Paris Style Report: Part 1 - une femme d'un certain âge

Paris Style Report: Part 1

Mannequins in Paris with teddy coat and plaid coat.

Here’s the first installment of my Paris Style Report. The weather being what it is (cold), 99% of “Paris street style” now is about the outerwear, shoes and accessories. But that’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’m breaking this up into sections. Today I’m focusing on …


When it comes to coats, there’s not a lot that’s new under the sun, but here are the three trends I’ve noticed this visit in central Paris…

Real Paris street style: puffer coats, plaid coats, teddy coats. Details at une femme d'un certain age.Puffer Coats

Puffer coats are still the most predominant style. I can understand why: they’re hard to beat for a combination of light weight and warmth. Mostly I’ve seen neutral tones, very occasionally a metallic or brighter color.

Plaid, Check, And Other Prints

I’ve seen quite a few menswear-inspired plaid coats, usually in a smaller, subtle, lower contrast print. The coat on the mannequin, top right, is a good representation. (However I’ve also spotted the occasional bright tartan.) I’ve also seen several women in leopard and cheetah print coats, in both natural and other hues. Single-breasted styles are most common, and I’ve noticed very few belted coats.

Teddy Coats, Plush Coats

I’m seeing a LOT of these. Usually brown or black, sometimes other colors. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised, as these strike me as more trendy. But women of all ages are wearing them. I’ve noticed a few shearling and faux-shearling coats too, usually dyed in darker colors…black, brown, or navy.

And of course some women here still wear real fur. Not endorsing, just reporting. 

We’ll talk about those sneakers in the next installment, when I cover footwear. 😉

Top photo: coats on mannequins at Merci, Paris.

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  1. Hélène G.
    December 17, 2018 / 4:21 am

    I’m sometimes surprised you accord so much attention, Suzanne, to the Parisian way of dressing (I’m French) : is there really a difference between this, and the one you know in USA ? For casual clothes, especially ?

  2. Julia
    December 17, 2018 / 4:33 am

    Love your blog Susan but I’ve noticed that frequently in photos of winter coats etc on websites, the models are wearing flimsy shoes, or white sneakers and bare ankles! If it’s cold enough to wear a winter coat, surely you would freeze with ankles exposed to the elements?
    Maybe not in Los Angeles but certainly in the northern USA and Canada (and Paris too!)

    • Jane2
      December 17, 2018 / 10:57 am

      I noted the bare ankles too, so cold means “cold” to me. I’m going to the UK in a week, and seeing those bare ankles means I’m going to pack a pair of lighter footwear than I might otherwise have taken.

      • MaureenC
        December 17, 2018 / 11:33 pm

        Don’t!! everyone here wears ankle boots at this time of year. It’s not incredibly cold by north American standards but it’s cold enough and it’s really wet so you’ll need footwear that can withstand the rain

  3. LisaBee
    December 17, 2018 / 4:34 am

    I agree with Helene- (have lived in Europe for yrs , born in US). Style is so global now. Kids in Malaysia look exactly like kids in LA. And women in New York look same as those in Paris, really. 20-30 yrs ago Parisian women still had a specific look (as did, say, bourgeoise Munich residents) but now it’s puffa and faux fur everywhere. I’d say weight is sometimes noticeable difference but not in urban centres.

  4. Joyce
    December 17, 2018 / 4:46 am

    Love your coat report, from Paris! Thanks, for taking us with you.

  5. Addison Husted
    December 17, 2018 / 5:28 am

    I agree with the observations that women in NYC and perhaps LA dress similarly to women in the Paris and London. However, coming from Denver, where our style tends toward more casual, it’s nice to see the dressier styles. It takes longer for trends to arrive in my area, so looking at the ladies in urban centers is like seeing into the future.

  6. Val
    December 17, 2018 / 5:45 am

    I’m sorry but I don’t think any of the women in the coat pictures look at all stylish . Susan, I def think you are the most stylish of all !!

  7. Eileen
    December 17, 2018 / 6:39 am

    Thanks Susan for your observations. I have taken street shots, and I’m not sure I always get Parisians, versus visitors to Paris, but I still find it interesting. I do think Americans in general do dress differently, my observation: lack of tailoring, and a fondness of rugged, practical, and inexpensive items. We could use some insight.

