Packing for Paris

What did I bring? What will you bring? (You’re coming, right?)


Among the plethora of reasons I will never actually be French (this time, the conversation is incredibly meta as I am in France): packing a carry-on for an eight day trip and looking ambitiously cool for all eight of said days will never, ever be my mode of operation. Effortlessly, at least.

But I can, of course, try, which is where this post comes in to tell the tale of the time I brought a pair of jeans, some t-shirts and a whole lot of jackets on an excursion with no return date in sight. Kidding about the last part—eight’s the magic number.

My dad has always told me that stuff ruins trips. A suitcase heavier than your own body mass will never make the already-grueling process of travel any easier, and getting to your destination with a whole bunch of things you probably shouldn’t have brought (because, really, you haven’t worn them in months so what makes you think you might wear them now just because you’re transatlantic) is a loosely-ideological mistake.

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Though I’ll be honest, I took a white t-shirt as well, the white button down blouse is applicable with almost anything. Especially when held up against the photographed Acne jeans (which are actually precisely the ones I’m wearing right now). I’d even go so far as to suggest you wear your black muscle-tee over the blouse if you want to. The one photographed is only $18 and available at Target. Seems kind of boring for fashion week, right?

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But the magic is in the jackets. In bringing along at least three or four different blazons of outerwear, you can essentially fashion the same exact jeans and tee for as many days in a row as you’d please sans wash. The denim jacket (this one is from Old Navy) will look great buttoned up with the jeans. So will it paired under the plaid Preen jacket—second row, at middle. The military jacket is Balmain (but on Yoox) so I’d be hard-pressed not to try at least cost-per-wear-ing it. And finally, a cream colored Stella McCartney jacket is never a bad idea. (Especially, I might add, when heavily price-reduced.)

I do understand that a prosaic pair of jeans and some plain ol’ shirts might get slightly boring, even with the jacket pairings, so bring a stealthy helping of hearty accoutrements.

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I’ve taken to two different types of chokers–one thick and gold and another featuring dangling balls (hehe). The photographed two are by Malene Birger and Dannijo. Furthermore, a reflective pair of sunglasses will create the illusion that you are cool and two such mini skirts to wear in lieu of your pants (with loafers, I might add) should certainly come in handy. The embellished-ass one is neither Isabel Marant nor Anthony Vaccarello and actually hails from Mango while the flared pale blue one (denim jacket layered under plaid jacket here) is from Zara.

Now, of course, for the shoes, which probably amount for 67.8% of your look—sorry, lewk:

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Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can— and will—run around in heels! It’s not going to happen! Which is why a pair of sneakers is important. Not to shamelessly plug myself, but the velvet ones by Superga rule. You should also think about bringing some loafers. They will look great with your skirts or your pants or nothing at all. The patent leather pilgrim-style ones above are by Isabel Marant.

If you crave a baby heel, try Valentino’s tango shoes and for the night (also, are you fucking kidding with how magical these ones are?), la nuit, pumps. White pumps. The photographed pair is by Casadei though I love the Saint Laurent version as well. And per those iridescent Jimmy Choos, there’s that.


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I also took three purses. (I placed my makeup inside the Reece Hudson one—at middle, my toiletries inside the zipper pouch—this one, at left, is Charlotte Olympia, and emergency Advil in the Tonya Hawkes minaudiere which I also used as a purse on the flight [it comes with a strap inside] so my passport and money have been hanging out in there, too.)

Finally, on the topic of putting what I preach to practice: fortunately for me, yesterday three people mistook me for French. Unfortunately for me, the ladies who work at Dries van Noten did not. And really, what is more painful than a near-perfect (if I may say so) “bonjour” being met with a broken, heavily-accented, “Ehm, let us know if you need anything.” I guess c’est la vie.

Feature images via Timothy Walker (left), 100 Legendary Trunks (right).

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  • He he, would love to bump into you in Paris, but I don’t live in the capital. Can’t wait to see your FW looks, and even though this process can be quite stressful, remember that some of us Frenchies still wear crocs 🙂

    Mafalda ❤

  • Paco T.

    Paris is the best place in the world!!

  • Brigadeiro

    Wish you had posted this before Paris Couture Week, I overpacked. And even though I wore modest 2-3″ heels on the first day, I ended the day hobbling around, and stuck to sneakers and boots for the rest of the week. Bookmarking this for next time!


    Brigadeiro’s Blog



  • livwearlove

    I love that you posted this. I traveled to Rome last year and completely overpacked. I ended up with 7 blouses that hadn’t been worn, although I wished that I had packed a few more jackets. Great advice!

  • marinacasapu

    Those chokers are amazing!

  • Savannah

    That skirt! Really, mango? Wouldn’t have guessed. Nice find.
    PS. Just received your book in the mail, love it. Have been reading and sipping coffee as result all day. Nearly spilled my latte all over my white shirt whilst reading the part on the ostrich clutch. Funny shit, Leandra.
    Love from Holland X

  • gvanh

    Thanks for these insights. I’m traveling in Europe right now for 6 weeks, 20″ international carry-on bag only: Italy, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Malta, Rome, Morocco & London (so cool & hot weather to consider). Jeans (of course), slender black pants, black pencil skort, leather t-shirt, 2 quick-dry tanks, LBD, black heels, oxfords, sandals. 3 pairs of earrings, 2 chokers, 2 watches — gold/silver — and it’s not a crisis if anything gets stolen! Tankini. 2 huge silk scarves which can be tied into skirts or scarves, worn in churches & mosques, beach cover-up, etc. One belt. Yoga pants/nylon shirt for lounging, sports, etc. Sporty jacket & Pepe Jeans short trench in olive. Tinted sunblock, mascara, 2 lipsticks, curling brush. Prescription glasses. Sequoia cross-body leather day bag, Laptop, power supplies, camera, adaptors and a book — that’s what takes up the space & makes the bag heavy! At any rate, everything has been used, doesn’t look ‘touristy’ and can be laundered quickly when necessary. Your dad had it right! Take less, worry less, let your curious attitude be your passport!

