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Heidi Shaffer, Published May 30 2013

5 tips for looking good, packing light when traveling abroad

PARIS – As you read this, I’m parading around Paris.

You’re right. Life isn’t fair.

When visiting a fashion capitol such as Paris, one doesn’t want to play the part of a sloppy tourist, but looking good can sometimes take up precious packing space.

This trip tested me to squeeze two weeks of cute clothes into a small, carry-on suitcase.

Here are five essentials that made it work:

Leggings

Yes, you’ve heard the advice not to wear leggings as pants, and I echo that sentiment here.

But the stretchy material is compact, comfortable and virtually wrinkle-free.

Pair leggings with dresses, tunics and long sweaters for cooler climates and the days you’ll be flying.

Ballet flats

The last time I went to Europe, I had grandiose ideas of wearing my favorite strappy heels and trendy wedges. I returned having never worn them because there’s no way you can walk around all day in uncomfortable shoes.

Enter the ballet flat – easy to pack and gentle on feet.

I brought a classic black suede pair as well as a leopard print for something fun and a bright red for a pop of color. They all fit in the space it would have taken to pack one pair of heels.

Scarves

You could wear the same black T-shirt every day, and most people wouldn’t even notice as long as you accessorize properly.

Scarves are my accessory of choice, and a necessity in the City of Lights.

Go for light-weight materials with patterns that will hide stains.

I usually wear a larger, wrap-type scarf for plane rides to stay warm and even use as a pillow in a pinch.

A classic handbag

A large purse with a cross-body strap is a must for traveling abroad for any length of time, in my opinion.

You don’t have to check them at most tourist locations – such as museums – and they carry everything you need to get you through the day from the time you leave your hotel in the morning to last call at night.

I purchased a new bag from Asos ($64.49, pictured) with a top zipper for security in crowded areas. And its classic shape is perfect for almost any occasion.

Denim jacket

Weather can change quickly this time of year, so layering is the key to being comfortable all day without running back to your hotel.

My dark-wash denim jacket goes with almost every outfit I packed, so it’s perfect to throw on every morning and stow at the bottom of my bag by afternoon.

Bon voyage!

Readers can reach Forum features editor

Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511