  8. mary
    December 17, 2018 / 6:39 am

    I am sad that the French women don’t look any more stylish than we do

  9. Vicki
    December 17, 2018 / 7:46 am

    The sneakers! The lack of tailoring! This was quite an awakening, having not visited Paris recently. Was this sample indicative of the whole? On a brighter note, Eileen Fisher just marked down the velvet boyfiriend jacket you featured and I picked up the claret as well. I love it! Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  10. G. Mitchell
    December 17, 2018 / 8:09 am

    Those coats were dreadful. Never ever a puffer coat. Lived thru them the first go ‘round in the 70/80’s not doing that again. The plaid were no prize to see either. So glad I live in the south and coats are usually optinal. No matter the ‘trends’ I’ll stick with my fav’s. Enjoy the rest of your trip

  11. Sara
    December 17, 2018 / 9:43 am

    Agree with G Mitchell: puffer coats do make their wearers resemble Michelin people, not my idea of style however practical. I’m searching for that elusive combination of practicality and style, which can be hard to discover. Still, whatever age, want the style so will be leaving puffer coats (and plaid, come to that) to one side. Do appreciate you are reflecting, not recommending but it’s really good to help me decide what not to wear!
    Also agree: trainers and sneakers ( or plimsolls as us brits would have it) are not of the style world. Oh dear, Parisiennes where has that legendary style gone??

  12. Sally
    December 17, 2018 / 9:47 am

    Amazing. These could be photos from Allmost Anywhere, USA. And the woman with white trainers!!! Incroyable! I think some puffer coats are ok—certainly the one you’ve been wearing. I think it helps to have ‘shape’ to them—and they’re lightweight and packable, which is important. Definitely would be getting something like a puffer if I were back in Europe in the winter. I remember one of our trips to Paris in March it was SO cold (I’m originally a Southern California girl!) and it POURED. Thank you for the photos!

  13. Anon
    December 17, 2018 / 10:14 am

    I can’t think of anyone in my cold climate who doesn’t wear a down coat once winter hits. This is universal across age groups and gender, and just makes sense: warmth without weight and quick to dry if it gets wet.

    One thing I have noticed when a local TV station did a street shot — we’re apparently moving to dark colors for winter outerwear now. Thirty years ago, the streets would have been filled with bright, cheery colors to get us through the half-year of cold. Paris of thirty years ago was full of dark winter outerwear. Now I see color. Interesting.

    • December 17, 2018 / 11:12 am

      I also dislike puffer coats but there is little other choice in our bitter cold which is also often damp (unlike the frigid but dry Canadian prairies). Almost always black or dark colours here.

  14. Lindsay C.
    December 17, 2018 / 10:24 am

    Wow–I thought these pictures were “Glamour” magazine “don’ts” from back in the day–just missing the black bar hiding their faces (-: Seriously, I agree with others that style is so global now and there doesn’t seem to be that identifiable French factor any longer. If these pictures are indicative, you are definitely one of the most stylish women there!

  15. Lyn
    December 17, 2018 / 10:46 am

    On my first trip to Italy, I planned to wear my trench coat since I was convinced it looked “European” and I didn’t want to stand out. However, it was January, so I reluctantly switched to my puffy jacket. As it turned out, I fit right in and there was not a trench coat in sight. “Style” is going global. (So why is it still so easy to pick out Americans abroad?)

  16. Ainsivalavie
    December 17, 2018 / 10:49 am

    Oh nooo! I am wondering if the weather is particularly cold this year maybe Parisiennes are doing their best to keep warm, disregarding style? If you are looking for winter style and how to dress for the colder climate you need look no further than les femmes of Montréal or Québec City! When you have no choice but to deal with sub zero weather conditions you learn to do it with style. After all it could be 5 months of cold therefore no need to freeze or look frumpy. Wow never thought I would use the ‘f’ word (frumpy) to describe Parisiennes but there we have it! The only woman of style is the blonde with her face blurred who appears to need to go to ‘le petit coin’ as she has her legs crossed.

