Packing for Paris: How to Dress Like a Parisian

by Malou Lasquite

You’re excited about your next Parisian vacation and eager to start packing. You open your closet, start sifting through the shelves and putting together possible outfits. And then it hits you, you have nothing to wear!

Easy. Shop in Paris, and draw inspiration from the unwitting locals. But if, like myself, you’re not planning on doing a total wardrobe overhaul, you may have to actually bring a few things with you. But what? Fret not — unless your go-to attire consists of Bermuda shorts and white tennis shoes (with socks), packing for Paris shouldn’t be too hard. Just take these points into consideration:

Le “Look” Parisien
Think unisex! I kid you not. Many joke that Parisian men and women dress alike. So leave your pink frilly lace bubble skirts and red sequined bustiers at home and, instead, pack:

  • Jeans, preferably the skinny kind in black or dark washed denim. I like these high-waisted ones from Paige
  • Oversize sweaters and t-shirts in neutral colors; think Zadig & Voltaire
  • Knee-length skirts. Long ones that sweep the floor are boho cool (but watch for presents left by les chiens) and A-line miniskirts like this from Maje work best with opaque tights.
  • A motorcycle leather jacket from Balenciaga, the ultimate in rocker chic
  • A Trench coat from Zara, H&M or Sandro but I’m still a firm believer in Burberry
  • Simple monochrome dresses (save the floral patterns for the spring and summer months)

Les chaussures
Paris is a walking city, so you’ll definitely want to be comfortably heeled. There is some truth to the rumors though: you may be written off as tourist if you roam the streets in your workout shoes. If you’d rather roam anonymously, leave the sneakers at home, unless they’re neon, metallic, have hidden wedge heels or are otherwise somehow funky. A lot of Parisians wear flats (ballerines, boots and booties, loafers, brogues), but heels are commonplace everyday shoes as well.

Currently, ankle boots — wedged, studded or not (think Isabel Marant) — are all the rave. In summer, it’s all about gladiator sandals and espadrille wedges.

As far as stilettos, I’d say it depends. If you don’t mind getting your heel stuck in a cobblestone or subway grate, then go for it!

Le sac
A tote? A shoulder bag? A messenger bag? Feel free to be whimsical, but keep it simple and logo-free. Exceptions are the sequined canvas Vanessa Bruno tote, which all Parisians seem to own, or a vintage Louis Vuitton monogrammed canvas purse.

My personal staples are the tote or the messenger bag. The latter helps keep my hands free while walking around Paris with my little daughter and taking pictures. A bigger tote or shoulder bag (that can be zipped shut) comes in handy for carrying my essentials and my daughter’s things, including some small shopping.

If you think you’ll miss your Hermès Kelly bag, bring it with you. It’s a Parisian staple, along with Chanel’s 2.55 flap bag with the “Mademoiselle” lock, for those who can afford it.

Les accessoires
While Parisians tend to wear understated clothing (it’s really all about fabric and fit) you can go a little crazy with accessories. Top off your outfit with a fedora or beret. Why not? We’re in France, after all. Feeling cold? Wear a scarf. And while in Paris, you’ll learn how to tie it a dozen different ways.

Are your clothes too simple or bland? Wear a statement necklace or a bold cuff. You can also layer necklaces or bracelets. The trick is to mix fine, delicate pieces with bolder costume jewelry for an eclectic look. Thin, woven bracelets intertwined with gold/metal, diamonds/crystals and small charms are also very hip.

During the colder months, go crazy with tights!

Voilà! I hope this helps … wait, I almost forgot the ultimate must haves, an umbrella and a smile! Happy packing!

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Written by Malou Lasquite for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Malou Lasquite. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Malou Lasquite

Malou Lasquite temporarily moved to Paris for three months with her young daughter to live a Parisian dream. A native of the Philippines, she has lived, studied and worked in six countries over four continents. With a passion for travel, she hopes to instill in her daughter the joy of traveling and learning about different cultures. She currently runs her own company specializing in corporate communications and event organization in Switzerland. In her spare time, she blogs about travel, photography, lifestyle and fashion at View Malou Lasquite's Website

38 comments on “Packing for Paris: How to Dress Like a Parisian

say thanks to a lot for your site it helps a great deal.|

Merci, merci, merci! I am making my first ever trip to Paris in October 2015 and I am excited. The one thing that you did not mention, however, is nail fashion. What do I do as to NOT look like an American tourist? I have fairly long nails and I love colour (just not red, blue, etc.).

