Paris Style Report: Part 2

Footwear, Parisian Style…

For me, part of the fun of traveling is observing what people are wearing in different parts of the world. While style has certainly become much more global in recent years, I do often pick up on some distinctive regional “accents,” and Paris is no different.

Here’s the second installment of my Paris Style Report, from December 2018. Because of the cold conditions, my observations were mostly limited to outerwear, shoes and accessories.

A couple of caveats: the people I’m seeing out and about may or may not be Parisian, or even French. I’m not trying to make those distinctions, just reporting on what I see being worn.

Paris is a vibrant and diverse city. And as with many major cities, the styles you see will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. For example, the Saint Germain (Left Bank) area where I stayed is a bit more relaxed. The Marais and Canal St. Martin areas may tend to be more eclectic and funky. The 8th and 16th arrondissements tend to be upscale and classic, and more often what people picture when they think of “French” or “Parisian” style.

But with regard to footwear, some things are constant, regardless of neighborhood. First, you’ll almost never see women out in sky-high stiletto heels. 2″ seems to be about the max, and most of those will be block heels. Comfortable shoes rule the day. Second, they’re fine with visible socks or other hosiery and often use them to accessorize and coordinate with the rest of the look.

So what are the most notable Paris shoe trends this winter? (And as always, I’m just reporting, not endorsing. 😉 )


Parisians have taken to sneakers in a big way! I’ll have to admit, I was surprised to see that even in near-freezing weather, sneakers (sometimes with bare ankles) were still ubiquitous. The bottom left photo in the collage at top is pretty representative of how I saw them styled. Everything from sleek and classic white styles to colors and embellished styles, to more funky and trendy “Dad” sneakers. (Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger!) Mostly lace-ups, mostly leather.

I did not see high-tops or slip-on styles worn.

Ankle Boots

No surprise here, ankle boots are a practical and comfortable style for cooler months. I saw mostly simple shapes in dark leathers, with low stacked or block heels. I did notice some with subtle stud detailing (see photo at bottom right) and just a few lace-up combat or hiking styles. Pants were either worn over the top of the boots, cropped, or cuffed to just above the top.

Uggs And Oxfords

Yes, you read that right. I spotted several people in Ugg’s and similar boots. Ugg seems to be making a big retail push in Paris. I passed at least two stand-alone Ugg stores, as well as prominent sections in department stores. Mostly what I noticed people wearing were the classic style boot, either in tan or black.

I noticed a few women wearing oxfords, either platform-soled or low-heeled styles. Usually in neutral colors with some menswear detailing. These shoes tended to be part of a more tailored outfit, rather than with jeans or more casual looks.

I did not see very many women in knee boots, and don’t remember seeing a single pair of over-the-knee boots, nor did I see any in shops.

The takeaway: I think you can safely bring those sneakers if you’re planning a trip to Paris or another European city this year. 😉

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  1. The bulky “dad” sneakers are best on very young women, because they are precisely the kind of sneakers that typically identify one as a tourist. You have to ooze cool to pull them off. I certainly can’t do it.
    Also, sneaker colors tend to be neutrals–white, black, blush, tan, beige–or red and that mustard shade that’s in now. The crazy bright colors you find at the sports store are for sports only, unless they coordinate perfectly with your outfit.

  2. I have the Uggs, the ankle boots, but no sneakers. I just can’t bring myself to wear sneakers in winter time (Missouri, USA). I suppose I could try a leather pair, but only if I could wear heavy socks and that just doesn’t seem right (I would freeze with bare ankles). I “might” give it a try though, perhaps on a weekend like we are going to have this Saturday, where it’s going to be an amazing 60 degrees (normal temp around 40).

  3. Last spring, while in Paris for two weeks, I saw a lot of Adidas, mostly leather and all white or white with the classic black stripes, and sometimes the young women wore nude pantyhose with their shorts, that surprised me!

  4. It will take a great deal for me to abandon my lovely Converse high tops for sneakers (plimsolls, for those of us in the UK – and worn for school PE, where they should stay!) whatever Paris is doing! Love shoes, though, so as many shoe posts as you can, Susan!
    Apologies to the Ugg lovers, but these are really not a footwear that do a lot for anyone. There are many lovely warm and weatherproof boots available which do not resemble the abominable snowman’s feet. I realise that the wrath of many may now be visited upon me but I’m fine with that; variety is the spice, etc, etc. I still like the difference between style (ageless) and fashion (ephemeral). Much is in the adaptation, but not sure Uggs will ever make it into the stylish list.

