Parisian Living

What to Wear in France in the Winter: Tips from Julie Blakley

by HiP Paris

As the days grow shorter and the air gets colder, winter fashion hits the Parisian streets. Expert Julie Blakley gives us the lowdown on how to dress for a stylish (and warm) winter in France!

beretPhotos: The Sartorialist

by Julie Blakley, Why Go Paris

Despite the fact that I have an ample amount of French blood pumping through my veins, I still find myself to be the fashion and style inferior to all the fabulously dressed French women when I’m traveling in France. After living in Paris through the winter, and doing enough shopping while I was there, I learned a great deal about how to dress so I wouldn’t look like a tourist when I was going to class, sipping my cappuccino or shopping. Here are a few tips on excellent winter wear in France, so you won’t stick out quite so much when walking the streets of Paris, visiting the vineyards of the Loire or bundling up in the mountains of the Alps.

Wear a Scarf—Winter tip number one is an easy and important one. French women and men love scarves, and they seem to have an effortless, inimitable and elegant way of tying them to perfect their look. Not only will scarves keep you warm in the winter months, the simple accessory will also make you look oh-so-French. Plus, you won’t break the bank trying to blend in. Buy a few different scarves in different colors and observe how the French tie them and try to do the same. You may even have that satisfying moment when a French person asks you for directions or starts a conversation with you in the Metro before they realize that you are really just a tourist in disguise.

black coats

Buy a Pair of Boots—As soon as the leaves start to change and the air starts to turn chilly, all the shoe stores in France start lining their window displays with boots. Knee-high boots, ankle boots, heeled boots, flat boots, black boots, brown boots. They are must have footwear option in the winter months. The French wear them all different ways—with tights and dresses or skirts, over pants, under pants, you name it. You will almost NEVER see a French woman wearing a pair of sneakers, so buying a pair of boots can be a great way to look stylin’ and blend in. They go with everything, they’re comfortable and they always look great.

Invest in a Peacoat—The weather gets chilly in most places in France and the last thing you want to do is be walking around with a huge parka on. While you will see fabulous French women wearing furs in Paris, a great (and less expensive) coat to bring is just a simple, goes-with-everything peacoat. If you bring one coat with you on your trip to France, bring a pea coat. You’ll stay warm and look great all at the same time. Plus, if you get a neutral one in brown or black, it will go with EVERYTHING from jeans to a dress.

Remember: When packing or shopping for your trip to France this winter, don’t forget that there is definitely such a thing as being too casual in France. The French, in general, are always well put together and their idea of “casual” tends to differ slightly from the American standard. Pack a lot of easy to wear stuff that can be paired with anything—jeans, sweaters and the above staples (boots, scarves and a good coat) and you should be not only comfortable, but also looking a lot less like a tourist and a lot more like a Francais(e).

And of course, if you get to Paris and find that you’ve made a fashion misstep, you’ll just have to shop! Problem solved.


To read this article on Julie Blakley’s blog, click here.

To read what to wear in summer, click here.

Edited by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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HiP Paris

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28 comments on “What to Wear in France in the Winter: Tips from Julie Blakley

I’m moving to Lyon in a few months and have been digging around on the internet for forever trying to figure out how to prepare my wardrobe. I finally hit gold!!

Thanks for the tips, and do not be surprised if I link to this on my blog.

great article,thanks for the tips

I will be there in December, and now want to buy a Pea coat. Last year I brought a big down coat. I tend to wear leggings under all of my dresses for warmth. Will this be a faux pas in Paris. Please advise. Thanks.

Love your blog.

If you are curious about what Parisians are wearing, here are some photos I took on the streets of Paris in November 2011.

Key trends In noticed this season are red accessories, boots (both booties and the ever-popular riding boots), textured tights and hand-knitted scarves.

