some thoughts on “Parisian” style

Parisian style
more like what we’ve come to expect in Paris… (photos from May 2014)*

So when writing yesterday’s post on Parisian street style, I deliberately limited my commentary just to what I had observed. I didn’t want to lead reactions, and was curious to see what your impressions would be. I was not surprised by some of the reactions which included disappointment, dismay and even disbelief that the people I’d photographed were “real” Parisians (“they must be tourists,” some posted on my Facebook page).

I wanted to feature some Parisian style from different areas of the city than previously for a couple of reasons. First, because there’s been so much mythology built up about “chic Parisiennes” and that imagery often encompasses a very narrow subset and style (tailored, neutral, reserved, “b.c.b.g.”) and while you will see women dressed this way, generally from my observations it’s more prevalent in certain areas: the 7th, 8th, 16th arrondissements, Neuilly and other upscale areas outside of the city center. But Paris isn’t a monolith, and people of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds live and work there. As other commenters mentioned, there are areas with larger populations of those of African origins, areas with a more bohemian sensibility, and some more working class. All are part of the kaleidoscope that is “Parisian.” We sometimes imagine that everyone in Paris is thin, chic, dressed in impeccably tailored and au courant (in a very understated way) ensembles and who look like they stepped out of our Pinterest boards. In some cases, that’s true. In many, many others it’s not.

Style is more global than ever. You can no longer assume that the girl in the New Balance sneakers is American. Or the Lee jeans, and the woman in the Sandro jacket may not be French. 😉  While there may be subtle nuances of styling, items like jeans or Birkenstocks or Brooklyn tees are no longer reliable markers of where someone is from, and whether or not they are tourists. (We were flummoxed when trying to find some souvenir tees to bring home for jeune homme how almost everything, even in the French brands featured “California surfing” or “New York” themes.)

I also wanted to reassure those planning to visit the city for the first time that they don’t have to get hung up about looking a certain way, or feel intimidated by those “stylish French women.” As long as you are neat, clean and look as if you’ve made an effort, you’ll be fine. You may feel more comfortable in mostly neutrals and simple styles (which is good a good strategy for packing light anyway) and leave the rubber flip-flops in the hotel room, but seriously there is no Fashion Police Unit that’s going to write you a citation for not being chic enough.

That said, there are some commonalities. You don’t see Parisians out and about in clothing that’s torn, badly stained, or that could be worn at the beach or for doing heavy construction work (except for construction workers). People don’t wear sweats or obvious workout wear as street wear, but you will see runners in running gear, especially in parks. There’s a sensibility that it’s disrespectful not to dress appropriately (e.g. in street wear rather than lounge wear) to go out in public. This is an attitude I think most of us would agree with.

If you’ve visited Paris, were people there dressed differently than you anticipated? When you’ve visited new cities, was people’s style there what you expected? Are there areas of the region where you live that have their own distinctive styles?

*Last year’s style report here.

scene in Paris: street style

metallic shoes
twinkle, twinkle

When we’ve visited Paris before, it’s usually been earlier in the season and still been cool enough that most people are out and about in overcoats and trenches. This time the weather was warmer and mostly sunny, and people far less bundled up. We also were staying in a neighborhood (6eme, not far from Montparnasse) that seemed to be home to lots of young families and working people, a bit less posh than some areas where I’d previously taken street style snaps. Many of the photos below were taken from a sidewalk table at what seemed to be a neighborhood cafe tucked away on the corner of two smaller rues; others were taken while out walking in the area. Paris is far more diverse than my photos might indicate, however I was focused on women 40+ who seemed to be residents rather than tourists, and was trying to be subtle about photographing subjects. So let’s have a look at some Paris street style:

First, the neutrals we’ve all come to expect…

Paris styles neutrals

The woman on the left was probably in her late 40’s to early 50’s. She had a lovely patina of grey on the crown of her head, and was totally owning that rocker-chic look. Middle woman had that very classic Parisian look, but note the sneakers. Woman on the right, 40’s, head-to-toe black chic.

Denim jackets were everywhere, on women of all ages. Usually dark wash (sometimes slightly distressed) and worn fairly cropped and fitted. I did not notice any oversized, light wash or overly distressed styles. Sneakers were also ubiquitous, though I did not see as many bright or bulky trainers as last year. The sneakers on the woman in the middle photo were pretty typical of what I observed women of a certain age wearing. Chuck Taylors are still popular as well.

paris street style 2015

Light neutrals: whites, beiges, browns, soft greys.

but lot of color too…

I also noticed much more color being worn than ever before, most often a single piece, but sometimes a coordinated outfit. Reds, corals, pinks and blues were the most frequently seen. There’s a lot of yellow and emerald-green on store shelves, but I didn’t see much of either of these being worn.

