What To Wear In Paris France
Style And Fashion For Your Paris Trip

notre-dame-from-seine-houseboats eiffel-tower-nice-shot nice-white-sculptures jardin-des-tuileries

The question of what to wear in Paris France usually comes with a premise. There is that notion that Paris is the fashion capital of the world. Therefore, aside from the concerns of wearing something comfortable and weather appropriate, what to wear in Paris France often becomes driven by a fear of looking goofy in a city full of smartly dressed people.

First, let’s address that point. Does everybody in Paris dress fashionably? To start with, fashion is no longer a one-dimensional thing, particularly in a cosmopolitan city like Paris, which has an amalgam of styles with sources spanning the entire globe. On any given day, you’re likely to spot someone wearing a sub-saharian African djellaba, someone with a Texas cowboy hat, or someone wrapped in East Indian cloth with a red dot on their forehead.

Designers in the fashion industry are themselves frequently inspired by non-western dress styles they encounter on the streets of Paris. As fashion goes, that ought to put a little perspective on the topic of what to wear in Paris France.

But in general, while there is no question that Parisians are very much a fashion oriented lot, it’s fair to say that what to wear in Paris France is increasingly being answered by casual styles, and the international language of American jeans.

T-shirts, jeans and various jacket styles are definitely more common than ever before. There is however, as in anything Parisian, a certain flair in how you wear it (i.e., it’s not just any old jeans and t-shirt).

You will surely also see a lot of young professionals dressed in chic business suits and designer outfits, but unless your trip is of a business nature, you probably won’t care to dress that way. Instead, you’ll most likely go for a vacation look.

You’ll ultimately have endless options and the choice is always yours, but there are a couple of things you want to keep in mind when choosing what to wear in Paris France.

For instance, Parisians seldom wear shorts. It’s simply not part of Paris fashion or Parisian style. At the very least, it is rare, and is a “non-local” dead giveaway. Hip guys don’t wear them (except for cargo shorts of late), and young women will instead wear skirts of various lengths, although shorts of the “hot pants” variety can sometimes be seen on the streets.

The same goes for flip-flop slippers and thick-sole athletic sneakers. Lighter, more elegant athletic shoe styles have sprouted all over Europe in recent years, and are the type of sneakers that the locals wear.

Again, there are no rules keeping you from wearing whatever you prefer. As a traveler, I think there are right-off-the-plane backpackers’ and other rugged looks that are perfectly fine at the appropriate time and place.

The MO is what’s appropriate and what you’re comfortable in. Visitor or not, some people don’t like to look like tourists; some don’t mind. If you are the type that would rather blend in, here’s a tip about what to wear in Paris France. Shoot for the best of both worlds, going for comfort but looking stylish doing it.

Because of the amount of walking you will be subjected to, the answer to what to wear in Paris France should begin with your feet. It’s all about the shoes, Baby! At least, that's where it all starts. Whether you decide to pack them or to go shop for them once in Paris, put some effort into it; they will make all the difference.

Go to any evening outing, or a nice restaurant, and watch the eyes of the person who greets you at the door. 9 times out of 10, they might just glance at your clothes, but they will notice the shoes. Try going into a somewhat exclusive nightclub with shoes that raise the wrong flag. Not a chance!

I’m not suggesting that you go out and buy a pair of the latest $500 Charles Jourdan or Mario Valentino, only that you remember what won’t work. A nice pair of soft leather shoes in a basic color will do the trick. Here is a good test: You should be able to wear them for an entire day of sightseeing and, if that’s your thing, to the opera later that night without a fuss. Of course, you could go in and change each time, but the idea is to be able to avoid that inconvenience.

I once had a black pair of soft leather ankle-boots with flexible sole that I must have worn through every one of as many as 10 countries I visited at one point. They were so useful and versatile, I almost had to give them a proper funeral when I finally wore them to death!

Of late, certain athletic shoes do come in varieties that are both comfy like sneakers and stylish enough to wear with slacks or dress pants and of course, jeans. My personal taste is something with a little less sports-like undertones for those nights out on the town, but to each their own.

While ladies might require more specific style advice than I’m qualified to give, the same basics apply across the board. Regardless of the style you choose, sneakers, open-toe, low heels, boots, the emphasis should be on comfort, style and versatility.

Once you’ve taken care of the shoes, what to wear in Paris France during your trip will prove a lot more painless. Pretty much anything you usually wear will be fine (I don’t mean worn out sweats). I do have to say as a word of caution, that Paris has a way of making you feel really outshined in some situations. So, be warned...

I suppose that’s where the “fashion capital of the world” bit comes in. There is simply so much availability and access to the finest fashion from local sources, and from anywhere in the world, that when people do go for style, it’s rather impeccable.

Another contributing factor is that in Paris, you dress in layers. Generally speaking, temperatures can swing from cool to warm or vice versa in the course of a day. Therefore, people are used to preparing for either adding clothes on or stripping down as necessary. This would include jackets, sweaters, occasional raincoats, etc. Of course, layering is done with a keen eye on coordination.

When selecting what to wear in Paris France during your trip, the one thing to keep in mind is that style and fashion in Paris are so diverse that with a few minor adjustments, you can easily get away with wearing whatever your usual favorites are (hmmm, on second thoughts, insert disclaimer here… just kidding, sort of). Seriously though, with those few guidelines in mind, you should be just fine.

If you’re planning for some evenings very much on the chic side, you might also consider packing a nice pair of black slacks, dress shirt or blouse, or the indispensable little black dress (ladies only, please…)

Wow! Now that I got you guys dressed so nicely, we should meet up for a couple of cocktails! À bientôt... ;=)

Related articles: Shopping in Paris | Paris Fashion Show

Paris Department Stores

Go from "What To Wear In Paris France" to Homepage

Back to top