While the French are well-known for their buttery pastries, cheeses, and wines, but they are positively celebrated for one thing: their style. There are books and magazine articles and countless blog posts outlining the rules Parisian style so you too can recreate it. Of course we all know that there is no step-by-step guide to style because style is unique and personal. However! I was determined to figure out how Parisians managed to captivate the world with their impeccable style, and I’m happy to say I think I know how they do it. The realization came to me one day, when I stood next to a girl in the metro who, despite wearing a more outdoorsy looking outfit not normally found in the style section of any magazine, still managed to look put together and even stylish. I wondered what it was about her outfit until I realized that there was my answer: it was an outfit! She didn’t forget about any detail, from jacket to shoes to colours and fit. Everything looked put together, and that’s really what style is all about. Nothing is done to excess, everything fits and flatters but they accessorize to unify and complete the outfit, in contrast or in monochromatic harmony. That’s how they manage to make even the simplest of t-shirt and jeans look good!
The classic Parisian style we see plastered all over media is all stripes, tulle skirts, high heels, and oversize sunglasses. It’s stereotypical but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Stripes and polka dots and feminine silhouettes are classics that everyone should have in their closet because they are versatile (dress them up! dress them down!) and will always be in style. The best part about these classics is that the prints and fabrics tend to be the accessories themselves, so it’s actually really simple to look good in these. A regular t-shirt pops with a splash of polka dots, the boring midi skirt gets a much needed oumph with a layer of tulle, and stripes? Well, let’s be honest, everything is better when it’s striped! The outfit above not only has these classic classics, but also has them in inherently French silhouettes. The boatneck harkens to the beaches of Brittany, and the d’Orsay flats are named after the 19th century dandy Compte d’Orsay (he was French, naturally!).
The Style on the Street
We live in THE era of street style, where the women crossing the street serve as modern day muses to fuel our style. In the land that knows how to dress, street style is subdued, put together, eclectic, and as always, very chic. Of course you’ll see Adidas trainers and ripped boyfriend jeans en masse, but they still manage to put their individual spin that elevates the look seen on many sidewalks around the world so that you cannot mistake that you’re in Paris. I’d pair these with a boxy, chunky knit sweater, basic crossbody in black and punctuate it all with a matte, deep red lip. The idea is that the outfit is greater than the sum of its parts. Why? Because it has all the parts necessary to make it an outfit. This is basically your ideal look to wear while post-brunch window shopping in the little boutiques in the Marais or Bastille. Both areas are known for their trendy shops, stylish shoppers, and cobblestone streets – thank god for the trend of comfort!
If Portjam were Parisian…
Faced with so much style, what would I do? How would I represent myself in a land filled with people who know how to compose an outfit so masterfully that each individual stands on their own stylistically? This is the outfit I’m digging these days. All black with pops of light grey. A contrast collar that adds a little touch of whimsy. Lace-up flats that are (like Adidas) pretty much everywhere. Grey crystal earrings and a grey purse. These are the elements of my Parisian style equation. Now if someone can point me in the direction of a contrast collar that costs a bit less than a few hundred I’d be the happiest of them all!
The real question remains: is this a French thing? I’ll argue that it isn’t. You will find tastefully composed outfits all over the world, though I will concede that they are a lot more prevalent on the streets of Paris than elsewhere. It’s a question of wearing silhouettes that flatter, the proper fit, a unified concept where styles and colours are concerned, and, most importantly, stay true to your own taste. That’s the secret to Parisian style!
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