Packing for a trip can be a headache. Figuring out what to wear in Paris can be even more so. Space is limited. Virtually every airline now charges an arm and a leg for slightly oversized luggage. Besides, I don’t recommend pulling a massive suitcase through the metro and cobblestone streets of Paris to anyone!
The elevators, when there are any, are among the smallest you will ever see. The weather is always changing. But more importantly, Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world, and Parisians will take your sartorial choices seriously.
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Not only will dressing sloppily mark you forever as a tourist, but it can also affect how people will treat you during your visit.
That's enough to make anyone break into a cold sweat, especially if reading Vogue and attentively following the latest Parisian fashion trends is not part of your daily routine. Thankfully, planning what to wear when traveling to Paris doesn't have to be complicated.
If you follow a couple of simple rules, the chances are that you have all the clothes you need to dress appropriately for your next trip to Paris right in your closet.
I have visited Paris many times in during all the seasons, and I have the whole suitcase ordeal down to a science. I understand the desire, the envy even, to look as flawlessly put together as those darn French ladies and their Parisian style but let me just break it down for you in one word – okay, two: SIMPLE and CLASSIC.
That’s great news if you don’t feel like lugging the totality of your closet on the other side of the Atlantic just in case. In my opinion, Paris is one of those places where a capsule wardrobe built on a few tried-and-true pieces will serve you best. You may even want to keep it up once you head back home.
Coco Chanel once said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
That’s a good idea when you are packing your suitcase for Paris as well. Pack light!
Without further ado, here is what you should keep in mind when packing for Paris.
what to pack for paris
What to Wear in Paris in the Spring
With delectable temperatures, clear skies, and stunning scenes around every corner – it’s easy to see why people from all over come to experience Paris in the springtime. Find out how you can blend in while feeling comfortable and fabulous at every turn!
Stick to a neutral color scheme
Paris is not a very colorful city, and it is part of its charm. It is a lovely mix of neutral tones. There is the cream color of the stone walls, the famous grey roofs, and the darker shades of the cobblestone streets.
Even the gardens are pathed with broad alleys of crushed stones in camaieus of whites and browns. It seems like the Parisians get their inspiration for dressing up from the city itself.
You will rarely see Parisians dressed up in bright colors. Instead, you can expect a seemingly infinite declination of all the shades of greys, blues, whites, creams, and browns.
And when in doubt, stick to black. That’s great news for travelers since it makes the ongoing mix-and-match game required by a limited suitcase a lot easier. Patterns are subdued at best.
Most Parisians stick to solids. You may also have that stereotype in your head of the French wearing a lot of stripes – that one is actually true. However, that’s about as fantasist as it goes.
To brighten up the scheme, you can choose one or two accent colors. Add a bright cardigan, a patterned blouse, maybe a pair of earrings, or a scarf in those colors, and add one at a time when building your outfits.
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Dress appropriately for the occasion
No matter what stereotypes would lead us to believe, Parisians are anything but extravagant when it comes to their outfits. However, it seems like they always dress up for the occasion – even if the occasion consists of picking up croissants at the bakery across the street.
In fact, I read a book by 4 Parisian women called How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. It opens with daily observations that are to be read out loud each evening, including:
“Always be f*!$able: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night, or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.”
You will rarely see Parisians wearing clothes that don't seem to belong in the setting where they find themselves.
Athletic wear stays at the gym, and beach attire at the beach. Anything too short or skin-tight will be frowned upon if you are not having a wild night out at the club. You can leave the athleisure trends at home.
A casual outfit in Paris includes a well-cut pair of jeans, a simple T-shirt (no graphics or lettering) or blouse, and a pair of flat shoes you would not wear to run a marathon. And never, ever wear anything in the street you could have slept in the night before.
what to pack for paris
What to Wear in Paris in the Fall
From light layering pieces that can transition from cool days to crisp nights, chic swoon-worthy outerwear, and so much more – getting dressed for a day out in Paris in the fall doesn't have to be challenging.
You are in Paris to explore and enjoy yourself. Make sure you are comfortable while doing so. Nothing spoils the memories of a trip like the wrong pair of shoes or forgetting appropriate outerwear.
Visiting Paris will likely mean a lot of walking. There are a lot of stairs: they are everywhere in the metro, but also in parts of the city like Montmartre. Many of the streets have narrow, uneven sidewalks, and some of the most picturesque places in the city are all cobblestones. High heels will be tough!
Finally, no visit to Paris would be complete without exploring some of its beautiful gardens.
I can’t stress enough how critical wearing appropriate footwear can be. A trip to Paris is no occasion to pull out a pair of brand-new shoes either, bring a well-broken-in favorite pair of comfortable shoes instead. No matter how strong the temptation might be, resist putting your favorite pair of running shoes in your suitcase unless you actually intend to go running while in Paris. You may as well be sporting a giant “tourist” sign on your back.
Pack a pair of close-toed, tried-and-true walking shoes that are also water-resistant. Depending on your style and the season, bring a pair of comfortable ballet flats or ankle boots that can be dressed up or down.
