The 13 Essential Items You Need to Pack Like a Parisian in One Bag

Jo Piazza
·Managing Editor
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One trip, one bag, 13 items (Photo: Caroline de Maigret)

Nothing makes me feel less put together than walking through Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport and peeping at the effortlessly chic Parisian travelers sipping their black coffee with their perfectly imperfect hair and stunning but impractical high heels. 

Thankfully, there is a new book out that explains just how French women always look so good. And it isn’t because they don’t get fat.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are is a spirited take on how to dress, entertain, have fun, and attempt to behave like those terribly put-together French women who make me so jealous in the airport.  

No one can help you tap into your inner cool quite like these ladies. To help us (and you) get a little more French, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas have compiled a list that lets every American woman pack as well as an effortlessly cool Parisienne.

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The authors of this book are so lovely, it is hard to hate them for looking so good. (Photo: Raphaël Lugassy)

1. Jeans: Take a Parisienne’s jeans out of her closet and she feels naked.

2. Men’s shoes: Simply because everyone says they’re not for women.

3. The bag: It is logo free and a shambles on the inside. You are just as likely to find a shriveled four-leaf clover as an old electric bill.

4. A little black blazer: Wear it on days when you don’t want to look as if you made too much of an effort.

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Throw it on and don’t think about it. (Photo: Caroline de Maigret)

5. Ballet flats: Because nobody ever saw Audrey Hepburn wearing carpet slippers.

6. A small silk scarf: It adds a touch of color to an outfit without running the risk of a fashion faux pas; when it rains, you can wear it on your head like Romy Schneider.

7. A white shirt: Iconic and timeless.

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Author Anne Berest shows why the white shirt is absolutely necessary. (Photo: Caroline de Maigret)

8. A long trench coat: No, it is not as warm as a down jacket, but it won’t make you feel as if you’ve voluntarily added extra love handles.

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Who cares what you wear underneath this coat? (Photo: Johan Lindeberg for BLK DNM)

9. A thick scarf: Because despite pretending otherwise, sometimes you get cold.

Related: The Single Girl’s Guide to Paris, From an American Expat

10. An oversized sweater that slips off your shoulder: As calming as a Xanax, as wide as a screen, perfect for days when you can feel your hips too much.

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The sexiest sweater is usually the simplest. (Photo: Caroline de Maigret)

11. Basic oversized sunglasses: There is always a reason to wear them: too bright out, a hangover, tears running down your face, a desire to be mysterious…

Related: Très Chic: Where to Eat, Sleep, and Shop in Paris

12. An oversized shirt: Borrow your boyfriend’s and never return it. Someday wear it in somebody else’s arms. Love can fade, but fashion lasts forever.

13. The very simple but very expensive T-shirt: Give in to the most common trends, but always add a mark of luxury. The perfect T-shirt is finely woven with a slightly transparent thread that makes it feel like cashmere.

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You’ll get a lot of mileage out of a single perfect white t-shirt. (Photo: Caroline de Maigret)

Adapted from How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits , by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas (Doubleday).  

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