Packing List: South of France, Summer

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I have been obsessively wanderlusting. My old, favorite travel books have come down off the shelf and are cracked open all over my house. I upgraded my Duolingo account and have been pestering my guys with, “If you could go anywhere…”

Pax, 11: “Egypt!”

Raines, 14: “That one ice hotel in that one book you have…”

Mike, 48: “I dunno…I like it here.”

Oh, good: expensive, obscure and unhelpful. Thanks, guys.

Personally, I’m dreaming of one of those classically beautiful summer vacations, with striped umbrellas and striped tees, sparkling beaches, and wandering through cobblestone streets, flowers bursting, markets filled. And while this description could be applied to a number of places, as I was pulling together this packing list, I couldn’t stop thinking about the south of France. The French Riviera — St. Tropez especially — has long been on my bucket list, as has Provence and Antibes (although, I don’t think I’m a Cannes girl but could likely be convinced).

Classic, Dreamy + Summery: What To Pack For The South Of France

The thing about France that I find trickier than other places, at least when it comes to packing, is that the style quotient is so darn high — French people are deeply stylish, yet there’s a core of nonchalance. Outfits are never fussy or contrived; French style tends to be a little undone, effortless. Sexy, perhaps, but not overtly so.

So if I were headed to the south of France, I’d definitely start with one knockout swimsuit, as well as some classic French-girl pieces: a striped tee and a denim midi skirt. I would also be sure to pack at least One Beautiful Dress. I’d want something unfussy that can be worn with flat sandals (cobblestones + heels don’t go together) yet would look effortlessly glamorous out to dinner or at a seaside lunch.

Frankly, this is likely all I’d really need. But because I’m me — and I realize this could be controversial — I’d also pack cutoff jean shorts (I bring mine everywhere) and a pair of slouchy trousers.

This south of France packing list (ft. midi skirts, low-rise cargo pants + more) has me dreaming of a summer vacation w/ cobblestone streets, sparkling beaches & full markets.

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1. A Gorgeous One-Piece Swimsuit

I'm very into 1-piece swimsuits with cutouts that read more like bikinis, & this Johanna Ortiz 1 is definitely that. Not only are these types of bathing suits sneaky-sexy, but they're impossibly chic too.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Johanna Ortiz swimsuit

I’m very into one-piece swimsuits with cutouts that read more like bikinis, and this one is definitely that. Not only are these types of bathing suits sneaky-sexy, but they’re impossibly chic too. Especially in this rich color.


2. A Chic Hat

While a straw hat would be the obvious choice, especially in the south of France, I'm more of a baseball cap kind of girl. + this canvas Isabel Marant hat is French, so.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Isabel Marant hat

For kid-spotting in the ocean (mine never want to get out), I always need a hat. While a straw hat would be the obvious choice, especially in the south of France, I’m more of a baseball hat kind of girl. And this one is French, so.

If you’d rather not spend $200 on a baseball cap (French brand or not), this Anine Bing hat looks very similar, for $49. If you’re dying for a straw hat with those French Riviera vibes, my favorite straw hats, years later, are still these. The floppy one is very French Riviera.


3. A Classic Tank

This FRAME racerback cami tank top has classic vibes + a built-in shelf bra, & it doesn't dig into my underarms.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

FRAME tank

Classic vibes, shelf bra and doesn’t dig into my underarms: this FRAME racerback cami. I also love Alex Mill’s Kate tank tops for the same reason.


4. Cool Sunglasses

Drool-worthy: these Prada sunglasses. Similar: Quay Australia's aviators are a bit more masculine, but they're mirrored, which is great.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Prada sunglasses

I’ve been drooling over these seriously cool frames for months. But then…I found Quay Australia’s very similar pair (for $55) and LOVE THEM. The Quay pair is a little more masculine (nobody can touch those perfect Prada curves), but they’re mirrored, which is great.


5. A Striped Tee But Updated

I own this FRAME 100% linen crop top (mismarked by Saks as "100% cotton"), & it's a new fave. Feels like a classic but has amazing drape + a fresh new shape.
Saks Fifth Avenue

FRAME tee

I own this FRAME 100% linen crop top (mismarked by Saks as “100% cotton”), and it’s a new fave. Feels like a classic but has amazing drape (thanks to the linen) and a fresh new shape. One of my most-worn buys of the summer.


6. A Button-Front Midi Skirt

The goop button-front midi skirt is impossibly chic & can be both demure + sexy. Footwear is easy — flats, heels, even sneakers — & it effortlessly elevates other basics.
photo credit: goop

goop | similar skirt by FRAME

The button-front midi skirt never gets enough credit. It is impossibly chic and can be both demure and sexy. Footwear is easy — flats, heels, even sneakers — and it’s the kind of piece that effortlessly elevates other basics. The goop denim midi featured above is my current favorite (and here’s a similar denim skirt from FRAME), but I don’t think the important part is the denim. I think the important part is the button-front midi shape. So. With that in mind, I’d also recommend Everlane’s button-front midi skirt or Madewell’s side-button version.


7. A Beautiful Midi Dress

Not only does this length work with all footwear (unlike a maxi dress, which is tricky with heels), but I find that midi dresses in general look fabulously dashing with minimal effort.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Farm Rio dress

If you’re going to bring only one dress to the south of France, make it a midi dress. Not only does this length work with all footwear (unlike a maxi dress, which is tricky with heels), but I find that midi dresses in general look fabulously dashing with minimal effort. Mini dresses, on the other hand, are harder to style in an effortlessly chic way.

