Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What to wear in Paris?

French girls I get many emails asking,
We'll address this serious issue now.French girls The answer:
TIGHT JEANS -very tight painted-on tight.
Converse CONVERSE!

Yes it's absolutely true. Chuck Taylor Converse are HOT in Paris best in gris/grey.
Who knew?French jeans The super jeans can be tucked into the "riding" boot.
The ballerina will never die. A must have in Paris.French girl French girl gazing at big bags.French girl The BIG scarf.bed head Paris Hair.

French girl
We have not addressed hair. Bed Head is still the look. Very carefully arranged messy hair.
This is NOT Brit unwashed messy hair. Jamais! STRIPES.

You can not go wrong wearing stripes in Paris.
This woman is impossibly classe.French stripes Stripes + big bag + jeans + Fr. scarf

C'est comme çaFrench stripes Just a smidge of stripe/à rayé and you've got a home run in Paris.i-pod Did I mention the 'eeeee-Pod, iPhone, iPad?
Essential. Absolument.French women If you want to find out what Fr women are wearing for Gawd sakes get on any line (cinema, musee, Angelina and observe.
Do NOT shop before you arrive in Paris.
OMG Why does everyone do this?French women Chic Frenchie on a velo/Velib Le Trench is forever-if you have one take it.
trench coat L'écharpe has been covered in depth here.tourists The "Americain" look = trop shlumpy.
Non non nontouristsMore non-nons :(
I discovered this a few years back and sealed up my jewelry box. I have no idea why but it's true.
C'est la vie.
chic An impossibly chic Frenchie crossing the street.
All black works in Paris. And I thought only in New York.
Non! absolument non! de trop.
Burberry I saw this shabby-chic checked scarf in Burberry and went inside to inquire (700) Ouch it's 100% cashmere omg
Look! An impossibly chic French waitress
chicThe layered look always works.
chicThe impossibly chic French woman we all aspire too - sigh
The ESSENTIAL accessory - a Jack Russell terrier in Paris."Hot Dog" belonging to Sebastien Godart. 
I’m Carol Gillott, an artist living in Paris. Every month I send out beautifully illustrated letters that capture the true Parisian experience. Sign up to receive these whimsical treasures in the mail.
Thanks for reading PB ❤️
☕️ If you’d like to support my work, you can buy me a KO-FI here  ☕️  ❤️ Thank you so much! 
Jack Russell


  1. You have perfectly caught what Parisian women wear during the weekend!

  2. Do you use your cell phone or a camera to take these shots
    do people know
    do they care

  3. Ahhh, The Do's and Don'ts with lots of signature Parisien mid-stride photos.

  4. Thanks for the tips! I go at the end of this month and will leave my Nikes at home.

  5. What precisely indicated the "American" look in the first pic thereof? I love looking at the fashions being worn in your pix! Merci!

  6. C'est une très bonne description! Bravo! The boots, the skinny jeans, the Converse, the black outfits, the ballerines... it's all there. You should be a sociologist of french fashion!

  7. Le "Americain" Look:Le sloppy loose fitting jeans
    The quel ordinaire running shoes
    Messy hair not carefully arranged
    the Bag is decidely unchic
    The posture!!!
    Too much sloppiness IMO!
    So hit me :)

    1. Anonymous7:57 PM

      I Agree. I do not get this obsession with french or parisian chic. I see no chic in their outfits. All in black or white colors. What I see is lack of imagination and no risk taking. I love colors. You make a mistake, you fix it and you evolve in fashion. Yes, Coco C. change the fashion world, but whatever she created 100 years ago, Paris still wears. BORING...

    2. Anonymous2:27 AM

      It's called CLASSIC

  8. My daughter and I looked at that shabby-chic scarf in the Burburry window the other day. Not shabby enough for that price, don't you think? ;-)

    Ballerinas are de shoe to wear here too: my three girls own a gross of these beauties, at least. I hope it is a better investment than their college funds. What do French garçons wear, btw?

  9. Grace under pressure10:33 AM

    I LOVE IT!!!
    So right on the button!

  10. Mary-anne10:49 AM

    The Frenchies have that casual thrown together je ne sait quoi look so down pat.
    It always looks effortless too...sigh

    1. Anonymous8:00 PM

      They don't. You do not need imagination to wear all black or white. Same scarfs that were invented in1920s. Same Chanel bags. Same all.

