Indeed, the city’s architectural splendour, its high-octane hotels and photogenic bistros have long served as the perfect playground for romantic escapades. The city of Picasso, of Voltaire and de Beauvoir is a potent mix of creativity and code, where quartiers fiercely guard their unique identities and a sumptuous dinner à deux is never too far away – from the humble brasserie to the Michelin-starred marvel. This feast of antiquity, of Belle Epoque interiors, Haussmann facades and legendary artworks, exists alongside a contemporary shift, one championing locality through a global lens, and avant-garde interiors within the city’s historical bones.
With morning promenades through the sun-dappled Tuileries (having explored Rue Saint Honoré’s goldmine of boutiques) and afternoons spent gazing over Parisian rooftops from Plaza Athénée’s Wes Anderson balconies, it’s hard not to be roused by this city’s beguiling beauty, or to leave it out of any European honeymoon itinerary. But what to pack?
With years of Parisian jaunts under her belt (and limited space in her suitcase), Rosalyn Wikeley, offers her guide to packing for the city of lights.
While there is no right or wrong way to dress when travelling, there is joy to be found in selecting outfits for a different country and context. Items in your wardrobe that had hitherto been neglected or ‘not quite right’ for your locality can be afforded some well-deserved airtime in a different destination. And though chameleon antics are hardly in vogue, leaning into the rhythms, the sartorial temperature and the demands of a different city or country escape can be fun.
But what to pack for Paris? Here’s a little sartorial inspiration for the city I once lived in, loved in, and wore an extraordinary number of outfits in!
Leather trousers, £1,740, Petar Petrov, Matchesfashion.com
The French love a pair of leather trousers, especially when combined with a relaxed t-shirt, casual suit jacket or baggy jumper. Their day-to-night superpower is useful when travelling light – a must when packing for Paris.
Playful Day-To-Night Top
White feather top, £475, 16Arlington, Matchesfashion.com
A little flamboyant for les Parisiens, perhaps, but dress this top down and it suddenly becomes the playful piece that asks for little jewellery or make up. Team it with some jeans in the day, some leather trousers and red lipstick in the evening and it’s more-than-earned it’s spot in your teeny carry-on.
Easy Leather Midi-boots
Leather boots, Aquazzura, £600, Netaporter.com
Giving you a spring in your step down Rue St Honoré, without the stiletto-swollen feet, a midi-heeled boot is versatile, elegant and, crucially, comfortable. The midi boot is always my first port of call when deciding what to pack for Paris, often at the eleventh hour.
Leather shoulder bag, £1,398, Brunello Cucinelli, netaporter.com
I never travel without a black crossbody bag. They go with everything, can navigate day-to-night dress and guarantee a hands-free holiday.
Flares, £202, Victoria Beckham, theoutnet.com
I’ve always been a big fan of flares, even when they were apparently out of fashion. They’re a stylish spin on the humble jean and add a seventies edge to an otherwise simple outfit.
Monochrome cape, Valentino, £3,600, harveynichols.com
Statement coats are the ultimate travelling companion – they demand very little from your other outfits, usually just jeans and a t-shirt, leaving space in your suitcase for some party shoes. I treat coats like dresses during winter – they are the star of the show and the rest of my outfit has to work around them.
Silk square scarf, £190, Toryburch.com
Whether wrapped loosely around my neck or tied as a bow in my hair, silk scarves’ superpower is making a plain outfit pop. I love wearing them with a trench coat or a plain cashmere jumper. If I’m feeling brave, I’ll go for the Fifties movie star look – tying it under my chin before adding a pair of sunglasses.
Oversized cashmere sweater, £270, LABECA LONDON
Oversized cashmere jumpers are the backbone of my wardrobe and they’ll never need to compete for a space in my suitcase. I love using them as a blank canvas to fling various accessories at, from chunky gold necklaces to scarves and long leather gloves.
Loud Ruffle Blouse
Ruffle trimmed blouse, £226, See By Chloe, Farfetch.com
If it requires ironing, you’ve lost me, but loud ruffle blouses nearly always find their way into my Parisian wardrobe. They’re easy to pair with jeans, leather trousers or skirts, and do all the talking, so your jewellery, shoes and handbag can take a back seat.
Velvet suit and trousers, £99.98, Zara.com
I love travelling with velvet suits for their easy impact, but mainly for their inability to crease, no matter how quickly and eagerly they’re stuffed into the corner of a suitcase.