how to pack for europe in the winter.

how to pack for Europe in the winter (aka how to streamline your suitcase + avoid over-packing).

When we booked a last-minute trip to Europe at the holidays, my mind immediately when to every woman's question at hand: how in the world do you pack for a winter getaway an ocean away? We had to pack for ten days--and the list below captures nearly everything in my suitcase in the shoes and clothes spectrum.

For me, the hardest pieces to narrow down were the shoes. Looking semi-stylish while keeping comfort front of mind wasn't easy. In the summer, it is easy to pack a variety of lightweight sandals, but in the winter, the same solution does not apply. With my shoe choices, I had to think through my outfits in a way I didn't have to in the summer. In the end, I brought four pairs of shoes: a pair of versatile black boots, a weather-friendly {but light} pair of boots, an easy pair of sneakers, and a comfortable yet cute pair of wedges {similar here}. I only wore the sneakers twice, but I wore the black boots a ton. The weather-friendly boots made the rain easier to stomach--and would have worked wonders in the snow {if we'd had it}.

Choosing clothing wasn't much easier, but I played up the fact that my coat was visible most of the time. I stuck to a rather simple color scheme {lots of black and a few multipurpose pops of color}, but it worked! I packed some serious basics for tops: a few solid color sweaters, two basic button-downs {blue + white}, one chambray shirt, and a pair of tanks {black + white}. I ended up re-wearing almost everything, but before you start judging my cleanliness, remember that it wasn't sweaty summer weather and that we had the time to wash a few things in our hotel bathroom ;) On the pants front, I stayed simple as well {surprise, surprise}. I only packed one pair of jeans, two pairs of Pixie pants {charcoal gray + black}, and two pairs of Minnies {fun print + basic black}. For dressier nights, I did bring one dress {which I found on eBay!} and two "dressy" but lightweight tops. Throw on those wedges and a fancy top...and you're good to go for a night out on the town! Jewelry was also an easy way to jazz up an otherwise basic sweater or top. 

I made one big investment before the trip: a coat I would be happy to be photographed in the entire trip {similar found here}. Waterproof and warm, I knew I wouldn't be shivering as we saw the sights. I also packed one lighter jacket to wear on warmer days. {We had reasonable weather during our trip. It was definitely warmer than New England in December and January, though it did rain more than we expected}. My other suggestion would be to bring one set of winter wear accessories {i.e. hat, gloves, and scarf} which can work with both jackets. It will help cut down on the bulk in your suitcase.

There was a lot of J.Crew listed above, but it doesn't mean you need to go on a shopping spree before you fly to Europe {though it would be nice}. My takeaway was this: remember that you are essentially dressing for yourself. The people you pass on the street won't see your outfits. {I found that kind of freeing!} This definitely took the stress off my shoulders as I packed. This isn't a complete list, but it is a good starting point. I left off pajamas and undies because those are personal anyway ;) Thankfully, I never found myself aching for something I left at home this trip. VICTORY! I can't wait to share some actual photos from our trip soon! What other packing tips would you add to this list? xoxo {av}


  1. I went to Germany last January/February and I lived in Duck boots and my ski parka.

  2. great tips! we wont be going to europe for a few years but i'd LOVE to go to Switzerland someday in the winter :) xo

  3. Since moving to Europe, I live in black and solid colors! Plus Hunters!

  4. Such a great post! I'm heading to Paris in 2 weeks so this will come in handy! :)

  5. these are GREAT suggestions! I especially love the idea of making sure you have a coat you don't mind being photographed in - so so true when you're traveling and taking pictures at all of the sites!

  6. we are planning a 14 day trip to Scotland and Ireland in June! Some of this will be totally handy eventhough the weather will be a little warmer (hopefully) thanks!! Have you ever been to Ireland or Scotland? Tips or tricks to keep the packing light??

    You can find me blogging about "Life on the Parsons Farm" :

  7. Thanks so much for these tips! I'm leaving for England on Monday and then going to Italy the week after. Although we've officially hit "Spring" it will still be a little damp and brisk.