Travel Wardrobe: Paris in the Fall

12-piece travel wardrobe europe

If you have travel planned to Paris or elsewhere this fall…I envy you!! 🙂 It’s a lovely time of year to travel. The weather is cooler and the crowds thinner.

I’ve received a few requests for fall travel wardrobe suggestions. The wardrobe I’ve put together above would work for fall or spring, or for travel to cities with mild winters. I’ve based this wardrobe on a 12-piece capsule, but you can always add more pieces if your luggage permits. Though I still stand by my strategy of dark pants and skirts, I’ve tried to incorporate a few lighter tops. I’ve selected simple pieces that can dress up or down, and for most venues “smart casual” will be as dressed up as you’ll need to be.

paris travel wardrobe

In my experience, weather in Paris in early to mid-autumn can still be quite warm some days, alternating with chilly and wet (sometimes within a few hours). The later in the season, of course, the cooler and wetter it’s likely to be.

The top eleven pieces are the core of the wardrobe. All of the tops should go with all of the bottoms, and be able to layer if needed. I’d suggest avoiding anything heavy or bulky, and pile on more layers if needed for warmth. Starting at the top:

Sweaters: I’ve included one lightweight merino sweater and one cashmere cardigan. While I love my longer no-close cardigans at home, I find the best sweaters to travel with are pullovers or cardigans that button or zip closed.

Shown: pullover (similar)| cardigan (similar)
Options: cashmere v-neck | cashmere cardigan | merino wool tunic | merino wool cardigan (women’s) |
merino wool ballet neck (available in women’s) 

Jacket: I prefer lightweight softer or knit jackets for travel, but something in a tropical weight wool should also be workable. I find that black or navy will dress up best, but something in a seasonal color can work too if you prefer.

Shown: jacket (similar)
Options: tuxedo style | knit button-front  | long blazer |
classic one-button style (available in petite, tall) | knit tweed (available in petites, women’s, women’s petites)

Tops and Tees: While I’ve included one cotton striped tee in this collection, I generally stick to silk and linen and modal for my travel tops, as these fabrics are easier to layer and will line dry faster if hand washed. The set includes a silk tee, linen tee (similar), and silk blouse (similar).

Shown: striped (similar) | silk (similar) | linen (similar) | blouse (similar)
Options: 3/4 sleeve tee (available in women’s) | mandarin color silk blouse (several colors) |  long-sleeved silk tee (similar) |
linen striped tee (similar) | navy silk blouse (similar-wear with black for a sophisticated evening look)

Pants and Skirts: comfort is imperative, and washability is a plus. Were I traveling in early fall, I’d definitely bring a pair of slim knit ankle pants (women’s here). On warmer days, even that little bit of exposed skin at the ankle helps keep me cooler. Some prefer to leave their jeans at home, but except for very warm conditions, I always pack a pair (slim leg, dark wash) as I find them easy to style, comfortable and appropriate. If denim feels too casual for you, a jean style in navy stretch twill is another option. Even though retailers are pushing flares and bootcuts like crazy this season, I don’t find them the best travel option, both because the hem length is footwear-specific and because those wider legs can get heavy when wet. I usually pack a full length slim knit pant that can be dressed up for evening. If you bring a skirt, a style that’s easy to walk in helps take it from day to evening.

Shown: ankle pants (similar) | jeans (similar) | knit pants (similar) | skirt (similar)

Paris October travel wardrobe

The Wild Card(s): I include one or two “wild card” tops to incorporate some color and pattern. I stick to pieces that will coordinate with my core items, but that are also lightweight and layer-able.

Shown: plaid shirt (similar)
Options: snake print | plaid button front | plaid silk tee | silk dot tee | plaid tunic (women’s) | leopard print blouse

Scarves and Bag(s): The great thing about traveling in cooler months is that scarves also become a viable choice to add color and/or pattern to your travel wardrobe. If you’re going to add a pop of color, this is one of the best ways to do it. For fall you can still get by with lighter weight scarves; I like silk/cashmere blends for weight, drape and softness. As far as bags go, I prefer a simple mid-sized style that closes securely and can either be carried or worn cross-body. Black or brown will maximize the day-to-evening potential. You’ll want to be mindful of the bag’s weight too…even a cross-body bag can cause neck and shoulder pain after a few hours if too heavy. If you have a more formal occasion on the agenda, you may want to pack a small evening bag with a strap.

