Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trips to UK and Europe | What to Pack for a 12 Day Trip, Including London, Scotland, Rural England, and Paris?

Paris, Late 1970s.  Original Photograph from Archives
Enjoy your blog. I have been a fan for many years. A question for the community: what to pack for a 12 day trip? London, Scotland, Rural England, Paris. I am not a sporting person - prefer museums and wandering. We like classic things. I always pack too much. Very curious as to what the community would recommend. I always find our shoes to be very important -- happy feet = happy travelers.
Some Past, Related Suggestions from SWNE Readers:
American transplanted in England here. For travelling in most parts of Europe in winter, you'll do best in dark, neutral colours (black, brown, navy, mid-grey and charcoal). People in cities tend to wear simple wool coats (ie pea coats) with several layers underneath, rather than thick sporty coats, fleece and so on. A Smartwool tank top is a wonderful base layer, and great for travel. I tend to wear that, a shirt, a sweater, and a coat. Polo shirts (unbranded if that's more comfortable), classic button-front shirts, the right t-shirt (I love Sunspel!), or a travel-friendly blouse works for tops. Merino and cashmere cardigans, or crew or v-neck sweaters, all work. A scarf is essential - a thick merino, lambswool or cashmere one in charcoal will take you almost anywhere. Smartwool also make great long socks, which can be worn with long ('riding') boots, or short ('Chelsea') boots. A good principle is to wear as few colours as possible at one time. As others have said, leave the tennis shoes at home. Alternating shoes, as someone mentioned, can save your feet. A wool or cashmere hat (I have just one soft cashmere 'beanie' with a nice drape that goes everywhere) in a neutral colour, a pair of lined leather gloves. A good sturdy umbrella is important, but nothing so big that it will take up entire (small European) sidewalks (golf umbrellas!).  (RN)
Europeans usually think monogrammed clothes are pretentious (just watch "Jeeves and Wooster"), just like overdressed tourists. For a day of sight-seeing I would recommend flat shoes (the old-town in Prague is paved with cobblestone), simple dark trousers, shirt, sweater, pea coat or duffle coat and a big nice bag - no clutches or doctor's bags - a regular tote or something with shoulder-length straps will be perfect (remember not to be an easy prey for pick-pockets).  For an evening out: no tiaras, no long gloves, no evening gowns for going to the theater, opera, fancy restaurant. Cocktail dresses, blazers and suits is what you should be wearing. Save the pearls for the evenings and the diamonds for the New Year's Eve ball at the Viennese Opera :) ! Oh and please, don't wear your university-logo hoodies or shirts. Most Europeans will think you're crazy. Greetings from Zurich! (Joanna Skwara)
Bon Jour from France!  Enjoying this blog very much. For a woman to wear in Europe, please know that we do not wear the jeans often. Avoid the white sneakers also. It will be said you are foolish American for the white shoes are no good for dirty city streets neither or country. The colours which are primary is good. If doing so, even at night then few needs for a dress. Yes, for women, the blouse, the pullover, trousers, and the Beretta or Barbour jacket to protect you. Always be watchful for the rain and the chill of weather. Enjoy your trip to Europe. Merci, Caroline 


  1. I think I could fit into your suitcase!
    Have a great trip~

  2. I'm not sure of the gender of the person or when they are leaving and what the weather will be when they travel but here is what I (female, similar interests) packed for a summer ten day trip.

    - Three pair of shoes: Black comfortable leather Wedges, Black Birkenstock Sandals, and a pair of black leather slip on dressier walking shoes
    - Two Black sleeveless Dresses: Linen with a longer hemline and higher neckline and a shorter one.
    - Two pairs of blue jeans (Skinny, relaxed)
    - One pair of black jeans
    - A lightweight sweater - Black
    - Four shirts: White oxford, black draped silk tank top (dressy), white fitted t-shirt, black casual blouse
    - Swimsuit
    - Denim Jacket
    - Blazer (white, to wear over blouses or dresses when sleeves are required - some restaurants and churches required this in Paris)
    - A black ankle length pleated skirt.
    - A black leather handbag
    - Two sets of jewelry - my Tiffany gold knot earrings and bangles, vintage turquoise pieces
    - Pjs
    - Makeup, toiletries, etc.

