2 Jul 2015

Packing For Paris: The Two Handbag Rule

Packing for Paris and the two handbag rule.

Packing for Paris means only two handbags.

Tough, I know.

The smaller style crossbody and the tote.

I try never to budge. Like the shoes, if I carry more than two handbags they stay squished in the suitcase and are never used.

The tote is one of those Mary Poppins style bags that holds all and everything; never full and always brimming with surprises. It doubles up as carry on luggage and is large enough to hold the computer and iPhone.

During the day I often carry a tote and wear a small crossbody; they work in well together. The crossbody holds all the personal and the tote can take my camera or shopping depending what’s on. I think I must have tried a zillion styles of handbag on my travels and every time I come back to the tote.


The tote saves the day on a return trip.

Who doesn’t come home with a little extra this and that? I love the tote because I can sit the more fragile souvenirs gently across the top; the macarons or another to-die-for candle that I can’t resist schlepping home.

You know the story, I am sure.

Packing for Paris and the two handbag rule.

What To Look For In A Tote?

*Large in size, but not too heavy to carry.

*Handles that can fit comfortably over the shoulder.

*Deep, but with a pocket or two on the inside to facilitate finding the keys or the phone.

*A neutral shade that works with all accessories.

The tote is an investment piece and a great tote will not date itself or you.

Next time in Paris notice how the French girl loves her tote and her crossbody handbags. I am pretty sure she applies the Two Handbag rule to her everyday wardrobe.

What about you? Can you travel with two? xv


Maybe this is cheating The Two Handbag rule but I always, always have a longchamp le pliage stashed in my suitcase. So much more than a bag, it is a lifesaver.

That doesn’t count, does it?


Packing for Paris and the two handbag rule.Packing for Paris and the two handbag rule.

Take A Tote

divine extravagance

tomas maier suede and leather tote  //  burberry london shoulder bag

happy medium

****a.p.c leather tote  //   burberry london hobo bag

don’t refrain

street level pocket tote   //  **baggu tote

Packing For Paris

the art of the trench  ||  the crossbody bag  ||  the 3 shoe rule  ||  the one and only dress

images peter lindbergh for louis vuitton 2014


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Definitely two bags only! A Longchamp le pliage the one with the long handles, and a Celine cross body bag that can be turned into a clutch. No other bag needed.

Anita Rivera

GLORY BE….what a gorgeous model and her tote….this is the perfect and stylish solution to my traveling conundrum. On this recent trip to Carmel, I toted around my camera to have it at the ready, but the camera case is too OBVIOUS and ugly. I only use it since it’s padded, but a kind photographer pal told me to just get a good TOTE. Now that’s a great thought. The crossbody bag would be great for the sparse but necessary accessories….you always have a solution! Great photos. I’d love to take my own of this quality of styling and clarity!


The same for me with photos… this summer I want to get snapping again and see where it leads… I would love to have my own editorial images for everything…
Something to aspire to… :)

Mimi Gregor

This would not be a problem for me, as I only have three handbags. I find that when I have more, some don’t get worn because one always has favorites. So I only need three: A soft, roomy black leather shoulderbag with lots of zippered pockets that resembles a motorcycle jacket for everyday; a small black Chanel chain-handled bag for dressing up; a black leather backpack style for hiking or flea-marketing, when I need my hands free. That’s it.


I used a backpack a lot when my children were young as it left me hands free… now I prefer the tote on my shoulder as I think it feels more secure.
I know what you mean about loads of pockets… somehow I have become accustomed to searching through my tote!

Like shoes, there are so many different sytles but when it comes down to it we usually only use a couple… :)


Yes the tote and the cross body that is all you need, Mullberry is my fave still but these handbags are so nice. Michele Williams looked absolutely stunning in these shots didn’t she?.