  11. We just returned, and I have a few comments:

    1. Black is still the color, although spring green is starting to show up.

    2. This year's accessory? Thin thighs. Everywhere, and on display, in opaque tights.

    3. B&D boots--high-heeled, laced-up, tighter than paint. Absolutely right about the jeans, which seem to have come from another dimension but not to have made it entirely through the portal.

    4. Earrings can be found, but they are modest, and more of a thing for women over 40 than for la jeunesse. Necklaces, though--those are around.

    5. Remember: we in the US strive for chicly casual, heavy on the NAMES, as though we all had independent incomes (or at least were subsidized by ads from the names). French strive for casually chic, looking merveilleuse but off-hand about it. You wear the clothes, rather than display them. Your status is in your flair and nonchalance, rather than in possessing and displaying this year's item.

    6. If you are not mince, don't worry about it. We are ronde et joli, and don't you forget it.

  12. AH these Americans

  13. Big red bag? Check!
    Striped top? Check!
    Scarf? Check?
    Eeeee-pod? Bedhead? No earrings? Check, check, check!

    But I still don't look Parisienne and I don't think it can be blamed on the missing tight-y jeans, Converse, and dog.

    On a more optimistic note, will we be seeing series of street-fashion watercolours? That could be fun!

  14. Love your blog. Instant fave/addiction.

    The red flower bag [Non! absolument non! jamais!!!] is a Valentino (wanna be)

  15. Anonymous11:50 AM

    Will you do a fashion dos and don'ts pour nous hommes?

  16. Elizabeth11:59 AM

    Be sure to include the asymmetrical necklace. I see one in a photo.
    BTW the meteo lady on Channel 1 always wears great French fashion and interesting jewelry. Watch her between 8 and 9 p.m. She epitomizes the effortless French fashion look. How is it French women always look so toss-away chic when we have to work at it??

  17. This is great!!! Makes me feel like I am there!
    ♥ Jen

  18. Elizabeth: do you think they roll back into bed after getting dressed?
    Thanks for the meteo lady will look her up toute a suite.

    I don't know a thing about les hommes francaises...I gotta admit I rarely study them with the same intent...so much stubble, so many bald heads..smoke...

  19. You never dissapoint, Carol. Another delicious breakfast... thanks so much for your dedication; I am delighted!

  20. Wow, that's one helluva' post!
    Great pics and red arrows everywhere :-)
    "Bed hair" - never heard that before - I like it!

  21. Anonymous1:44 PM

    Thanks so much for the informative post. I had a pretty good idea of what Parisians wore, but this made up my mind definitely!

  22. interesting that so many have a cigarette in hand.

    1. I noticed the cigarettes too. (Love your name)

  23. Thank you, thank you for alerting us to Vaux le Vicomte. Definitely a highlight of our stay.
    Recommend Wine and Bubbles wine bar, if you haven't been there already. Young and hip and much fun, esp. if you can snag a window seat.
    Also took a macaron cooking class at http://www.cooknwithclass.com. Only 4 of us in the class (and in English, a Big Help) and the results were lovely. Not as lovely as hot chocolate and macarons at Laduree on a rainy afternnoon, but not difficult to make and we had lots to carry home with us. Mmmmm.
    Thank you for bringing Paris to my computer every day!

  24. I would love to see your celebrity dog and cat painting . Do you have
    a web page ?
    Best .

  25. sophia2:53 PM

    My Paris uniform (of course it is also my Chicago uniform): Black ankle pants, striped shirt, ballerines, leopard scarf, black trench, very large bag (Chanel or YSL Muse, occasionally striped Sonia Rykiel). I also wear Pumas for the big sightseeing treks like Versailles.

  26. Well - A major part of looking French is to be THIN!!! The Americans' weight is a dead giveaway, no matter what they put on....

  27. This was SO interesting!!!

  28. I love to look at the BIG BAGS but do not like to use them. I have a medium bag with a compartment for each thing. Also, when I switch bags I always lose things. Alas, can't be chic.
    All these girls in france look like SF girls.

  29. Do the Frenchie's have such a thing as "age specific dressing" or does anything do if it's done tastefully enough? I am curious about how this works in Paris, where women of all ages always seem to look great?

    1. Anonymous9:14 PM

      There is no need to have "age specific dressing" because they wear uniform, black, white and stripe blouse, with dark scarf and black bag. You in your 20s, you buy all these items and you wear them all your life. There is no style. Absolutely none. how boring is that?

  30. Ooh Risa good question. Inquiring minds want to know...????

  31. Cynnie4:43 PM

    Great post and sooo amusing!!!