Shown: red scarf (similar) | floral scarf (similar) | bag
Options: alpaca & silk ombré | solid eyelash scarf | lightweight nylon bag | croc-embossed satchel | iconic print

Outerwear: depending on how early or late in the season you’ll be traveling, you may want to leave the heavy overcoat at home, and instead bring a lighter water-resistant trench or other shell, and layer up underneath for warmth. Whatever you choose, don’t forget an umbrella!

Shown: trench (similar)
Options: the gold standard | classic trench in women’s | packable |  single-breasted 

Footwear: without a doubt, this is the most important part of your travel wardrobe, and should be chosen carefully. Ankle boots with a low heel have become my #1 pick for cooler weather travel. Weatherproof a plus. For fall or spring, I’d also pack a pair of lighter walking shoes. Ballet flats are a classic, but you’ll want to find a style with some support and padding. In Paris especially, you may spend several hours on your feet and log several miles daily, so a comfortable and sturdy shoe is your best friend. I’ve included a fancier shoe above (similar), but unless you have a dressy event on the schedule, ankle boots and flats should be fine. For more ideas, check out my travel footwear suggestions from earlier this year.

Shown: boots (similar) | pumps (similar) | ballet flat
Options: weatherproof Falco boots | wedge ballet flat (similar) | walking loafer (similar) | oxfords (similar) | mary-janes (similar)

Secret Weapons: I always pack a couple of silk tanks or camisoles to wear as a base layer underneath my tops on warmer days. For cooler days when I want bulk-free warmth, I go with an Adea long-sleeved top as a base layer (I size up one or two sizes).

Do you have travel planned this fall? Where are you going?


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  1. Love the illustration. Clothes juktaposed against landscape. It is a great way to show of your clothing selection without a photo of you.

  2. Susan– you are so kind to share all of this wardrobe planning w/us… I appreciate it! Plus, I’m looking into the Musee Carnavalet for my next visit to Paris! Looks BEAUTIFUL!!

  3. Pretty much all footwear hurts me–except for ankle boots. I even take them in the summer and wear as long as I can. My last pair was thrown out (that bad) in Amsterdam. They served me very well.

    1. The shoes are always the problem! I have yet to find the Holy Grail of a Comfortable Shoe That Is Also Not So Ugly It Makes Grown Women Cry. I am getting close, I think, to that tipping point where I throw all sense of style to the winds and just wear tennies all. the. time.

      Someone please stop me if I ever do that.

      1. I have found Ecco shoes to be great for walking. They have them at Zappos. Well worth the price imo. I have walked the world in them.

      2. I found the Cobb Hill – Ireland style to be the most comfortable shoe for “transition” season travel. They have them at Zappo’s. I wore these walking all over Prague, Budapest and Vienna, on days when it was 90+ degrees (Fahrenheit), and even on days when it was in the 50’s but dry and sunny. I had my sneaks for rainy days. What I like about the Cobb Hill Ireland is that they are nicely cushioned and have moderate arch support. So comfortable, with no break in period. I got them in “Pewter”. I find that, depending on the style, metallics can be dressed up or down. Great for travel. I could have worn the Cobb Hill Irelands for dressier occasions too because of the color, and left my ballet flats at home. (I can no longer wear heels due to knee problems, so I wear dressier flats.)

  4. You’re so right about only packing “smart casual” clothing – I’ve noticed more and more in Paris (and most major European cities these days) that no one dresses up anymore. So sad.

  5. I would be interested to know what you think of the Parisian brand, Sezane. I’m currently obsessed, especially with their shoes (boots) and bags.

    1. Hi Karen, I hadn’t been aware the brand was available in the U.S., but love it! Seems to be a similar concept as Everlane with a “no middleman” business model (and pricing structure).

  6. Perfect timing! We had to cancel our trip to Rome the end of August and are now going to Paris mid-November. Would you believe, I have never been to Europe in the winter i.e. cooler weather! So my entire wardrobe needs some careful thinking. And yes, the feet are the most important for me as for so many others. I fell in love with ankle booties last winter (Munro is the best!) so will be taking them. I am wondering about tall boots. Hmmm. Hard to pack, yet don’t want to wear them on the plane, but oh so stylish. And then there is the coat issue. Quilted? Wool? Don’t like trenches. Here I wear a sweater coat most of the winter, but I fear that might be too lightweight for a damp gray Paris. So much to think about, but thanks for jump starting it!

      1. Packable down is a great idea — the vests look casual but pulled together over a sweater, and loop on a scarf for that added dash of style. Costco often has nice ones for very good prices. Also, last year at Costco I picked up a Rainforest knee length coat for damp, rainy days and it’s so stylish and functional!! Obviously it’s not the same quality as the rest of the Rainforest line, but it’s not the same price, either (I think it was $39).