    All this fit in one carry on bag and everything mixed and matched. I wore every piece and never felt like I was inappropriately dressed.

    So much black...but I looked great and fit in and was comfortable everywhere I went. The black dress/white blazer/leather wedges combination was highly complimented when I wore it out in Paris. I didn't go anywhere rural so you may want to think about subbing in shoes for hiking or walking in rural areas and rain gear during certain seasons!

    - ER

  3. It should be mild up to Christmas but it's currently damp. You will only need the classics. My suggested list is

    Barbour waxed jacket (Beaufort or Border)
    Tweed jacket and blazer
    Tattersall and Oxford shirts
    Twill/moleskin jeans (denim is for the proles)
    Chino/corduroy trousers
    Wool and cotton jumpers
    Rubber soled shoes - wingtips/brogues /loafers (sneakers are naff!)
    Silk/wool scarves
    Nightwear, dressing gown and slippers

    Don't bring too much as you may wish to buy classic British clothing. And don't forget that black is boring!

    1. Black may be boring...but it's easy, classic, travels well, and understated. In addition to that there are endless ways to play accessories off of it.

      - ER

  4. 1- Outerwear Coat/ Water Resistant (Barbour is excellent choice)
    1 - Navy Blazer
    1- Pair of Jeans (unless soiled can be worn many times between washes)
    3- Khaki's/Chino's
    1- pair of Sneaker's (classic New Balance Grey)
    1- Brown Leather Loafers (Gucci or Alden)
    2- Polo Shirts
    3- Button Downs (A tie if needed/required)
    As many tee-shirts as you feel you'd need.

    You're most likely going to be able to do wash, or send your clothes to the laundry at least once during your trip, so excessive packing is silly.

    A Trad Confused

    1. The best bars and restaurants in London, Edinburgh and Paris will not admit anyone wearing sneakers, denim jeans or tee-shirts. They are for the sloppy masses who eat in McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and other purveyors of garbage who spoil our great cities. Polo shirts, khakis and chinos will not be warm enough for Scotland at this time of year.

      Gucci is regarded as an out-dated fashion brand for those with more money than taste or style. That's why it's now stuck with similar brands in Knightsbridge - sadly now an expensive melting pot of Arabs, Russians and Chinese tourists.

    2. We liked eating at Pret a Manger in both London and Paris. But we did find a McDonald's near Bayeux, I think it was. The most interesting place was a Texas-themed restaurant in Goussainville, just north of Paris, but it wasn't the best place.

    3. Ken,

      Firstly, there was not a timeline, or seasonal reference to the readers question, so suggesting what is or isn't appropriate "this time of year" is irrelevant.

      Secondly, nothing referenced in their question that they were going to "the best bars, restaurants" during their travels... merely museum's and wandering around the streets (not doubt to admire the architecture). Also, suggesting I was encouraging someone to wear jeans to dinner is ridiculous.. that's what the blazer, OCBD, and khakis are for. What you'll find in smart London bars in the evening is what you'd see in NYC or any other finance capital, lots of men in dark suits with open collar white shirts sans ties.

      In reference to your anti-sneaker rant, you've obviously not walked around a city for almost two weeks pounding pavement!

      Lastly as a member of a fine club, and as a guest of some of the finest clubs on the Eastern seaboard, you don't know what you're talking about in-regards to classic Gucci Loafers, they're alive and well, and if you have a horse-bit phobia there's always Alden's.

      They said they like the classics, everything I suggested they probably already own. You don't need a special wardrobe to travel well abroad. You can wear the same outfits you'd wear to visiting museums in Boston, NY, etc... Trying to scurry around to buy a bunch of new "anglophile" looking outfits to "blend in" is a telltale sign of... you know.

