Style Spying In Paris

Paris rive gauche, Sunday morning

Paris was less crowded than when we visited in July, and there were far fewer tourists in town. So this time I had much better luck with street style photos. I managed to take a couple dozen shots, and have distilled them down to illustrate some of the general style themes I noticed. Most of these were taken in the 6th and 7th arrondissements (Left Bank).

Paris Street Style, The Real Deal…

First up, the look that many of us expect to see in Paris: simple styles in dark neutrals.

Paris style: dark neutrals with colorful bag

Yes, you still see lots of women in black and/or navy. And it looks so sharp and chic, it’s no wonder. One thing I noticed was that when women were dressed in an all-dark outfit, their bags (and sometimes other accessories) were often in a lighter neutral or brighter color. Ankle boots were the predominant footwear style I saw. I also spotted a few pairs of knee boots, some sneakers (though mostly in either dark or bright colors, not white) and the occasional loafer or ballet flat. I only recall seeing two or three women in over-the-knee boots; those were worn with skirts or dresses. I did not see anyone wearing skirts that were longer than bottom-of-knee length. Slim/skinny pants were the most common silhouette, though a handful of women were wearing bootcut shapes, as on the right above.

But it wasn’t just a sea of neutrals…

colorful coats on the streets of Paris

We saw lots of colorful coats. Red and cobalt blue were the most common colors, but I saw at least two women in shades of bright green. The woman on the top left had really created a gorgeous color story with her outfit. And in front of her was a set of twins both wearing camouflage green parkas with hot pink fur or faux fur lining.

Though not as common as bright coats, pants in various hues were another way that Parisians were incorporating some color or lighter neutrals.

colorful pants in Paris

I covet that tweed swing jacket the woman on the far right is wearing.

fur and faux fur toppers in Paris

I saw only one or two full fur coats, however did spot shorter jackets, ponchos, vests in fur or faux fur. I’m pretty sure the coat on the right was faux.

Going back through these photos has re-ignited my quest for a pair of good quality knee boots.

And a couple of outfits of note…

a bright printed coat and ugg boots in Paris

On the left: early on in the week, I spotted and was fascinated by this red floral coat, and dashed after her trying to get a good shot. Then a few days later, Greetje and I ran into her in a cafe. Greetje spoke with her and took a nice photo. Turned out she was American. She’s very stylish! On the right, an anomaly: yes, she’s wearing Uggs. And yes, she was French.

Are the Parisian styles shown above similar or different from styles where you live? Any looks here that inspire you?

Shop The Looks…


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  1. What fun! I do love the bright coats. although for some reason, not the floral one. But it might be the fit or the length of it that puts me off– a little reminiscent of a bathrobe?

    But the chartreuse, scarlet, bright blue, fuschia ones–super. The women wearing them look confident and interesting…

    1. Nell,do you think it could be the athletic-looking/casual shoes paired with that coat? I think that’s what it is for me, because I love the coat. The outfit somehow doesn’t look complete though; I think it might look more pulled together with boots and slimmer pants.

  2. Canadian prairies style is quite different from Paris (especially the men). I was in Paris in October and immediately adopted the neutral look as a uniform to be accessorized with colour – so much smarter, and put together. I purchased a couple of pairs of ankle boots, scarves and gloves while there – I always get compliments on them because they add the interest.

    It’s difficult to keep to that at home because the northern light and seasons cry out for more colour, but I’m resisting…SO FAR.

  3. I envy the Frenchwomen their shapely, long, legs. They look so good in skinny pants. I doubt they will ever give them up. I like the look of a subtle colored bag with the all black outfits. That is something I could incorporate into my look too.

  4. I always enjoy your Paris posts – I love that green coat. To me, Paris style isn’t any different than the style in major cities like Chicago, NYC, etc.
    Having lived and worked in the actual city of Chicago, not a suburb, most of my life, this is how I’ve always dressed. I never stress over what to wear in Paris, but not packing too much in my carry-on is always major stress.

  5. These are great fun, Susan — I have an idea of how much attention you had to pay and how efficient you had to be to catch these for us — thank you!
    I noticed another colour throughout our fall visit, mostly in sweaters and scarves, but then in those last days in Paris, when the temps early December were just below freezing, I saw several coats as well — a wonderfully rich mustard-ochre shade I really began to covet (actually, not so different from your quilted Eileen Fisher jacket, although the texture of wool gave it more depth). Did you spot any of that at all?

    1. Hi Frances, I may have seen a coat or two in that color, wasn’t able to get photos, but did capture it I think in the the flared pants.