  17. Catherine Grenfell
    December 17, 2018 / 11:57 am

    Hello from Australia. Love your insights on coats, Susan, you always get me thinking! Can’t get over those exposed ankles. My takeaway, global style is the new black.

  18. Nancy Klein
    December 17, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    Perhaps which area you are in still matters. Women in the 8th and the 16th seem to me to dress like the Parisiennes I remember, whereas even around the Bon Marche, not.
    I have had very good luck on ebay looking for puffer coats made in France or Italy. My favorite is gunmetal metalic which is quite tailored, for a puffer, which my husband nevertheless calls The Lunar Module.

  19. Angela in NZ
    December 17, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    My thoughts are that style is now firmly in the history books and the 50’s was possibly the last period where clothing was tailored and smart. Today’s look seems more about “pulling an outfit together” than style.

    • Susan M
      December 17, 2018 / 11:25 pm

      I agree with you. The clothes we now wear reflect our lifestyles and practicality seems to be the winner. Puffer vests, jackets and coats are not the most flattering items of clothing, but are easy to wear. They are generally light, comfortable and warm, unlike many coats which feel bulky and restrictive. Tailored clothes have gone the way of dinner parties – consigned to history.

  20. Johanna
    December 17, 2018 / 3:44 pm

    I’m from Australia & spent last US winter in New York- everybody was wearing the black knee length down jacket- including me. I don’t really need it for Melbourne winters back home. I agree about the photos of the jackets above. Not how I imagine street style in Paris! I am sure there would be some gorgeous Parisians who look uniquely stylish somewhere. Thank you for updating us.

  21. Janet Utsey
    December 17, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    I have to chime in with the ladies who have been commenting on the fact that you, our American friend, are by far the most fashionable of that group of coat clad chicks!

  22. Jaimee
    December 17, 2018 / 6:01 pm

    From my experience this summer in Paris I did notice some big differences from the US. The biggest was the lack of athleisure. Not sure I saw a single person in any kind of yoga pant whereas that is the “uniform” for so many over here. I also did not see those ridiculous short distressed jean shorts that the younger women here all wear in the summer. I will say that my teen boys noticed a big difference-they thought the European ladies were gorgeous! Much prettier than the girls here-at least the ones they know 🙂

  23. Wendy in York
    December 17, 2018 / 11:40 pm

    I’m going against the majority here . These women are not models or celebrities , they are real women living busy lives with lots to think about apart from clothes . Nevertheless I do think some of them are stylish – the check coats especially . Do we really want to to live in the 1950s when all was matchy matchy , even gloves , & girls dressed like their mothers ? I still don’t get the Parisian fashion myth though as this could be my local high street . Thanks for the pics .
    Wendy in York

    • Susan B
      December 17, 2018 / 11:46 pm

      Not to mention the girdles and “foundation” garments required for those 1950’s structured garments! 😉

  24. Nina
    December 18, 2018 / 7:53 am

    Great timing! I leave for Paris on Friday and watching the weather forecast closely. Looks to be warming up considerably with some rain, so now I’m totally stumped on coat options. HELP! And also looking forward to your shoe review as well!

  25. Felicity Browne
    December 18, 2018 / 8:24 am

    Well as one of the woman in the above photographs may I make the following comments.
    I am not Parisan or even French but from South African and now live in the Netherlands. I still feel the European cold as was dressed for both warmth and travel. Therefore some of these comments are rather judgemental and hurtful.

    • Susan B
      December 18, 2018 / 9:02 am

      My apologies, Felicity, as that wasn’t my intention in posting images. They were meant as reportage, not critique. Personally, I think everyone looks lovely. But I’ve removed the image as I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

      And I’d ask everyone to comment as if you’re speaking face-to-face with friends. Let’s build each other up rather than tearing each other down.

  26. Susan M
    December 18, 2018 / 1:47 pm

    I think it is a shame that the images of ‘French street style’ were removed as Susan was careful to maintain complete anonymity of the women whose photos were taken. The comments were part of an adult conversation about Parisian style, coats, puffer jackets etc and were not nasty, nor directed at a particular individual.

