airport ready to check in and waiting for me….each lugging huge bags and garment bags and carry-ons. And we were only going for a week. Since they all knew how much I love clothes and shopping, they were snickering, anticipating the size of the suitcase I would be bringing. And I arrived with one small suitcase and my purse! Ha! It’s not how much you pack ladies…it’s what you do with what you pack!
    Really enjoy your blog…really!

  5. September 20, 2013 / 9:09 am

    I agree with Susan above about finding others who put care into how they pack. Each trip I cut back further. Have a short biz/vacation trip coming up to Seattle and will do a trial run on packing fewer shirts than days I’ll be there and wearing them twice, washing in sink if necessary. Then we’re going to visit our daughter in Berlin and then onto Israel. We’ll be staying in apartments everywhere. It’s become a game. I lay everything out on the bed. We have an old poodle who has issues and likes to sit on any clothes left unattended.

    Here’s my anti-list people story – just yesterday my husband asked me why I make such a big deal with my lists, clipboard, scratching through to do’s. He said he just throws in a few shirts, pants, some underwear … and then when he finds something missing on the trip – he just turns to me! He actually had the nerve to smile at me when he said this.

    I love your blog too!!!

  6. Maryann
    September 20, 2013 / 8:34 pm

    I will be in Paris on October & hope to travel carry on for the first time. I think my biggest fear is the carry on weight restriction. Also I need really comfortable clothes on the plane as I am travelling direct from Australia, 22 hours needs comfort. So I am planning very carefully at the moment.

    We do not have Eileen Fisher so I plan to try her clothes while in London.

  7. September 21, 2013 / 11:14 am

    The lists of what to pack for Paris in October are inspiring. So much so, that I immediately bought an Eileen Fisher T shirt! Actually this one is linen for summer, but since we are going to Paris next June, it will be great.

    I love the inspiring comments about how other people pack. It is always a challenge for me not to bring too much — and when you are going to Paris you want to keep lots of room for purchases.

    Great comments, great post, great blog.

  8. September 23, 2013 / 3:44 am

    Always such a good choices, and such a good friend.

  9. October 21, 2013 / 5:36 pm

    I only take EF when I travel because it is virtually all I have in my closet! Whether I am going for 1 week or 3, same amount is packed: three outfits with interchangeable pieces,jacket or sweater or coat, three scarves, one pashmina or EF poncho, two pairs shoes, 4 pieces of jewelry. My bag weighs max 40 pounds incl toiletries, undies, etc.

  10. Nancy Malloy
    October 25, 2013 / 2:50 pm

    I’m a bit late in seeing this great article. Any suggestions (Eileen Fisher??) on the grey v-neck tunic sweater?

  11. Janise Nepveux
    November 17, 2013 / 2:25 pm

    I would like to see a post on what you take and how for carry on for cosmetics and toiletries. That for me is the tricky part.

  12. January 1, 2014 / 1:04 am

    I found this site I bought the cube and I’ve used it twice. Using only a carry on suitcase I’ve been surprised at how successful it is – given I have to take a special pillow because I have arthritis in my neck. That doesn’t leave much room for other items. The cube is very successful and the items really don’t crease as much as if just put flat in a case!

    A response to my comment on this site suggested a travel pillow by MEC which I’ve ordered and I am waiting to test. It will make a big ‘ole difference to travel. Next year my son is going to be in Paris for a year so I am expecting to do a lot of travelling.

  13. January 17, 2014 / 9:31 pm

    Great list! I just recently developed my own list of packing essentials for Paris and our packing lists are very similar. I couldn’t agree more with using a carry-on only – taking the metro to and from the airport or the train station would be a nightmare with anything other than a compact carry-on. I really enjoy your blog!

  14. September 26, 2014 / 3:35 am

    Very helpful post for our trip to Provence next year.Also I really appreciate the weather links.
    Merci beaucoup,

  15. Bobbie
    October 23, 2015 / 5:04 am

    Following the formula here, I packed very successfully for a 2 week trip, one week each in Provence and Paris. I went with a bag one size up from carry-on but kept it very light and manageable. Taking one versatile pocketbook was helpful; for shoes, I brought short Ecco boots (which I travelled in), a pair of black Aravon walking shoes (benign looking but great to pound the pavement all day) and flats. The weather was summer-like in Provence and super cold & rainy in Paris. Seeing the extended forecast before leaving, I packed a hat, gloves, umbrella, and heavy sweater to layer under my raincoat and was glad to have all of those items. The boots came in handy too. It’s essential to keep one’s feet comfortable and to be able to adapt to the weather while traveling, and it’s a great feeling to try to do it with a little style. Thanks for all your helpful advice!

    • une femme
      October 23, 2015 / 5:12 am

      Hi Bobbie, I’m so glad to hear this was helpful and that your wardrobe worked for you. Hope you had a fabulous trip!

  16. Arlene Davey
    August 23, 2016 / 6:02 am

    I have a classic long RED trench coat. Should I take it to Paris in Oct?

    • Susan B
      August 23, 2016 / 8:27 am

      Your red trench sounds fabulous! The early part of October can still be quite warm, so as long as it’s not a heavier piece, it should be fine.

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