  32. Fun, Carol! You could do that guy's job for the NY Times who spots all the trends and snaps their pictures each week. Oolala ;)

  33. I love your pictures! And obsess about Paris as well. You've got the fashion spot on. More more more please! :)

  34. Very fun post.
    I used to wonder why the French were so scarf crazy and then we moved there and I found out! Scarves feel so good. And if there's a nip in the air, (and there usually is at some point in the day)they're perfect!

  35. I loved this post. C'est vrai!!

  36. Letânia9:46 PM

    I spent just 10 days in Paris, and the only thing I've noticed was: anything you wear, must be ton-sur-ton. Boooooring! As a brazilian, tropical AND happy girl, I like colors a lot, but people looked at my pink and green scarf as I were crazy. Poor french and their greys, so chic and so tasteless. Sorry.

    1. Anonymous9:10 PM

      I am with you 200% on that . Have been in Paris and all you see black and white, you were lucky you saw some gray colors. LOL. How about these long pearls around their neck. It's been 80 years already. It's old and not fashionable in 2013..I am happy girl from Chicago. Colors everywhere. NY is colorful as well. I never been in Brazil, but I can imagine that is colorful and not boring. You know why French woman wear boring colors? They have no imagination and afraid to make a mistake. People are here to make mistakes, learn from it and master it. Not just follow something that has been created 100 years ago by Chanel. There are different designers were born and died after her , leaving their creations. Colorful ones...

  37. Anonymous10:11 PM

    Very interesting about the no earring thing. So I guess the only sneakers that ARE doable in Paris are Converse, yes? Love your posts as always, it's like a little vacation to see what you post.

  38. I am suffering from Brit bedhead as I type this comment. You are so right it's just not the same as French bedhead.

  39. Pour les ados en toute France.

    les slims
    les kafirs
    les Converse
    les Ben Simon

    Personally I'm not surprised French women don't wear earrings. They've had them in their ears since birth!

  40. I guess you could avoid les Converse if you have Michelle O's Lanvin sneakers...
    And who doesn't want those!!!
    The French are Boooring and quite conservative Ms. Brazil. And they do dress in a rather sheep-like fashion-all wearing the exact same basics. But they know how to give that little whimsical twist to a basic canvas that makes them unique and individual.
    The "It" factor.

  41. haha, love your style comments. Religiously read the Sartorialist, but it's nice to see stylish people beyond fashion show set :).

  42. I live in skinny jeans. I don't think I've worn any other type of denim since 2004. LOL

  43. I adore your "eye" in Paris, you're a sort of Jack London!

  44. So about that age appropriate question . . .?

    What's a 50 something to do? In NY, in those skinny jeans and converse sneakers, a stranger would stop me and tell me to dress my age.

    Stick to the scarf, black, big bag and ballerines, maybe?

  45. So what about "summertime" wear? I've only gone in the spring when boots and jackets are needed all of the time.

    Do you still wear a scarf in the summertime?

  46. In 2007 I saw a granny in blue jeans (not form fitting!) in Nimes and nearly fell over. I knew they were popular with the younger crowd, but a granny.....

    I'm on a diet "tout de suite" so that I can wear some tight fitting slacks on my next trip!

    I'm pleased to hear that it's acceptable for "women of a certain age" to wear earrings in Paris. Thank you "pieplate" for that update!

    I love your blog site and the ones about fashion are superbe!

  47. I still need more help on what to wear.
    Can you take some snap shots of chic and kinda chubby french women?
    Si vous plait?

  48. Merci for the fashion tips. I'm let's say "more mature". I'm NOT wearing tight jeans etc. I'm packing a lot of black and white and throwing in some great scarves and hoping to learn from you how to wear them for summer! I"ll also be wearing earrings. Not huge but I'm too old to change on that front. Any extra help for those of us that want to "blend in " from the US will be most appreciated. I'm aware that we will never be mistaken for French" but don't want to scream "tourist"!!!!

    Love your blog!

  49. Anonymous5:40 AM

    Bonjour !! Je suis Francaise,currently living abroad, but going to Paris tomorrow, I LOVE your blog I just discovered. You have such a humourous way of showing Paris.
    What to wear in Paris is so TRUE !!
    LMAO because Parisians don´t realize they´re being admired for their style, honestly most of the time it´s just a lack of daring, you have to look like you don´t care, and "conservatism" that makes this look.
    Big bag, big scarf, converse, jeans, black, olive green have been THE look for the past 10 years !! Or shall I say 20 years ?
    You have to be really courageous to wear anything else...people will be staring at you up and down with their judgemental look...
    But I can´t wait to shake things up !

