Jetset Style :: How to Dress Like a Parisian

[trip style = urban]

Editor's note: This guest post is written by Katie Mogan Graham, a Canadian expat who is spending a year in Provence, eating her weight in discount Monoprix cheese, bread and wine. When she isn't butchering la langue française in her adopted home of Aix-En-Provence, she and her husband can be found touring Europe, keeping their eyes peeled for interesting fashion and their stomachs alert to all things gastronomically new and exciting. 

France: the land of cheap baguettes, expensive wine and oh-so-whimsical berets. Nearly six months ago, my husband and I left our family, friends and jobs in Vancouver to spend a year living in Europe. We landed in France, where we’ve been drinking in—literally—all this chic, quaint country has to offer.

Many of our previous assumptions about France have held true—the bread is delicious, cheap and plentiful, as is the cheese and occasionally the wine—but much to our dismay, we’ve yet to see a single beret. Quelle horreur! Perhaps this is simply a matter of timing {the beret may strictly be a headpiece d'hiver}, but it’s caused us to stop and notice what people actually wear on the cobblestone streets that surround us.  

One key observation—and one that my Aixois friends will undoubtedly dispute—is that the further south we’ve traveled, the less daring and avant garde the fashion. Our current resting point, the popular Provençal ville of Aix En Provence, is a perfect example. Aix is best known for its bustling weekly markets, which attract hordes of sunburned tourists in the summer, but during the other three seasons, the sidewalk cafes are dominated by university students and older locals with dogs. For a real discussion on trends à la mode, one must look to Paris. And so, without further delay, I give you a short summary of our sartorial findings from our recent visit to the City of Lights.

1/ Not-So-Mellow Yellow
Spring in Paris is a fickle thing; the skies are often grey and rainy with sporadic bursts of sunlight that justify the use of oversized sunglasses with umbrellas. This mishmash of weather was mirrored in the outfits displayed in store windows and on sidewalk cafés. Chic and cheeky pops of yellow abounded from head to toe, in the form of scarves, belts, purses and shoes. Of course, since everything is best in moderation, a sober dose of grey, blue and black kept this sunny look grounded. And since Parisians are the living, breathing {and often smoking} embodiment of "too cool for school", it really wouldn't work for them to be seen wearing bright colors from head to toe anyway.

2/ La Frange
I learned this chic new term for fringe when I went for my first haircut in France. La frange is not just a hair term anymore. Vaguely reminiscent of the boho heyday of the 1960s–70s, tassels of just about every size, color and material hung in all their glory. Like the color yellow, fringe was kept in check by being limited to a single article of clothing or accessory—dangling from a cropped jacket, clinging to the edges of a clutch or swinging from the back of a pair of heels. With the vast variety of styles, it appeared that there was no one way to wear fringe, except perhaps sans tie-dye, headbands or macrame vests.

3/ Stan Smith Adidas Sneakers
Paris is best seen on foot, as you can't go a block or two without finding some hidden gem of a shop or café that would go unnoticed if traveling by car {or even worse, tour bus}. This is where a "Catch 22" occurs: How can one wander the streets of Paris fashionably and comfortably?  Parisian women and men have solved this timeless conundrum by adopting the sporty sneaker—the classic, white Stan Smith Adidas sneaker. When I first heard these referenced in conversation, I thought my Parisian friend was talking about the singer Sam Smith. It became clear that our "lost in translation" moment was due to my extreme lack of sportiness {In case there are others out there like me, Stan Smith is a famous American tennis player from the 1960s–80s}. You don't have to know a thing about tennis to sport this look; these shockingly white sneakers are worn with just about everything, from mini, midi and maxi skirts to cuffed jeans and sleek suits {racket and balls optional}. My Parisian friend and her boyfriend have matching "his and hers" sneakers. I'd score that match "love–all".

4/ The Parisian Knot
I kid you not, the chic men of Paris have a knot named in their honor, and rightfully so if you ask me. This is one of the simplest ways to wear a scarf, but also sleekest and sexiest. Perhaps it helped that we were visiting at a cooler time of year, but everywhere we looked, Parisian men {and likely the odd tourist, hoping to fit in} were keeping warm with scarves knotted deftly around their necks. Men of North America take note and get shopping!

5/ Tailored Layers
Beneath their scarves, Parisian men continued to impress, with an array of carefully tailored layers to buffet the rain and wind. Blazers and cardigans—be still my heart—were out in full force, keeping company with slim-fit collared shirts and equally slim trousers. The younger crowd kept their pant hems a tad higher, exposing glimpses of bare ankles {mon dieu!} or patterned socks {très chic!}. These svelte ensembles were often worn by men on bicycles {le sigh!}, who undoubtedly benefited from the aerodynamics at play.

À bientôt!

Jetset Style :: The Everyday Sneaker
Jetset Style :: Scandinavia-Inspired Jackets
The Savvy Traveler :: Jackie

[collages by @heatherlovesit & photos via, vogue, wwd,,,,,,]