  27. Gloria N.
    December 18, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    I think it strange to photograph anyone, especially without their knowledge and permission. For any reason.

    • Susan B
      December 18, 2018 / 11:52 pm

      My thinking has always been that any time you’re out in a public place, you are likely to be photographed without your knowledge or permission. Take a look at your own travel photos, and there will probably be other people in them that you didn’t get permission to photograph. If you share those photos on social media…

      I write a style and travel blog, so I’m interested in what people are wearing in other parts of the world. My intention is always just to report, and not critique what people are wearing. I’ve always either shot from behind, cut off heads, or blurred faces to try to protect anonymity. That said, I may try a different approach going forward.

      • Gloria N.
        December 19, 2018 / 10:52 am

        The really good style and travel bloggers engage people, and ask permission to take their picture . Some people will decline, but others will happily agree and will talk about what they are wearing, and their own personal style. That’s when we can really learn something.

        Anything less than this feels like intrusion, or gawking. No matter your intention, the anon photograph will be open to criticism When you add a personality to the picture, I feel people feel a little more respect for the subject, and give the person a break.

        Photographing someone by accident as you , say, take pictures of a monument…that’s a completely different matter, and that is not what you were doing. You were taking pictures of women and the clothes they were wearing, posting the photos, knowing full well there might be unkind comments. I say this because you know the climate of negativity in the comments on all blogs these days. Why not be a bit more polished and professional, and really put in the effort….thereby promoting and protecting the subjects that appear in your photos.? I would hold up Garrance Dore as an example.

        • Alice
          December 20, 2018 / 4:37 am

          I follow Garance Dore and Scott Schuman, and I feel like I have to respectfully disagree. Based on their comments I don’t think they always engage with the person they photograph. Often, but not always. I agree it can be “value-added” to read comments from the photographer’s interactions with the subject of the photo, but it isn’t always present in Schuman’s photos nor in other travel bloggers I follow. Susan’s efforts to protect the identity of the people whose photos she takes seems like a fair balance to me. Again, I express my opinion respectfully because I believe the issues you bring up are important and certainly there are some contexts in which taking photos of people unwittingly can feel exploitative (poverty p*rn, for example). I suppose were we draw the line is to a degree personal.

      • SuD
        December 20, 2018 / 5:34 am

        My husband is an amateur photographer and takes photos of people in public spaces without their permission. This is how most professional photographers take photos to capture a moment. It is legal in the US and in most countries.

        • Gloria N.
          December 20, 2018 / 11:58 am

          Amateur is the operative term apparently. Susan is telling us that she has a fashion and travel blog.
          That being the case, a little elevation of process might be good? Anyone can take candid snaps of the unsuspecting public and upload them. I can do that…so can you.

          When I am in Paris, amusingly, the most fashionable women I have met, and talked to, (most conversations begin with shoes!) are from eastern Europe, particularly Poland. Not every fashionable woman on the street in Paris is French. That fact alone negates the idea that going to Paris and taking street shots and calling them representative of Parisian fashion is factual.
          Talking to people, humanizing them….so important and easy. In Europe many, many people are bi-lingual. Certainly, most Parisians speak English, as It is taught in schools and is encouraged as an international language of commerce .

          Finally though, how would each of us feel to suddenly notice that a stranger was taking our photo, showing it to their tablemate in the café, sharing comment…? Would you feel uneasy, as you rushed forward wondering if you were going to be a DO or a DON”T ? What is your culture or beliefs were intruded upon ? Your feelings of safety….for some reason ? Human beings are not commodities for our amusement.

          showing it to

          • Gloria N.
            December 20, 2018 / 12:01 pm

            Sorry for typos.

          • Amy
            December 20, 2018 / 12:25 pm

            Gloria, your final thought really resonates with me. On several occasions I have watched strangers photographing my children as they played; once in Paris while my daughter was laughing with delight as she fed a (nearly entire flock!) of pigeons. No matter the photographer’s intent, I felt very uncomfortable and intruded upon. Because of this, I am very careful to not include strangers in my own photos when possible, and would never take an intentional photo of someone without consent.

          • SuD
            December 24, 2018 / 4:21 am

            You can always crop out the heads so they are not identifiable.

