Fashion

Packing for Paris: How to Dress Like a Parisian

by Malou Lasquite

Here at HiP Paris we’ve been bringing you fabulous content since 2008! We’ve decided to take a peek through the archives and revisit some of our most loved articles. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did! This article was originally published on January 22, 2013 and written by the fabulous Malou Lasquite. What do you think about these French fashion trends? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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left photo: woman in leather jacket, right photo: woman in front of bookstore
Top: Camille Brodard
Above: Left: Lina Kivaka, Right: @theblondieworld

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:

left photo: white shirt with black sweater, purse, jeans and white shoes, right photo: stylish woman with burgundy boots
Left: @kateannsimplicity / Right: @burratanna

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)
left photo: trench coat with purse, glasses, jeans, and shoes, right photo: woman crossing street in front of blue building
Left: @somethingwhite / Right: @carol_ananas

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!

left photo: woman with purse that says rive gauche, right photo: man crossing parisian alley
Left: @imhrisa / Right: Robin Ooode

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.

left photo: woman with white tote bag walking, right photo: view from bridge of Paris traffic
Left: Kylie Paz / Right: Lindsay D’Souza

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.

left photo: woman in courtyard with flowers in her hand, right photo: parisian rooftops with view of Eiffel tower
Left: @missudette / Right: @jadore.photo

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!

Left: a photo of a Parisienne building. Right: a photo of a girl wearing beige trousers and a white shirt and black veste, holding a coffee in paris.
Left: Matteus Silva / Right: @theblondieworld

Related Links

Written by Malou Lasquite for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person (when possible)? Check out new marketplace shop and experiences.

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 http://www.33avenue.com. View Malou Lasquite's Website

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

I’d like to see an article on how men dress in Paris.

That’s a great idea, we’ll work on it!

Yes, Paris is a walking city, and walking 5-10+ miles a day in boots, flats, loafers, etc., will ruin your shoes and feet in no time. Parisians (who do not walk 5-10+ miles a day) now wear athletic shoes, even with dresses; it is universal, not just for Americans. Workout shoes are commonly worn by fashionable people the world over, and everyone in Tokyo wears them. If you are the kind of tourist who walks only to the metro or is picked up in an uber, you can wear leather shoes, but not if you are a true flâneur.

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