Here’s a few tips for what to pack for an autumn city break… Or I suppose ‘fall’ city break for the 28% of my audience who Google Analytics tells me are based in the US. Hello over there. I find autumn the easiest season to pack for because it’s when my own style is in season: black tights, ankle boots, trench coats, jumpers, dresses with sleeves… and pure joy. I am in my ELEMENT. But it still requires a good bit of planning when autumn clothing weighs a lot more than summer and airlines somehow expect you to deal with that within 20kg so it’s not like you can just throw everything you own in and hope for the best…
Like I’ve said in my other seasonal packing guides, if this helps even one other woman staring at her ‘floordrobe’ and wanting to burn it all the night before going away, I’ll feel I’ve done some kind of heroic good deed.
Anyway, settle down with a
cuppa pumpkin spice latte because here are my autumnal packing tips…
1. A coat that goes with everything
What kind of coat you take of course depends on what the weather is looking like. We could be talking leather jacket, warm and wintery coat, or a trench coat, or a mixture of different ones. Keep an eye on Accuweather in the weeks leading up to your trip (other weather apps are available). If it’s being unreliable, you could wear a heavier coat on the plane and roll up a lighter trench or jacket in your suitcase to cover all bases.
Also, in autumn you’re going to end up with your coat(s) on for most of or all of the time. That means it’ll be in many of your holiday photos, so make sure it goes with the outfits you’re taking and that you’re not going to hate it after one wear…
I like to pick a coat in a colour that’s either neutral and will go with everything (grey, camel, black) or that will tone with all my autumn outfits (mustard, rust). New Look always have a good, affordable selection of coats and I think all the jackets I’ve got on in this post happen to be from there, including my favourite mustard coat. I rarely go for a patterned coat because I like to have a lot of floral/printed scarves and dresses, so don’t want to look like a walking jigsaw of patterns. Although that could be a good look now you mention it…
2. A lot of 80- to 100-denier tights
Ah, the end of summer. No more endless cycle of shaving and fake tanning my legs.
As much as I’ll miss the airing my limbs get in warm weather, I’m always happy when autumn comes around and I can go back to having my legs permanently encased in the dark comfort of a pair of 80 deniers.
You can’t beat Primark for cheap thick black tights, but there’s no denying that M&S and Accessorize ones last longer. I always find Primark tights end up going very shiny for some reason. Wherever they’re from, always pack a few more pairs than you really need in case of ladder-based disasters.
3. A statement scarf or two… or three
If you have a plain coat, bringing a few different scarves with you can transform it and make it feel like your outfits are more varied than they are.
Leopard print is huge at the moment, which is great for me as I’m a life-long fan. For my upcoming autumn city break to Copenhagen and Hamburg, I’ve dug out a leopard print scarf from a few years ago and will be rolling that up in my suitcase alongside the thick plaid one pictured below. I’ll then wear a third floral one on the plane. Scarves don’t take up much room but they’re dead useful and much-needed for warmth if you’re going away somewhere that doesn’t do much in the way of autumn sunshine.
4. A waterproof mac
You know the song. Drip drip drop, little autumn showers… Well, sort of. It’s bound to bloody rain though, isn’t it?
You’ll never regret stuffing a rolled up lightweight mac in your suitcase. Imagine how smug you’ll feel whipping it out to put over your leather jacket when it starts chucking it down and everyone else’s hair is getting soaked but you’ve got your hood on. Bliss.
I love the gorgeous Danish design of Rains jackets and recently splashed out on one (rain, water, splash, see what I did there?). If you’re not unhinged enough to spend £75 on a mac just to pretend you’re Scandinavian, there are plenty of much cheaper highstreet copies.
5. Dresses with sleeves (and even better, pockets)
Dresses are my year-round friends but they come into their own in autumn. My everyday uniform come the end of September consists of a long-sleeved dress, black tights, ankle boots, leather jacket, scarf… repeat ad infinitum.