    4. Agree with BlueTrain about Pret a Manger. Great place for both breakfast and lunch when touring many cities in Europe (and the US for that matter).

    5. My reply to anonymous's intemperate rant.

      It is reasonable to assume that questioner will be travelling within the next few months. The finance spivs in dark suits and no ties tend to drink in the pubs and wine bars near the large railroad stations before commuting back to the boring suburbs.

      I regularly walk around cities, pound the pavements and wear good quality shoes without any problems. Sneakers belong on racket courts, running tracks and sports fields. Gucci "two bit" loafers remain very 1980s.

      As for your last paragraph, read my earlier comment at 3.45 pm. All my outfit suggestions are "preppy" classics. This blog has recently asked for suggestions on purchasing tweed jackets, tattersall shirts, corduroy trousers, jumpers etc. They are readily available in good New England stores so your objection is bizarre.

      The real telltale sign is that your chippy post is anonymous.

  5. Pack lightly. Take only one carry-on suitcase. Wear one pair of shoes and maybe take one more. Make sure most things mix and match. Be a bit monochromatic to keep it simple. If you are going in winter, take 2 or 3 pairs of light-weight wool slacks. Black or beige - whichever is your neutral. Take 2 or 3 jackets/sweaters/coats in the same color tone. Get color from your tops and scarves. Use packing cubes. Keep it simple. Don't pack things for "just in case." You'll be in civilized countries and you can always buy something there if you need to.

    1. Good practical advice! I like the approach you took more than the one I took - guidelines, not a list!

      - ER

  6. I have found Scotland to be almost an open air museum so if you are walking around you may need a sweater plus the coat. I was in the Loch Ness area once in July and I still needed a warm sweater. I had purchased a wool sweater in London prior to heading north and I was glad I did.

    This idea violates the one carry on bag idea but a bag with extra space might come in handy if shopping the Royal Mile in Edinburgh or visiting the Burberry outlet in London. I hate to pay shipping fees. Have a great time.

  7. If you're going to wear t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers in civilized countries, why not just stay at home?

  8. I recommend at least checking the website of a company called Travel Smith. They sell items for travelers like you. One of their ingenious products, that's sometimes available but sells out quickly, is a pouch with four mix and match items (a top, an over blouse/jacket, a skirt and slacks) all of which create numerous possible outfits and all in travel friendly lightweight, easily washable materials. They also sell RFID wallets and bags (got to consider security when traveling). And best of all they have helpful, free packing checklists which can jog your memory and which could serve as a starting point to create your own list. I am answering as a female, but the company also caters to traveling males. Also Eagle Creek sells wonderfully light-weight packing cubes in all sizes. I hope this helps or provides food for thought. Frankly I am just as puzzled as you when trying to pack light for a long trip. Bon Voyage!

    1. Please do not contemplate buying clothes of this kind. They look like "traveling clothes" in a very American/Tourist kind of way. Honestly, if you are female, take a look at Muffy's closet, for men, take a look at the photos here. If you plan on going out to a more formal restaurant, a black dress for a woman and a shirt, tie and jacket are perfect. Dark jeans are practical, especially if well-fitted. While you will be walking, you will not be walking the Andes - good, comfortable shoes (Born, Dansko, LLBean Blucher) will give you the support that you need without having horrible sneakers or, worse still, hiking boots, in the city. If you are going into the country, the hiking boots or LL Bean boots are appropriate. Otherwise, spray your shoes with weatherproofing spray ahead of time, and make sure you bring multiples so they can rest and dry.

    2. I don’t believe in absolutes. I have a few classic items: black and khaki trousers, white blouse, black or tan blazer or hacking jacket that make the transition from city to country. I always bring a pair of dressier jeans when I’m making that transition and a neutral sweater. Black, taupe and ivory is a good color palate. My clothing comes from a variety of sources, including LL Bean, Travelsmith or Magellan’s, Orvis and Pendleton. Don’t forget a scarf or two, one dressy, one casual.