  50. Thank you for this delightful summary of french fashion!

    Also, I wanted to let you know I have given you the Kreativ Blogger Award on my blog. You can see it: here. Congrats! :)

  51. I love your blog. Thanks so much for the fashion tips. I'm going to Paris in Sept and feel a bit more confident about what to wear after reading your blog. No earrings? Who knew?

  52. OK, well, you're not going to pour me into those bluejeans! Sorry! Black I can do, scarves I can do, even a little bit of stripes, but Converse?? Non! Jamais! Pas pour moi!
    Oh, and big bags work, and the petit chien, bien sur!!!

  53. Hmm. What about diamond studs?

    I love skinny jeans. They are the best thing to come around in a long time!

  54. flávia10:44 PM

    great blog, wonderful post.
    i've just find you out by a brazilian blog named conexaoparis. btw both of you have the same look about parisians...
    i love ton-sur-ton, stripes, scarves, ballerinas, big bags, cigarettes pants too but converse no, no, no...well, you'll never know... after 10 jours à Paris...
    and i'm also a brazilian, tropical and happy, maybe not so colourful girl.
    i missed the men tips, any suggestion for my husband? we're leaving next saturday.
    gros bisou

  55. My opinion on Parisian Chic after much cafe sitting and watching:

    1. Pants - whatever you want, who cares.
    2. Hair - pfft, it's just hair.
    3. Jewellery - keep it subtle.
    4. Flats, boots, converse - anything as long as it's not nasty.

    Just do not forget:

    1. Jacket or coat. Make it black.
    2. Scarf.
    3. Eye makeup! Do not leave home without mascara. Ever.


    - Cute dog.
    - Classy but subtle bag.

  56. Shoppin'Mama:

    That I can do. However, the cute dog must remain in the States for my visit to Paris.

    Loved your comments!

  57. Anonymous11:20 PM

    Im going to France in three days and I have a few questions. Is the Longchamp Le Pliage purse still popular there? And will I stand out as an American if I wear black rubber flip flops?

    1. Anonymous4:46 PM

      Yes, for sure you will stand out in rubber flip-flops. No one was wearing them except 10-year-old American girls.

  58. Hello,
    Have you found, pierce the secret look of the "La Parisienne" ?
    Is it Jean and Converse ?

    (I wear brown trench and black Repetto)
    Kiss, Béatrice

  59. I've heard the kids say "i-pod." not "eee-pod."

  60. Les cheveaux est fantastique! Merci

  61. Thank you! I'm excited to visit Paris for the first time and not have to buy anything!

  62. this was very cute! and spot on advise and observations! love your blog!

  63. I think what's missing is a cigarette and/or diet coke can...:)

  64. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Parisienne women may look great in casual clothing but please, have you seen them in bathing suits? Talk about not caring and I don't mean the thin ones.

  65. I live in Milan and London and I travel a lot through Paris and without being horrible I honestly dont think Ive seen a person well dressed, they look drab to be honest or overdressed.

  66. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Now can you tell me what women 50+ wear?

  67. Anonymous5:57 AM

    I absolutely agree with you, Superchick. French fashion is a myth, at least on the street and worn by everyday French women. Haute couture is another story altogether and THAT one does not see dans la rue. Smarter looking women, (prob still wearing skin-tight jeans and a lot of black or navy) are to be found in Italy, not France. I lived in Rome for six years and I think the clothes and people there are far more stylish but it
    s not popular knowledge. Gwendoline in Australia

  68. Anonymous10:51 AM

    The first couple of times we went to Paris, we loved how fashionable the Parisians were. When we were there last fall, after having traveled in Italy, I was disappointed in how "American" the Parisians dressed. The city also looked a bit shoddy and littered. What happened?

    1. Anonymous8:46 PM

      The first couple of time you were under influence that Paris is a Fashion Mecca. After Rome or Italy in general, you see the true color of Paris fashion. There is none. Same thing over and over again. Italy is full of colors and variety. Paris has one uniform. Black capris, black shoes, black bag, striped shirt from 1920s, and a scarf, mostly dark. No french woman is brave enough to even brake the rule set by Coco. French ladies, please get over it. Coco created her hot items 100 years ago. There was moon landing, internet, tweeter and so on. Move on. Change. Get some colors. Get out of your uniform. Try to be creative on your own way. Make a mistake, and try again... Do not be boring...

  69. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Converse sneakers, now that is funny! I know it's changing but thankfully Paris has NOT embraced wearing pajama pants out. Or that horrid hairstyle where women pull their hair up tight into a long knot on the very top of their head.

