What they're wearing in Paris this autumn - une femme d'un certain âge

What they’re wearing in Paris, autumn 2021 edition

what they're wearing in Paris, autumn 2021.

What they’re wearing in Paris this autumn…

It’s been said that Europeans tend to dress for the season, not the weather. Even though it’s been sunny, mild, and pleasant our first two days, I’ve seen plenty of coats, scarves and boots already being worn here. Just a small sampling from the center of Paris (and mostly rive gauche) but here’s what I’ve observed so far of what they’re wearing in Paris for autumn:

  • Color. Yes, there’s still plenty of black, but it doesn’t seem to be as ubiquitous as it once was. I’ve seen a good bit of emerald, forest, or olive green, sometimes paired with a golden yellow or ochre scarf or bag.
  • Black and brown combos.
  • Textured/patterned outerwear. Wide-wale corduroy, quilted, plaid, tweed. Still seeing some teddy coats, mostly on younger women.
  • Trench coats. Bien sûr.
  • Longer coats and jackets. Below-the-knee and even some duster-length.
  • Lots of ankle boots. From sleek to chunky, often with a 1-2″ heel. Still quite a few sneakers (though with rain coming in today, that may change), some loafers/oxfords and ballet flats.
  • Pants are slim, not skinny. I’ve seen some younger women in wider-leg and cropped pants. Jeans are still common, usually a medium or gray wash.
  • Skirts with semi-opaque tights. Skirts of all lengths, worn with tights and often ankle boots.
  • Scarves are almost exclusively of the larger wool variety.
  • Bags are either smaller shoulder/crossbody styles, or larger totes (sometimes both).

I’ve observed that over time style in Paris has become both more relaxed/casual and more varied and diverse. What I’m NOT seeing: sweats/joggers or activewear/athleisure looks (except on runners or tourists), stiletto heels. And yes, everyone is wearing masks indoors (unless eating or drinking) and some people wear them outside too.

Wear it in Paris…

Planning a trip? Click here to visit my Travel Wardrobe Resource hub.

Paris, packed to the gills!

people enjoying lovely fall weather in Jardin des Tuileries, Paris.

And a travel note, I’ve never seen Paris this crowded! French children are on a fall school holiday, but it seems that tout le monde has decided that Paris is the place to be.

Parks and cafes have been packed during peak hours, and afternoon/evening traffic a snarl. If you are planning to visit Paris in the near future, I suggest making hotel and even dinner reservations well in advance!

I’ll have LOTS more photos to share, but here’s a recap of our first day from Instagram, just swipe or use the arrow to scroll through:

Stay in touch.

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34 Comments

  1. Maria
    October 29, 2021 / 2:17 am

    I always enjoy your style posts from Paris and this one is special as it’s been such a long time between visits, Happily and reassuringly, Paris doesn’t seem to have changed in any material ways. As you say, street fashion is quite varied and that’s great because it allows room for individual expression. Many of the women in your photos are sporting grey hair. Perhaps like me, the grew out their grey during the various COVID lockdowns and aren’t going back.

    • October 29, 2021 / 4:32 am

      Interesting, the first thing I noticed in these photos were the hair styles these women were wearing! No muss, no fuss! Natural color and texture. Maybe simply wash and air dry. I love it! I would be curious to see how much makeup they were wearing also.

  2. Sue H
    October 29, 2021 / 5:36 am

    I love that Parisiens have not given in to athleisure or sweat pants! Even during the pandemic, they remain stylish role models for the world.
    We were in Paris in October a few years ago – such a lovely time of year to visit.

  3. RoseAG
    October 29, 2021 / 5:41 am

    I see the double-chin hiding mask down maneuver is a hit in Paris as well as here.

    • Wendy
      October 29, 2021 / 6:19 pm

      Ha! Made me laugh! It does work well, doesn’t it?

  4. Paula
    October 29, 2021 / 6:05 am

    I agree with what was said above about the grey hair. That is the first thing I noticed. I am also interested in the makeup as well.
    On another note though I do love the colors and the styles of the coats. Thank goodness there are more of ants and less sweats. Glad your trip is going well I’m following daily. I love to hear about Paris.

  5. October 29, 2021 / 8:48 am

    You are so fashionable, you blend right in! I love these posts seeing real people and especially in Paris. They are all so slim and their clothes fit perfectly.

    I was in Rome a few years ago and we went into an alterations shop to have a quick hem done. There was a lady getting a blouse fitted – a very ordinary simple cotton blouse. It was the second fitting to make adjustments. We waited 45 minutes until they got it just right.

