1 Piece 5 Ways: The Parisian Way

If you haven’t caught it in our social media posts lately, I’m currently on holiday in Europe. In non-fancy European terms, I’m on vacation.

I have always wanted to go on a European adventure. I decided my 30th birthday was the perfect opportunity. My work on the other hand did not prefer me scampering around Europe in the height of our hiring season—so a half birthday trip it became. I stumbled upon an amazing deal and paid less to go back and forth to Europe than I do to visit family in Ohio. Still not sure how that is a thing, but it is. The only sacrifice to my under $400 ticket to Europe was that I could only bring a carry on—no checked bag. I won’t lie. I was a bit nervous about two full weeks in Europe with such limited space. How would I have options for all of the cute Instagram posts!? I decided ultimately it was worth the sacrifice, especially to have some extra cash on the ground for fresh macaroons and after several people telling me I wouldn’t want to be back and forth across Europe with a lot of baggage. I decided to accept the challenge.

That meant I had to get strategic. I’ve mentioned in the past that I travel pretty minimally, but this was going to be minimalist traveling at a new level. I needed to pick pieces that would work together and on top of that wouldn’t make me look like an obnoxious American—that part is just all me. (I should also note, I had the security of knowing that I would be staying with friends and have access to laundry should I need it.)

After lots of hours lost on Pinterest researching how to dress like a Parisian and a few strategic shopping trips, I felt that I had perfected the pieces I would take. Today I’m going to show you how I packed for Paris (and the rest of Europe) for two weeks in a small bag.

Here’s the breakdown:
Pants: 3
Leggings: 1
Dresses: 2
Sweaters: 2
Scarf: 1
Pajamas: 1
Shoes: 3
Undershirts: 3
Underware: 7
Bras: 2
Socks: 7
Jacket: 1

Start with a base. Choose three pair that will be versatile and support all of your other pieces collectively and a range of looks and comfort levels. I chose a pair of dark wash straight leg basic jeans, a pair of army green linen boyfriend chinos, black leggings with a cute bow ankle feature, and lighter wash jeggings that I traveled in.

Shirts are a lot easier to get carried away with. They seem small enough and we convince ourselves that they won’t take up much space and that we need to have options. Shirts are often statement pieces in our wardrobes and some of our favorites. Shirts is where I usually have to exhibit a lot of self control. I think with shirts it’s important to have a priority list and perhaps a friend to help filter and make cuts that are just too hard for you.
Consider: weather, culture, comfort, occasions, and space
I knew it would be early spring when I arrived, but checked the weather just a couple of days before leaving to finalize my packing. I chose a couple of looser and longer button downs to wear with jeggings or leggings, a simple, white, comfy T, a couple of patterned tanks I really loved (stripes and zebras) and a pretty and fancier black baby doll top. I chose all black and white shirts to keep it simple and interchangeable and classic European. I made sure that all of them worked with at least one (potentially more) of my pants and that I would like the look and feel comfortable. I did choose black and white with some prints that  I still felt had my personality. I let myself bring one floral top (that still I made sure I could wear with all of my black theme)

I do love dresses and I kept imagining which one I would wear for my instagramable moment beneath the Eiffel Tower. Once I started packing, I realized they were not all going to make the cut. I limited myself to one light, loose shirt dress that was white with little black polka dots, and one long sleeved cotton black dress with white stripes. I could do either with or without leggings and both worked with all of my shoes and sweaters as well. Versatility and comfort were keys with these

I am visiting Europe in the springtime and knew that would call for some layers. Layers often require more space as sweaters tend to be bulkier and take up more space in our bags. I had to be extra strategic when choosing these. I did some research ahead of time here. People mentioned that cashmere is great for warmth and versatility and also isn’t too bulky. I headed to an outlet and found myself a super discounted, oversized, black wrap sweater. It would match everything else and also work well casually or on nice occasions. I had another oversized charcoal sweater that I used for travel and when I arrived.

I’ll be honest. Shoes are not so hard for me. I don’t have many of them because I live that city life. Shoes are ALL about practicality and comfort for me always. I settled on one pair of sparkly gold flats—thought about black but wanted a little pop of fun mixed in with all the black and white. Gold flats are great for that! They’re still neutral but they ass a little something. I found a pair of black and white tennis shoes (something between athletic shoes and less) that I planned to use on all of my touring days, and I wore a pair of short, army green rain boots on the plane—I wanted to have something for rain and or hiking and also didn’t want to waste precious carry on space.

I brought along one oversized camel colored scarf (from H&M men’s section actually) I also traveled with this as I tend to get cold on planes. It remained neutral but added something—a layer of sorts—to all the black and white.

I did a LOT of research ahead of time on a jacket as well. I needed something warm but not too bulky that would take up my whole carry on. I started with North Face  and REÍ but just didn’t live any of it. I stumbled upon a down coat in rose gold by Guess at a random outlet store.it was light weight and meant for packing and I loved that it wasn’t a crazy color but also not black or gray. It also had a cool zip in hood/sweatshirt layer that sold it for me!

Something to keep in mind here is that you have to keep these to a minimal if you’re only traveling with a carry on. All of your toiletries have to be less than 5 ml and if traveling through Europe, small enough to fit in a small plastic ziplock bag. I had some fun with this. I love perfume but often can’t take my favorites. I decided I would take this opportunity to try out a perfume I had liked many times while exploring Sephora. I spent $20 for a small travel bottle of it—this is not only a great way to travel but also to try something out for a while without investing in the huge, expensive bottle! I also used it to try out a new scent of Love. Beauty. Planet shampoo and conditioner. I only took my absolutely essential essential oils and agreed with friends to borrow body and face wash. I grabbed some travel packs of makeup wipes too.

Undergarments + socks
I kept all of these very minimal and neutral because I knew I would have access to laundry. Three undershirts in black, white, and nude/pink and one week of socks and underwear. I also kept bras and pajamas to a minimum knowing I could wash halfway through.

** I am about one week in to my two week trip. I’ve been happy with my selections thus far and I’m feeling pretty successful in my endeavor to look adorbs in Europe with just a carry on worth of stuff!

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