Two emotions in life are tied for me as top-tier life experiences. One is being the magic of unearthing a hidden gem while shopping, and the other being the wonder that overcomes you while traveling. You can then understand why packing for a vacation is something that I consider an almost sacred act. Maybe that makes me a tad bit dramatic, but if we're all being honest here, nothing can ruin a trip faster than packing wrong. That moment when you realize the shoes you packed are far too uncomfortable? Dreadful. When you make the rookie mistake of packing outfits that scream "tourist," and it makes you a target for pickpocketers or side-eyes from the natives? Embarrassing, to say the least. Knowing what to pack is a skill set that takes time and miles to perfect.
And while I've made mistakes from time to time, a recent short trip to New Orleans reminded me of how my packing skills and ability to suss out the best places to stay and the best things to do have improved over time. I not only managed to become enamored with NOLA, but I survived the summer humidity by packing only a carry-on for three days (yes, really). So ahead, I'm sharing what I wore while in New Orleans and my guide to where to stay, what to do, and what to pack for your own trip. Whether you're planning on visiting the city or just want travel outfit ideas, you'll find ample inspiration ahead.
Where to Stay
WHERE: Hotel Peter & Paul
Regarding traveling, I'm just as picky about where to stay as I am about what to pack. For a short three-day trip to New Orleans, I wanted to pick somewhere that paid homage to the rich history of New Orleans, so I Ianded on Hotel Peter & Paul. Situated in the historically creole neighborhood, Marigny, this boutique hotel used to be a church, convent, schoolhouse, and rectory. But after Hurricane Katrina, renowned developers restored the grounds and filled the space with antiques from around the world to make each room different.
The result is a space that's truly special, which made choosing which room to stay in a challenge. I landed on booking a room in the rectory, and I'm so happy I did. The room was a fashion girl's dream—a vintage hung over a French daybed, luxurious red curtains create a cozy canopy bed, and the shower rivaled a spa sauna. If that weren't enough, there's a cute hotel restaurant and bar downstairs serving heavenly food. Basically, if you want to travel like an editor, I can't sing higher praises for staying here.
What to Do
When deciding what to do while visiting New Orleans, there are ample possibilities which is why I recommend choosing what you want the vibe of the trip to be and tempering it based on the time of year you're visiting. If you're visiting as I did in the middle of summer, plan on doing less than you think you will (because it's far too hot to walk around all day in the humidity). Don't be afraid to embrace that slow Southern pace, because if you do, you'll find that you'll be charmed by all this city has to offer. I also recommend researching the neighborhood you're staying in, restaurants, and bars, as you'll want to know beforehand what you want to see/eat/do while in town. There's so much New Orleans has to offer, but below I'm sharing a few spots and activities that were the highlight of my trip.
Best cup of coffee: The Orange Couch
Luckily for me, this local shop was located right by my hotel and happened to serve up craft coffee. It's a cute spot with outdoor seating and excellent service.
Best meal: Bywater American Bistro
This was my last meal while in New Orleans, and it did not disappoint. Created by one of the best chefs in the city, the menu champions cajun and creole flavors served up in a chic and cozy art-adorned interior.
Best free activity: Walking the French Quarter
Yes, this area is touristy, but it's a rite of passage if you're in New Orleans. Just give yourself ample time to weave through the colorful streets, and pack great walking shoes.
As a New Yorker, I'm spoiled with incredible art museums, which can make me a bit jaded when traveling elsewhere. However, NOLA's largest museum did not disappoint. With famous works and an excellent curation of BIPOC artists, it's a must-see for art lovers.
Best place to shop: United Apparel Liquidators
Every editor I know who has visited New Orleans at one point or another will tell you that the best place for fashion fanatics to shop is U.A.L., as it has hidden designer gems at insanely discounted prices. I managed to find stunning Staud sandals and Proenza Schouler loafers for half the retail price, so you know it's for real.
What I Wore
Photo:@fashionwithjazz; PICTURED: Velvet Canyon Zou Bisou Sunglasses ($239); Cult Gaia Gwyneth Earring ($148); Fanm Mon Demre Dress ($357); Staud Raspberry Moon Bag ($295); Zara Sandals.
For the first day, I wanted to pack something I could throw on easily after an early morning flight and look fabulous. I opted for this full-length Fanm Mon dress styled with Cult Gaia beaded flower earrings, a Staud red shoulder bag, and Zara flip-flops. I wore this look to walk around the French Quarter, and I kid you not, I had over fifty people coming up to me complimenting my outfit.
By the end of the evening, my partner was over the number of people stopping me to ask about my dress. And while admittedly, packing a maxi dress for a short getaway seems mad, considering how many compliments I got on this look, it made it well worth the space in my carry-on and the subsequent eye-rolls from my partner. The one caveat to this look is that keeping the train of the dress clean wasn't easy in the humidity, so that's something to keep in mind if you're thinking of packing a similar look for your own trip to New Orleans.
Photo:@fashionwithjazz; PICTURED: Jacquemus Earrings; Staud Delmore Cutout Faux Leather-Trimmed Linen Halterneck Dress ($325); Yuzefi Small Woven Faux Leather Basket Handbag ($490); Vince Camuto Sandals.
For the second day, I wanted to wear a look that adhered to my ultimate packing rule; Every piece must be able to be styled at least two different ways. Picking a dress that can be styled with flats to walk around New Orleans's museums or styled with heels to try a new restaurant in the Bywater district was of the utmost importance to me, so I landed on this Staud dress. What I loved about wearing this dress in NOLA is that it was not only so comfortable in the summer heat, but it blended beautifully with all the incredible architecture in the city.
Photo:@fashionwithjazz; Pictured: Indy Sunglasses Talk to Me Nice ($65); SVNR Jingdezhen Earrings ($150); Who What Wear Collection Dress; Staud Sandals
My advice for anyone traveling to New Orleans (especially during the summer) is to pack at least a straightforward linen dress you can throw on for a hot day, as it's the easiest way to look put-together without breaking a sweat. By the third day, the NOLA humidity was low-key killing me. Luckily, I had planned to pack this simple Who What Wear Collection white linen mini dress, and I paired it with newly bought Staud flip-flops. I also knew I wanted to spice up the dress, so I rewore my Yuzefi bag and added mismatched earrings from SVNR and fun sunglasses from Indy. When in doubt, a basic dress with fun accessories will always work—no matter the destination.
Photo:@fashionwithjazz; PICTURED: Velvet Canyon Zou Bisou Sunglasses ($239); Jacquemus Earrings; Ganni Dress; Yuzefi Small Woven Faux Leather Basket Handbag ($490); Tory Burch Eleanor Slide ($298)
I wanted to wear something as colorful as New Orleans on the last day, so I landed on this chain-printed dress from Ganni. I followed my packing protocol and paired it with pieces I had already worn (aka my Yuzefi tote bag, Tory Burch slides, Jacquemus earrings, and Velvet Canyon sunglasses). For me, this look encapsulated what it means to pack properly, melding function and fashion while paying homage to where you're at in the world.
Maybe it was the countless naps, the scrumptious seafood, or the fact that I could pull off packing only a carry-on for this trip, but for a high-strung New Yorker to leave New Orleans to feel like they eased into the charming southern tempo is nothing short of a successful journey.
What Else to Pack