    1. Totally agree, Sara. IMHO Uggs (the completely flat suede ones anyway) can look OK on teens with funky leggings but that’s about it. Wearers often look to me like they’re striding across the fields to muck out the cows. As for sneakers/plimmies (another Brit here!), I like those by the German brands Gabor and Ara as they’re incredible comfortable, stylish and hardwearing. I get my ankle boots from them too, they’re great, although I like the look of the rainproof Aquatalia ones Susan has featured.

      1. I have boycotted Uggs for over 20 years. I view them as part of the fur industry because the sheep are killed for the shearling. The shearling includes the skin of the sheep and I cannot force myself to wear fur or shearling. However, I do wear leather. Love to read about fashion in Paris. Happy New Year!

  5. Great post! I am not a fan of the dad sneakers. I especially don’t care for the look of dad sneakers and pretty floral dresses. It looks like little girls playing dress up to me! The ankle boots and more streamlined sneakers all look so nice! I love the cropped jeans and ankle boot look. I was happy to see the menswear inspired Oxford styles. I have a couple pair, one with a very low heel and another pair with about a 2 inch heel. I would love to see more photos of outfits with this type of shoe!

    1. I love Oxfords, but can’ t wear pointy toes. A FORMER beau once said I had “duck feet” – wide in front; narrow in the back. So I just have to own the nerdy professorial look. Goes well with my old Raleigh bicycle.

  6. When I was in Paris and the south last April, and the year before, it seemed like the white, leather low cut Converse sneakers were winning the hearts of the younger French women, especially the university crowd, lots in store windows. As for someone like me with big feet, tourist or not, white sneakers and shapeless boots like Uggs are a no-no!! Looking forward to a year of “more” from you Susan, merci!

  7. The now defunct Collette is gone,but as soon as they waved their magic wand and started featuring sneakers in their window, the trend took off.
    It was Puma in the past which was the only game in town, to wear, but now everything is worn.
    You never go wrong with designer in Paris.
    I had a pair of fake Roger Vivier slip ons. on at a party, and a Parisianne made it a point to tell me how chic they were.

  8. My French relatives (who do not live in Paris) have been wearing sneakers for decades. I was never sure where that sneakers=tourist thing came from, frankly. Maybe fifty years ago that was true, but ever since I married into a family with members in France, I have been seeing sneakers on the feet of locals.

  9. I still have brand new over the knee boots which I will wear, although not much. I don’t mind being unique (although slightly outdated haha).
    In the Netherlands we have lots of sneakers and bare ankles too. Brrrr cold.
    Uggs I hate. You will never see me in a pair.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen that look in Amsterdam in the dead of winter. There was ice, patches of snow and a dreary strong wind. And I’m talking about middle-class workers, not spaced-out junkies near Centraal Station.

  10. I have always enjoyed finding new (to me) brands of shoes/boots in London, Paris and Milan. Made in the UK or EU.
    Same goes for clothing and accessories.
    I am tired of the ubiquitous brands seen everywhere.

  11. Last week during a 3 hour delay at O’Hare before our plane could take off, I spent a lot of time looking at what women were wearing. I was surprised at how many Uggs I saw on women of a certain age. Well-dressed women with Uggs on their feet. For me it’s not a good look or feel. Uggs don’t have enough support for my “certain age” feet. Still saw plenty of booties and a few higher boots–must make going through security even more time consuming.

    First sight after arriving in San Jose and waiting for the baggage, people in flip-flops! So California in December. By the way, it was almost as warm in Chicago area during the day as in San Jose. Colder at night though.

  12. Ugg I hate Uggs too. Probably because they were ubiquitous in high schools in the early 2000s. Students wore than all times of the year, even with shorts in the summer. I always thought they looked kind of cartoon character-ish. But sneakers… like Lisa, I am all about the sneakers. I saw them all over Rome last fall. And was so happy I’d packed my own.

    1. I’m late to the conversation, but I agree, Uggs are just so ugly. That said, I have three pairs, and I wear them on airplanes nine months of the year to and from the Middle East from September to May. I get very cold when I’m flying, my feet get especially so (if my feet are cold, then I can’t get comfortable), but with Uggs, they stay toasty warm. They likely will never get worn again on the trip – I’m all about sneakers too – Converse Shorelines are my current favourites.

