Where is the fashion capital of the world? Milan? Fifth Avenue in New York? I say it’s Paris where even casual wear is elegant, chic and very French. Here’s the latest on what you need to know before you get off the plane at Charles De Gaulle airport:
What Parisians wear
The everyday basics: blue jeans, comfortable blouse, top or t-shirt, sneakers.
This universal attire is also found in Paris. Many women drop their little glass slippers for a pair of robust trainers that are much more comfortable for climbing the steep steps of Montmartre or Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Most Parisian women wear trousers, although you’ll also see plenty of skirts and dresses. Metro users are even more casual. The metro can be quite dirty, and you wouldn't want to wear out your satin skirt on the hard seats. And girls: if you plan to move a lot through Paris, I advise you to wear comfortable clothes in daytime, and go back to your hotel after your day to change and make yourself pretty for the night.
Colours: People in Paris like wearing plain, classic colours, such as black and navy blue, grey, white and ivory-white and beige. Every season, no matter what the new trend, these basic colours never go out of fashion. The simplicity of these shades are what make them so right for Paris.
For women, the touch of colour comes out with accessories. Pink shoes will spice up navy blue trousers and a white top. An orange lining will give that flashy tint to a pearl grey suit, and a yellow handbag will turn your winter black coat into a little bit of summer.
The global trend of flashy-coloured trousers has reached some of our fellow male Parisian citizens. You’ll meet them in Opera corner, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the most fashionable squares in Paris. But, the majority of men from Paris wear plain dark colours.
Hats & caps: French women love wearing hats. Through all the seasons, you’ll see Parisian heads with hats--from the warm bérêt or the knitted cap in winter to the large-brim straw hat and the new trendy Fascinator, coming straight from the UK for summertime, to the vintage casquette in spring and autumn, you have a large choice. Hats are often that touch of colour in a woman's outfit.
Autumn scarf, winter scarf, spring scarf and summer scarf! In France, and in Paris, of course, everybody wears scarves, in all seasons. Scarves are a fashion statement -- not just something fuzzy to keep you warm. This is true for men and women. The winter scarf that you roll around your neck is called l'écharpe. The large, soft piece of cloth that you drape around your shoulders in autumn's and spring's late evenings is called le châle (cf. shawl), while the light, summer veil that we wear as protection from sunlight or a chilly sea breeze is called le foulard.
A few years ago, I happened to offer a shawl to a friend of mine from the US. Honestly, it was a gorgeous shawl, half silk and cashmere of a bright pearl-grey, and soft as the softest fur of Persian cats.
I soon received a call from this guy. “I like your shawl, Lea,” he said. “But, my mates at the university just laughed at me. They said I looked like a girl.”
That's right, actually. I don't see many males wearing scarves when I travel abroad. But, trust me, guys, when you come to France, be a true French man and try the shawl!
Popular French brands
Apart from the too famous Louis Vuitton, Agnès B and Chanel, there are some perhaps lesser known French brands that you absolutely need to know about:
Comptoir des Cottoniers – one of a French woman’s favorite shops. Since it was created, Le Comptoir des Cottoniers is renowned for making very high-quality clothes for an affordable price.
Aubade – their advertising campaigns have made this brand famous as one of the world’s most elegant lingerie shops.
Berteil – a temple of fine fabrics and clothes for men. Don’t leave Paris without visitng this shop.
Petit Bateau is one of our favorite brands for children :) Their motto is: À quoi ça sert d'avoir des vêtements si on peut rien faire dedans ! Their reputation is based on this motto: clothes designed for sporty children whose main occupation should be to play without the fear of tearing their trousers.
And my favorite one – the icing on the cake: Ekyog!
Ekyog is a new brand of clothes made of 100% organic materials. And, it’s not only organic, it’s really classy and comfortable at the same time. Give it a try!
Edited by Ilene Springer