22 Apr 2015

Packing For Paris: The 3 Shoe Rule

Richard Avedon, Place du Trocadéro, Paris, August 1948, Packing For Paris

The best packing requires planning.

I have a rule when it comes to travelling that wherever I go there can only be three pairs of shoes to accompany me; less but never more. Three pairs of shoes sounds quite generous but if you are a shoe-a-holic like me it is actually a tough call.

The 3 Shoe Rule works when packing for Paris or anywhere else in the world. One pair of flats,  in winter I replace the flats with boots, one pair of heels and one pair of sneakers. That’s it.

I have travelled with up to six pairs of shoes ( more if I were counting ) and the reality is I never wear them all. I think I will, I plan my outfits around them but when it comes down to it, I don’t. Packing that many shoes is simply doubling up. The key is to make absolutely certain that the shoes packed are comfortable and the most loved pairs in the wardrobe.

Now the dilemma is the decision making.

I am trying to follow my own guidance. I really want to take the lace up sneakers and the slip ons, not to mention various colours.  Too much choice and too much luggage wastes time and becomes a nuisance. It is worth calling the tough shots prior to leaving home. I would rather be out and about than packing and unpacking.

OK, I am going with the white lace up stan smith this trip.

The flats, another conundrum.

I want to take the animal print mules to work with my pants, the tulle skirt and my jeans.

The heels, this is the really hard part.

The Manolo Hangisi is my saviour and well worth the investment . They are forever and a day heels – I don’t wear them very often but when I do, it’s the best.

The 3 Shoe Rule

stan smith sneakers  ||  animal print flat  ||  Manolo Hangisi Heels

this feature contains affiliate links

image richard avedon, paris

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Great rule, Vicki. I won’t tell you how many pairs of shoes I brought to London and Paris. And nope, didn’t wear them all. Wore more than three, but didn’t really need to. Will remember this tip on my next trip! XO

Chloé Watts

This logic is amazing, I wish I had this as a resource before I packed for LA. I have tons of shoes in my suitcase and have hardly worn any!x


Dear Vicki,
What a GREAT post! I am heading to Paris and St Remy ( Le Petit Bijou) in less than a month so…I have been thinking what shoes I should bring…the Stan Smith Tennis Shoes is a must and I have a pair of Chanel black flats. Do you have any suggestions for a non heavy wet shoe? I am tracing my exact footsteps from last year and it definitely drizzled a few times…thank you! :)


What about a shoe bootie.. slightly more filled in than a heel?
Altough I wore my heels out last night and it was pouring but because they are suede and dark… no problem… :)


You are so right. Packing less shoes makes so much sense. However, the choice is really really hard. I could try a five shoe rule for shorter trips. I would add a pair of sliders and high heels. Your Aquazzura are not high heels, Vicki… they are kitten heels …:)
X Nina


Vicki I would be thrilled to have the Aquazzura heels, alas they are not in the seasons budget. I know your choices will see you through the trip beautifully though!!

The Arts by Karena


They are working well so far Karena… I took a gulp with the Aquazzuras but they do make me feel fab.. :)

La Contessa

I agree NO MORE Then THREE pairs………..TWO would be ideal as you wear one and then ONLY one pair needs to be stashed in the already too small suitcase!It is TRICKY business…………..I remember being told at a young age if your feet hurt your whole body hurts!It is so true for me!I desperately need to GO SOMEWHERE.You have gotten the wheels rolling ………….thank you!XX


I m a bit of a cheater too… Can’t wait to look around the shoe departments in NY! That might just make me break my rule…
So far so good though… ;)


Hi Vicki!

This is so incredibly helpful! I recently bought a pair of the retro-ish New Balance sneakers from J. Crew. Are those acceptable for Paris? They’re really comfortable and look good with jeans, so I hope so.

Thank you!!


Anita Rivera

This is just perfect for me dear Vicki because I am traveling in June but want to travel lightly. But I need several pairs of shoes! I think I’ll take this advice. Great photo!


Thanks Vicki, I need this as I’m planning my wardrobe for Europe next year! (Yes, I know it’s NEXT YEAR but I like to be organised!) Last time, and the time before that, I took 5 to 6 pairs and, you’re right, I didn’t wear them all! So, definitely taking your advice, I promise to be disciplined!

Pauline from Phillip Island

What happened dear Vicki, to the “do not wear sneakers” rule in Paris? Last time I was there a few years ago, it was an absolute no-no to wear sneakers other than to the gym. All of a sudden they seem really popular in the streets. As a result, I think your three pairs of shoes rule would work perfectly. Thank you for the great suggestion as shoes are my biggest problem when travelling.


I always take a pair of comfortable flat sandals in a colour that works with the travel clothes. So much fresher and cooler if the weather is really warm – so good for walking around museums and the streets and cobblestones. But then I’m famous for over-packing. If you’re travelling Business Class you can take a lot more baggage so it becomes tempting to do so. Hope you’re having a fabulous time! Best wishes, Pamela

Trish Murphy

Vicki this is so helpful as I am travelling to UK and Europe in coming weeks.I have the New Balance thanks to you my daughter was very impressed when she saw them.It is a dilemma but comfort is a must for all the walking in particularly Paris. I may stretch to four but will see if three could do it . Wonderful post as usual and I hope that you are having a fabulous time in NY.
Great photo. X Trish


Thank you so much for this great advice, Vicki. I always take far too many clothes and shoes. I’ll often take shoes that I rarely wear. No more!

Marilyn McPheron

I go to Paris annually, until 2010 on business but now for pleasure. I always took two pairs of shoes — black ballerina sketchers that are good for tramping all over in whatever the weather and then either a pair of good loafers if fall, sandals if summer or a pair of boots if winter. Then I bought kitten heels there! Sometimes a pair at the shoe shop and sometimes a pair at the shoe stall outside the Montparnasse train station. :-) One year I gave up a pair for myself and bought my daughter-in-law a gorgeous pair of pale gray “real heels” (we wear the same size). However, I broke them in for her in Paris. She agreed this was a fair fee for shopping for her. :-) ahhhhhhhh, shoes….


kudos! bags must be carried on, and the shoes are the defining moment – fill up the bag – and must be packed properly to maintain their beauty – and then one needs an evening bag – and great faux jewels, or a belt, scarf, … so my bag is always filled with accessories, toiletries, and a few tiny bl/wh clothes. it’s those accessories which make the events so fun.


Bonjour Vicki,

I’m traveling to Paris early October (maiden trip) and am struggling with what shoes to take, as I know I may experience some wet weather that time of year. I adore the Halogen Olsen (black). What are your thoughts on that shoe in October? I’m planning on taking a pair of black leather booties as well.




I think between the flats and the booties you will be perfectly set…

If it rains in the day wear your sneakers or your boots and save the flats for evening when you won’t be walking as far hopefully… :)

Shelley Dark

Dear Vicki, would love to know the brand name of the three coloured pairs of suede shoes in your email ! Thank you for your daily posts. I really enjoy them, thank you. Love seeing you on Instagram too. xxxx


Try Tieks. They are a cute ballet flat but double as a tennis shoe.
Size up one. They pack and you can take 2 pairs and count them as one.
Love the colors.
I am hugely picky about shoes. These are wonderful.
How do I know what size Stan Smith’s to buy? I have heard so many versions.


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