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Capsule wardrobe - Paris and Western France April/May

Yesterday was a chilly, windy and pollen-y day in Paris and my itchy eyes felt better inside. However it was May Day and most all the museums are closed so I retreated to the hotel by late afternoon. Nancy's post about how her clothes worked was on my mind.

My wardrobe choices are working out really well so far and altho I am awful at math, I think I've got 90 combinations for 3+ weeks, lol, assuming each combo is pants, shirt, cardie and scarf. Some look better together than others but all are possible. All pants go with all shirts go with all cardies go with all scarves. More combos would be possible if I didnt need the cardie and scarf all the time. So far I think my favorite combo would be the gray pants, white shirt, cobalt sweater and black/white/gray scarf...but I haven't tried all 90!!

Here's what I've got.

Dark blue jeans
Black jeans
Gray jeans

Cobalt SS Lands End cotton modal tee
White SS Lands End cotton modal tee
Black SS Lands End cotton modal tee
Teal SS Smartwool tee
Lt teal SS Smartwool tee


White, cobalt, aqua (from home)
White, black, gray (bought here)
Aqua, dark blue, black (bought here)

Each pr pants with each shirt and one cardie: 5 X 2=10 X 3 scarves = 30

My biggest error was taking out the long-sleeve shirt trying to save some weight. Out of 5 days so far it would have been comfortable 3 days it's been so chilly. I'm packing in the RS 21" roller, unexpanded. The jeans all are a poly mix so they dry overnight. The tee shirts have all made the travel team before so are tried and true.

Apparently I have been reading Vivienne Files for too many years because I really want to do a matrix with little pictures of each combo!

Posted by
2499 posts

I like your term "travel team" to designate those clothing items that make the cut for your trips! I, too, have a "travel team" that has been in development, let's say.
Sounds like a perfect wardrobe. I'm with you though in wishing you had kept that long-sleeved shirt because of the chill. There is always something I left at home that would be just right for the particular weather conditions of that particular day on a trip. Cie la vie! I think.
Have fun!
Judy B

Posted by
381 posts

I just returned from 10 chilly days in Germany and the Czech Republic. My only bottoms were two pair of J Jill's straight leg Wearever pants in black plus one pair of leggings for the plane trip. The pants were amazing and warm and did not bag or sag in the knees or seat. I am 66 years old and fit but at this point I dress for comfort and these pants were more comfortable for me than jeans but whatever works for you. Everything I took was black, white or gray with many bright scarves. The only packing change I would have made was to have taken a heavier coat instead of a rain coat. It snowed in Dresden and on that day I had six layers plus fleece glove and fleece hat!!!

Posted by
567 posts

You have a nice capsule. I'm sure you look lovely. No matter what season I always pack 1 LS tee & a LS button Blouse.
What exterior jacket/coat are you using for Spring and Fall? How many pairs of shoes do you have?

Spring & Fall: I've been using Magellans Cafe Jacket (the one with both exterior & interior pockets. This is water repellant.
Dec-March: I'm using Travel Smith jacket with the added zipped in liner option. This is waterproof.
I have been drenched in downpours with the Cafe Jacket and just find a place to take it off and shake the water off. It amazingly keeps me both dry and very warm. I have yet to find a jacket for the shoulder season that has both style/warmth/and keeps me dry until I wore this jacket.
Shoes: I never have more than two for Europe.

Posted by
985 posts

I love reading packing lists to see what others take. I like the color scheme you are using. Sorry about the long sleeve - have you bought something there? I've been avoiding all of my travel clothes from last winter as I strongly suspect they will serve as my fall wardrobe, minus the coat. It sounds like you have a good variation in both shirt and pant colors. Have fun!

Posted by
14247 posts

Diane, for my rain layer I changed last year to a Cabelas waterproof XPG jacket. I had used a Marmot Precip since 2013 but needed something with a roomier cut to accommodate a small purse underneath. It is cut a little longer as well. It, too, is a shake and go and I've been well-pleased with it!

