Photography by: Abigail Oliver Photography
If you have ever been to Paris, you will be fully aware that it really is the fashion city of the world, where everyone takes such great pride in their appearance. It really is like a constant fashion show wherever you are in the city. However, I must admit, I do think this is something that extends to the rest of France. Personally, I think the French have the best style, extremely closely followed by the Italians. There is just something about the way that they dress and carry themselves that is utterly divine, and I could watch people walk past me in a coffee shop all day long admiring what they’re wearing. This by no means is limited to just women, as the men in Paris have got such amazing taste in clothes. Being a complete fashion nerd, you can imagine how obsessed I am every time I am lucky enough to visit the city. I also find, that those who aren’t French like me, very much adapt their style when they visit. There are certain trends and expectations of the fashion that we all seem to adopt, purely because we are surrounded by it. When packing my case to visit, it takes me so much longer to decide on my clothes than it does for any other trip.
A walk in Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty and in the point of life – Thomas Jefferson
Dressing in Paris is very much considered to be an art, and what I love about it is that there are no limitations in who is able to make an effort with their clothes choices. No matter what profession or task in the day someone is completing, their clothes are still very much representative of the city that they are in, not the person they are or skills they possess. Having been to Paris a lot in my teenage years, I think that a lot of my lessons in fashion have come from there, with the women teaching me everything you could ever need to know about dressing sophisticatedly whilst also being true to your own style. The big thing when it comes to fashion is that you must be willing to put a bit of effort in, which actually in fact is always much less than you think it is going to be.
The Americanised style that we have very much implemented in the UK is the furthest thing away from what you will see in the rest of Europe, hence why I stray more towards the Parisian style than our own.
One simple stroll around Paris and you will probably come into contact with pretty much every single aspect of fashion that I am about to discuss about their style. Everyone is just so up to date with what is happening in the fashion world and clearly put so much thought into what they are wearing. The first thing I have always noticed about Parisian fashion is the accessories. No one has finished an outfit until they have completely accessorised, whether it be subtle or bold statement jewellery, handbags, hats or scarves and even smaller details such as broaches. All these components of French fashion seem to bring every outfit together and are never missing when you study what a Parisian lady is wearing. The confidence they show when strutting around very much is an extension of their accessories, as they use them to not just to make an outfit more exciting, but to show off the character that they are. It is a beautiful thing to witness, especially as Paris is known for the most beautiful accessories. Walking past Parisian jewellers is one of my favourite things to do; it is so different to anywhere else in the world.
As you can see from the French outfits featured, outerwear, even in the Summer is very much a staple piece of the Parisian style. Everyone seems to wear a tailored fitted blazer or beautiful Chanelesque jacket, to add texture to an outfit and complete any look.
You may have noticed that this is something that Meghan Markle has been doing a lot with her outfits, using a blazer or jacket over a dress or skirt to add contrast and create a more formal look. The Duchess of Cambridge always seems to take a different route, of either just a dress of a long overcoat, which is very true to British style. As you can imagine, I am a much bigger fan of the Meghan look. A lot of the fashion featured in the capital is very expensive, which you can always tell from the cut, however I must admit that places like Zara in Paris do a very good job of mimicking these designer pieces. I have bought some beautiful blazers and jackets at Zara in Paris, that look incredibly expensive. There is definitely much more variety now in the city than there used to be, in terms of cost of clothing. Not everything is worth thousands of pounds, or euros in their case.
Carrying on from the designer presence in the city, obviously it is still very much there. You won’t walk around the city without seeing a good chunk of Chanel handbags, designer accessories or even bespoke clothing. If you know the latest trends in fashion and what are the pieces of the moment, it would be very unusual to walk around without seeing them. I am not actually the biggest fan of designer clothing, as I don’t think most of it is appropriate for everyday dressing, however the Parisian ladies have an excellent way of adapting single pieces, with other high street brands to create the illusion of a much more expensive outfit that is very much on trend.
As much as I am not the kind of person to wear these designer pieces, there is something very beautiful about seeing them worn on an attractive Parisian lady. They have the poise and elegance to pull them off every time.
No one else in the world can pull off a block colour combination like a Parisian, apart from maybe a size 0 supermodel. It is a look that I am completely obsessed with, although I would never have the confidence to wear it myself. They are very difficult colours to pull off if you have any curve in your figure whatsoever. The only reason for this is that they really show off the silhouette of your outfit, so there is no hiding whatsoever. Obviously, this is just my opinion, and not something I am saying about everyone. If you have the confidence, then by no means listen to what I am saying! My favourite combination has to be bright pink and red, which at the moment, French ladies seem to be pulling off extremely well with the culottes style and bodysuits that we are seeing a lot of recently. To rock any block colour combination, my advice would usually be that you need to pair it with heels and a bag that adds contrast in texture, so usually a straw bag or canvas.
The presence of heels is much bigger in Paris, or any European countries. I think because no one wears them here, it makes people very self-conscious as they don’t necessarily fit in. The only place that I ever feel confident wearing them in the day is probably Chelsea in London, as everyone else is too. I don’t really know when this all changed, as years ago it used to be the complete norm to wear heels in the day. It saddens me that it has gone, as I always think heels make any outfit look so much more elegant and really are amazing at making you look thinner. I guess it is just one of those things that if you want to wear them, you have to get over it and strut your stuff anyway!
The final thing I always notice with French style is the contrast and balance in any outfit in terms of texture. There is so much more variety in the city with what people are wearing, such as a much larger presence of silk, chunky wool or cashmere. Not only is the presence greater, but they have more of a tendency to mix and match textures to create chic looks. Textured clothing is one of those things that is very personal to the individual. What looks good on you may not be right for me. The only way to work this is to shop around, trying out different textures that are out of your comfort zone and deciding on what you feel comfortable in. The look featured here, with the brunt orange silk dress, tan mac and brown heels, as well as subtle gold jewellery in my eyes is absolutely faultless. It looks so graceful and truly fits in with my ideal or Parisian fashion.