Whew, this spring was a whirlwind of trips for work (and play) including Dallas, Providence, Chicago, Paris and London. Packing for Europe was definitely the hardest since I needed clothing and shoes for a weekend of sightseeing and cafés, pubs and an art museum, then a week’s worth of office-appropriate outfits. Here’s what I narrowed down to my top 10 European vacation packing list items, plus a simple work outfit formula to make jet-lagged (or regular) mornings less painful!
Guys. This jacket. (You’re probably tired of seeing it on my instagram!) It’s my favorite purchase in recent (and long-term) memory. So easy to wear and the perfect weight when the temps are a little cool in the morning or after the sun goes down. Or during London’s (and San Francisco’s) “summer”! I wore this jacket on the plane and every day I was city exploring, and there was nary a wrinkle in sight. The arms are a stretchier material, which I love since there’s no pulling at the shoulders, which can happen if you have a larger bust. I wore it zipped during a chilly walk across Paris and the tall collar is not only dramatically drapey and awesome, but also functional! (Here’s the moto vest version, in charcoal and green for summer.)
So the lightweight jacket was the most wearable piece I packed for the plane + sightseeing part of my trip (along with cool Euro street style sneaks) which included zipping over on the Eurostar to spend 6 whole hours in Paris, and a Sunday afternoon pub lunch and art museum trip with friends and their kiddos. For the work part, I needed a no-brainer, comfortable outfit formula that I could mix and match and throw on without thinking too hard. (Hi, jet lag!) I went with drapey blazers, floaty blouses and neutral slim ankle pants with metallic flats. Functional, versatile but cool bags were on the agenda too, for schlepping carry-on stuff, souveniers and laptop plus a jillion tech cords and plugs. Here’s a quick list to help you pack for work or play in Paris & London.
- Pretty, floaty blouse: Amour Vert Silk Blouse, Nordstrom Easy to pack and hang up overnight so any wrinkles fall out. Relaxed but still tailored and polished.
- Drapey blazer: Madewell Tribune Blazer, Nordstrom Essential lifesaver. I went a little nuts that day in Paris and won’t tell you how many buttery pastries I ate. It was obscene. AND, there’s a cake lady that visits our office in the UK, just pulls up to the door with a trunk full of humongous freshly baked homemade cakes in every flavor you could dream of. So, drapey blazers and floaty blouses were my BFFs on work days. The knit ones pack really well, and can easily switch to off-hours wear too, just throw on with a tee and jeans for a quick, pulled-together look with minimal effort. (i.e. the only kind of “pulled-together” I do.)
- Euro-cool sneakers: New Balance Women’s 410 Casual Sneakers So comfy and feather light – I sized up a full size in these – I’m usually a 7.5 and a pretty narrow foot, sometimes take an 8 in running sneaks but definitely needed 8.5 in these.
- Lightweight jacket: French Connection Tulip Hem Anorak Packable and water resistant but still stylish, dress it up or down.
- Leather backpack: Rebecca Minkoff Medium Julian Backpack (on sale under $130!): I used this as my purse – the medium Julian is the perfect size for everyday essentials, plus a small map book since I didn’t have great phone service abroad.
- Foldable flats: Yosi Samra Foldable Ballet Flats Another lifesaver. When I went into cute little tea shops or wanted to look a little fancier (read: less American), I slipped on a a foldable pair of metallic leather flats. They took up basically zero room in my carry-on, and I wore them on every day at work.
- Dark skinny jeans: J.Crew Toothpick Denim My faves. I love that these come in petite, and they’re comfy – I wore them for about 12 hours one day with no sagging. Great ankle length and the color is dark enough to wear to more casual work events.
- Packable rain boots: Hunter Original Tour Short Rain Boots As it turns out, the weather in London was absolutely gorgeous the entire week I was there so I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to wear these, but they roll up to a small packable size so it wasn’t too much trouble to bring them. And I definitely got to wear them back home in Boston during our wet spring.
- Versatile travel tote: Sole Society Miller Tote This was my airplane personal bag in addition to my roller bag carryon. It was brilliant for holding my laptop, all the plugs, (actual) notebook, magazines, toiletries and snacks. I emptied it out before I headed to Paris since I was planning a little discounted French cosmetics shopping spree at CityPharma, and it was lightweight enough to carry around the city all day.
- Slim cropped work pants: Loft Essential Skinny Ankle Pants These fit so well since there are options for curvier or straighter bodies, plus they come in regular, petite or tall inseams. On sale!
Shop Paris & London Packing List Must-Haves