Shoe-wise I have Altra Lone Peak shoes which have been exceptional. My backup pr are Altra Provisioness walkers. I have a pr of Leguano ballerina slippers which are minimalist shoes. My feet are not quite strong enough to wear them outside but they are fine for going down to breakfast or in the room. I got them last year in Trier at the start of the GAS tour.

I also changed my sock choice this year. Last year I got some blisters on the bottom of my toes wearing the Smartwool socks. I knew I would not have to contend with the heat from last summer but I switched to Injinji toe socks. They are working out fine.

I've been avoiding buying anything (except scarves, lolol!!) so have not bought a long sleeve shirt. I thought if I got really cold I could double up the cardies under the rain jacket!

Nancy!! Yes, you have to save your Fall wardrobe!!

I will say I stole the clothing team concept from my brother!

Posted by
16866 posts

I love the color scheme--black and white with blue or teal accents. I may have to try that.

And I like the sound of the JJill knit pants mentioned above. Anyone else have these? I am thinking of the slim ankle pant like this (on sale in brown):

I just have to wonder if they get baggy at the knees, and if they return to shape if air-dried after washing.

Posted by
3259 posts

Did you weigh your bag? Yes, sorry, one of my details I'm so caught up with! I had a hard time keeping mine at 22 lbs this trip...when my goal is 20 lbs. For the few times I need to carry it up the stairs... My personal item weighed 7 or 8 lbs due to my dslr and lens. Is the weight working for you? I'd love to have as many options as you have this trip.

Posted by
14247 posts

Wray, I got it down to 21.5 or so after I took out the long-sleeve shirt and some other things. I added my paperwork so that probably bumped it up over 22. It's manageable. I could put it in the overhead on the plane and carried it up a flight of steps in the hotel. I'll have to manage it on and off the train in a few days but think that will work fine.

The tee shirts are pretty light. I did have another in the group and took it out along with the long sleeve shirt.

I am a plus size and I don't see getting it below this with this bag. I would love to be under 20. Maybe next time I'll just bring 2 pr pants?? I think the heaviest pr (the black ones) weighed 1# 8oz. I have to have 2 pr shoes.

I did pack a bus bag for the tour I'm meeting up with but went with the lighter LeSportsac over the RS Veloce.

It's always a process!

Posted by
2252 posts

Pam, you are the epitome of packing light and always so well-organized. Besides which, you have a real knack for knowing what goes together. I am not so talented so I really appreciate and heed your advice. I especially like this current color scheme!

Posted by
4471 posts

Pam, what brand are the jeans that dry overnight? Thanks

Posted by
14247 posts

Oh Andi, you are sweet. Do you follow Vivienne Files? She has awesome ideas for capsule wardrobe colors. Her clothes are way too formal and dressy for my lifestyle but I can take what she presents and work it around to something I'm comfortable with.

Cala, the blue jeans are Liz Claiborne (88% cotton/9% elastane/3% spandex, several years old), the black ones are CJ Banks (also several years old 61% cotton/29% rayon/8% poly/2%spandex) and the gray ones are Gloria Vanderbilt 72% cotton/26% poly/2% spandex) The gray ones are newest. I do a trial wash at home to see how long it takes things to dry when I get a new item. I'll at least wet something with a soak, roll in a towel, then hang as I would in a hotel room.

Posted by
1469 posts

Wardrobe capsule sounds great! It would work great in most of Europe. When the weather gets warmer just add or substitute one reversible or crinkle skirt for a pair of slacks and bring a big scarf that can act as a shawl, plus some light weight flats. Plus bring a swinsuit...I stayed at a timeshare that had a pool and swimsuits were not readily available that time of year.

Posted by
2147 posts

Hi Pam, thanks for sharing your wardrobe, sounds like you did a good job of packing!

A few years back somebody on this forum said they take photos of their outfits so I started doing that too. I lay everything out before I pack and take pictures with my iPad to see how many outfits I can make. This has saved me from tears more than once when I arrived at my destination and was sure that I didn't bring enough clothes.