Is it just me, or do others think the girl on top looks utterly woebegone? Those boots look like orthopedic footwear and those greys do not suit her. Very depressing sight.

hey u look really stlish

I am in love with this blog! The street-style pictures are great; French women know how to dress! Those 40’s-esque trench coats are beautiful, and do wonders in creating a feminine figure. I noticed last time I was in Paris in April that tights are DEFINITELY the way to go. While I didn’t see a lot of jeans, everyone was wearing tights, and they are perfect to layer with boots, shorts, skirts, dresses, etc. and are extremely light to pack (obviously)!

I really like this post and your blog.
I lived in Paris for five years and I come back once a year, it’s like coming home.
I’ll be there for Maison et Objet. Are you attending?


Hi Linnea. Boots are always appropriate in Paris! April can be warm, so you could probably also get away with flats or even nice sandals, but as always, it’s best to have a few options (and layers) at the ready. For nighttime, it depends where you’ll be going, but nice jeans are fine for more casual restaurants. Dresses (paired with a sweater, blazer or light jacket) work well too. Enjoy!

Any suggestions for April? Will be there for last two weeks of April. Are boots still appropiate for weather this time of year? Otherwise relying on black/neutrals, scarves, raincoat (trench). What is appropriate for nighttime (music & dancing)? Thanks in advance!

I live in London and have a house in France —- the simple, though expensive answer is Ramosport — a french label, with a shop on Blvd St Germain. Women in London and Paris wear this label though I have never seen it in the states — I have one of their coats that has a lightweight rain coat, with a rabbit fur lining. The coat is not only reversible but the pieces separate — so I can have a fur coat and lightweight rain coat, or a very warm rain coat (with hood in collar– handy for the days one forgets an umbrella). The best single investment I have made (have had the coat for 3 years…..)

I will be in Paris in late Feb. early March and wondered if my fur coat will be a good everyday coat or a drag. I will be visiting the sights indoors and out but also going to many of the wonderful venues at night.

Hi Susan… the weather in Paris can be tricky around that time of year. It’s likely to be rainy and cool, but not necessarily the kind of weather that necessitates a fur coat. That said, you’re bound to look great in your fur, and you might regret not having it for stylish nights out. If it’s not too heavy, I would bring the fur (or wear it on the plane) and pack a lighter jacket as well.

Visiting Paris Xmas ….what about wearing fur in Paris?

Go for it! We think fur is making a comeback. If you are buying a coat though, remember to be kind to our animal friends and buy second-hand. There are plenty of gorgeous vintage fur coats lying around Paris just waiting to be adopted, so recycle!

thanks for the great tips!
p.s. the art student is a new yorker — sartorialist!

Hi Pamela,
Wearing leggings is absolutely not a faux-pas. Everyone does it! And they’re a great way to stay warm without the bulkiness of wool tights. I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris!

I will be there in December, and now want to buy a Pea coat. Last year I brought a big down coat. I tend to wear leggings under all of my dresses for warmth. Will this be a faux pas in Paris. Please advise. Thanks.

I really like both girls looks. Thank you for the tips!

Traveling light can be tricky! My last suitcase (for a 3wk long trip) weighed just under 30kgs…! For short trips, I definitely recommend wearing all of your heavy & bulky gear (the famous pea coat, your biggest sweater, boots) ON the airplane (you can always stuff it in a shopping bag), and keep your suitcase for slimmer items. You can also go for leggings/tights & skirts instead of jeans (less bulky), bring one basic pair of flats (ballerines) and pumps, one neutral scarf that will go with everything, and thin, layerable tanks; tees that you can roll up and take up no space at all.

That’s all well and good, but you try fitting all that into a carry-on bag! Any tips for tourists visiting late fall/early winter who need to pack light, Julie (or HiP)? 🙂

Love!! Thanks for the tips. I’m working my French look here in Toronto. Over the years I find that I have been shopping more and more from vintage clothing shops. More than half of my wardrobe is now vintage. I find this too to be a tip to dressing more Francais. All the pieces are unique and unusual, I love it! Remember….vintage means ‘one of a kind’! Ooooh lala!! xo

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