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!
Marrakech Faravel Moto, Anthropologie, all sizes in stock here under a different name!
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
Can I ask how the jacket fit? What size are you wearing in comparison to what size you would normally wear in tops from someplace like Banana Republic or LOFT? (Trying to determine if I can fit into the XS still available at Anthropologie!) LOVE the jacket.
Hi Rebecca! I’m wearing a Medium, which is my normal size. It was a little tight to zip up across my chest but that’s pretty typical for me, I liked wearing it open better anyway. All sizes are still in stock here, same price as Anthro but free shipping!: http://rstyle.me/n/cpmea9bdi6f
Thanks so much!
This is my favorite post of yours! I love all of it! I have the short Hunters and they are definitely worth the money. Plus the BR Sloane pants are the only pants I wear to work. Go Amanda! You nailed it!! Now I want that jacket…
Aw, thanks for your kind words and support! Xo
i went to europe in march so cold ! you are right they were sneakers with dresses! Love these Nikes and the post!
Thanks Jennifer! I’ve tried a bunch of times to do the sneakers with dresses look, but I just can’t seem to get it to look right on me. Any tips?
I’ll be visiting Paris for my first time next May. I was thinking of packing a canvas sneaker (possibly Superga) for the dress/short/pant versatility. I love the comfiness of New Balance, but just not sure about wearing them with dresses. Thanks for the sharing the capsule!
It seems like the Minkoff backpack is back up to $210…I’m so sad!
Darn! They keep going on sale randomly, so I’d recommend you keep checking every so often to snag a deal. Right now, the full size Julian in a gorgeous wine color is $172: http://rstyle.me/n/cprwxfbdi6f and this medium Julian in blood orange is $123 on her site: http://rstyle.me/n/cprwzwbdi6f. Good luck! xo
This is the best curated travel capsule I have seen yet! Each piece is perfect! Classic but with a fun Edge!!! great job!!!
Yay, glad you found it helpful, Kristy! Have I mentioned lately how much I love our readers? 🙂 Seriously, you guys are the best.
Loved how this post included that are work appropriate in addition to being stylish and fun to wear outside of work!!!!
Thanks, Christie! Since I work from home so much, I don’t have an extensive work clothing selection so it’s easier to think of it like a travel capsule wardrobe when I’m buying new things – I make sure each piece can pair with at least two other things (and even better if it can do double-duty in casual wear!)
I may be visiting London in November a few days before Thanksgiving w my hubby and kiddos. I love the Moto jacket listed here but my only concern is whether it’ll be warm enough for the really cool temps. Any other suggestions on stylish coats suitable for colder fall in London? Thank you!
Ooh, so much fun, Ann! Good news – I’ll do a roundup post of warmer jackets for fall that would work for London. Look for it soon!
Hi Ann, as promised here’s a post on stylish warmer jackets for London travel! http://themomedit.com/2017/09/reader-question-stylish-fall-jacket-for-london/