I like her black and blue planner.

Hi ! I’m 30 years old. I’m a French man who lives in Paris.
For summer, you could wear jeans or shorts pants with leather flip-flops or leather strap sandals but not beach flip-flops.
If you don’t want to be noticed as a tourist, you should always wear leather sandals !
Most of parisian men don’t like to wear beach shoes

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Aloïs Dress like a parisian

Oh and parisian answers for Darcie and A.
@ Darcie: skinnies in bright summery colors with neutral top are very fashionable right now, especially if worn with neutral color.
Just check out that the skinny is not A LEGGING (forbidden in french fashion) and that the top is loose enough, if you are thin, only tuck the half in your shirt Emmanuelle Alt style. Bodycon T-shirts scream tourist ^^
@A : converse are a perfectly parisian choice to walk all day long!

Aloïs Dress like a parisian

How will we, parisian recognize tourists if you teach them to camouflage as parisian? ^^
Great article.
I am a personnal shopper in Paris, and, in my last blog post I give advices on how to wear heels:
Some heels can be worn all day long: boots heels or mini wedges for example. Very feminine yet comfy!

I’m leaving to Paris at th end of month and as girl who loves fashion I’m also not stupid. I will be seeing the sights and taking in all of Paris. So I definitely won’t be wearing heels for this…duh. But are Converse acceptable or do they scream tourist in Paris? My concern is that I can wear my Chanel flats but not sure how they will hold up as well as my feet with a lot of walking.

hello! nice blog! 🙂 im wondering though if the same tips can be applied if we opt to go last week of august 2013? is it still summer? how would the weather be? what do you suggest we pack if we’re from Philippines as well, hence used to tropical weather? 🙂

thanks a lot! nice to know a Filipina living her Parisian dream 🙂

Thank you so much for the useful information! I’d hate to scream “American” on my first trip to Paris, which I’ll be taking with my boyfriend tomorrow!! I can’t wait to raid my closet and get to packing!

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Keep up the good work. I really like it. I will definitely visit regularly.

We were there in the fall, and this post really nails it! Looking forward to going back.

Any chance of doing one for The Parisian Male?

Please make the umbrella small…….nothing says tourist like a MASSIVE umbrella, poking the locals eyes out……applies in London too…..thank you!

I love visiting Paris. And mostly it’s for the people watching. Everyone from the youth to the grandparents constantly looks effortlessly chic. It’s incredibly inspiring. I wish I could wear heels everyday like they do-it really is no big deal to them. Gosh! They pull off “cool” incredibly well.

33 Avenue - Malou Lasquite

Thank you everyone for the comments. I’m really glad you found the article useful. =)

Great post! I’m travelling to Paris in a few weeks, so this really comes in handy! 😉

Marie-Anne Lecoeur

Hi Malou, I really enjoy your posts about Paris. It is true that us French women like to be understated. We may wear labels and expensive clothes, but the finished look is never ostentatious. Chic but simple.

Wonderful images… and of course, the perfect advice… xv

Super helpful. I’ve got a good coach who teaches me what’s acceptable and what’s not (mainly because I think he’s worried I will venture into public wearing jogging pants…). I’m in the process of getting rid of so much of my wardrobe it’s almost painful. My wardrobe isn’t exactly Paris friendly though, so I will most definitely be going shopping the moment I arrive!

I did a post on my blog about the “je ne sais quoi” of Parisian women here:

33 Avenue - Malou Lasquite

Darcie – Last summer, I’ve also seen Parisians wear colored skinny jeans with neutral tops.

33 Avenue - Malou Lasquite

Thanks cocomori! I wish you and your husband a fantastic trip to Paris! Whatever you pack, don’t forget the umbrella! =)

Is there any leeway on that neutral colors/dark jeans thing during summer months? For instance, can summer visitors get away with wearing skinnies in bright summery colors (kelly green, turquoise or orange)with a neutral top or would that be a Parisian fashion faux pas?

Lovely post! My husband and I are visiting Paris next Fall and this is getting me excited to pack for the trip.


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