  9. A good, sturdy pair of rubber-soled brown or black walking shoes will look good in most circumstances, potentially reducing the number of shoes you pack (at least 1 to wear and 1 spare). You will discover that a surprisingly large number of people in "civilized" countries (meaning western Europe I suppose) wear sneakers, because those people are not any more civilized than are Americans. The front pockets of jeans are more difficult to pick-pocket than the pockets of chinos or dress trousers, so jeans have their advantages in crowded railway stations or street festivals ("Pickpockets love them some baggy khakis on American tourists", to quote B.G. Tully quoting a very funny friend of his). There is not good excuse for wearing t-shirts as anything other than undershirts, but Scotland and northern England in autumn, winter, or early spring will make you long for a layering of undershirt, shirt, sweater, and jacket or coat. Pack so all your clothes match each other, which is not hard if you stick to navy, grey, and khaki trousers, blue/white ocbd shirts, and matching sweaters. A Barbour or other wind and water resistant jacket will be useful too. A blue blazer will serve as a lighter jacket and for more formal settings.

  10. It's all about fabrics and layering here in England. Plus a good umbrella, a good umbrella is a must!

    The weather can literally offer up four seasons in one day. When I left for work this morning it was cool and breezy with a spot of rain in the air. Now the sun has got out, the breeze has dropped and it's humid. But looking to the horizon there are dark rain clouds gathering for possible showers later this afternoon.

    You need fabrics and layers which offer the best of both worlds, but also don't have you looking like you're about to conquer Everest. Stay away from gaudy fleeces and psychedelic Gore-tex mountaineering jackets unless you are genuinely heading for the hills, otherwise you'll look like a townie who's trying too hard in the countryside.

    A good quality cotton or chambray Oxford shirt with a Merino sweater is ideal. Both regulate temperature whether it's warm or cool. The sweater can always be removed or tossed over the shoulders. Outer layers are recommended in Harris tweed, regular tweed, Ventile or a good 60/40 material. Just enough protection to see you through a blustery shower but the breathability means you won't feel too hot indoors either. There are many smart cuts of blazer and jacket in these fabrics which allow you to look both presentable and prepared. Personally, I'm not a fan of waxed cotton jackets in practice. Sure, battered old Barbours look great but they're not breathable and they smell. They tend to be romanticised as the quintessential piece of English outerwear but I say leave them to the folk who work the land.

    Trousers wise I'd recommend chinos in a dark shade. If it rains, which it inevitably will given 12 days, the rain splashes won't be as obvious. If wearing chinos, store your valuables in your jacket pockets.

    Footwear depends on how far you are walking and what you want to do. A well worn in pair of country brogues, ideally Commando or Dainite soled, are never going to let you down, however, they can be heavy for all day wear around a city. Subtle walking shoes/boots also work and it is totally acceptable to wear a good pair of trainers with a smart casual outfit. A well chosen pair of New Balance can look great with a tweed jacket, a combination I often go with.

  11. Europe-based poster here: Pack around a dark neutral base of navy or black, then add color through extras such as scarves, which not only will help keep you warm but is also fashionable and more commonly worn over here. (These make great souvenirs that you can have the fun of buying over here, and don't have to be expensive.) Don't be afraid of repeating pieces.. this is very common here (remember that homes here are smaller and people don't have as much storage space.)

    One other tip: The gender of the original poster was not specified.. if a woman is involved I really like my Longchamp Le Pliage handbag for this time of year. It dresses up and down and they are much less expensive in Europe than in the US...if nothing else get one at duty free in the Paris airport.

    For women I would also recommend a look at the websites for Seasalt Cornwall and Joules, both British, as they have a lot of great pieces that fit right in with the preppy aestetic. (Personally size-wise I have an easier time finding things that fit in the UK than in France.) And stock up on good cotton underthings at Marks and Spencer!