Hope you have a great vacation. Looking forward to a trip report or two!

Posted by
3259 posts

Haha Pam, And who's wardrobe malfunction encourage the 3rd pair of pants?! Wray

Posted by
682 posts

Okay, you've convinced me. I just added a second light-weight sweater to my pile. We're leaving for Paris in two weeks and I'm hoping for an improvement in the weather, but I'm trying to be realistic. So, 3 pants, 2 ss modal shirts, 2 ls modal shirts, 2 sweaters, 3 scarves, 1 hooded rain jacket. I haven't weighed everything yet, because right now I'm focusing on a trip to Mexico next week with one giant suitcase and half the clothes I own. Two very different trips😊.

Posted by
2630 posts

I've got a travel team, too, and I seem to stick to 2 pairs of jeans and a mix of tops and sweaters in navy & black with some stripes and prints to add color along with a couple of scarves. I just returned today from 2 weeks in Amsterdam, Vienna and Budapest and it was much colder than I expected--very glad I brought a mid-weight hooded rain jacket and very sorry I removed a cashmere sweater, could have worn that all 5 days in Amsterdam.

Posted by
14247 posts

Wray!!!! I forgot about the malfunction! Yes, three pants - minimum!

Laughing, Nancy! Yes soulds like very different trips.

Christa, yes, could have used cashmere as well.

Posted by
559 posts

Pam, first of all I want to say I always learn from your posts and reports. You are amazing and helpful and organized! One question on your recent travels: what was the temperature range? I'll be out and about in northern climes in September, and I have in the past underestimated the warmth, especially if the sun is shining. I always end up mailing something home and/or buying something. But that can be fun, too. :)

Posted by
14247 posts

Hmmm, Hille, not entirely sure but it was 33F when we landed at CDG last week. I have not really felt too warm in a cardie and tee shirt so I am guessing high temps have been maybe in the low 60's. I can tolerate chill but it has been windy and more humid than I'm used to. I would say it has not been as high as 70.

I drastically underestimated the heat last summer/early fall and thought I would croak. It was 95 in Trier and 90's in both Paris and London. WAY too hot for me. I should have packed 2 pr capris for that trip! Fortunately the ones I brought dried overnight!

Posted by
4174 posts

Pam, I love the Leguanos. I think I'm gonna get some and use them exactly the way you do. case I might want to wear them outside, is there any arch support at all? Does the band around the ankle provide any support?

Posted by
4174 posts

I forgot to say that I'm also a VF person and actually have made matrices in the past. Obsessive, I know.

This year I switched to an app called Stylicious. You can fill a "closet" with photos and use the "lookbook" to put them together into outfits. Mine look a little weird because the pictures are not all the same scale, but the gist is there. I use the "size" option under the details for every picture to put the weight. I can then add up all those weights. I use my kitchen scale to weigh almost everything. It's not perfect, but very close.

Posted by
14247 posts

Zero arch support, Lo but that is the goal of minimalist shoes. They work to strengthen the intrinsic structure of the foot. The band just holds them up and looks cute, lol. They are great for my wide, clunky feet. I got the XL - usually wear an 11 or 12. I wear them with my CorrectToes toe spacers so they accommodate width pretty well.

Editing to add: cross-posting with you, lol!! That sounds like a terrific way to do the weights! And the look book. Did you take your own pictures or do you find something similar the way Janice does?

Posted by
4174 posts

Some of the pics are downloaded from online. Others are ones I took. I manipulate both as much as I can to get them closer to each other in scale, but some I actually want bigger so I can see them better, like my cool, new, very lightweight glasses.

Posted by
14247 posts

Terrific glasses!! Round is in in Paris!

Posted by
430 posts

You ladies are so lucky: I have to keep within 7kg (= 15.4 lbs) for my carry-on, so my handbag/additional item though smaller, has to hold rather a lot of the heavier stuff. And that's for 5-6 weeks mainly in France, though I am OK with checking in my main bag on the way home when I'm not making tight connections.

