8 tips on what to wear in Paris (from French women)

The French woman's style is legendary. Get the Parisienne look with a few style tops to avoid looking like a tourist when visiting Paris, France.
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Nobody likes to look like a tourist. And especially not in Paris, the fashion capital of the world. With French women renowned for their stylistic prowess and that undefinable “je ne sais quoi”, you will want to up your game!

Nothing drastic of course, that would go against the principle of insousiance (indifference). The Parisienne’s style motto is always that it is better to seem like you rolled out of bed, rather than spending hours to achieve a look that is “simply overdone dahling.”

So instead of anything too extreme, I’ll cover a few French styling tips that will help anyone coming to Paris on holiday look a bit more put together.

Now, I will mention, a typical day for that “young and hip Parisienne” will be taking the metro to work, running around the office all-day, gym at lunchtime, going out for an apéro with friends, before finally heading home late in the evening.

So she doesn’t look “perfect” because she’s been busy running around all day. The look she is going for is elegant as well as comfortable, to take her from morning to nighttime. With that in mind, allons-y!

1. Invest in a good jacket

Unless you are coming to Paris during a heat wave, you will need a good jacket. It is the first impression that you make wherever you go, and so you need a good one.

Paris tends to be quite rainy and cloudy in winter, and since most people don’t travel around Paris in a car, it can get chilly and rainy quite quickly.

Pro styling tip: Wear the jacket buttoned up. Jackets that are open tend to look messy, unless you are wearing a solid white tee underneath. French women tend know they will instantly look more put together with a zipped up jacket that presents a clean line from neck down.

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2. Carry a small crossbody bag

One of the unfortunate facts about Paris is that there are a lot of pickpockets, especially in the metro. A crossbody bag with zippers that you can easily access while out and about, is a must.

Forget shoulder bags that are cumbersome while taking photos and can easily be snatched. Also avoid backpacks as they are often not allowed in museums, and are known to be pickpocketed in the metro.

Pro tip: Get a satchel which has an over-flap on top of the zipper to keep your passport and valuables even more secure (see Fossil bag above).

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3. Don’t wear all-black

You might have heard that Parisians like to wear a lot of black. As tempting as it might be to wear all dark colors, don’t. Remember, you are on holiday! Pick something with a bit of visual interest. A touch of color with your outfit or accessories will make a world of difference, and will liven up your instagram photos as well.

Pro tip: Navy blue, tans, browns, whites, and greys tend to be equally popular neutrals in Paris, than just black.

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4. Wear a pattern or embroidery

Color block is nice and all, but why not go for a subtle pattern? Visually it makes the the outfit much more interesting. I like to go for a patterned top, usually in pastel shades. It easily works in any situation, and can be multi-purposed with various pants/skirt/etc.

Pro Tip: Avoid logos. The LVMH logo might be a pattern, but really isn’t very discreet. Logos are considered a bit gauche, so go for understated French brands instead of shouty.

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5. Canvas Running shoes

Veja sneakers
Shop Now: Veja Sneakers

Walking all over Paris means that you are going to need a comfortable pair of shoes. While you will see people wearing runners and sneakers, the trend for both French men and women is definitely canvas running shoes or loafers. As I mentioned above, the Stan Smiths and Vejas are quite popular, but Aigle and Faguo are two French brands that are quite popular as well.

Pro tip: If you are coming in the fall or winter, get a pair of Aigle rainboots instead. As I mentioned above, it rains a lot in Paris!

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6. Carry a light scarf

French people tend to carry a scarf because they fear the “courant d’air” (current of air). Expats are often baffled with the French explanations as the various maladies that can occur with the has tried to explain the great afflictions possible due to air currents.

The great French love of the scarf is diminishing in recent years, but a lot of people still carry them around since they are so handy, and provide an easy touch elegance to any outfit.

Pro Tip: If you don’t care to carry a scarf, go for a thin necklace instead, to complete the outfit.

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7. Avoid short shorts

There is nothing that makes you look like a tourist and/or teenager than wearing short shorts. Go for a skirt or even better, a dress. Even Bermuda shorts or capris are not much of a thing in Paris unless going on a picnic on the Seine.

Pro Tip: For the ultimate in cool, go for a pair of baggy white linen trousers. Can you say “instant chic”?

And yes, in Paris you will regularly see women wearing floral dresses like the one above with white canvas running shoes. Canvas shoes go with everything 😉

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8. No leggings please

Along with short shorts, leggings are equally banished to the back of a French closet. There is a reason that Lululemons are not big in France. Leggings are and should only be worn at the gym. And I mean at the gym, not on the way to the gym!

Pro Tip: If you enjoy running, do go for a run along the Seine! It is an amazing way to see the city and get a feel for the center of Paris. The distance from Bastille in the east to the Eiffel Tower is barely 7km (4.4miles). And yes, you can wear tights while doing so 😉

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☞ READ MORE: French Lingerie: The Rules to feeling fabulous


If you enjoyed that article and are planning a visit to France, you may want to read more about where to go shopping in Paris. A bientôt!

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