Candice @ NotesFromABroad

Shoes are easier for me to pack than handbags. I end up wearing a favorite super comfy shoe ( ballet flats) during days and often at night too .. But the handbag .. I like to carry a bag with a strap to wear cross body but my Longchamp “Shopper” is my favorite bag of the moment . It holds everything and looks good no matter what . I also like to carry a small chic little clutch at night. Packing can be fun but also frustrating .. my husband used to sweetly remind me that I should leave room for all the Stuff that I would bring home. He was such a sweetheart, he knew me so well :)


I’m learning – each time I travel packing less gets easier. The Mulberry Willow tote is a great bag to travel with. The clutch is zipped to the front face of the tote and then it comes off for use when you need a small clutch. It come in two sizes, but the large tote is my choice.


Vicki I agree with you and usually carry a roomy tote and then an evening bag as well!
Have a great weekend!

The Arts by Karena
Gallery Opening!


A tote is the first thing I pack on trips. My two bags are invariably a Louis Vuitton large bag, and a smaller black bag with cross body straps that can come off so it can masquerade as an evening type bag. When I was younger {and foolish} I packed four to five bags! but found that I really only used two. Great choices for totes, Vicki!


I do precisely the same thing. I have a vintage equestrian Coach cross body that I adore and it holds passport, phone, credit card, cash for taxis, one red lipstick and two aspirins. The tote I fill up with treasures for the return journey! xx

Lydia Boswell

Thank you for bringing me such joy everyday with your wonderful blog. The info, the pics, the tips are all great. I do have one question that is somewhat off topic. That gorgeous bike! The one the model is sitting on while carrying a tote! What brand is it? I am looking for one and this would be a great motivator to ride more often. If you happen to know please share the info! Best!


I shall research Lydia…
and thank you so much… you just made my evening so much brighter… :)

lisa thomson

Absolutely, Vicki! I always travel with 2 handbags. The carry on tote and the cross body,slim and if the strap comes off and it turns into a clutch? Even better! Love the images :)


Good morning Vickii,
I am following your Paris rules as close as I can but………
we will be in Europe for 9wks. in September/October including a Med. cruise, the last month in the South of France and Paris, what would you add to my packing list?
I still hope to travel ‘lightly’…….any suggestions please .
cheers from Australia,
Susan, Port Stephens


Hello Susan,

Even for a longer period of time I would still follow my “rules” for packing… especially the shoes and bags.
Cashmere would be the other items I would pack… fine sweaters and scarves to wear with jeans, pants or the lbd. The evenings can get cool and a fine cashmere sweater or throw works so well..

I would also take a light “army” style jacket for everyday… so great for travelling with all the pockets and this style of jacket adds another small layer if the weather turns..

Have a fabulous time… :)


I finally learnt this rule after years of travel and stick to it now.


Hi Vicki, this is so useful a day before I pack for a short trip to London. I always have a cross body bag (Celine trio) and a tote plus my Longchamp le pliage tucked away in my carry all. I travel as lightly as possible and use a 2 shoes rule…ballerinas and a pair of gorgeous sandals ( flat or with wedge), plus sneakers that I wear during the travel. Have a lovely summer! And I can’t wait to see your photos , I enjoy and pin most of them all the time . Bises . Freida xox


I usually bring a clutch for cocktails and performances, a cross body black bag for maps, wallet, camera etc and a large tote for the plane that holds my cross body bag as well as items I will need during a flight. The tote isn’t neutral but a coated fabric with a large floral print that goes well with my jacket made by Carlos. Works well for me.

Roberta Costa

I bought a two-toned Hexagona tote bag on my last trip to Paris. It’s a great bag for travel and looks stylish. I unfortunately got some biro stains on the bag, and I can’t bear to look at it. I contacted Hexagona, to see if there may be something similar, but to no avail. It was my favourable bag!!


One of my Parisian friends put me on to (and then gave me one as a present) a Longchamp pliage OVERNIGHT tote. It always can fit in the overhead but is really big. I keep it packed in my suitcase and swap it out on the return trip for one of my allowed carryons. I put all my purchases etc in there and then just have a regular Longchamp pliage tote as a handbag which holds my ipad etc. That longchamp overnight tote is amazing and I never leave for a trip without it.


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