Posted by
225 posts

What a wonderful thread. I have had my own "team" (new term for me;) ) for years, but I am faced with a couple of twists this time. First one... I went from a size __ (not saying - lol) to a size 2-4. So, the old team had to leave the building. Good news, I get to start fresh.
Second twist - I am going on RS GAS tour in June. I have always packed for warmer weather and am stumped by this. My travels have been extremes- warm weather or the Arctic Circle - (no, really :) )
Oh, and third twist - I live in South Florida. It's been years since I dressed for a temperate climate and have lost the knack. I clearly need assistance with sweaters (do I even need one?), long sleeved shirts, layering (someone mentioned silk underwear for chilly days and because they take up next to no room in the suitcase - feedback, please). I also am told that I need to take waterproof shoes on this trip. I have none and have been stimied with each pair I try on (I am petite 4'10", size 5 shoe...and size 4 clothes!! - sorry, I still get excited about that ;).

I have read this thread twice and am starting to get used to some of the terminology. I welcome any and all suggestions if any of you have been in Germany, Austria or Switzerland in June. I usually take quick dry ss shirts and capris (REI or Columbia) a couple of long skirts. A pair of walking sneakers and a pair of sandals. I'm reading about cardigans (haven't owned one since i moved to FL in 1986, fleeces (not sure what they are), and cotton modal shirts (different from plain old cotton???).
I am a big fan of packing cubes and have used them for years (ebags). I use a skinny one for my bathroom accessories (I find it easier than all the toiletry bags), another skinny one for socks, undies, bras, etc). A midsize or large for my pants and a midsize for my skirts. I use an eagle creek folding "cube" for my shirts. I love it. I comes with a plastic sheet that ensures you fold every shirt the proper size and the compression aspect of the folding sides allows for more shirts (or less space).
When I travel with a companion, I use green ones for me and gray ones for my travel partner. I also have one red midsize one for my dirty laundry. It makes it easy to spot on laundry day.
I also have the smaller pouches that come in three sizes. Smallest holds my jewelry, midsize my medications/vitamins and the larger one, my electronic cords, plugs and adapters.
I use the RS Euro Bag as my carry-on (my suitcase is carry-on size too). It is deceptively roomy and has just enough pockets but not so many that I get confused. I also pack a very light weight anti-theft cross body travelon bag as my day bag (I bring the euro bag on the bus and use the day bag for when we are touring. This way I always have a jacket, rain coat, ipad, etc. sitting on the bus in case the weather changes or surprises arise.
I loved the idea of washing my jeans, rolling them in the towel and then hanging them to see how long it takes for them to dry. I never take jeans but always wished I could. We'll see how the test goes. Thank you!

Posted by
14247 posts

Here are my thoughts, Bilezmom. I will tell you I lived in FL for 30+ years before I moved to Idaho so I do understand!

Cardigan or light jacket-always, always, always. I like the Lands End cardies but they might be too stodgy for you.

Waterproof jacket-a must on any tour. I take waterproof not water resistant. I also always have an umbrella.

Waterproof shoes- I did not need them on the GAS tour the end of Aug/first of Sept. It was rainy in Switzerland and Hallstatt but not bad enough to need boots. My thought is also if you are going in June and don't have them by now just take what you've got. You don't have time to put miles on them and they'll be too hot for S FL anyway.

Fleece-is polar fleece jacket. If you are cold natured, you might need a warmer jacket. Look at Lands End again for this. You would want light weight, so Polarfleece 100 weight. You might want to look at the lightweight winter jackets that roll up in to a ball.

Bus bag-yes, your Euro bag will work great!

Cotton/Modal tee - the modal helps it dry faster. LE is now calling it a layering tee so it's cut less boxy than some tees. To me they look dressier than a plain tee.

Here is a link to my GAS trip report from last year!

Posted by
16866 posts

Belizmom, I may be able to help with petite sizes, as I have to search around for pants that fit me 5'2", size 0-2).

