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Anya Meyerowitz

Guest Luxury Lifestyle & Travel Writer



What to Pack for a City Break

Whether you’re heading to the dizzying skyscrapers of New York or the fashion-set favourite of Paris, complete with twinkling Eiffel Tower and boulevards drenched in museums, eateries and tucked-away bars, a jaunt through a neighbouring concrete jungle never ceases to surprise. Where we are keen for the surprises to stop though, is at the monogrammed zip of our suitcase. When it comes to our holiday wardrobe, we know we need to maximise space without sacrificing our signature style, and, unlike a beach break, we can’t just lounge around in the same throw on all day, the urban jungles call for looks that can transition from morning to noon, and day to night, with ease and flair.

That’s why Karen Millen have rounded up our favourite city break destinations of the moment to share some tried-and-tested insider secrets from those in the fashion world who now see a carry-on as their second wardrobe and have turned the act of packing for a city escape into an artform. Here’s exactly what to pack for a city break.

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Karen Millen City Break
Textured Faux Leather Trim Crop Jacket Textured Pu Tab Detail Mini Skirt

Paris is a city of contradictions - where downbeat bistros sit against a backdrop of opulent architecture and debonair night time haunts lead directly out onto quiet backstreets - and that’s all part of its unique charm. Where there is no discrepancy however, is in its fashion - its residents are always impeccably, and timelessly, dressed. In fact, ‘French girl style’ is copied the world over and for good reason.

A city break here requires a minimalist aesthetic, one where an outfit looks easily thrown on but effortlessly put together. Italian wool coats and trenches are a must during the cooler evenings of early spring here, and help to pull together an outfit, while a cropped leather jacket is an ideal daytime accessory - especially when draped loosely over the shoulders. A-line dresses, particularly spring-appropriate, soft linen pieces, offer a simple but stylish day-to-night solution, with a quick stop off at your shabby-chic pied-à-terre or ritzy hotel to switch up accessories. During the day, understated, simple pieces will fit right in, though as dusk hits, larger, statement pieces update and reinvigorate an outfit - ready to soak up Parisian nightlife for as long as you are.

Of course, heels are synonymous with French styling, though for a city break, a pair of chunky buckle leather brogues or patent platform boots will make pounding the pavements straightforward and comfortable, as well as playing into that ‘dressed-down dressed-up look’ that women here pull off so seamlessly.

What to Pack

New York

Karen Millen City Break
Leather Oversize Crop Washed Biker Jacket

When it comes to city breaks, you don’t get much more iconic than New York. Style here is creative, laid-back with an emphasis on layering and an off-duty aesthetic that feels both comfortable and high-quality.

To avoid fashion faux pas Stateside, keep it cool with a t-shirt, jeans and blazer mix - a combination that no self-respecting New Yorker is ever without, using subtle detailing to set your looks apart. Think a rib knitted tee, for example, paired with a button-down military blazer and flattering mid-rise jeans. During daylight hours, you can throw your hair up or add a cap to really emulate the elevated Normcore aesthetic that permeates the pavements here.

By night, some may choose to simply swap trainers for towering heels or a pair of platform sandals, though as visitors, it almost seems a shame to miss out on going all-out on the glamour front for the city that never sleeps. Go quirky with a chainmail mini dress or a sequin skirt, oversized belt and silk blouse, and give your look a harder edge with an oversized biker jacket.

What to Pack


Karen Millen City Break
Cotton Pu Trim Belted Trench Coat

Copenhagen is still the epicentre for Scandi cool. It might not be the first place you think of for a calming city break away, but the unquestionable charm, history and character of Copenhagen begs you to reconsider. And their dress sense is equally as defined, with pops of colour, dazzling accessories and the luxe sporty aesthetic everywhere. In fact, we’d dub it the coolest city out of the lot for dressing in - both literally and stylistically.

Long line skirts, wide leg trousers and high neck jumpers are the go-to uniform for the fashion-informed here, and there’s a real focus on interchangeable looks (ideal for those travelling with limited suitcase space). For a softer look, team a satin slip midi skirt with a slinky roll neck top, with a timeless trench draped over the top. Though you can always add a more masculine edge with leather, knee-high boots or tailored wide leg trousers.

The key here is to opt for comfy pieces that all work together, with oversized accessories to help streamline and uplevel the look. Plus, evenings here can get cooler (as can the days), and so layering up on the jumper, blazer and coat side of things is always going to stand you in good stead. They’re certainly not afraid of colour here, so don’t be afraid to add a little to your ensembles either.

What to Pack


Karen Millen City Break
Soft Twill Tailored Crop Jacket Soft Twill Button Wide Leg Trouser

Milan is an extraordinary city with a rich history. To emulate timeless Italian elegance, it's all about tonal styling, and taste here is well-tailored certainly, but often focused around statement-making pieces: an intricately designed lace-up pair of leather boots, a well-cut coat (there’s no guarantee of warmth), with fanciful detailing, like faux fur trim, or hand-embroidered accents.

Opt for a classic trench coat in tan leather, luxe hues never cease to be having their moment here, a pair of tailored or wide-leg trousers and a woven blouse for exploring the fashion capital’s must-see destinations, including La Scala - the opera house that has seen performances from composers and conductors such as Verdi, Toscanini and Salieri - will see you easily fit in with the well-heeled residents here. While a soft suit set with a swipe of red lipstick and an open-back loafer will carry you through most occasions, temperatures and times of day.

Finally, don’t over-accessorise. A simple watch and subtle jewellery ties into a neutral palette fit for the front row - or, more likely, an afternoon meandering in the piazza. Though it pays to remember that, whatever the look, confidence is your best accessory here.

What to Pack


Karen Millen City Break
Embroidered Viscose Linen Midi Dress

The centre of Catalan culture is one of the most popular destinations on the planet, one where you need to dress accordingly and be prepared for all occasions.

Lightweight pieces are your friend here, particularly linen pieces (think: mini dress or long sleeve shirt) which are not only eternally of the moment but easy to layer up if the temperatures aren’t as favourable as one might hope as we head toward April and beyond. A pair of tailored walking shorts are also likely to be one of your most closely-prized positions while here, and so too will a knitted cardigan, ideal for throwing on if the breeze starts to pick up as you lounge on wicker chairs, spilling out onto the pavement of Las Ramblas, tucking into paella and people watching.

And on your feet? A pair of chic flat sandals will help you weave through the pedestrian-packed streets with ease and make hopping on and off rentable scooters an easy feat. Of course, a pair of boots - ankle or otherwise - is always a good idea to take you from day-to-night.

What to Pack

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