UPDATE: Many Parisians are also starting to sport more athletic-inspired shoes like Converse and white leather sneakers. Those are great for daytime exploring but bring a pair of dressier shoes if you are planning on visiting a fancier restaurant or checking out the Paris nightlife.
Flip-flops are always a no-no, plus I promise you, your feet will kill you at the end of the day.
Outerwear can also make or break your trip to Paris. The weather varies widely, especially in the fall and in the spring. The best policy is to check the weather ahead of time. However, don't forget to bring a good coat, the more classic, the better.
A waterproof trench coat (or dressier rain jacket) in the spring and the summer or a wool peacoat in the colder months is your best ally and will help you to fit right in. A foldable travel umbrella won’t take much room in your bag but it can save a rainy day.
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what to pack for paris
What to Wear in Paris in the Winter
If it's cold outside––which it probably will be in Paris during winter––you'll need to make sure that your style is up-to-date and fashionable, so that not only are you staying warm but also looking chic out on the streets!
Paris rarely deals with the extreme temperatures you can encounter elsewhere. Nevertheless, the weather can be widely unpredictable. You are never safe from a stray shower or facing freezing temperatures one day and sweltering heat the next. With limited space in your suitcase, the best policy is to pack clothes you can easily layer as needed. That’s where all those neutral colors will come in handy.
I love cotton dresses (in the summer) and sweater dresses (in the winter). They travel well in a suitcase and can take you from day-to-night. Add a pair of tights or leggings and a cardigan if it’s chilly, and you are all set. Dark wash well-cut jeans are a must. French women gravitate towards ankle length, skinny or straight leg, and mid-to-high waist ones.
You can wear them with a t-shirt on hot days, an elegant blouse at night, and a chunky sweater if the weather isn’t on your side. I am also always raving about my scarf collection, which I find to be the best way to warm up an outfit. It also adds a touch of color and makes you look put together, which is a nice extra.
what to pack for paris
What to Wear in Paris in the Summer
Summertime in Paris provides an especially delightful experience as the days become longer, the weather warms up and outdoor activities abound. Let your summer clothes style shine through during those warmer days in Paris!
Choose tailored, classic pieces.
French women (and Parisian women especially) often live in tiny apartments with limited closet space. However, they always manage to look so chic. How? Their wardrobes are very curated.
On top of the mix-and-match and neutral color scheme I discussed above, they invest in key pieces they can wear year after year, and that works great on many occasions. Make no mistake; they also fall victim to fast fashion. However, they don't hesitate to wear their high-street clothes with high-end staples that elevate the whole look.
Some of the staples you will find in every French woman’s closet include a black dress, a white shirt, nice jeans, a smart blazer, comfortable black boots and pumps, and a tailored coat in neutral colors. There are plenty of Paris outfit ideas that can be imagined from this list!
Incidentally, those are also great pieces to bring on a trip to Paris and to build your entire wardrobe upon. If you have always wanted to splurge on one of these items but never found the occasion, now is the time to do so!
Packing for Paris by Season
- What to wear in Paris Fall/Autumn
- What to wear in Paris Winter
- What to wear in Paris Spring
- What to wear in Paris summer
Each one includes a Paris packing list for the season.
I hope you found this packing guide for Paris helpful! Have you ever been to Paris before? What is one thing you are glad to have brought? Is there anything you wish you had with you? Do share!
Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.
I am married to a French man, lived in France for 3 years, and have been to Paris more than 50 times. I am always a tourist so the information, tip, and tricks I share are created to help you!
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- Look for fares using sites like Skyscanner or Expedia.com.
- For France (Paris) coming from the West Coast, I typically fly Air France or United. From the East Coast, I typically fly Air France or Delta.
- If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. Not only will you have a spot to relax before your flight and charge your devices, but you can eat and drink for free (without paying crazy airport prices!)
- I use Expedia.com, Booking.com, and Hotels.com to find lodging. Always check the reviews on TripAdvisor before booking!
- For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. When traveling in Europe, I use AutoEurope to make reservations. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. I typically book with Sixt.
- For transportation from the CDG airport to anywhere within Paris, consider pre-booking with Get Transfer. It is one way to be stress-free and you can request an English-speaking driver.
- Tours + Atractions
- I book tours with companies like Viator and GetYourGuide. Both have a wide variety of activities for every travel style. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
- If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City.
- Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities.
- If you are looking to buy tickets to attractions, check out Tiquet.
- Don't Forget Travel Photos
- One of my favorite things to do is to get photos taken of me while on vacation. Flytographer is a great option with photographers all over the world.
- Peace of Mind
- It’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. I always travel with insurance and would recommend SafetyWing, SquareMouth or Travelex Insurance are good options.
- Should you have any trouble with flight delays to the extent you feel you deserve compensation, I encourage you to check out and use AirHelp. I used them and for 1 claim I got compensated (transparency: a 2nd claim did not, but I was still glad I tried!).