Saturday, December 18, 2010

Packing for Paris

Before I lived in Paris, I had total packing-for-Paris anxiety. And invariably, I packed too much clothing -- inappropriate clothing  -- and wore less than half of what I packed.  Visions of needing endless dressy outfits for impromptu dinner parties in gilded salons: that measure of inappropriate.

Tomorrow I head to Paris, and I dunno, what the heck. I'll have whatever is necessary and if I don't, I'll wear a lot of att-i-tude.  But the recent spate of cold weather and snow in France does have me a bit flummoxed.   Comfort and warmth versus chic-enough?  But what I've learned is that it really doesn't matter... within parameters. 

Footwear is always the most perplexing. And given the cost and trouble of extra check-in luggage, I am determined to take only one suitcase for 2 weeks; so, lots of boots and shoes are not in the cards.  This despite the Christmas stockings, and presents for Miss Bee and Harry when we all reunite in Provence. (I'm letting Harry transport the Nestle's chocolate chips and Skippy peanut butter for his sister.  I'm bringing the stack of New Yorkers and her forgotten clothing items.)

Ah. Footwear. Paris. Anxiety.  Should I take (a) brown shearling-lined matronly, totally warm suede boots, (b) my tall black-leather equestrian boots, or (c) my favorite new over-the-knee grey suede Stuart Weitzman zingy-make-me-feel-hip boots?

Answer is: middle-of-the road (b).  Waterproof enough, not the warmest, but I'll stop at the basement of BHV and get shearling slip-in soles to keep my tootsies insulated from the French chill.

What else am I packing for 2 weeks in France?  Not that you asked, but here goes:

1) a few pairs of straight-legged black jeans and one pair of blue jeans.
2) one all-purpose dress that will work for both Christmas Lessons and Carols at the American Cathedral and zippity-splashy for New Year's eve (I learned the hard -embarrassing - way that that le Reveillon is the one event that is never casual in Paris.)
3) a few cashmere v-necks, to be worn over scoop-necked or v-neck T-shirts.
4) whatever pjs I take, There Will Be Slippers.
5) a variety of warm shawls for wrapping around the neck
6) my shearling jacket from Peau d'Eve
7) accessories: so lightweight and filled with variety
8) the earth's smallest folding umbrella
9) wearing the boots, taking a pair of black loafers and a pair of black ballerina flats.(Egad, no heels.  Will I regret it?)
10) a collapsible Longchamp bag for the return trip.  I always bring back more than I take!

Inflight, I'll keep it to the minimum:

1. All the technical requisites (laptop, Droid, noise-cancelling headphones, Canon Power shot, and their many cables and European adapters which still confuse me)
2. Flight spray (can't live without it)
3. Unisom sleeping gels
4. Toss-away cotton crew socks
5) mini-portions of mouthwash, hand lotion, and lip gloss.  No more.  Who am I kidding?  Full trousse de maquillage definitely not needed on board. I'm not going to meet the bachelor cousin of the King of Spain in flight or anything. Even if I wear pearls and try to get upgraded to business class. Hah. It ain't the same as the olden days.
6) my leftover euros and RATP tickets, for quick exit after clearing customs.

Have I forgotten anything?


Michael in Tacoma said...

In order to blend in, one must wear a scarf a Paris.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I totally agree, Michael, hence the shawls. But (sshhh) definitely not Hermes-type silk scarves. (I wear them all the time in the US and never wore them once in Paris.)

Carrie said...

Uh, yes, Polly, I think you forgot something very important! ME!!!! Can I come? I won't make any noise ; )

xooxo have a fabulous time!

smalltimer said...

Hi! I was in France for six months (a couple of weeks in Paris). It is good to read someone else's point of view and experiences. I will be going back again for six months starting January. Yay!

Have a good Christmas in Paris!

Corinne McKay said...

This post is definitely critical to any trip to Paris, I really could have used it about a year ago! I was not really fashionable even when I lived in Boston and even less so since moving to Colorado where even the governor rarely wears a suit. When I went to Paris for work last year I was more stressed about my wardrobe than about my presentations; finally a friend of mine who owns a fantastic Vietnamese import company gave me a really stunning mid-calf length silk velvet jacket and said "Just wear this over everything the whole time you're there." Totally saved me; I even got a compliment on it in the airport. Have a fantastic holiday in Paris; I'm jealous!!

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