  6. Ginger
    October 29, 2021 / 8:54 am

    I love this post; I’m so happy to be “visiting” Paris again. I’m especially happy to see women with naturally gray hair and flaunting it! Love this!

  7. nanci
    October 29, 2021 / 9:14 am

    I loved your comment about dressing for the season rather than the day. We were in Paris a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty warm and people were wearing full coats and scarfs. You explained it for us!!

  8. Kathleen McDermott
    October 29, 2021 / 9:44 am

    Wow! The photos of the scenery and sights are lovely. But, the street fashion photos shocked me. I found the outfits to be “schlubby” and dreary, and the hair unkempt and unflattering! Not the color, but the lack of a good cut, of any sort of style. I can’t imagine that wearing makeup, though I doubt they are, could help hair and clothing like that. In most American towns, large or small, women’s street looks are far more attractive, both in terms of style and personal grooming. You are the only women who looks good – they should be watching you!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      October 29, 2021 / 1:04 pm

      Hi Kathleen, I think it’s just a different aesthetic. In France, a natural look is desirable, and they don’t like looking too “done.” The grooming is there, but just to different effect.

      • Kathleen McDermott
        October 29, 2021 / 1:51 pm

        It seems like “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to me! Still say you look better, and would look better going about your daily routine, from what I see on your blog.. Not from Missouri, but seeing is believing!

        • NancyMK
          October 29, 2021 / 3:03 pm

          Susan, I wonder if you would dress differently if you lived in Paris – warmer clothes, for sure, than for S. California…..I tend to wear more soigné outfits there but happily revert to jeans and sweaters at home.

          • Susan Blakey
            Author
            October 29, 2021 / 10:51 pm

            Probably so, as I’d have access to different brands and styles than we find at home.

          • Lagatta de Montréal
            October 30, 2021 / 1:58 pm

            Lots of jeans and sweaters in Paris… Lipstick, perhaps, but no visible foundation. which is viewed as tacky.

  9. Elizabeth
    October 29, 2021 / 11:23 am

    I love seeing all the varied, colorful coats and jackets! Such a nice break from endless black, stylish as that can be. And I was also struck by the undyed, unashamed grey hair. I’ve been grey (although no longer prematurely!) my entire adult life. When I lived in Paris 20 years ago, while in my thirties, people frequently commented on it – quasi-compliments along the lines of “how brave you are, madame.” It’s great to see that either that conformist judgmentalism has diminished or French women no longer care so much about it.

    Susan, it looks like you’re having such fun – and it’s wonderful to visit both Italy and France vicariously! I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

  10. NancyMK
    October 29, 2021 / 1:05 pm

    Golly, what divergent opinions – I think that the Parisiennes look good, as does Susan, but they are not posing but going about their lives in Northern Europe in late autumn. If you are in the 16th or 8th arrondissements you would see more polished looks. In the USA athletic wear for all occasions and all persons from poor to prosperous seems to be the rule, not so in Paris.

  11. Kay
    October 29, 2021 / 1:42 pm

    The trick is figuring out which women are Parisian residents and which are tourists. It should be noted that people from all over the world visit Paris, so a tourist is not necessarily an American.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      October 29, 2021 / 1:48 pm

      I’ve quit trying to make those distinctions, other than filtering out the very obvious tourists. People from all over the world become residents of Paris, and it’s a very multi-cultural place these days.

      • Lagatta de Montréal
        October 30, 2021 / 2:09 pm

        Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was born in the very south of Spain and has a lovely Mediterranean olive complexion.

        • Maria
          October 31, 2021 / 5:39 am

          I’m replying here because I couldn’t see how to comment on your earlier remark about foundation. I’ve never liked it or worn it (except for special occasions) and I think it’s because I too find it tacky. Now in my late 60s I’m discovering the joys of the current generation of tinted sunscreens that give protection along with hydration and some “enhancement” that help me to look more like myself, or at least how I think I used to look

  12. Beth Diggles
    October 29, 2021 / 3:17 pm

    Susan — how about hairstyles? Did any strike you as Parisian?

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      October 29, 2021 / 10:49 pm

      Not any particular one, no. You’ll see everything from long-with-a-middle-part to short-and-layered to more blunt bobs. What you don’t see are styles that have been teased and sprayed into something stiff.

