How to Dress Like a Parisian / by Erika Belavy

Parisians has a signature look - casual, never-overdressed-yet-never-underdressed - which means looking effortlessly chic at all times. Here are my top 7 tips to help you embrace your inner Parisienne.

1. La Mariniere (Striped Shirt)

An absolute essential for every Parisian is the striped shirt! Also known as the Breton Stripe, this pattern hit the mainstream after being worn by the French navy in the 1850's. The design was originally a white boat neck shirt with long sleeves and 21 navy stripes to represent each of Napoleon's victories. 

Inspired by her visits to the French coast, Coco Chanel designed a striped shirt of her own for her nautical collection in 1917. In the following decades, it would be seen on Audrey Hepburn, Pablo Picasso, Brigitte Bardot, Andy Warhol, and Marilyn Monroe. With it's clean, timeless look, this is one of the most beloved wardrobe staples of a Parisenne.

A striped shirt and playful silhouettes make this outfit.

A striped shirt and playful silhouettes make this outfit.

2. Neutrals

Parisians like to keep their colour palette simple. Think creamy whites, black, navy blues - stick to hushed tones and colour palettes. When in doubt, wear black! A touch of colour is ok, as long as it's a single deliberate pop of colour and not overwhelming. Parisian women are laid back, but not boring, and their confidence shines through without having to wear loud hues that scream for attention. In terms of accessories, keep them to a minimum and don't overload your ensemble with too many pieces.

 3. A Balanced Silhouette

If you're wearing something tight on top, go for loose bottoms and vice versa. An entire outfit that's too form-fitting or structured has no place in the Parisian wardrobe. Give your style a carefree touch by sticking to relaxed fits without looking too baggy.

4. The Coiffé-Decoiffé (Kwah-fay-day-kway-fay)

The final touch in your Parisian look is to embrace the coiffé-decoiffé hairstyle. French for bed-head, this is what Parisian women wear best. Look chic yet nonchalant, with the perfect "I woke up like this" flair. *Note* this actually requires styling effort. Do not leave the house with ACTUAL bed-head :)

5. Embrace the Flats

Flat shoes are key in Paris. With the cobblestone streets, you'll rarely catch a Parisian woman strutting in 6-inch heels - unless it's fashion week of course! Otherwise mid-heel ankle boots are a great option to stay dressy yet comfortable enough to spend your day walking around and exploring the city.

A balanced silhouette and flats for those cobblestone streets!

A balanced silhouette and flats for those cobblestone streets!

6. A Touch of Red

Parisian women keep makeup to a minimum. Instead, they focus on being well groomed. Skin is well-hydrated and exfoliated. Maybe they'll wear a BB Cream, but heavy foundation, eyeshadows and heavy eye-liner are a no-no. A gentle touch of mascara and a red lipstick go a long way.

Parisians love bright red lips and a nonchalant hairstyle.

Parisians love bright red lips and a nonchalant hairstyle.

7. Classic Pieces

Classic wardrobe staples such as a beige trench coat, black leather jacket and signature quilted Chanel purse will instantly make you look like a local. The key principles to keep in mind when you're packing your bag are: simplicity, versatility and practicality.

So where do Parisians shop? Some of my favourite brands include:

Sandro and Maje - with shops around the capital, these two brands could be considered the official uniform suppliers of Parisian women aged between 18 and 40. 

Iro - A black leather jacket from this signature brand has been on my shopping list for a while!

Isabel Marant - A favourite worldwide, pieces are bohemian, flatering and easy to wear. There is also has a more affordable range, Isabel Marant Etoile

Carven Youthful couture with playful silhouettes. 

APC and COS - Clean, simple shapes for a timeless, androgynous aesthetic. COS is not actually French, but is a favourite among Parisians nonetheless.