Packing for a stylish summer in Europe

Packing for a stylish summer in Europe

Even though I travel with a backpack, I hate looking like a backpacker—and nowhere more so than Europe, particularly among the effortlessly chic women in France. When I’m in a cosmopolitan city or a ritzy beach destination, I strive to not even look like a traveler: I want to blend in as a local (albeit one who drags around a super cute camera).

Brown accessories, coral pleated skirt and polka-dotted tank in Paris, France

This trip, I opted out of sneakers (OK, Vibrams) or gym clothes since I knew I’d be getting plenty of exercise walking, taking the stairs and swimming in the ocean. My priorities ran to style over comfort since I knew I’d be meeting up with friends, having nights out and taking plenty of Facebook-worthy photos. [Sorry boys: not much here is relevant to you! If anyone is interested, I’ll try to put together a “how not to look like a backpacker: male version–let me know in the comments]

Christine Amorose in neon pink skirt in Nice, France

Choose a color scheme: I opted for brown accessories (braided belt, purse, sandals and wedges) and vibrant colors, heavy on complementary orange and turquoise with plenty of neon accents. Black and white tanks and v-necks are key to tone down super bright bottoms.

Kelsey Dei Rossi & Christine Amorose before leaving Split, Croatia

Dresses are your friend: The thing I love about dresses is that they’re an entire outfit in one: choose ones that don’t have to be ironed and that can be dressed up with accessories for a night out, but are casual enough to sightsee in.

Jeweled flats in a bed of flowers

Sensible shoes: Odds of you successfully wearing five-inch stilettos on cobblestone? Slim to none. I always opt for wedges while in Europe: an extra hit of height dresses up the outfit without the risk of a nasty sprained ankle. Same goes for flat sandals: pack a pair that are comfortable enough to wear all day but a bit dressier than flipflops. And jeweled flats are the ultimate chic sightseeing shoes.

Coral H&M Coverup in Vrbroska, Hvar Island, Croatia

Cute cover-up: If you’re going to spending a lot of time near the water—whether you’re cruising or simply setting up shop at the beach—pack a cover-up that you don’t mind wearing to lunch. I found an awesome coral dress from H&M that worked perfectly: it was a bit too sheer to wear normally, it covered my shoulders (key sun protection!), and it was cheap enough that I didn’t mind if saltwater ruined it.

Tangerine jeans in front of the Eiffel Tower: backpacker style in France

The just-in-case things to pack: A scarf and a cardigan are key in case the weather turns cold, or just for super air-conditioned flights. A colored cardi is also a nice accessory for chilly evenings, and a silk scarf can double as a way to dress up beach hair.

What are your must-haves for a stylish summer in Europe?

  • Looking lovely, as always!

  • Stacey and Clinton would have nothing to say against you 😉

  • Rolo

    Of course we would like to read a male version of this. Please?

  • I’d like to see a guys version.  I gotta admit I’ve seen some men backpackers who manage not to look like bums but none that actually look chic 🙂 I think I pulled of ok on my Paris trip but I had a large suitcase.

  • I always notice traveling men who can dress up jeans and a t-shirt with a simple black blazer. Anything but those Southeast Asia backpacker tees of Chang beer.

  • I like guys who put a little effort into their footwear. It’s not that much more effort to put on something besides ratty old sandals! Also, a polo may be on the preppy side for a backpacker, but it goes a long way.

  • camorose

    Thanks lady–means a lot coming from another European fashionista 🙂

  • camorose

    Haha YES! Had their first book as soon as it came out, obsessed!

  • camorose

    I’ll see if I can rope some of my guy friends into playing model for me 🙂

  • camorose

    Alright, I’m all over sorting this out!

  • camorose

    VERY good points–I think I might just do this post!

  • camorose

    Good footwear can totally make or break a going out outfit–SO true!

  • What a great article. I always feel like it’s such a battle on vacations between looking good and being comfortable. 