My "go-to" brand is NYDJ, and I recently found these capris named "Karen". My black ones are more twill than denim, and can be casual to dressy---perfect for Europe in summer. They are fast disappearing from the internet (sold out many places) so you might jump on these:

Here in black and other colors, in petites:

Size down in this brand---size 2 for you.

Eddie Bauer makes nice travel clothes in petite sizes down to size 2. Look for the Travex line.

Also found these lightweight "jeans" by Kuhn at Title Nine. The "short" length only comes in dark grey. These are super lightweight and quick-dry, more casual than the capris above.

Posted by
16866 posts

Tops for petites:

The Lands End Cardigan ( supination cotton) mentioned by Pam comes in lots of colors (including some prints) in sizes down to Petite XXS:

Many on sale for $19-29.

For fleece I like this one by Patagonia. Some sizes and colors are on sale. They run long so it will probably reach below your hips.

It has a smooth outer finish so layers easily under a rain jacket. And the waffle fabric is very forgiving of temperature ranges. I even wore it on cool mornings in the Florida Keys last March.

Posted by
225 posts

OMG, you ladies are awesome! I have my shopping cut out for me!
I did buy a Marmot rainjacket when I was visiting my son in college in PA. (we don't have Marmot down here- so sad, it was wonderful). So I have a waterproof jacket and I have thrown my small Brighton umbrella in the eurobag (free gift - yay!).

I will check out all the links you posted. That was the best of all! It's so frustrating to try to find things you're not familiar with and you've eliminated that. Thanks again.
I purchased Adidas Terrex shoes, but the right shoe seems to have a defect and hurts. I am going to Bass Pro Shops after work tonight to exchange them (they are great there). Since I walk 3 miles a day, I have been breaking them in that way and hope the new pair rectify the problem, otherwise, I am back at square one. I am hopeful.
Pam - I love Lands End, not too stodgy for me! I do tend to get cold very easily, are you saying that the 100 weight is good for someone who tends to be cold or the other way around?? I appreciate this information, because this is all new to me. They didn't have this stuff when I left NJ in 1986. ;)
Lola - thank you. I will be on it tonight. I am planning on checking out your links and advice. Again, thank you!

Posted by
16866 posts

I see Eddie Bauer has all pants at 50% off through tomorrow:

One I really like for both work and travel is the Stayshape slim fit stretch pant. It is minimalist---no waistband, no pockets, side zip. They have enough spandex to keep their shape and dry quickly (overnight when air-dried) but are not clingy like leggings. They dress up nicely.

Posted by
14247 posts

What I was thinking when I wrote that about the 100 weight is that it would be perfect for someone who might be cold in June in Germany or Switzerland...or laughing, Idaho, Montana or Wyoming if we had a cold snap in June!

Further down that rabbit hole was that the 100 would not be warm enough for a winter trip to Northern Europe or the North or West of the US.

For myself, a cardie and something the weight of the Precip will take me down to pretty cold temps. I'm in Brittany right now where the locals still seem to be wearing winter jackets (complete with fur trim!!) and I'm comfortable with just the cardie.

Posted by
225 posts

Just wanted to thank you all again. I purchased 3 LS cotton modal tshirts, 1 LS layering turtleneck, 1 formfitting turtle neck (for our ski trip next December to the French alps), and a cardigan. All from Lands End. Thank you for the information and direction. Not only did I get items i will use for the GAS trip, I can see them being used many times over on all our trips. Oh and all for $54 total!
Another question, I purchased silk underwear at the suggestion of another forum member, but the ones I received are baggy. Should they be baggy or form fitting?

Posted by
16866 posts

Long underwear should be form-fitting to fit under the next layer without wrinkling. You may have to buy children's size to get the correct fit (I do---it is cheaper too!). Or try brands like Icebreaker merino that make an extra-small size for petite women.

I hope that silk underwear is for your ski trip---you won't need it in Europe in summer, even in the Alps.