Paris street style color

Note the bright blue pants, the soft pink head-to-toe outfit (left background), and the bright coral jacket (right background). Usually brighter colors were worn one at a time (jacket or pants or bag) as an accent. Saw lots of red handbags with an otherwise neutral outfit.

popular colors in paris

(The woman the middle bottom photo was wearing neutral pieces, but mixing patterns which isn’t something I’ve often seen.) You’ll notice some people carrying cloth shopping bags; the cafe where I parked myself to take pictures was across the street from a pâtisserie and near a couple of grocery stores, so I think I caught a lot of people doing some marketing on their way home.

Paris open air market street style

The pictures above were taken at an open air market on one of the warmest days of our stay. Fuller, knee-length or midi-length skirts, usually in color and often print were skirts I saw worn most often. (Wasn’t quick enough to get more photos.) I did not see any women wearing minis or pencil skirts, at least not in our age group. This was the only day I noticed many women in dresses, and they all seemed to be softer, easier-fitting pieces.

Shine on…

metallic shoes and bags Paris

Though I didn’t see anyone wearing footwear quite as blingy as those slip-ons in the shop window (photo at the top of this post), I did notice lots of metallic flats and sandals worn (again, not quick enough to get more pictures) as well as bags and the occasional bit of trim on clothing, often beading or embellishment at the neckline of a top.

And did you notice anything else about the shoes in all of the pictures above? Almost to a woman, they are wearing flats or very low heels. You’ll sometimes see women in heels if they’re dressed up for an evening out, but the vast majority are in “sensible” shoes.

How do these styles compare to what you’ve observed in Paris, or what you regularly see people wearing where you live?


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covered and cool

posted in: Eileen Fisher, Tops | 13
linen 3/4 sleeve top
Eileen Fisher

I’m a big fan of gauzy tops for warm weather travel. This one in linen is on sale now…

Misses | Petite | Womens

Here’s one with long sleeves. The beauty of these tops is that they aren’t meant to look crisply pressed, so wrinkles are just part of the look. And these can be hand washed and will dry in a few hours on a hanger.

Affiliate links in this post may generate commissions for See complete disclosure policy here.

shopping in Paris: Ines de la Fressange

Ines de la Fressange boutique Paris
That’s Hélène, the manager, who was as sweet and helpful as could be.

Our timing was very good for visiting the recently opened Ines de la Fressange boutique, at 24 rue de Grenelle in Paris’ left bank shopping epicenter. The crowds that we’d heard had jammed the smallish space a few days before had thinned, and when we showed up a few minutes after the store had opened, we had the place mostly to ourselves. The staff was very welcoming and gracious, and responded “yes, of course!” when I asked if I could take some pictures. They also made sure I had the correct hashtag, #inesshop . 😉

Ines de la Fressange boutique Paris

More than a clothing shop, this store fits into that category of “lifestyle boutique,” and feels like a very personal reflection of Ines de la Fressange’s style and aesthetic. Wit? Charm? Personal branding? In spades!

ines de la fressange shop paris
I was quite taken with this bag initially…
ines de la fressange paris
…but le Monsieur liked the red bucket bag at the lower right
ines de la fressange boutique
and it did look good….

#inesshop ines de la fressange paris


The clothing wasn’t really my style, but I can certainly see the appeal, as it captures much of Ines’ “tomboy chic” look.

ines de la fressange boutique
home decor items in the back
ines de la fressange shop paris
shoes and sunnies

The clothing, bags and shoes aren’t inexpensive, but seem to be very well made. But there are also items for home, stationary, gifts and even toys, all with that Ines de la Fressange touch and in all price ranges…

ines de la fressange paris
diaries and passport covers
ines de la fressange boutique
smartphone covers
ines de la fressange shop
bougies! (candles)

ines de la fressange boutique

And purchases go home in this roomy (and re-useable) cloth shopping bag! Yes, that red bucket bag was too much to resist.

Ines de la Fressange Paris at 24 rue de Grenelle is definitely worth a visit, but be warned, you will be charmed and may not leave empty-handed!

though outerwear may not be foremost in your thoughts…

Eileen Fisher a-line rain jacket
hooded rain jacket

Though summer is here and we may mostly be looking at ways to dress for the heat, if you’re planning any late summer or early fall travel, this A-line hooded rain jacket from Eileen Fisher may be just the thing. Available in Midnight and Pewter. Also in Petites. I love the swing styling in the back! It’s on pre-order now, but never hurts to plan ahead…
Affiliate links in this post may generate commissions for See complete disclosure policy here.


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