If you want to look like a local, make sure you are wearing a nice scarf, matched with your coat, artfully knotted around your neck. Even on a rather warm September day when we were sweating, people were wearing scarves with their short sleeve shirts. There is apparently an art to it, Fodor's 2011 guide has a scarf tying 101 guide. Personally, just not into scarves.
Again, I wish I had more photos...
Similar to what I'd observed for women, Parisian men are clean, pressed and wear clothes that fit well. The younger fellas looked very similar to how they do in the U.S except I probably saw a few more pencil jeans and a noticeable absence of loud, wrinkled T's with stupid slogans. Leather jackets are popular (add a scarf!) as well as the same low-top, Converse-style tennies the girls were wearing. Business suits - double-vented seemed to be in vogue - are the uniform for the professional regardless of getting to work on foot, on 4 wheels, or on two.
Most common was a combo of nice jeans and a fitted suit jacket - again, usually double-vented - with a crisp, open-collar dress shirt and stylish pair of shoes. This seemed to be the Parisian man's version of business casual and I saw it everywhere; very nice!
Gentlemen, "pants on the ground" or showing your BVDS is simply not done. Don't even think about it. Oh, and if you still have hair, flaunt it!
Wish I'd gotten more photos but people are so hard to shoot without making them jittery...
VT gets a lot of those "What do I wear to blend in?" questions for which we always have to respond "Don't open your mouth!" And that camera, guidebook or map in your in your hands isn't a dead giveaway? Forget it; you are a tourist and they KNOW you are a tourist but that doesn't mean stooping to wearing a fanny pack. Please. Don't.
If I was to pick one singular thing that I noticed about Parisian women is that, even at their most dressed down, they are never, ever sloppy. Their clothing is never baggy, ill-fitting or wrinkled, and while it can be colorful, it's not loud or mismatched. Nobody does chic casual like the French!
Pencil jeans seemed to be popular among svelte young ladies, as well as Converse-type tennis shoes in all colors of the rainbow. Ballerina flats with flippy little skirts (no shorts!) and those same skinny jeans were also very popular. On cooler days I saw lots of pleated trench coats worn with tights and tall boots; again, beautifully fitted and not the "bag tied in the middle" variety. Taking a short stroll down the street to the cafe? By all means dress up your jeans with a pair of sexy heels. Denim was everywhere but always clean, tidy and without holes.
And to look instantly Parisian? Wind a scarf around your neck!
Myth: Parisians mostly wear black
Reality: More nonsense
Paris is a city of color as well as light. Taking an all-black wardrobe to blend in accomplishes nothing but hiding the coffee you dribbled down your front at breakfast. Go ahead and pack that favorite fuchsia shirt.
Truly, only french women know how to use a small black dress, and indeed - only french women are able to get on a bike wearing one... And yes, I mean it!
I agree: "French women really do have that certain something that you always hear about. They are not necessarily wearing something amazing; it’s that they innately know how to put the entire "ensemble" together ".
French women are world known for their sense of style and chic way of dressing. France is, after all, the country where such famous designers as Coco Chanel originate. So if you want to dress like a French woman follow these steps:
(1)Find the style which suits you! Contrary to popular opinion, French woman are not slaves to fashion. At a young age a French woman is taught to find the style which suits her best, and stick to it.
(2)Buy less. Yes, that's right! It is a myth that a French woman owns an enormous amount of clothes. The secret is that she prefers to spend her money on a few good quality pieces than to buy hoards of cheap clothing.
(3)Keep your style simple. A French woman is not a fussy dresser. She will always have some well cut simple pieces in her wardrobe.
(4)Buy some accessories. A French woman will always have a string of pearls and an elegant scarf ready to brighten up an article.
(5)Be ready for the unexpected. A French woman is always ready for an unexpected invitation which is why she always has a cocktail dress on hand.
(6)Understand that it is in the way you walk. A french woman looks chic and elegant not only because of the way she dresses but also because of the way she walks! Confidence is key!
I personally love Paris and all the women of Paris dress beautifully and each have a unique take on classic style. Please if you are going to this capital of fashion do try and dress with some elegance; it will be much easier to interact with the local's as you will not stick out like a sore thumb in your shorts, over-sized t-shirts and sandals with socks. Believe me very few people can look good in that ensemble.
-Personal Experience Tip-
Sunglasses (A Must When I Go To Paris)
To be a tourist doesn't mean you go in tennis shoes to Paris! This is the capital of fashion so, dress properly, even though if you just go grocery shopping. With some jeans, a scarf and a nice hat you're in!
In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.