Posted by
305 posts

I have a silk/cashmere cardigan that I got for a trip to Italy last fall. Very light to pack and a good layering item. I'm considering France next May so I am very interested in seeing how the packing works out for you. I do a couple of dresses when I travel. Do you find it might have been too cool for that? But I might be later May as I am trying to plan it for Monet's garden etc.

Posted by
27407 posts

This is Day 9 for me in Nice and vicinity. My first day was actually the best, weather-wise, amd I now understand why the hotel desk clerk kept saying I should go out that day, despite my exhaustion, because the weather was "so nice". I think there has been rain or the threat of rain every day since then. One day was what I call a "gully-washer"; on the others, the rain was infrequent and rather light, but enough that one would want to be carrying an umbrella and/or a waterproof jacket of some sort.

High temps have been between the low 50s and the mid-60s. The coolness in conjunction with the dampness means my laundry is taking about 48 hours to dry. These are mostly the same clothes that usually dried in 12 to 24 hours as I traveled through Italy and Spain the last two summers. I'm glad I didn't choose this trip to test out traveling with only three shirts and changes of underwear!

Temps seem to be trending upward now, with highs expected in the upper 60s, but It looks as if we won't see anything above 70 until May 16. I see we can expect wind-driven rain tomorrow and the next day.

Posted by
106 posts

This thread is FANTASTIC. Thanks Pam. When I went to Scotland in September I packed all long sleeve, waterproof jacket, wore my waterproof boots on the airplane. I CANNOT be hot. So I had to shop in Scotland for short sleeves and never needed the rain boots. Almost every day in Scotland I wore a long wrap around 30% wool Eddie Bauer sweater and lugged the coat. Guess you never know. I also use the RS 21 roller. I never take more luggage then I can handle. Merrell shoes all the way. Thanks for suggesting Vivienne Files.

Posted by
67 posts

Love this thread, especially your color combo. I've been inspired by VF too :-). I also use the (free) Stylicious app that someone mentioned. It's not perfect but it works for me. Talk about obsession - I resize all photos to a common width (i.e. 175 pixels) before I add to the app. That way most things come out close in size. My lookbook is full of travel outfits. An app or matrix really helps with packing because you have a visual of outfits you can make with limited items.

Posted by
14247 posts

Thanks for the comments!

The colors worked well and as I said on the other thread, I could probably have left out the black SS tee shirt as I did not wear it much. Mostly wore it as a night shirt as the pjs I took were a little thin for the chilly weather to begin with.

I did have a great time with the scarf purchases. I went in to Diwali (fantastic scarf store in Paris!!) and instead of just doing my usual mumbled bon jour, smile and nod, I asked the sales person for advice. I had on the dark teal Tee and the cobalt cardie. She instantly pulled out about 5 scarves that went with the color combo and went hunting for more. I had a great time and I think she was having fun too!

Posted by
3 posts

I am going to France this week with my husband for quick trip. We will be in Paris on Thursday, supposed to be 93F! I want to see the Luxembourg gardens if it's not too hot. We will go to Mont St.Michel and Bayeux and D-day beaches for the next two days. The high there will be around 86 F. I want to pack light (this is hard for me) but be prepared.
I love to wear shorts and tank tops but assume that is a no no in France. Would a skort be okay or does it fall under the "shorts" category? Should I wear capri's or skirts instead? How about a sleeveless shirt with a collar like I wear to golf in? What about sun dresses? Do they need to have sleeves or is sleeveless okay?

I also read a forum on walking shoes. Are sandals okay? I read that flip flops are not a good choice and I agree for safety sake but I have FitFlops and they are amazing! I can walk in them all day.
I welcome any advice.

Posted by
2531 posts

What about coordinating capsule wardrobe and hair color season?

Posted by
208 posts

Oh, Bruce.... matching your wardrobe with hair colour is soooooo 2016.


Posted by
2531 posts

@Vivian: So, I am out of sync by only one year. That's encouraging.