    --EM damp fall and spring weather in the UK I was happy that I had my Bean boots. Sporty shoes such as New Balance have become more common in the past years. As you will probably walk more than you do in the US I would suggest a good foot gel or cream for your feet. Bring good socks! Sometimes you can find Smartwool and the like over here but they are much more expensive.

    I actually disagree with some of the views on jeans here... dark jeans are a wardrobe staple in both the UK and France.

  12. shoes, 1 pair good walking and 1 dress, & maybe a Stubbs Wooten slipper.
    1 blazer most likely tweed if you are doing both country and city /a blue blazer is never wrong
    2 sweaters, cotton or cashmere or 1 and a vest/waistcoat
    3 shirts, 2 solid 1 maybe pattern perhaps a light weight flannel plaid
    3 knit shirts, pink, green, blue
    3 t-shirts, colour choice to work with above
    1 or 2 silk or light weight turtle neck grey, black or white
    black jeans, not ripped I wear them on the plane
    2 slacks, Khaki or moleskin, olive, darker tan
    silk scarf, gloves, 2 neck ties or 1 and a bow tie or ascot
    depending on how late in the season, cashmere or wool overcoat or mid thigh coat, do they call those car coats or if you are going to be out in the country a barbour or similar coat, it gives you that country look in town and great when not if it rains

    shorts/white T/ and sneakers if you are going to work out

    a hat not a base ball cap

    a shoulder tote/ messenger bag for my computer that I carry on

    NO Backpack, they are for children and teenagers unless you are going back packing to rambling

    This has gotten me from the country walking, to the theater to dinner, to church, to the Proms and days at the museums and antique shopping

    I can tell American travelers not only by the accent but, the all black wardrobe

    I usually fly business and carry my messenger bag and a canvas tote on board
    I check 1 bag, I know everyone wants to carry it on board but, to much hassle for me and if you land at Heathrow it means u have to pull it for a couple of miles to get out of the airport! I usually wear the black jeans. a knit shirt or turtle neck and long sleeve shirt and blazer on board, I carry my over coat ( usually in the canvas tote)

    It really isn't as much as it sounds but, I like to dress well so I do and have never felt out of place

    Then again u could just take an empty bag and shop while you are n London or Edinburgh

  13. Sneakers are getting vilified here. I can't just sit by and do nothing!

    I run. For the past 30+ years, usually 5-6 days a week, rain or shine, I am out for a few miles or more, clearing the lungs, and cleaning the mind. I wear running shoes, and, unsurprisingly, as a runner, I own more than a few pairs.

    I love'm. They are more comfortable than any shoe I own, whether it be LL Bean's Blucher, Quoddy or Sperry boats, several dress shoes from BB, P Stewart and Alden, Bass Weegens (not even close), and Rancourt penny loafers. My go to shoe is my recently retired Asics running shoe. They are called "trainers" in the UK, by the way. And while I wouldn't go out to dinner in them, they are ubiquitous on the streets of London.

    I am sure at this point, heads are turning. It's about to get worse!

    I always pick a pair with bright color. For obvious reasons when running, you are more readily seen by motorists. Color leads to safety. In daily life, I've found color isn't all that bad either.

    I seem to always draw positive comments from people about the color of my running shoes. They notice them, and they comment. I've had more productive contact with the opposite sex because of my running shoes than I have from walking my dogs -- and my dogs are certifiably cute.

    My current running shoes are bright kelly green (with an equally bright orange pair waiting in the wings). Today's attire is fairly representative: Blue OCBD, khakis, surcingle belt, and my kelly green shoes. I think of them as my GTH shoes.


  14. Why are people afraid to look American in Europe? The Europeans are certainly not afraid to look European here, at least in Boston, New York, and tourist towns on the East Coast. I can spot a tourist 3 blocks away. Usually the pant length and shoes are a dead giveaway - lol!

