City breaks to in Europe: they conjure up images of compact suitcases overflowing with gorgeous garments, a little bit of romance (ooh la la!), and impeccably chic individuals. I always think of Carrie Bradshaw looking Pinterest-perfect every single second after her big move to Paris in series six of Sex and the City – so naturally, I had a few high expectations of my trip there this weekend just gone.
But like Carrie’s move to the city of love, these things don’t always go to plan. Sure, I didn’t step in dog mess on the cobbled streets in my super expensive heels, I didn't fall in Dior, and I didn't get ditched over and over by my loser artist boyfriend like Carrie (instead, my boyfriend bought me roses as a surprise when he went to fetch coffee and croissants in the morning – that’s the romance box ticked!) It’s more that I’m not much of a planner when it comes to little getaways. I’m a more of a “let’s just see where the day takes us!” kind of gal – hoping I’ll end up in some darling bistro, sipping on a cafe au lait, snapping away some photos for my Instagram. When in reality, I end up a little bit lost with my phone battery rinsed (so even if I do end up in that little bistro, I can’t even take any photos for the ‘gram)
But if there’s one thing that Carrie had nailed all along (as expected), it was her style. And whilst I may not have been strutting around one of the most stunning cities on the planet in Manolo's, I like to think I had the style box ticked too. When you’re exploring a new city you want that fantasy you imagined in your head before you even got the confirmation email for your flights to turn into a reality! You want to look the part - and that includes clothes. But when Paris threw a little curveball at us – three days of random snow showers and freezing temperatures - it presented a bit of a sartorial challenge (I mean, let’s face it, even if I had them Manolo's I wouldn’t have been wearing them anyway…)
And times like that call for practical chic - two words I rarely like to put in the same sentence, let alone next to each other! But breezing it was surprisingly easy. Simple slim-leg jeans with a roughed-up hem are a classic, and layering up several chunky-knit jumpers looks chic whilst feeling cosy - very Olsen twins. Then a vinyl rain mac, riffing on a 60s vibe and all glossy like liquorice, lent a certain edgy London je ne sais quoi to this whole city break look.
That's only half of the story: when you’re travelling you can’t pack your whole wardrobe – so the key to versatility comes in the right accessories. My sartorial partner in crime was Radley’s Kemble Street grab bag. Sumptuously soft black leather is amped up with a leopard print animal hair-effect panel and mint zip tabs for the prettiest flash of colour. It’s the perfect piece for playing against the patent gloss of my rain mac for a totally tonal yet textured look. A top handle lets you swing it next to you, or change up the strap and suspend it from your shoulder for a hands-free look (always ideal when you're trying to capture a perfect candid city shot!)
Plus, when you’re travelling, most of us pack a bit of a capsule wardrobe – full of interchangeable bits and pieces that mean you can pack minimally with maximum style potential. Striking a balance of subtle and statement-making (something I never knew was quite so possible!), the Kemble Street bag is almost too easy to work into your capsule wardrobe because it just goes with anything. You can let it take centre stage against an all-black ensemble, or if colour and print is more your thing, the sharp mix of leopard print with black will never overwhelm your look - it'll elevate it and add a playful safari flash.
And as any on-the-go girl knows, when exploring a city, you need to be able to fit all of your necessities (note to self: portable phone charger!) into your bag. This tricksy little tote fit all of my city break exploring essentials – phone, Olympus Pen, extra lens, lipstick, Euros - in its nifty compartments, without me needing to force my boyfriend to carry the overflow in his backpack for once.
It's time to stop fearing packing and let this pretty Radley bag give you the perfect excuse to book that little trip you've always wanted!
I'm wearing Mango jacket, Topshop jeans, Topshop jumper, Radley Kemble Street bag (c/o), Topshop Shoes
This post was made in collaboration with Radley, monetary compensation was provided.