          • Susan B
            December 24, 2018 / 5:45 am

            Yep. I’m in the process of updating the images with heads cropped.

  28. December 19, 2018 / 11:16 am

    Rats, I saw a similar coat like the camel one in the top photo on the left. In a secondhand shop for a steal. Left it there as I thought that trend had passed. As if I know anything about trends.

  29. Nancy H. Hall
    December 19, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    Am not into puffer coats – they make me look short and stout! However, ladies – why not make your own style – you can check out other countries etc. – but where you live dictates what you wear and how well you feel in the clothes you choose. Thanks Susan for you great blog.

  30. December 19, 2018 / 9:44 pm

    You’ll appreciate this. I was in Bristol Farms ( local market) and saw the back of a woman wearing a coat. My first thought was, she’s French. Kinda hung around and her partner started speaking French to her. I was right. It was the quality and the cut of the coat. Beautiful on all counts. Navy blue coat cut just perfectly. good looking heels, not spike, thick heels, and scarf around her neck. Jus well put together. Very un L A.

  31. Ann in Missouri
    December 21, 2018 / 7:07 am

    I’m very late to commenting on this post, but feel inspired to say that I am extremely interested in what women are wearing in cities where I don’t live and that I love seeing photographs of women’s personal street styles around the world. I appreciate these glimpses that Susan and other style bloggers provide on their blogs.

    At age 73, I am rather amused to hear that a few of the women in my age group or even younger (?) who have posted above seem clueless that their views of world-wide cultural norms regarding “privacy” are inaccurate. Even if you are still offended in late 2018 by the reality (it’s not just a meme) that privacy is dead, I would point out that the high street is not where private moments occur.

    Susan, as ever, thank you for your delightful reportage from Paris, a city I also adore. And your photos, as always, inspire me to visit there more often.

    Ann in Missouri

  32. December 22, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    I’m also late to the conversation and terribly disappointed by the mass of negative and judgemental comments! Personally, I love seeing what women around the world are wearing and I would have absolutely no problem with a photo of myself appearing on a blog like this one. I have followed Susan for a long time and never have I seen her post a picture or make a degrading comment about the subject of a photo. My comment to those who are being so critical would simply be, if you don’t like Susan’s blog or disagree with her blogging style, you’re free to stop reading it!

    Susan, please don’t be discouraged by these negative voices or allow them to change the way you do things.

    Merry Christmas!

  33. Ann M
    December 24, 2018 / 8:40 am

    I regularly read Susan’s posts (a morning pleasure before digging into work) and I enjoy the trend reports and street style photos. This post elicited so many interesting comments. Mainly, I am struck by both the criticism of normal people walking around the city and the expectation that they should look like they are on the way to a Fashion Week event. People in Paris, like New York and every other city where folks are on foot getting from place to place, dress for the weather and the journey if they have any sense. My best friend is a translator/interpreter for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has lived in Paris since 1994 (Europe since 1989). She carries a beautiful Miu Miu handbag, but looks pretty “normal” in her day-to-day life. She walks to work and wears comfortable shoes and warm coats in the winter. Her Parisian husband, an art director, regularly wears trainers/tennis shoes (GASPS, clutches pearls!). Good heavens, puffer coats are everywhere and why wouldn’t they be? I was in Paris only in the summer this past year, but on winter trips through the UK, Ireland, and Spain they were common. Why this bizarre “disappointment” with the women of Paris for not looking like they are on the set of *The Collection*? Do you imagine that everyone in Ireland wears Aran sweaters?

    The criticism of Susan for photographing people on the street here is also unnecessarily harsh and even condescending (ironic, considering the underlying concern raised – criticism of others) but raises a fair point that bloggers may have to grapple with: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in the EU in May 2018. I would copy some links here, but the comment function does not allow that. NPR’s May 2018 piece entitled “New EU Data Protection Law Could Affect People Who Take Pictures With Their Phones” and the post “GDPR and Street Photography” by The Royal Photographic Society from last February shed some light on the topic and can be Goggled by copying the source and title.

    For 2019 how about we all have more curiosity in the mind and less criticism from the mouth/pen/keyboard, eh?

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