I tend to go for bold prints with a bit of black in them if possible (to tie in with the black tights) or plain solid colours that will tone with all my other autumn stuff.
I don’t really like hiding a dress with a cardigan so having the warmth of sleeves is an essential for day dresses at this time of year. The below one is from Zara last year but they usually do plenty of long-sleeve beasties every season. If you want the added ecstasy of pockets, I really recommend Joanie Clothing, a Manchester brand that does loads of good daytime dresses that tend to always have pockets.
6. A bag that fastens securely
This is a year-round must have to be honest, but on holiday in autumn you’ll want to make sure it’ll fit any extra layers you’re lugging round with you all day and into the evening. It also needs to be watertight in case of rain, so tote bags and open ‘shoppers’ are off the cards.
If you’re going for a backpack, remember to swing it round onto your front when you’re on a crowded train or in a busy square. The same goes for cross-body bags, which are a bit easier to keep an eye on. I find a plain, neutral coloured bag is best, especially if you’re taking lots of vibrant/patterned autumn dresses. Boring as it is, black is always a winner and it’ll go with black tights/black ankle boots.
I always test out a new bag before I buy it so that I know for sure that all the rubbish I want to haul round with me on a city break actually fits in it. I have a big heavy camera for blogging photography, so that has to fit in or I’d end up with it round my neck, looking like a right tourist and getting tangled with my scarf. First-world nightmares.
7. Waterproof shoes that you can walk all day in
Compared with summer, autumn is SO easy for footwear. Bring on the boots and the delights of not worrying about sandals/blisters! My main three types of hoofwear for the season are…
- Black ankle boots. THE DREAM. I’ve got so many of these. They go with everything and are usually very comfy, so they’re the perfect shoe for city breaks, especially short weekend getaways when you only have room for one piece of footwear in your hand luggage. I go for a high-cut Western style, which I find hides my cankles pretty well and looks nice with tights/skirts/dresses as well as trousers. I recently splashed out (by my standards) on a new pair from Office, which are so far proving to be the best boots I’ve ever owned.
- Trainers or Converse-style canvas shoes. I got these insanely comfy Fila trainers that I wore to death all summer, but they’re staying in my wardrobe for warmer autumnal days when it’s okay to get your ankles out. Same goes for my trusty old Converse. I do phase trainery-type shoes out as we move into later October/early November though, because even though I’m northern and hard when it comes to the weather, I have to draw the line at showing off my blue, goosebumped ankles at some point.
- Patterned/colourful ankle boots. For a longer city break, when you might be able to cram a few pairs of boots in, I often pack a statement boot, making sure it goes with more than one outfit so that I get my money’s/space’s worth out of it. I love leopard print or metallic boots – the latter go with pretty much anything too.
8. A few pairs of jeans
My favourite jean colour for autumn is probably grey, but black or darker blues are always a safe bet too.
Jeans aren’t the most exciting garment, but they’re a life saver on days when you don’t know what the weather is going to do and they tend to go well with all the chunkier jumpers in the shops at this time of year, which don’t tuck into skirts very well. Topshop’s high-waisted Jamie jeans are the only jeans I buy these days.
9. All the layers
Autumn is the time for packing outfits that can be layered up or pared back, depending on what the weather gods have decided for that day.
I always have a few outfits that involve jumpers with a blouse under so you can take the jumper off if it warms up and you still have a nice top on. I really recommend getting some thin thermal under-layers too. These M&S ones in cream are really good and completely undetectable under most tops/dresses but they’re dead handy for when it’s colder than you expect.
It’s also worth packing some more wintery accessories too, just in case. Gloves are usually step too far for most autumn city breaks unless it’s well into November, but the aforementioned scarf is vital, and I’d say a hat more often than not comes in handy as well. Even if it’s not quite cold enough to need one to keep your head warm, they’re great for exceptionally wet and windy days to control the old mane.
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