May 16, 2013
In an episode of HBO’s New York comedy Girls, Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, ironically states as she steps out onto a hip Brooklyn street: “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap”. Sadly, the irony of this statement will be lost on a Parisian.
The creative, sometimes, wildly eccentric outfits seen on the streets of London and New York, are relegated to sporadic night-time appearances under the cover of darkness in Paris.
Stepping out in anything risky during daylight hours might put you in the firing line of Parisian mirth and scorn. Surprisingly for a city, which is often referred to as the world’s fashion capital, there is an overall conservative, even uniform, approach to dressing.
Just in case you think otherwise, in Paris, cheap will definitely never be in. The general rule of thumb is this: the Parisian woman gives the impression of being effortlessly chic (you can be guaranteed there was nothing effortless about it); and the Parisian man is generally more polished than say your average New Yorker or Londoner – he would never consciously leave the house in a creased shirt, for example.
From a quick glance at his shoes, for instance, you can tell which neck of the woods a Parisian man comes from. The bourgeois male, for example, is usually sporting a pair of thin, elongated oxfords. And, despite rarely venturing out of the 7th and 16th arrondissement, he can be easily spotted in his signature slim Italian suit, in the standard shades of grey, navy, or black.
Colour is always kept to a minimum, especially in winter. For spring/summer he will be wearing a lighter version of the latter, from Lanvin, or De Fursac, with a pair of light-brown suede oxfords from JM Weston.
The bourgeois male with a bit more street cred might actually be sporting some sneakers. And we aren’t talking about a pair of Air Max − oh no, that wouldn’t cut the mustard at the polo club. You won’t see these guys in anything less than a pristine pair of Dior Homme, paired with fitted jeans, and an extortionately expensive, black leather jacket from YSL.
If you’re lucky enough to enter the hallowed realms of nightclubs such as David Lynch’s Silencio, or The Baron, it will be here you will witness the bourgeois in his natural habitat. He’s the guy slouching nonchalantly by the bar, nodding his head lazily to the minimal techno, holding an Iphone 5 in one hand, and a cocktail in the other.
He will be sporting a razor sharp black blazer by Jill Sander, a crisp white shirt from Sandro, leather boots from A.P.C., and a pair of sleek Oliver Peoples tortoise-shell rimmed glasses. Approach with caution.
Canal St. Martin in the 11th arrondissement is the preserve of a very Parisian take on the New York hipster: the bourgeois bohemian or Bobo for short. There’s nothing very bohemian about what this guy is wearing and you’ll see him at all the right places: Le Comptoir Général, Roseval, Chez Prune.
He’ll be clad in a pair of tight-fitting Japanese denim jeans he bought for a cool 200 euros from Kitsuné, Mark Mcnairy navy suede Derbys from French Trotters, and a vintage t-shirt with the sleeves carefully rolled up à la James Dean.
His friend will be wearing a pair of vintage-style high-tops by Nike, offset by a Barbour classic quilt jacket in navy. His hair will be carefully styled and his beard (a bobo standard) will have been tended to with a precision that only those with sufficient leisure time will have time to execute.
So there you have it: the Parisian look in a nutshell for Spring-Summer. It won’t be cheap, whatever tribe you aspire to belong to.
Finding it difficult to work out what to wear, and where to find it? Why not avail of a personal shopping guide to help you navigate Paris’s famous shopping districts?
- Looking for more male fashion inspiration? Check out the street style blog “The Stylograph”
- The website “10 best” shares a list over the top 10 boutiques for men’s fashion in Paris
- Don’t miss out on the latest news for men’s fashion through the GQ Style blog
Written by Thomas Butler
Thomas was born in Ireland and has been living in Paris for three and a half years. He has a degree in History of Art from Goldsmiths College, London, and spent a year at the Sorbonne studying French Literature. He works for Localers.com, a Parisian boutique tour company, as a literary tour guide, editor of the blog and community manager. (Photo by Meg Gagnard)
Website: The Localers