My friend Nicolas showed us real details of this couture, he is just nuts, but a good guy and we had a good time in this Metropole
From time to time in Paris, you’re likely to encounter advertising signs that, in an Anglophone country, would bring down the roof on any company brave enough to use them. For example, this giant billboard at Galeries Lafayette, advertising swimsuits with the line (roughly translated) Summer will become hotter. I’m sure this would create a furore in Australia at least, as an example of sexism and exploitation: in the context of France, I doubt anyone thinks of it as more than an advertisement for swimsuits! What you make of it I’ll leave to you. To me, it seems this is an example of the relatively more relaxed French approach to some issues (e.g. my tip “the smells”) – though the French can become far from relaxed over issues of social justice, as shown by various revolutions and other civil disturbances!
One thing I have observed about the French-- especially Parisians-- nobody is overweight. It is a bit paradoxical; a country that delights in eating has very few overweight people (compared to the US, where more than half the population is considered medically "overweight.") Several theories: genetics, red wine, more exercise (walking around Paris). I lost 15 kilos in the first year I lived here, without trying. Is it the exercise? The wine? The air? Who knows?
P.S. Since moving back to the US, I've gained all the lost weight back. Bummer.
We were in Paris for an extended stay through the end of an October. We were on our way to an early dinner at one of our favorite inexpensive bistros on the rue Descartes above the Place de la Contrescarpe. It was not yet dark and this is what we saw ahead. I thought store-bought costumes and candy hand-outs were an American perversion but it obvious that I am wrong. (Or did we export this too?).
Style & allure are taken seriously in Paris. Not really fashion. It's about effortless chic. When you look at Parisian women, they seem to favour a low maintenance style. That's a misconception. It is all but low maintenance. The key is to look not overdone & to find one's own style. As a woman, I know it takes thorough studies of oneself (as a whole) to know what suits one best. Be it the make-up, the length of a skirt, the cut of trousers, the vest, the hair...
Now, why do they want to sport this effortless chic ? I guess mostly, because of a culture that serves as a pattern. How can you not be inspired when long surrounded by arts, beauty yourself. I think they do it for correctness sake as well. Although I've noticed French women don't really wear a piece of cloth to please the crowd (they do it for them!), I think I'm right saying that they have this culture of wearing a look that is correct to show to the "other" (even at supermarkets). It's not hypocrisy, rather relates to "seduction".
It's correct to get out with a bit of make-up. What do I say ? It's polite. At least the lips, classical red lips, gloss or their favourite "beige rosé" for a nude look. But you don't have to wear foundation (overdone risk), probably a loose powder. Now, when a young Parisian wears lipstick, she would add a blush & mascara.. but that can be all.
Jewels: elegant women would wear earring & ring even on jeans... but again, in a style that matches casual wear.
Scarf: it's not an old lady stuff here. It's not unusual to notice a silk scarf over jeans in Paris. Can be even with a pearl necklace, on a bag (Hermès or sthg else).
I admire Parisians for this ability to wear décalé. Typically, it is to wear a Chanel tweed vest (posh & ladylike), a T-shirt (casual), jeans (casual) & pearl necklace (ladylike) & canvas sneakers. But whatever the style, confidence gained through self-conciousness is the key.
For me, they use the trends & their creativity to serve their sense of themselves & style. That makes them pleasant to watch.
I have a mate of mine who has a theory as to why French food is so good. He claims that when the English layed siege to French towns in medieval times, the inhabitents had to eat rats and such like, so they concocted sauces to make any old muck taste OK.
On the other hand he also argues the French buy so much perfume because French women don't wash too often and use the l'eau d'toilette to cover the odd bit of whiffiness.
I could of course not condone such outragous views, but he is at least right in that one hell of alot a perfume is shifted on the ground floor of Paris's premier department store ; Galleries Lafayette.
As I had half an hour to kill in this place I tried to work out what attracted consumers to the different brands that all had their own counters. French Women seemed to know exactly what they wanted - heading straight for the main brands like Channel. Most Frenchmen appeared to wander about until they found the counter with what they considered to be the most attractive sales assistants. The John-Paul Gaultier counter seemed to especially busy that day.
One of my Paris guilty pleasures:
Admiring the basic style, "Bon gout" or good taste - one of the reasons why sitting at a cafe is the joy that it is.
Style is buyin' your moms a house
Style is a clean mouth
Style is puppy breath
Style is no fear of death
Ok, so I know you're on vacation and you don't care what these people think but please be aware that if you wear shorts in Paris you might as well carry a sign saying I AM A TOURIST!
They may wear short skirts but they never ever wear shorts. Actually they do, but is a subject of much hilarity. Last summer just before the August vacations started one of the lawyers in the firm came to work with Bermudas and shoes with no socks. I guess he was making a statement but he is French and can get away with it.
You will just look silly.