  6. The posts from your Paris visit are such a pleasure–almost like taking a vacation myself. (Almost!) As for Paris style, it looks the same as here (NYC): a mixture of styles, nothing that seems especially Parisian. I lived in Paris as a kid and saw a bit more Parisian-specific style then (ubiquitous fuschia lipstick on everyone (female) from age 13 onward; far fewer puffer coats and sneakers than in the States). These days, style seems to travel across borders pretty completely.

  7. No uggs? Save them for the farm? Here in Oregon they are so warm, but we are just a bunch of old hippies I mentioned before that I am going to Paris for the first time in June, your blog will be most helpful .

    1. Ha! To each her own. I live in Portland (and am a PNW native) and I would not be caught dead in uggs, fleece, a “Columbia-style jacket” or a puffer coat to be honest. Over the last decade Portlanders have become more stylish and polished — a trend I welcome!

  8. I’ve really enjoyed this series of Paris. Someday (said wistfully).
    The first three pictures are what I expected, but then you hit us with variety. What?! They dress like everyone else? Lol
    I was disappointed in the Uggs. I find them very ugly even on the young girls and they seem passé. But, then not everyone can be fashionable, even in the city of Paris.
    I loved seeing you with your friend Greetje. How wonderful to meet up and just enjoy each other’s company instead of rush, rush, rushing as we tend to do when traveling.

  9. Except for the background, these photos could have been taken here in Manhattan. Now everyone (both men and women) is wearing down puffers because it is very cold. A bit earlier, I saw some bright cloth coats (a friend has a gorgeous one in red alpaca), but down is much warmer. Another item that has disappeared here due to the cold is ankle pants. One thing I don’t see much here is colored handbags. That’s something I may have to explore.

    Susan, thank you for sharing these fascinating photos.

  10. Thank you for the reminder to get out my dark red handbag and wear it with my blacks and grays this winter. I have NO IDEA why I put it way when summer was over.

  11. Thank you Susan for your wonderful eyewitness reporting! It’s true style is truly globalized. I saw women in the same types of outerwear in London during the first part of December. The puffy down coat is IT! They are wonderful for travel, but give me a tailored wool coat any day. I took both on my trip. Great to see your fun with Greetje, too.

  12. I feel super-chic now in the Smyth ochre yellow tweed coat I bought at a consignment shop that I wear with skinny black pants and ankle boots. Thank you for the style validation! 😉

  13. In France it seems it’s always about the bag. Young girls with designer bags and of course their long gorgeous legs… fact, most women have great legs it seems…


  14. Got my puffer coat today, the one you had in Paris. It’s perfection. Thanks again for letting us know about it.

  15. I think these women could be in any European city . Practical & stylish . I agree about the stand out bags , my current is mustard & I don’t reach for the black very often . Re real fur , I visited an upmarket second hand clothes shop recently & it had a full rack of real fur coats . I was told they just don’t sell .

    1. Wendy, I think it’s true about the globalization of style. And I think with so many concurrent “trends” and so many brands now selling globally, individual style rather than regional is gaining ground.

  16. We just returned from Rome and London and here are a couple of observations. First, the globalization of fashion has equalized style. It used to be that European fashion was very special and something to emulate. Now, it seems like women from all over wear similar clothes – skinny jeans in all shades, ankle or knee boots, jackets mainly made of nylon, scarves. Very few women stood out to me in either place. Back in the 80s, I was amazed at how differently European women dressed from Americans – beautiful wool coats (and furs), accessories, quality boots and even back then, slim pants tucked into ankle boots were the norm (we had to fold over the lower edge to make them fit inside the ankle boots – lycra was a great invention). They definitely dressed in a way that inspired. I agree with you that today, it’s all about individual style. Think of the men and women Bill Cunningham photographed in NYC! I also think that we stress way too much about what to take on vacation – especially in the winter when it’s all about the outerwear. I want to be weather appropriate, look good, and be comfortable, but that’s a big range. As long as I pack clothes I love (so are road tested) it works out fine – skinny and boot cut jeans, cashmere sweaters, long sleeved tees, scarves, 3 pairs of shoes/boots, and a good coat.

  17. Am just curious why you blocked out faces. Have always thought on-the-street, reportage photography was considered OK. In other words, if you’re out in public you have essentially given your consent to be photographed, as long as no one is making money from your image. That being said I know how incredibly difficult it is to take street style photos, and yours are great!

    1. allwaysinfashion, while there’s probably no legal issue with images of people taken in public, I just do it out of respect.