  • KaleenasKaleidoscope

    Great post– your outfits always look so cute in your photos! I feel the same way, just because you’re a backpacker does not mean you need to live in North Face convertible pants… yuck. I love your idea of choosing a color scheme for accessories–that’s where I always overpack because I have to match every color! Haha. Hopefully more backpackers will take this to heart and stop looking like such backpackers. 😉

  • camorose

    My biggest issue is finding clothes that don’t wrinkle–hate having to find an iron yet hate looking unkempt!

  • camorose

    I do admit that I have three small purses (one brown cross body bag, one brown clutch, one green clutch) and one brown tote–WAY too much. Granted, I bought the cross-body bag my first day in Paris in an awesome vintage shop for 10 Euros–but still, have been forced to squeeze it in for the rest of the trip!

  • Choco_mademoiselle

    I loooove your shoes in the 4th pic! they’re so cute! 🙂
    great article, I always have problems packing for trip.. I tend to overdo it every time 😀
    cheers, Angela 

  • Ahh this post is such great timing for me! I’m headed off on an adventure to Iceland, France, and Spain and I havn’t been to Europe in over 10 years – so my style has slightly changed :-). Love the idea about choosing accessories of the same color!

  • Adorable outfits!!!!! i’m trying to plan for my trip to Spain–i want to dress up, but I don’t want to carry a huge suitcase. These tips are perfect!

  • Im off to Europe this September, and this will be my first urban adventure in a rather long time. Like you, I will be travelling with my backpack but want to look a little chicer on this trip. Thanks for the inspiration!  

  • Love the list! I definitely keep in mind how travel-able things are before I buy them recently. LOVE cotton dresses- they roll up so nicely, too! 🙂

  • Cute outfits as always! I like the bright red pants!

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  • Riz

     I like this idea.  😉  Being in style while traveling sounds great! Last photo is love! My dream city. Hope to visit Paris someday and the fashion there is amazing….. just like you! Hope to see you on the road.  🙂  Hats off to those lovely outfits! 😉

  • camorose

    Overpacking is definitely one of my biggest problems–I always think I need more than I do!

  • camorose

    It’s such a little thing, but it really helps on cutting down in bag space and weight 🙂

  • camorose

    Yay glad I could help! Can’t wait to see what you come up with–you’re the ultimate fashionista!

  • camorose

    Yay glad I could help! Have so much fun!

  • camorose

    Yup–nothing that needs to be ironed (a lot) or dry cleaned makes it into my bag! Love dresses that are rollable, makes it so much easier!

  • camorose

    Thanks–super obsessed with my tangerine jeans at the moment 🙂

  • camorose

    Merci beaucoup! I’m sure you’d love Paris 🙂

  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    I absolutely love this! I agree, on the not looking like a backpacker. Looking like a local actually does help getting a better experience! When in France, I always keep it simple with navy and camel colours, and same goes with my haire (no fussy hair products) which is perfect to blend in with the French! 

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  • camorose

    Navy and camel is the perfect color combination in France–I stick with a lot of black in Paris and white and colors in the South 🙂

  • Amleveille

    Another great article! I’m a huge proponent of packing light, whether in a backpack or a carryon rolling case, and packing coordinating clothes are a must! My travel wardrobe is always black, white, some denim, and grey I use red as my accent color! Although some cobalt blue has crept in this summer.

  • camorose

    Ooooh I love the colbalt blue! I’m a big fan of tangerine and coral this summer–always makes me look tan 🙂

  • Elise

    Great photos and lovely fashion tips! Do you have any advice for key wardrobe essentials?

  • camorose

    These are probably my best tips: http://www.cestchristine.com/2012/03/how-to-not-look-like-a-backpacker-while-living-out-of-a-backpack/

    Anything else you’re particularly curious about? I’m about due for a new travel fashion post!

  • Rebecca and the World

    Perfect assistance for my first trip to Europe this year! What time of the year were you travelling? I’ll be going in June. Thanks!

  • camorose

    I was traveling in June as well, so this should all be appropriate 🙂

  • Kim Robinson

    Great post!! Very informative & smart. Quick question: Who makes those adorable jeweled flats??? They are great:)

  • camorose

    I think they were by Report–I picked them up at Nordstrom last summer.

  • Great tips! Unfortunately, I can’t use them because I’m a guy and don’t plan traveling to Europe…. But thanks :))