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Paris Fashion Week: How to Dress the Part

Posing in the Tuileries in between shows, Paris Fashion Week 2012 (Boswell)

When early March hits, something in the air changes. Models come out of the woodwork and women in New York, London, Paris and elsewhere put a bit more effort into their attire. If you’re not in the fashion industry, it’s easy to be bewildered by the overnight switch from simple booties to stilettos. Fashion week is both daunting and exciting; add a locale like Paris to the mix and both sensations are heightened. Fear not, mes amis – dressing like a chic insider for Paris Fashion Week is possible.

Think of this week as an opportunity. March also (hopefully) marks the end of winter, a season when dreary days have the masses stuck in a style rut. Fashion choices are understandably made based on the practicality of pieces rather than how they actually look. After all, freezing temperatures make it near impossible to trade your puffy coat (the one that doubles as a sleeping bag) in for a cropped leather jacket, right?

Comings and goings in the Tuileries, Paris Fashion Week 2012 (Boswell)

Now that the weather’s turning around, ditch the bulk and grab your most daring pieces. Remember that quirky vintage hat you just had to have? Here’s your chance to wear it and not hear “mon dieu” whispered more times than you can count. Or those wonderfully whimsical printed tights that you feel just a little bit funny wearing around on any old day? Pull ‘em up. Parisians embrace Fashion Week, but that’s not to say you’ll get away with what you could in, say, New York. Here are a few guidelines to aid in your PFW sartorial adventures:

1. Add color. If you’ve been sticking to a black and neutral wardrobe, add a bright accent. It will give your everyday outfits a little extra pop, and you get to keep the sophisticated sleekness of the “Parisian uniform.”

Boswell; Ludo29880

2. Get a great coat. Winter Fashion Week is simpler than fall in some ways. While it’s chillier, and the blustery, rainy gusts sometimes make it tough to stay freshly primped, you can focus on one piece: the coat. Unless you’re lucky enough to score a ticket to a show, most people will only see your outerwear. Leave the trench at home and go for something with a fun, unique silhouette.

3. Shop the vintage stores. Fashion industry elites are clad in head-to-toe designer garb, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to look Fashion Week ready. Wander through le Marais and pop in stores like Coiffeur Vintage, Free ‘P’ Star and Come On Eileen. You’ll find one-of-a-kind pieces that will truly stand out (and won’t break the bank).

Posing in the Tuileries, February 29 2012 (Boswell)

4. Stroll through les Tuileries. I’ve happened upon some fabulous characters while walking through the Tuileries during Fashion Week. A handful of shows are held there and if your timing and outfit are right, you might just attract the attention of the photogs.

5. Be confident. You’ve heard it before, but it’s so important that it bears repeating – you can be wearing a gorgeous ensemble, but if you’re not comfortable in it, it will show. Be adventurous and love what you’ve got on – you’ll find that others will follow.

More Tuileries snaps, February 29, 2012 (Boswell)

And if you want more tips, be sure to pick up French Vogue correspondent Carole Sabas’s book, The Paris of Fashion Insiders, which include insider tips for surviving la semaine.  An extra perk: a portion of the proceeds go to the It Gets Better Project.

Related Links:

  • For the latest street-style shots from Paris Fashion week, check out Marie Claire’s coverage
  • For show coverage, Vogue has the latest updates from the runway
  • If Fashion Week isn’t your thing, The Moment has a list of great (non-fashion oriented) list of things happening in Paris over the next few days

Written by Erin Dahl for the HiP Paris Blog. Photos taken by Boswell, a dynamic, Detroit-based fashion photographer who works in Paris several times a year. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


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Written by Erin Dahl

Erin DahlErin has had a whimsical affair with Paris since her first trip as a wide-eyed teenager, and has never looked back. Though she currently lives in New York City, daydreams of sauntering the stone streets of her favorite city are commonplace. Erin works with Haven in Paris and loves to cook/bake, go to concerts, and constantly rediscover New York.

Website: Erin Dahl

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