Stylish Packing Takes Planning


Stylish packing

I haven’t really talked about it that much here on the blog, but it’s not that long now before we head to France for two whole months. (Over on Instagram it’s another story – I’ve been subjecting my fellow francophiles to the longest countdown of all time. But I digress.)

We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some relatively long trips to France over the years. But eight weeks feels particularly luxurious.

Organising a longer trip has required some changes to our normal planning routine. We’ve obviously needed to save for longer. Discussions have had to be held with our workplaces about leave and how we will cover our roles in our absence. And further conversations were required at home, given we have pets that need babysitting while we are away. I’ve even had a serious chat with my hairdresser about how I’ll manage my regrowth for our time away. (Seems there are no easy answers on that particular topic.)

One thing that isn’t changing though is my approach to stylish packing. Or packing light for that matter.

In fact, I’m not even considering taking a larger case. 

Yep, you read that right. I’m planning to take my carry-on size case. For a two month trip. To France. The same France that is considered one of the most stylish countries on the planet.

It’s safe to say my decision is raising questions – and eyebrows – all over the place. But my rationale for travelling light remains the same as always. In case you haven’t read them before, here are my top five reasons for packing light when you visit France:

Top Five Reasons For Packing Light

  1. There are stairs everywhere – and you can’t always count on lifts and escalators. Please take this point seriously if you are planning to travel by train or are taking some sort of bus tour. Even if you are being dropped right at the front door of your accommodation, you could still encounter stairs. And many places, hotels included, don’t have lifts.
  2. You reduce the risk of injury. Unless you lug stuff around for a living, you are probably not used to carrying heavy things day in, day out. Even just moving heavy luggage around your room has the potential to harm your back, shoulders or elbows.
  3. And on the topic of rooms, French hotel lodgings can be notoriously small. There is nothing worse than having your luggage dominate your sleeping space.
  4. The less you have with you, the less chance there is to lose your belongings. It is as simple as that.
  5. Starting out light will allow some room for any French goodies that you might like to take home. I try to back end my shopping as much as possible so as not to be carrying too much weight too early in the trip.

Stylish Packing Requires Planning

As a very fashionable friend (who happens to own my favourite boutique) and I were discussing the other day, stylish packing requires planning. And this is especially true if packing light is also a priority. 

And here’s where I practice what I preach to the letter. I follow my own ‘Stylish Packing Quick Start Guide’ and consider what we will be doing, where we will be going and what the weather is likely to throw at us. This trip is starting to shape up as follows:

  • Nine weeks in France gives us the opportunity to do so many things. We have many day trips planned. And while this trip is going to be more about relaxing than doing anything too flash, we will need a couple of dressier outfits for a few days. One thing I want to guard against is our style – or lack thereof – stopping us. I want to feel that we are dressed appropriately enough to take on any opportunity that comes our way. So I have to plan outfits that leave me feeling confident regardless of the situation.
  • The length of our time away and our itinerary. On this trip, we’ll be travelling from south to north, means we will encounter a large variety of weather conditions during our time in France. I guess the easiest way to sum up the weather requirements is that I will be packing my bathing suit and my favourite down jacket. Safe to say that not even my carefully curated seasonal packing lists cover those weather extremes. So I’m spending time thinking about how my clothes can do double duty regardless of the climate.
  • One final consideration is that I have to pack enough clothes so that I don’t have to wash every single day. Washing isn’t nearly as much fun as exploring France. And while many of our accommodation choices on this trip feature a washing machine, I don’t want to slow us down with domestic chores.

So What’s On The Stylish Packing List So Far?

I’ll definitely be taking four of my personal top six wardrobe essentials

  1. A Long Sleeve White Button Down Shirt. 
  2. High Waisted Skinny Jeans. 
  3. White V-Neck T-Shirts. 
  4. The Cashmere Pullover.

The black pants that generally form part of my essentials list will be covered by a pair of black jeans. The black v-neck top will be replaced with a black shirt that can be worn multiple ways.