  13. I was in Barcelona for a week in November amd noticed the styles were very classic and elegant, with some similar styles to what you saw in Paris. I took surreptitious photos and jotted down notes, I was so impressed by the way most Catalonians dressed!

    1. Every time I’ve been to Spain I’ve thought they were stylish.
      Even plump middle aged women evidenced a bit of style whether with a bag, hat or jacket.

  14. I LOVE sneakers! A few years ago I tore a tendon in one of my feet and had to wear sneakers all the time. The results were amazing. Not only did my tendon eventually heal, but I have no corns or calluses. I can walk for miles with no pain. Sometimes people (even younger, attractive men) smile at me when I’m walking down the street, and I realize it’s because I’m smiling. Nothing is more of a turn-off than a big frown due to painful feet.
    My guess is that sneakers aren’t going away. Switching back to “real” shoes after sneakers is really hard.
    After enjoying total foot comfort, who wants to walk around in pain?

    1. I never got the Uggs as I thought they looked like après-ski boots – i.e. very warm slippers. I picked up a pair and the insoles were utterly flat. With arthritis that would be almost as much of a torture as stiletto heels.

      1. I am not a fan of Uggs either. I always felt they looked like slippers also! Not particularly flattering on anyone as they are so flat people walk oddly in them.

  15. I confess I’m lost and in need of help: What exactly are sneakers, and how do they differ from running shoes, walking shoes, tennis shoes, athletic shoes…? We never really used the term “sneakers”, so I’m having a hard time telling one from another. I would be most grateful for any clarification!

    1. Elizabeth, this is my opinion. The broad term “sneakers” refers to shoes with rubber soles and an upper that covers most of the foot. There are athletic sneakers which are designed to protect the foot during physical endeavors. They are sturdy and bulkier than others, thereby providing protection. Then there are what I call “city” sneakers which are sleeker and “prettier”, thereby looking acceptable with clothes that are not entirely athletic and in non-athletic environments. Some of them retain the comfort of athletic shoes and make a lot more sense than what I used to try to wear, like pumps and flats.

  16. I find some flat insole sneakers/trainers such as Vans very unsupportive. I have Josef Seibel (German) and Camper (Spanish) leather sneakers and love them. I also adore my new Doc Martens Winona Mary Janes (in fabric, but water-resistant). I’ve walked all day in those; the insoles are fantastic. And they look cute with a skirt.

  17. Prompted by your first Paris style post that spotted all the sneakers, I looked for something comparable. I wanted a high enough shoe to cover my foot, with or without socks, and be easy to put on. I found the perfect pair — Earth brand in black nubuck with a top zipper (no shoelaces) and a white sole. I feel so appropriately hip and my feet are purring with delight! I wouldn’t have thought of looking for them without your post. And they were 60% off. Thanks!

  18. I am very glad to hear this for my trip to Paris next month! Literally all I am bringing for footwear are ankle boots and sneakers (dressy/fashionable sneakers).

  19. Re walking in shoes with a flat insole. We are supposed to walk on a flat surface, that’s how our feet are designed! It’s not odd at all, it’s natural and normal. We are also supposed to have toes that splay out, not ‘shoe’ shaped feet. Hence all the messed up feet, knees, joints, hips especially in older people…
    BTW I am older too but as a life long non conformist (ex punk) have never worn heels or pointy shes… even though I am 4’11” ! I have very healthy feet and can walk and run barefoot with ease 🙂 As another aside, Uggs are probably very good for your body as they do not pinch the toes or pitch the wearer forwards in an unnatural way.
    I have always worn ‘sneakers’, biker boots or DM’s (UK here) and in my 50’s still do.

  20. I wonder if the Ugg haters have ever actually tried them? I have never in my life worn a more comfortable shoe or boot than Ugg. Way more comfy than sneakers end even their ugly friend- Birk. Because if this I will wear them and not care what others think.

  21. I’m late to this post, but re Uggs boots … they were not designed as snow gear (although they’ve certainly morphed over to function that way), but as post-surfing footwear for Aussie surfers. The boots rapidly found their way to California’s surfing community. Point is, they’re not designed for walking, hiking, trekking, etc., but warming up your cold feet after spending hours hugging a board and waiting for waves.

    You’re welcome. 🙂

  22. I visited Paris for the first time in August and mostly wore white leather sneakers or some grey canvas ones from Old Navy, even with sundresses. They fit in fine and were perfect for all the walking we did.