  13. Ainsivalavie
    October 29, 2021 / 8:38 pm

    Agree with NancyMK on the divergent opinions. We must remember the French aesthetic, as Susan has reminded us is quite different from American. Ask any one who has lived in France for an appreciable period of time. Susan looks lovely and while not looking like a ‘tourist’ she is clearly not French. That’s just fine, when we travel we ultimately want to be who we are and not a pretence.. In France, Paris especially, tourists ( of all nationalities)stand out not for the obvious reasons but because often they wear expensive clothing and are often better dressed than locals. Their hair is ‘done’ and their grooming ( for the most part) is impeccable. When one travels it is like being invited to vacation at a friend’s house, we want to put that best foot forward and look our nicest. Travellers are more enthusiastic and smile-y and clearly enamoured with their environment and that is very charming. They are enjoying themselves. Theodore Roosevelt famously opined that: Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing ourselves or others unfavourably steals joy or as American writer Mark Twain stated, it is ‘the death of joy. Choose joy wherever you go!

  14. Wren
    October 29, 2021 / 10:13 pm

    I haven’t read through every comment but read enough to see others recognized the point I noticed. Hair looks frizzy and unkempt. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe it was windy? I’ve always dressed more sophisticated than any of these women when in Paris. I understand it becoming more casual since America has too but I’m unimpressed by the women you captured in the photos.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      October 29, 2021 / 10:25 pm

      I know some women with frizzy hair who struggle to “tame” it, and it makes me wonder about how we’ve come to think of frizzy/curly hair as “unkempt” in its natural state. We’re very used to seeing hair straightened or blow-dried, but perhaps (in addition to our eyes adjusting to natural, grey hair) we can learn to appreciate different natural textures? Just a thought…

      • NancyMK
        October 30, 2021 / 6:20 am

        Thanks from a formerly frizzy person. In old age my hair turned wavy. In retrospect I am sorry to have fought my hair so long rather than having accepted that it was beautiful although different from the most popular at that time.

      • Wren
        October 30, 2021 / 5:30 pm

        Wren

  15. Lagatta de Montréal
    October 30, 2021 / 2:19 pm

    My hair has always been kinky-curly. Except for haircuts, combing, and detangling, I let it do its thing.

  16. MaureenC
    October 31, 2021 / 12:29 am

    I feel I have to defend the more natural aesthetic that has emerged all over Northern Europe (certainly here in the UK) over the last ten years and I think been accelerated by the pandemic. Many mature women are embracing their grey hair and looking great with it or like me getting some help from the hairdresser to let the grey gradually emerge. Susan’s photos are of ordinary women going about their daily business not on a ‘photo shoot’ and I would certainly be pleased to look that good in a candid street photo! On my trips to the US I’ve noticed a more conservative aesthetic once you move away from the coasts and big cities. Many US tourists (before Covid) over here would come from those areas and so the contrast is greater to all. To our eyes many of them seen to vacillate between athleisure with compulsory baseball caps and then incredibly stiff and formal clothing for ‘going out’.

    • October 31, 2021 / 4:00 am

      Here here! Your comment sums it up. Being married to a Parisien, he’s always despised when I’ve worn the whole “face” of foundation, bronzer, contour……. And since the pandemic, I have pared down to only eyes ( neutral) and lip gloss. I feel so comfortable in my own skin these days and am receiving many kisses on my face from the husband.
      But in out visits to Paris over the years, I’ve observed that the normal working woman dresses down for the office and more up to go to social events. The media, along with many bloggers and influencers give off such an overdone smoke and mirrors vision that it’s ridiculous. Actually that’s why I love Susan’s feed. She showcases reality. To those who may have been a bit put off by the way Parisiens are dressed, I suggest they visit an American airport to get a look at how Americans travel in pajama bottoms, flip flops and sandals showcasing their fungi-ridden feet, and filthy sweatshirts. As an American, it grosses me out. Have some self-respect. And before criticizing others, take a look in your own backyard!
      Again, you nailed it!

      • MaureenC
        October 31, 2021 / 4:55 am

        Merci Cathe!

  17. October 31, 2021 / 3:39 am

    I’ve been enjoying your Insta feed more than ever since you arrived in Paris! Our Passé Sanitaires are at the ready. Dinner reservations have been made. Tickets to museums etc. Have been taken care of and my bag is almost packed.
    We arrive in three weeks. So it should be quite cooler and the outerwear will be surely needed! Christmas shopping will be done (as well as shopping for me) and i just can’t wait to walk around!
    My husband also loves to see your pics of his hometown-they also make him tremendously happy!

  18. October 31, 2021 / 3:40 am

    I am always on the look-out for more gobsmacking outfits. By the look of it, the outfits look very easy.
    Greetje

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