I’ll be supplementing these essentials with clothes especially selected for travelling. Ultra light-weight pants, dresses and skirts that don’t crease. None of my choices will require ironing because if I don’t want to iron at home, I certainly don’t want to iron on vacation. And everything that makes it into my luggage will lend itself to layering.

I’ve been investing in travel friendly brands of clothing like Mela Purdie, Raffaello Rossi and Planet by Lauren G for a long time now and have built up a wardrobe that allows me lots of choices when it comes to light and stylish packing.

If you are keen to build out a similar sort of travel wardrobe, I recommend going slowly, and sticking to a neutral colour palette. 

The slowly ensures you pick up pieces that reflect your personality and that you’ll actually wear. Your travel wardrobe will take on a timeless quality. Go too quickly, choosing everything from a single season, and your look can date quickly. It’s also likely to be expensive in the first instance.

And the neutral colour palette allows versatility. For the record – this trip’s colour scheme looks like it will end up comprising a whole lot of black, white and blue. Colours which are awfully similar to the colours I wear when I’m not travelling.

I promise I’ll provide more detail on what will be in my case as we get closer to the trip. I’ll also be showing off my travel outfits more regularly over on Instagram so you can see how these pieces look and how they all come together as outfits.

One Final Thought

Unsurprisingly, shoe choices are proving to be a little challenging for this trip. Regular readers know that normally I would only travel with two pairs of shoes and build all of my outfits around my shoes. This time round, I’m seriously considering packing four pairs, although one pair will be sandals that take up almost no room.

I’m currently investigating a ‘new to me’ brand of footwear that claims to be extra comfortable and seems to be remarkably light. Rest assured that if they live up to the hype, I’ll be reviewing them for you here on Distant Francophile just as soon as I can possibly manage.

What are the first things you plan to pop into your case when you think about stylish packing? And do you have any tips for packing light? If so, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


P.S. If you feel like you need support as you pack for your next trip to France, don’t forget about my specialised packing consultation service. Click here to find out more about my Effortless Packing Masterclass.


Photo Credit: Haute Chocolate


Please note: This is an unsolicited post. No compensation of any kind has been received by the brands mentioned in this post. I just love their clothes for travel.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.


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3 thoughts on “Stylish Packing Takes Planning

  • Taste of France

    Even if you’re dressed up, you can now wear sneakers. I recently posted a bunch of shots from Toulouse and sneakers dominated, including among the lunch-hour business crowd. Not just any–they were largely Adidas Stan Smiths and similar styles. The big, ugly athletic shoes are becoming popular among the very young, but for older women (and almost all the over-40 women I saw were wearing sneakers and I guarantee you they were all French), more streamlined styles prevailed. I have memory-foam inserts that are marvelous in flats like ballerinas, espadrilles and very-flat sneakers like Converse styles.
    You (and your husband) are the only person who will notice you’re wearing mostly black, white and blue. If you have a couple of scarves, you can get lots of color without taking up space (but when it’s really hot, I can’t bring myself to wear scarves, preferring necklaces instead…but they don’t take up much space either).

    • Janelle Post author

      Catherine, thank you so much for the update on the sneakers. I’m planning to pack two pairs – and yes, they are more streamlined! It’s funny but doesn’t worry me in the slightest that I’ll be wearing the same colours over and over. I realised a long time ago that it was better from me to stick to neutrals. Not only do they suit me better but they also give me stacks of options. I’m so looking forward to being in your part of the world sooner rather than later x

  • Denise Linkson

    I love Mela Purdie wonderful for traveling Janelle! I have collected quite a few pieces which all travel with me. I envy you traveling with just a carry on . I don’t think I could ever manage that. My cosmetics & toiletries take up 1/2 the case!! I have my clothes sorted , all navy, white & beige but I do shop a bit so thats my excuse for a large suitcase. I try to book accommodation with lifts or on the ground floor which I am getting pretty good at finding, we have a good one in Paris this time i think it has an elevator lol!!