This particular Farm Rio cutout dress is shockingly good — see it on me here. And another option for a one-and-done vacation dress? Reformation’s Bridgton off-the-shoulder linen dress. Very girl-next-door-meets-bombshell.


8. A Pair Of Shorts

I know jean shorts are a particularly American choice for the French Riviera, but I've brought them on every European summer vacation we've taken & have always been glad I did. I'd primarily wear these FRAME high-waisted denim cutoffs as a beach cover-up.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

FRAME cutoffs

I know cutoff jean shorts are a particularly American choice for the French Riviera, but I’ve brought them on every European summer vacation we’ve taken and have always been glad I did. I’d primarily wear these FRAME high-waisted cutoffs as a beach cover-up over the swimsuit.

If you’d like to class these up a bit, try this clean, white pair of denim shorts (serious retro vibes when worn — see here) or even this tailored pair of high-rise linen-cupro shorts.


9. A Classic White Tee

One of my personal rules is that when I go to France, I always pack a white tee. If this FRAME linen T-shirt isn't your thing, the rag & bone crew-neck is my fave cotton shirt.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

FRAME tee

One of my personal rules is that when I go to France, I always pack a white tee — always. If this FRAME linen T-shirt isn’t your thing, this is my favorite white cotton tee.


10. Shimmering Body Oil

One part body oil, one part perfume, this Tom Ford shimmering body oil makes my skin look + smell like summer. The scent is all tanned skin, ocean breezes & sandy beaches.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Tom Ford | also at Nordstrom

One part body oil, one part perfume, this magic product by Tom Ford makes my skin look and smell like summer. I can’t even truly describe it, but the scent is all tanned skin, ocean breezes and sandy beaches. And the sparkle is subtle and gorgeous.


11. Sheer Lip Oil

This Clarins Lip Comfort Oil has barely-there color + high shine & is deeply moisturizing. Easy summer makeup. Go ahead & get the exciting color: These are VERY sheer.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Clarins lip oil

Barely-there color, high shine and deeply moisturizing. This Clarins lip oil is summer makeup at its easiest. Go ahead and get the exciting color: These are VERY sheer.


12. A Twist On The French Market Tote

The holes of this Longchamp bag are too big: Keys & sunglasses poke out of it (lipsticks will fall out too). It also feels overly delicate. But it's cute + packable, so if you use a pouch inside for your problem stuff, this would work.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Le Pliage bag | Also at Nordstrom

I have mixed feelings about this Longchamp market bag. I’ve been using mine for a month now, and while I do like it, I think…it might be too annoying. The holes are too big: Keys poke out of it as well as the arms of my sunglasses (and lipsticks will fall out too). It also feels overly delicate, like I miiight rip it. But this bag is very cute and packable, so if you are willing to use a pouch inside for your problem stuff, this would work.

If not, I’d try the Clare V. Sandy Tote. I have it in black, and it’s much more durable, the knots are closer together, and it lays flat to pack. J.Crew has a similar bag, but the holes are looser than the Clare V. (I compared the two here.)

Of course, you could always pick up an authentic French market tote while in France….


13. Slouchy Trousers

I love the juxtaposition of slouchy, boyish FRAME cargo pants with a gorg 1-piece swimsuit...or even with a strappy little tank top.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

FRAME cargo pants | Also at Nordstrom

I love the juxtaposition of slouchy, boyish cargo pants with a really gorgeous one-piece swimsuit…or even with a strappy little tank top. If your style is less tomboy than mine, Reformation’s cropped linen trousers would be a more sophisticated choice. They’re ahhhhh-mazing.


14. Flat Tan Sandals

These suede Veronica Beard slides are the type of sandals I wear for a night out. As long as the sandals are flat + tan...they work with EVERYTHING.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Veronica Beard slides

These Veronica Beard slides are the type of sandals that I wear for a night out, but if you need a sturdier, everyday pair for walking, I also recommend these Kork-Ease slingbacks. As long as the sandals are flat and tan…I find that they work with EVERYTHING.


15. Retro Sneakers

For the plane trip over, & for adventures off the beaten path, I always pack a pair of sneakers, like these from New Balance. The classic choice for the south of France is likely a little white sneaker, but for this capsule I wanted something with more foot support.
photo credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

New Balance sneakers

For the plane trip over, and for adventures off the beaten path, I always pack a pair of sneakers. Frankly, the classic choice for the south of France is likely a little white sneaker (like this one or this one), but for this particular capsule I wanted something a little funkier (and with a little more foot support).


If anyone is heading over St. Tropez, let me know. I’d LOVE to live vicariously through you. And if there’s another packing list you’d like to see, leave a comment below. I’m currently in the process of packing for our trip to Turkey, and I have several almost-finished packing collages that would be good for somewhere

xo,

S

Oh, hey, Pinners! This one’s for you…

This south of France packing list (ft. midi skirts, low-rise cargo pants + more) has me dreaming of a summer vacation w/ cobblestone streets, sparkling beaches & full markets.

9 COMMENTS

  1. My mom, sister and daughter and I are headed on a tour of Italy in May of 2023 – I’d LOVE to see what you would put together for that trip!

  2. We just got back from England (Cornwall and London) and Cote d’Azur (Nice, St. Tropez, Monaco) with our 8 month old! It was fabulous and hot in France. Women in the city areas tend to dress up a lot more than we expected. Going out to dinner, my guy made a comment about feeling like we were in Vegas. At the beach and in smaller towns, the women wear a lot of linen and loose, casual clothes in the summer. Jean shorts are very popular in France, not just with Americans.

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