        For a tall boot option, microfiber or faux suede would allow you to fold for packing. But even leather tall boots serve an important purpose: wrap a bottle of wine in dirty laundry or even a pair of worn tights, and a grocery bag, and stash in the boot for extra padding and safety in your checked bag on the way home :~).

    1. Packable down is only good if no rain (wrt down takes long to dry unless you have a dryer you can set to delicate), (You could wear a thin down vest under a coat.) I have always taken a thigh-length leather jacket- it looks stylish, blocks wind and damp, and if caught in a shower, no big deal. Not good for a torrential downpour, but who would walk in that? And one of those umbrellas big enough to really cover you. Have fun!

        1. Thanks for all the input here! So…I went to Nordstrom today, looking for boots. Didn’t find any, but did find this coat which, for me, is absolutely perfect! It feels good on, love the detachable hood,nice front slash pockets, the lining is luxury/thick, and the price can’t be beat. It will be fine for November, although I am sure not enough for deep winter in Paris, New York etc. And for here in N.C. will be fine too.

  7. I love these ideas and layouts! Your travel posts are so useful! practical and tasteful! I wonder if you can help me find the link to the plaid shirt in the second frame, next to the trench coat?

  8. Very timely, Susan – thanks! I’ll be leaving for Paris in three weeks. The slim black pants and low-heeled boots are a must but, I tend not to carry a handbag. Can fit everything I need for the day in a pants or trench coat pocket. Like the no-bag freedom plus, this makes it so much easier to go through things like museum security check points.

  9. Reading your blog is always a delight. It’s well thought out and beautiful as well! I apologize for asking this here, but I couldn’t find a messaging link – Are you aware that your emails say, “The latest post from” in the upper left corner? I suppose it’s a small thing, but the misspelling made me wonder.

  10. I love all your travel posts. They really helped with my trip to Europe this spring. As an ex Brit I would definitely suggest a raincoat for the lady travelling to Paris in November. Preferably one that can fit a squishy down jacket underneath. Also lots of silk underpinnings including silk long johns, gloves, warm hat, cashmere and merino wool. Europe in November in the rain can be miserably cold- still fun,however. Just stay cozy without being weighed down by a too heavy coat especially if you do lots of walking as we do.

    1. I’m the lady traveling to Paris in November! and yes, read above, i did find the perfect black raincoat today! No, can’t fit anything too bulky underneath as the shoulders are not all that roomy…but I will take several pashminas, incl. cashmere. It’s the boots/shoes I’m most worried about!

  11. Japan at the end of October. Thank you for providing the packing list. In addition to the ankle boots and flats, I am taking some black high top Superga sneakers, supplemented by a foam insert.

  12. I discovered a very nice light weight down coat last winter before traveling to Germany in January. I knew I needed a warm coat but only wanted to travel with a carry on. I also wanted water proof as it seems to ALWAYS rain or snow when I travel. I found a Columbia knee length coat with and Omni lining. It’s extremely light and easy to stow on the plane. The omni is magic and seems to adjust for body heat so as not to overheat when worn indoors as much as other winter coats. I bought it simply for function but I get tons of complements when I wear it. Mine is an off black which functions really well.

  13. What a great and timely post. I have a small travel business, doing personalized travel plans to some of my favorite places. I have two clients leaving for Paris — one next week and one in early November. These ideas for what to pack are great and I will pass them on to the women. Needless to say, we do a lot of traveling ourselves and I’ve started buying clothes by weight, particularly shoes. If I like something, the first thing I do is pick it up. If it weighs too much, I put it back.

    And the Musee Carnavalet is one of my favorite museums in Paris.

  14. Loved the capsule. I am obsessed looking at them all and will travel to the Netherlands in November/December and will try carry on only for the first time. Your capsules will guide the way. BTW Sezane has an english website and I did see the $ sign on there so one must be able to order from there. eBay has a few things too if that’s one’s thing.

  15. This is such an excellent post – I will be sharing it on my next round up of faves. You show all elements that I need to incorporate into my packing for Ireland. I need to splurge on those boots!! My hope to follow your lead with carry-on only may not happen as it probably makes more sense for me to check my bag with my broken arm, but I still NEED to pack light! Have a great weekend!

  16. Great pieces to pack for fall in Paris! I spent some time in fall in Paris 26 years ago, and it was fabulous.

    I’m not going to Europe until December, and I always find traveling in winter challenging as I don’t own many truly warm piece since I don’t need them in California…