    • cityrat_wrangler


  • EveB

    I actually AM coming, AND packing, AND popping Atavan like bon bons. I’ve got my blue velvet Supergas, so I think I’m good to go. Thanks for the tips. I NEED I NEED I NEED!

  • Kelly

    Would you really wear white heels again after…the incident? haha

    • Leandra Medine

      Yes! I am! Here’s hoping it’s horse shit next time (so much more exotic, no?)

      • Kelly

        That’s the proper mindset!

  • Bon Voyaging

    This is amazing! Here is our post on how to pack fashionably for 3 months in Paris in carry on:

  • Selena Aponte

    Love everything but where is all the color? I’m leaving to Paris soon and need to see yours and Caroline de Maigret’s photos for inspiration. I’m more than positive you will pull a ton of surprises..

  • It must be so hard to pack for fashion week. I couldn’t even imagine trying to work it all out. I would probably bring everything!

  • Katie

    I traveled to Paris in the winter when it was (freezing!) and wore one black wool coat (belted) and only traveled with a small carry on for sweaters and pants. I wore boots the whole time. Packing light is key but also traveling with a money pouch for your passport and cash so it does not get stolen under your clothes! We had gypsy’s come up to us in Montmartre and try to distract us by tying up our fingers and luckily my euros were hidden. Best trip ever though going to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Chartres cathedral and many other places… and of course had the best pastry ever!

  • Stacey Freeman

    Love the packing run-down, but one question…you’re on board with the same color denim jacket on denim jeans? I thought the ‘Canadian suit’ was a big fashion no-no.

  • The Floating Team

    Lovely selection! Packing is always hard, but for Paris it’s even worse! Love that skirt by Mango by the way 😉

    Wanna float with us?

    The Floating Team!

  • Maria Inês Ribeiro

    Can’t wait to see your FW looks! So excited! Love that blue skirt, omg…

  • Loving it. Can’t wait to see you out together these looks. Also loving the book!

    Xo, Nina

  • xtyb

    You’re going to look gorg, but ha ha. I know the feeling exactly when they take one look at you and start speaking English. Try Barcelona-I got asked for directions many times there and wow did I feel cool!

  • s

    all this in a carry on?! that’s insane and equally impressive. cant wait to see the total looks!


  • Chrissabella

    Great post … I never manage to travel light … as I always think, well if you got that space you might wanna make use out of it but then still only wearing 30% of the packed clothes 😉

    Greetings from London,

  • Love all the picks…need that Dannijo necklace.

  • brunetteletters

    have a great time in Paris!! love that place and can’t wait to see your style over there!

  • I love that charlotte olympia bag! Its amazing

  • sheeristhenewblack

    I’m going to pack like this every time I have to pack.

    I have to say your book is soooo good, but the best part was my boyfriend asking what a man repeller was and me trying to explain, even your book repelles man, congratulations!

  • Lisa Dionisio

    Expertly curated for your carry-on, Leandra. Your Superga X Man Repeller velvet sneakers and Marant Pilgrims are indeed the perfect shoe selections, lest you want to hobble around the streets of Paris! Can’t wait to see your finds!

  • pamb

    No black pants? I honestly don’t think I could make it 8 days without a pair of black pants. Please tell me you at least wore (fancy) sweats on the plane that will double as pajamas. On long flights you need to be comfy! Next time, please include your cary on must haves as well!

  • Amatoria Clothing

    Leandra, if your goal in life is to be accepted by the French, you will never be satisfied. Especially in Paris. Can’t believe you are doing 8 days with a carry-on! *bow*

  • Camille Ervin

    I wish I was coming with!

  • Ellie

    I always consider it a personal triumph when people mistake me for a local while traveling. Even if it is another tourist carefully walking up to me “Um, excuse me, do you speak English? Do you know where ____is?”
    I give myself a mental high five and disappoint them by admitting that I have not idea where anything is in the city, I don’t even know where I am for that matter.

  • Cait Harvey

    White shoes are acceptable in the winter now? Thank god, dying to wear my white Tibi boots.

  • Kande

    I love your suggestions… I am fortunate to travel to Paris once a year, and I prefer to blend-in, and your recommendations work toward that objective. Thanks!

  • Kim P.

    …Ugh so American.

  • Kim P.

    Leandra.. let’s see a photo of that “carry-on”…

  • Alba B.

    Where is your pc and smartphone!!! Not a smart choice leaving home without them, but I think is nothing compare to the fact of going to France for an 8day trip and not getting a good book to read!!!!
    What is happening with you people in US attending only the french shows?!!!
    Is there smth wrong with those of London and Milan?!!!

  • Starryfeet

    I totally agree that the outerwear makes all the difference! I pack a couple different blazers or jackets for each trip, even if it’s only a couple days! What I hate about packing is that I won’t know my mood ahead of time, so I have little variety when the day rolls around…

  • The two skirts are just so cute!!! The light blue color is really nice and the embellished one is just so fun!

  • Sara Alice