It always helps to know the exact itinerary and agenda of each day when one is traveling. Then you can plan according to that and add a few things in case of emergencies. When traveling for work, I tend to err on the side of caution – I try not to repeat garments and if I do want to repeat a particular style, I make sure I’m carrying two of the same pieces.
For the trip to France this time, I was clear on the agenda and packed accordingly. Weather in France can be dependent on where in France you are. So, Paris was going to be “tricky” – could be cold or hot, and Avignon and Gargas were going to be warm. And Paris isn’t just “hot” when it’s hot, it’s searingly hot – can’t stand in the sunlight hot. So I would have to carry a range of garments for extreme cold AND very hot. This is not an ideal scenario because it increases the bulkiness of the suitcase.
I have a small suitcase, which if I really really stuff, gets to about 21 kilograms – like I have to sit on it and ask others to sit on it – if I want it to close. If I pack it a little less tightly – I still might have to sit on it – it weighs about 18 kilograms, which it did this time.
I packed t-shirts and a trouser for travel – both going and coming back, on the flights, I wore the exact same things – navy blue t-shirt from CottonWorld and silk trousers by GoodEarth from their Sustain Label. I could embellish the t-shirt with a brooch – the lips are by Aetee Designs. Additional embellishment could include ear rings, finger rings and even a bracelet. I was carrying some of my silver jewellery and some other accessories I’ve collected over the years. The accessories could differentiate each of the travel looks – and I had also packed a couple of other t-shirts in white and grey. For the return flight, I was carrying another piece of the same navy blue t-shirt. Air planes can get cold – although I was flying Air India and it was hot inside the plane. Again, to err on the side of caution and to be prepared when we landed in Paris, I was carrying a thin sweater – brown with black polka dots ( I’ve had it for many years and it’s from a fast-fashion label that I don’t shop from anymore ) and a think wool shawl, which when folded properly, can fit into a box that can fit a mobile phone. Both quite convenient in terms of taking up space in my backpack. The gold stacked bangles were purchased from the V&A Museum shop in London in 2012.
The backpack had my laptop ( I wanted to try my luck with some editing of images or at least selection / consolidating folders etc. – didn’t get much time but I did at least copy images from my phone to the laptop ) + my jewellery ( which was the maximum weight even though it occupied very little space ) + my camera, which I could barely fit but managed + knee support ( velcro and possible to roll it up, which I needed in case my knee started acting up, which it did ) + camera batteries and power banks ( can’t transport in check-in baggage anymore, have to carry it in the cabin ) + laptop adapter and a few more wires.
While traveling, my shoes were Skechers – they’re kind of casual but can also pass as semi-formal if worn properly. I was carrying a change of socks for each day of travel. The shoes are super comfortable if you want to walk long distances and the grey neutral color worked with pretty much everything I wore. I knew I’d have to haul my suitcase and probably walk a bit in Paris and at the airports. Best to keep the feet safe – especially when my knee wasn’t working all that well.
Just for the Gala Dinner, I was carrying a Rahul Mishra dress + OceeDee flat shoes + gold ear rings by Amrapali.
I was carrying one backpack and two handbags. I didn’t end up using one of the handbags at all. The other, a green Mashru silk sling / potli bag by PureGheeDesigns, I wore with the Indian ensemble I had planned for the day visit to the Paris Biennale. The Indian ensemble was a white cotton dress ( with a home-made slip underneath because the dress is very transparent ) and a bandhani long jacket, both by Raiman Sethi, which I have worn earlier here and here. Silver jewellery – two necklaces and a bracelet by Amrapali and a beautiful junk metal ring, which gave my ring finger a rash and is unfortunately now in the dustbin. I paired the dress and jacket with a Chanderi silk scarf that I’d received as part of a press goodie bag in India. Footwear was leather boots that I usually wear during Indian Winters.
I’d consciously planned to wear “India Represent” for this trip to Paris and I stuck to it for the most part except for the polka-dot sweater and the wool trench coat / long jacket, which is from the same fast-fashion brand that I do not shop from anymore and the Skechers comfy shoes and the leather boots.
The green malachite necklace and ear rings that I paired with the tee and the silk trousers and the long jacket were purchased on a trip to Bhutan. The purple silk scarf is also a Bhutan purchase, handwoven. The other scarf I wore was on the day we were out and about in Paris. It’s a fragrant Assamese silk scarf by Deepika Govind. I wore it with a chikan embroidered kurta and the same GoodEarth silk trousers + Skechers grey comfy shoes. I carried the long jacket on my arm in case it got cold. The chikan embroidery cuts on the kurta made it airy and comfy in the super hot sun.
Makeup was minimal except on the night of the Gala Dinner. I love working only on my eyes and lips and sometimes just the eyes. Mascara ( waterproof ) on the eye lashes, a bit of kajal ( slower to melt in colder Paris ) and the Dior eyebrow kit that I am in love with. A red lipstick – I used Burberry Military Red and Avon’s Red Supreme with some lip balm.
For traveling to Avignon from Paris, I was willing to risk it by wearing white trousers. I was carrying more comfy wear for the warmer part of France. White t-shirt ( without sleeves, with unmade edges ) and white trouser from the Kapda by Urvashi Kaur label. Totally casual – the best part is that the trousers have pockets. When there are pockets, a handbag is not needed. I also kept a thin sleeveless sweater in the same color scheme as the trousers and the t-shirt, i.e. black and white, in case it got colder – other wise, the long jacket was there on my arm anyway. No brooch on the sweater because it’s darn delicate. I wore a large silver necklace, again, by Amrapali.
Toward the end, for a visit to the Mathieu Lustrerie workshop, I wore my travel uniform : tee and silk trousers. This was because after lunch, I was going to be on a train straight to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and would get on the flight to India. No matter how much I wanted to change into my travel clothes at the airport, I just did not have the energy to unpack and repack and ask a stranger to sit on my suitcase 😛
Keep it simple, decide on a theme, try to wear outer layers on repeat, bring in variety bu changing jewellery and accessories and footwear. I ended up taking two knitwear tops that I did not wear at all. The weather was much warmer than I had expected and these two knits tops were more suited to colder weather. I had also carried thermal wear to wear under my garments – sometimes I feel really cold and it’s better to be prepared. I didn’t use these either but these take up very little space.
Hope I didn’t miss anything!
For all features from France, on this blog, see the #EyesForFrance tag.
For features specific to this trip to Paris, see #NAINAxLaBiennaleParis