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.
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!
I can't say how many times I have seen "is it OK to wear tennis shoes and blue jeans in Europe?" asked in different forums. Although Parisians are generally well dressed, older Parisians more so than the younger ones it seemed, certainly you see locals wearing tennis shoes and jeans although I noticed that most of the tennis shoes were colored, not stark white like many of ours in the US.
The bottom line is that you will be doing a lot of walking in Paris if you really want to enjoy the city and you need to wear comfortable shoes. If comfortable shoes means tennis shoes then that is what you should wear.
Besides the shopping, the arts, the cuisine, the people-watching, and the nightlife, one of my other favorite pastimes in Paris is pampering myself at one of their salons.
It seems that every block in Paris has at least one beauty salon! This goes to show how the Parisians take their style and beauty seriously!
There's nothing like getting a soothing head massage and shampoo after walking the boulevards of Paris all day!
Note: Keep in mind that if the hair stylist says "10 minutes".......... in REAL time that's 30 minutes! ;-)
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!
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!
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 fashion accessory that all Parisians (or almost all at least) have is a scarf. Ask any visitor and you will have it confirmed that Parisians wear scarves yearround. I've seen it myself when the winter temperatures are in the high 50F's the winter scarves are apparent on both men and women. When the weather is exceptional the women sport neatly, artistically tied scarves. It certainly appears that the Parisians have perfected the this art.
Edith Kunz, the author of the recently published "Fatale: How French Women Do It," went on a quest to find the answer to a most crucial question: What is the secret behind the power of seduction of French women.
Ms Kunz plunges into French history to find the key to this powerful and yet mysterious power.
She revisits troubadours who were the first to codify the rules of courtship, to introduce a ritual into the relationship between men and women, in the Middle Ages. She ends with the modern era, the era of Catherine Deneuve.
The historian of seduction examines every aspect of the French woman's charm: her diet, the culture she is raised in, the ideology that shapes her, the decor of her bedroom, her role as wife and mistress, the issue of age and what she calls "the art of brilliance" which Frenchwomen use to dazzle French men.
What's the secret of French women?
One word: confidence. They are confident in themselves, confident with their age, their body, with their power.
They are sensuous even at work. They charmed men to death, and it is fun for both. It looks like a lot of sensuousness.
Hmmmm.......I suppose a "Geisha" can learn a lot from that (or vice versa perhaps?) ;-))
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.
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.
Paris fashion models are a reflection of what in my opinion is the Paris essence of style, found nowhere else in the world.
My friend Anthony sometimes gets lucky enough to photograph the glamorous models of Paris.
Tough duty Anthony.
Some other photos can be found here:
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.
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 ".
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?).