5 Styling Lessons Our Fashion Director Learned From Living In Paris
Since being based out of Paris for the last three months, our Fashion Director has taken the time to learn some style lessons from the French capital
It's been a weird time to be in Paris. I've been in the City of Lights since December 24, but needless to say, the lights have dimmed considerably during the pandemic. Terraces gone, bar chairs stacked up, and museum halls empty, it's difficult to see the usually buzzing global destination rendered quiet. One of the only upside, however, is being able to see Parisians and only Parisians roaming about town, and witness their style in plain sight. And some common elements became immediately obvious—and desirable—to me as I have had to acclimated myself to the harsh weather and social codes of the city.
Here are the five things I took away. An Instagram account I recently discovered @parisiensinparis documents it well, accepting submissions of any stylish madame or monsieur making the cobblestone street their runway.
Need A Lift
Sure, there are plenty of cool kids in their cool kicks stomping about town, but one of the most common footwear styles I've witnessed is the heeled bootie. Any sort of skinny heel is generally considered trying too hard, and just plain impractical for these old and narrow streets. Besides, Parisians are proud to be in a city that encourages walking so a kitten heel would turn into flats by the end of any excursion.
I myself have basically lived in my & Other Stories white "Storm Trooper" boots and they've helped me survive these streets.
See also: 10 Chunky Boots To Invest In
Women Wear The Pants
The heeled bootie (usually with a rubber sole) is often paired with bootcut denim or trousers—again probably a practical choice to avoid being dragged into the many puddles lining sidewalks. It's also the best bottom to dress up or down, being nondescript enough to let your top do the talking. Skirts are rare; in general the ladies go for boxy-boyfriend shapes over girly-girl flounce.
Personally I've found myself reaching for my Nanushka vegan leather boot-cut trousers on the daily.
All Wrapped Up
Parisian women are great at jackets. Perhaps the one thing I missed being able to wear the most in Hong Kong (given that it's always hovering around 30 degrees) is jackets, and I've wanted to stop every lady dans la rue here to ask where she got hers. In general, they're often of a wool, drop-shouldered wrap-coat type, again to allow for movement but also ample layering underneath. Occasionally there'll be a statement pattern, but mostly they're monochromatic and versatile and clearly a beloved investment piece.
My Arket cocoon coat has been my best friend this past season. For extra cool points, long hair should be tucked inside the collar (with a few loose strands casually dangling out of course).
See also: The Stylish Coats We're Lusting After
I love my mini bags as much as the next fashion girl but I have to admit, I haven't worn any of them since I got here—and, I've noticed, neither do Parisians. In general, the city slickers head out for work and then maybe grab a drink with a friend before going grocery shopping where they need to shove Baguettes or fresh produce in capacious bags before hopping on their bicycles to go home.
Okay, so maybe they don't all need to fit baguettes but the most common shapes are crossbodys in reasonable sizes and roomy tote bags. Even when it comes to designer handbags, the styles tend to err on the classic end; rarely would one see flashy, impractical arm candy just for show.
I am not a hat person, and I never have been, but being here has made me want to wear hats. Maybe it's because of the blistering, ear-numbing cold punctuated by annoying rain, but it's also because it's so prevalent on the streets that I would hardly feel out of place compared to other cities. Hats––from beanies to baker boy caps––are to Paris as bug-eyed sunglasses are to Hong Kong.
I'd copy the "perfectly messy-tousled hair tucked under a casquette" look if I had the hair but tried a super-cute shearling bucket hat by Atelier des Femmes instead.