What to wear in England/Paris?


Mar 31st, 2001, 09:56 PM
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What to wear in England/Paris?

I will be in England and Paris this summer. Any suggestions for myself and teenage daughters regarding what to wear? Going into cathedrals? Going to a theatre show?
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Apr 1st, 2001, 12:12 AM
K. Marie
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I would bring layers including a neutral colored (black) wool cardigan, only comfortable shoes, 1 umbrella (collapsable) per person (most important thing!). I have kept track of what I really wore on my last two European trips, so here it goes. I also lived in Paris. People are much more classic dressers there -- blazers for women over 20 work well. Teens are more casual (i.e. sneakers are now worn regularly in public by French teens, which is a change since the early 90s when they were only worn in gyms).

I tend to pick a base color --usually black and one accent color (burgundy works nicely) -- to avoid having to bring too many shoes 2-3 pairs should suffice, but don't rely on just one as you need to vary the stresses on your feet. A coordinating bright scarf or two helps brighten up a monotone look.

Here's a one week list for city trips in random order:

-2-3 pairs of very comfortable dark pants that are drawstring vs. fitted (for expanding waistlines, long plane rides), but that appear dressy enough for restaurants
-more than 4 pairs of cotton socks, especially cotton padded dark color sweatsocks or comfortable walking cotton socks for when feet are very tired); you may have cold feet at night as interiors can be chilly especially in England
-black comfortable lowkey sneakers for walking, preferably waterproofed (with spray)
-try to avoid duplicating toiletries (especially anything heavy or hairdryers); use small sizes!
-bring stain hiding tops, avoid white
-limit jewelry to 1 modest pair of earrings, 1 necklace (optional), 1 ring that all match (pearl or gold) and that you basically wear all the time
-you may want to invest in a nicely tailored travel blazer or jacket with a hidden inside pocket that will dress up comfortable pants and work with your scarves Travelsmith has some of these. I wear a jacket everywhere in Europe, especially at night.
-if the weather forecast shows rain (and it will likely rain sometime), you might consider a light water-resistant jacket. A Barbour jacket bought on sale in Italy was a lifesaver in rainy, windy Florence this Spring and seems very trendy there these days. But if you have enough layers, during the summer you should be OK without one.
-fat softcover books
-for summer any length skirt, longish more tailored style shorts may keep you cooler
-Paris is extremely dusty in the summer and your shoes will be brown by the end of the day, so a travel shoe cleaner would be useful
-2-3 plain but dressier finish cotton T-shirts for sleeping in, lounging in hotel room, layering
-lightweight PJs (if not wearing T-shirts to bed)
-nail clipper and file
-extra underwear (for when you take extra showers, after plane rides, etc.)
-with 3 women, plenty of tampons/pads
-very lightweight bathrobe
-minimal, neutral, classy make up (1-2 lipsticks that match all outfits, 1 lip balm, small-sized blush, pressed powder, moisturizer is critical, floss, shaving cream and razor)
-no iron clothes that uncrease when hung
-1 larger bag, 1 small bag large enough to hold 2 night's gear or a picnic, folded up duffel packed to fill with dirty clothes and save room in suitcase for stuff you buy
-earrings that self-clasp and will be hard to lose (no backs)
-no nice jewelry (why worry?); 2 scarves are better and if one is like a shawl, it can also provide warmth especially on planes or with shortsleeved tops at night
-long sleeve black T-shirt (good for plane)
-Before you go, get a pedicure and your haircut fashionably - or get a haircut in Paris and then take photobooth pictures in the Metro stations
-Swiss army knife
-anti-pickpocket purse/bag (large enough for map, thick straps, comfortable, elegant)
-stretchy and fitted short sleeve shirts with matching cardigans for evening
-comfortable shorts for lounging, sleeping, hiking
-eye cover pillows for sleeping on plane
-pillowcase, towel, washcloth if staying at not so great hotels
-bathing gel in a bottle (Body Shop has a good one) vs. soap, can be used for baths and shower, in-room laundry, foot soaking
-suede jacket (great for Spring in France -- wore daily in April); maybe too much for summer
-nothing tight, flashy, tacky, clearly touristy "My University Here" sweatshirts that ID you as Americans
-super comfortable waterproofed (buy spray) walking shoes that will work in a restaurant - don't underestimate how much your feet will hurt; heels are a waste of luggage space unless you have a wedding to attend; nice loafers are dressy enough for anywhere
-2-3 good guide books to read at night and on the plane. The net is not enough!
-blank book and good pen for keeping a travel journal
-list of all names/addresses to send postcards to
-photocopy passport and tickets and leave a copy at local home base (hotel) and back home
-Altoids, small bottle of the medicines you take most (ibuprofin/pain/cramps reliever, allergy, cranberry for UTIs, vitamins, sleeping pills if you take them, etc. have prescriptions if anything hardcore)
-travel alarm with fresh batteries or use your Palm Pilot if you have one
-small camera and enough film
-good sunglasses
-not overstuffed rolling bags - for each teen, lay down the law: do not take anything you can't carry yourself for 10 blocks and leave room to bring stuff back
-small travelsized tissues
-carry bottled water, small snack in case of travel delays
-avoid big obvious backpacks as they peg you as a tourist, blend where possible
-1 good day bag to share that holds cameras, guidebooks, film, and small purchases