    There is no other way to say it but everything looks better when one is thin and healthy. Visually, the lines are more straight which makes for a clean look. Which reminds me, I need to get off the computer and go for a walk!

  70. HIlarious brilliant post, I loved this. So very true although yes I would have to say Paris women count their slim body as the main part of any look!

  71. Anonymous4:12 AM

    The Italians are the best dressed in Europe in my opinion. I have spent a lot of time in Paris, over many decades, but when I want to see some really great fashion, then I head for italy.

    1. Anonymous8:53 PM

      Absolutely agree. Italians are very fashionable.
      Variety and more variety.
      Colors and more colors. Not just black and white.
      I've traveled from Venice to Rome. Every city we stopped, had it's own unique style, which I found fascinating. I can't say that about Paris or France in general.

  72. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Just got back from Paris yesterday (6/1/13)and can attest to the accuracy of this entertaining account, with one exception. Well over half of the women I saw were wearing earrings. The rest of it -- Converse, ballerinas, scarves, big bags -- is dead on. Pants are fitted and not baggy, and same goes for overcoats or raincoats: a fitted silhouette. And dark colors always; whether that changes in warmer weather, I don't know.

  73. Anonymous2:19 AM

    thanks for your post Anonymous (6/13) as I'm going their next week and was wondering how current this info might be.

  74. Anonymous5:20 PM

    I am French myself,from Paris.And the stuff written above is very accurate about the Parisian style and fashion.Most of the items are still IN.

  75. I have a large orange bag. Will it be ok to use in Paris?

  76. For more tips on how to dress for Paris by a real parisian (me), check out my last post: http://dresslikeaparisian.com/what-to-wear-in-paris/
    Bises de Paris!

  77. I agree that the French usually look tres chic, but it's boring because color & individuality are missing. What I do admire is their ability to make a scarf look like they were born with it on.

  78. My favorite French fashion is from the '80s and '90s! :D I LOVE the clothes in all of Eric Rohmer's films so much! <3 Also, I adore Juliette Binoche's outfits in Bleu and Irene Jacob's outfits in Rouge (the Kieslowski Trois Couleur films :>)! They totally epitomize early '90s French fashion for meee :D

  79. Anonymous6:09 PM

    The schlumpy jeans are too long so they are bunching up. Perhaps rolled up a turn or two would help the final look. Love this blog - always humorous and informative.

  80. ClareHuckstable5:27 PM

    I have been watching videos of Parisian chic style on youtube. Most of the women are wearing earrings, but they are small, stud earrings. Of course, that is no reason for anyone to close their jewelry box. If one likes wearing earrings, they should wear them. You can be chic with earrings, just limit the other jewelry you wear. I usually wear only two pieces of jewelry at one time, including a watch. Only on rare occasions do I break this rule.

  81. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Sorry but I don't see anything remotely chic in the drab-coloured jeans and jackets and sloppy tops with a longer top showing underneath. I really find it impossible to see this clothing as 'chic'. All blacks and dark greys on drab grey days. I used to think you saw more 'chic' on the streets of Rome than in Paris. Anyway I find parisien fashion to be over-rated and the real style is next door in Italy However I adore your blogs. Always fascinating, always educational, and such a gentle friendly style in your dialogues. Chantilly was great. Have you been to Vaux-Le-Vicomte near Merlun ? Best wishes. Gwendoline in Ballarat, Australia

  82. I am not familiar with Paris trend, but as per your post i supposed that skinny jeans an the designer blouses are most popular in Paris. Interesting post, you have such a humorous way of showing Paris.

    1. this post is from 2009!!
      a lot can change in 6 years Eva :)

  83. Anonymous3:31 AM

    Red arrows add a nice touch. Very Francis Bacon.

  84. The schlumpy jeans are too long so they are bunching up. Perhaps rolled up a turn or two would help the final look. Love this blog - always humorous and informative
    black trench coat women

  85. The only "boring" thing about Paris style are the nasty comments from this "anonymous" stalker (of course) who don't stop to criticize the black and grey colors of Parisians clothes. Nobody ask you to wear it if it's not your taste. But I would know what is not boring for the grumpfy ones here ? Iris Apfel style ? I prefere to wear black clothes than no matching colors.

  86. Anonymous9:54 AM

    The first time I went to Paris I took all black, all the time. But I was much younger then. As I've become of a 'certain age' I find I look great in white. Not cream, but pure white. Makes me look 10 years younger. How can I pull that off and still fit in?


Love hearing from you