    1. Looking European is rarely any kind of a sartorial drawback in any situation.

    2. @MichaelRowe Exhibit A: European swimwear for males.

    3. Patsy, I concur.

    4. I think The Govteach says it all perfectly just below.

    5. @MichaelRowe, perhaps where you are there is not a big tourist trade? The capri wearing, blinged out soccer jersey sporting European males aren't adorned with the finest in sartorial splendor in Boston.

    6. "European males" wear their swimwear on the beach. They aren't the ones waddling down the Champs Elysées in sweat pants, t-shirts, fanny packs, and sneakers, talking loudly to anyone who'll listen about how everything is cleaner and cheaper and safer back in the U.S. and how they just want a normal hamburger. That's what "looking American in Europe" means.

    7. I'm not afraid of looking American anywhere I go, but I am concerned about disrespecting dress code rules and also "not feeling like myself." I believe that I dress nice enough on a day-to-day manner that I can pack my daily wardrobe (adjusted for weather and special dress code restrictions, of course...) and be fine anywhere I go. My guess is that the SWNE readers are in the same situation - I get the impression that we are likely more overdressed than underdressed in our daily lives - but that we need to figure out how to adapt to where we are going.

      - ER

  15. I know the " Nationalists" are upset, but I don't want to look American in parts of Europe. In Nuremberg, we were treated differently and not in a good way once they discovered we were American. Then again, we were in biergarten across the road from the Zeppelin Field and 300 meters from the parade grounds.
    No, if I am in Europe and they speak French or German first, have accomplished our dressing goals. And trust me, not to get really political, we are not look at by all Europeans as just tourists.

    On the " What are must carries?"
    Local coinage for pay toilets, especially in the U.K.
    And adapters for my electronics.

    1. When traveling abroad we used to make conscious effort to fit in, in dress and manners. One trip through Ireland and the UK and France with a dear NE couple, he of Armenian and she of Portuguese extraction, we encountered many rude anti-Semitic remarks. Neither look particularly Jewish to us, indeed are Orthodox and Roman Catholic, but the blatant bigotry was disconcerting indeed. Our Jewish friends report they encounter more aggravation in Europe over the past decade, and have curtailed their travels.

      I now could not care less if I am readily identifiable as American, and in any case find Filson more suitable for strenuous time afield in foul weather in northern UK than Barbour and the like.

  16. I bring a Patagonia MLC bag and nothing more except a small purse. Pack as others suggested, but let the size of your bag be the guideline. Don't bring more than about 45 liters worth.

  17. A good dressing- in- layers ensemble, nicely color coordinated. Comfort will be important. Good walking shoes, not sporty. Pack lightly, bring one of those foldable, weighs nothing bags. You will be entering territory with terrific woolens, tweeds, and investment apparel that will sing their siren song. Have a wonderful time.

  18. I thank the community for their generous responses to my question. I realize that I don't need to vary from the same fall travel formula that I have been basically using for the last 15 years! Navy, tan, and tweed have always worked well. I will be taking 3 navy long sleeve sweaters (turtleneck, pullover, cardigan). Also packing my camelhair BB blazer, my RL brown herringbone blazer, two skirts (navy & tweed), two blouses (white and blue), navy slacks. belted tan trench coat, and my tan Burberry fitted quilted jacket. My husband's suitcase will be nearly the same -- 2 tweed blazers, 2 light wool pullover sweaters, 2 pairs of cords, gray flannel slacks, 3 OCBD (2 blue, 1 tattersall, 3 polos to work layer under the sweaters, as well as his tan belted trench. Sorry -- we are not a "one carry on" family for a 12 day trip. I like to have flexibility and must prepare for rainy weather -- damp clothes and shoes take time to dry. We use our travel points for business class so we can each take one large bag as well as a carry on to always bring back happy purchases. The hardest part of each trip is leaving our precious dogs! I thank all again for your input.


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