Virgin Atlantic would be fun for teenagers as they have in-seat videos and cool freebies.

Cathedrals prefer that you not go in with short skirts, sleeveless, or in anything lowcut. But that's more of an issue in Italy than in France or England.

Since you have two teen age girls, you might want to warn them about the overzealous attentions of men in Paris, who have been known to follow girls home. American girls have a reputation for being easy, so men can become quite aggressive if your nationality is clear. I tried to blend in as much as possible in my early 20s and that helped a lot. But even with my mother nearby, we were confronted by creepy men. A sharp "Arrete!" (Stop) may help, but avoid very late night wanderings.

Fun things to visit with teens:


Boat tour to observatory in Greenwich
new Tate museum
shopping - such funky little shops everywhere, so have a buying budget (and size limit)

Paris Experiences
-Bateaux Mouche boat tour of Paris
-Pompidou Center
-Musee D'Orsay
-caffe au lait and pain au chocolat for breakfast
-Marais area around Place des Vosges -- lots of trendy new designers nearby
-Giverny (day trip for a nice day)
-Chartres cathedral (breathtaking day trip even in the rain)
-one of the Marche aux Puces flea markets -- see guidebook for dates/times as these are simply amazing
-Versailles including walking around the grounds to Marie Antoinette's mini farm
-visit Samaritaine dept. store and go to observation deck up top for great view of the city (and free); then buy a hat, lipstick or something else jaunty and french there
-at Notre Dame climb up to the top for a cool view, then collapse at the bottom and visit Shakespeare & Company across the way or Berthillon for an ice cream
-get a "fruit de mer" platter or a plate of oysters at a swanky sidewalk spot late some afternoon and watch the passersby
-avoid restaurants with menus in English and look instead for little places that look full of French people, muddle through if you don't speak the language as the food will be worth it

Guess I got carried away, but I remember my first trips to Paris and London...the beginning of a long love affair with Europe. And I'm still getting that packing thing down...


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Apr 1st, 2001, 12:44 AM
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First of all, what would you and your teenagers wear when you would do the same things in your hometown? Then I would advise: do the same taking into account the Paris & London weather. But you surely know that you don't visit a cathedral or a theatre in a bathing suit!

K. Marie, glad I don't have to carry your suitcase! Was this, by the way, a serious reply?
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Apr 1st, 2001, 06:22 AM
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Please advise the teenagers to not wear supershort shorts and/or bare midriffs. It may be OK home but notif they visit cathedrals. I'd stick to slacks, with elastic waists (for comfort) in darker colors and colorful tops to give a little life to the wardrobe. At least 2 pair of shoes, no sandals, your feet will get stepped on in crowds, why risk a foot injury. I'd dress up a little more than I would at home, most of the US is pretty casual, but when I go to Europe I use my "Europe wardrobe" which tends to be more black and more basic. Take a blazer or jacket or two for nights. You will see everything at the theater clothes wise, but I think "casual dress" goes a long way in looking decent and showing some respect for performers, etc. (I always figure I would not want to be on stage and look out at a bunch of people in t-shirts and shorts). Just think comfortable but still nicely dressed.
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Apr 1st, 2001, 06:24 AM
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oops I meant casual dressy for the theater!! Something like black pants or blackshirt and nice top. Comfortable,but yet not sloppy looking.
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