I'm here in Paris in the middle of July. The weather has fluctuated from highs in the upper 90s (Fahrenheit) to lows in the 40s. We have had cool, rainy, blustery days and days that sent us clamoring for shade and a cool glass of Perrier.
Having lived in Tampa Bay for the past 25 years, I know how to dress for the heat at home. But what about Paris, the fashion capital of the world? In Tampa, bright colors and skin-baring clothing are the norm -- but this is not what you will find on the streets of Paris.
So, what do you pack? You ask all the experts and they will tell you to dress in "layers". But what exactly does that mean? Tank tops that can be worn alone or under button-down shirts, cardigans, light-weight jackets, pashminas that can double as scarfs, and so on. It still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
Here are some tips to follow when packing for Paris:
For easy dressing pack neutral colors. Black is worn year-round in Paris, a plus for travelers as it doesn't show wear and tear as easily as light colors. Darker colors can also go longer between laundering. If you don't like black, navy is good alternative. Pair either of these all season neutrals with white, throw on a few accessories (scarves, belts, etc.) and you can create dozens of looks.
Choose Solids Over Prints
Choose solid-colored garments, then add a few items in small basic prints (such as polka dots, pinstripes or hounds-tooth) to make mixing and matching easier. Although some fashionistas can pair two different prints in the same outfit and still look effortlessly chic, most find it a challenge so keep it simple with solids.
The Denim Dilemma
Jeans are worn by the younger Parisians (25 and under) but only in dark wash and "skinny leg" or trouser cut styles. Avoid light wash, acid wash and "boyfriend" styles. If jeans aren't your cup of tea, throw an extra pair of dark-colored light-weight trousers in your suitcase. You will find they can take you just about everywhere.
Leave your white tennis (athletic) shoes at home. Wearing them is an instant sign to the locals that you are a tourist. For walking the streets of Paris choose a pair of flats (ballet flats are very popular now) or sleek wedge styles which will provide balance on the cobblestone streets and uneven pavement. For evenings out or upscale restaurants, high heels are very much in fashion. If you are concerned about keeping your balance, opt for a stacked or wider heel over a skinny stiletto.
Pack as many as you like (or whatever your suitcase will hold) but wear only one or two at a time. Accessories are the easiest way to change up your look, but most Parisians wear very few accessories at one time. A scarf tied smartly around the neck or a skinny belt over a cardigan are a few examples. Leave your bulky chain necklaces and layers of bracelets at home and add pizzazz to your outfit with an accessory (or small grouping of accessories) that add a touch of color or unusual print. It is amazing how different a simple blouse and skirt can look with just a change of accessories.
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