Paris is Fashion. N’est-ce pas? (“Isn’t that right?”)
For visitors wondering what the Parisians are wearing these days, here are 4 tips for what to wear (or buy) in Paris. These tips come from observations during hundreds of métro rides and hours walking the streets of Paris among Parisians and tourists alike.
The photos are a little weird, because I took photos of random people on my way to work! LOL
I don’t think these photos are perfect for showing off the best of French fashion, because they are mostly outfits for going to work. However, they illustrate the main principals of basic women’s fashion, and what real women are wearing in Paris on a daily basis!
I do not follow this advice at all, but if I did, I would fit seamlessly into what’s popular in French fashion this winter!
1. Wear flats
Do not wear high heels in Paris unless you are (a) a fashion model on a fashion runway, (b) a high-powered business woman, (c) planning to take a taxi everywhere, and/or (d) you adore walking in heels.
This winter French women are wearing what they call “botines” which are ankle boots of varying heel height – mostly flat or 1/2 inch. When it’s colder, or when wearing skirts (or shorts!), knee-high boots are common. I have searched high and low for my first pair of botines, and I can’t decide what heel height I want, and whether or not that little zipper is cute, or not classic enough…
Botines pair well with skinny pants, which are very popular right now.
2. Wear a lot of black, but not ALL black
Here are two typical combinations I see everywhere: (a) black botines with charcoal grey skinny pants and an oversized shirt or sweater of any color, though often charcoal; (b) black ballerina flats or black knee-high boots with black sheer tights and either black shorts or a black skirt (any length); (c) brown botines with skinny blue jeans and an oversized sweater or blouse of any color.
Coats and shoes are mostly black. Other colors I see for coats, pants and other clothes are navy blue, grey of all shades, olive green, and cream.
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3. Outerwear is BIG
The classic peacoat is perfect for Paris (in any solid color, shape or size), however at this particular moment, oversized and shapeless peacoats in various shades of grey are IN in a big way. Add a huge scarf – possibly with a large plaid pattern – and you are the epitome of a Parisian fashion queen.
No matter what, scarfs of different sizes and textures are an excellent idea for France. Men and women wear scarfs elegantly throughout the cooler months.
4. Subtlety is good
Coco Chanel is said to have advised women to check the mirror before leaving the house and to remove one accessory. This is pretty good advice when visiting Paris, but I posit that patterns and loud colors are equally appropriate “accessories” to limit as well. Fashionable French women are well-coordinated and do not have too much “going on.” They tend to dress in a classic way with little dashes of color or creativity. I think it’s worth mentioning that for women in their 40’s, 50’s and more, there is a youthfulness that is encouraged here that I don’t see so much in the U.S. It’s totally ok to wear the same fashions the ladies in their late 20’s and 30’s are wearing. Go for what’s classic with a feminine flare, and keep in mind Coco’s advice!
For more fashion ideas
My fellow Parisian blogger Anne-Laure offers some excellent fashion ideas on her blog (in français), l’Atelier d’AL. Don’t be scared by the french: she offers plenty of lovely photos of women’s fashion that are understandable in any language! 😉
I have to admit…
I do NOT follow all of this advice, choosing to romp around Paris in ridiculously bright colors: a deep orange coat with a bright yellow bag and a pink winter hat with a pompom on it. I’m well aware that I stand out like a sore thumb in the ocean of black and grey around me, and have seen lots of people look at me quizzically. For now I kind of enjoy it: I feel a little bit like a celebrity! lol
I have adapted my wardrobe a bit, buying some charcoal grey skinny jeans and a huge scarf from a street vendor for 6€.
If your color tastes are similar to mine, fret not! You will not be alone in your rainbow love, because there are other colorful people in this grand city. There are lots of French ladies who have red, orange, blue or green coats, and who have equally bright bags. We simply stand out a bit in the wave of black around us! 😉
What questions do you have about the fashion trends this winter?