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Dress Like a Local: What To Wear in Paris

Be an incognito tourist in the French capital with these classically Parisian fashion tips and tricks.
Hi, I'm Claire!

Claire Bullen is an award-winning food, drinks, and travel writer and editor who has lived and worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and London. She is the author of The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, and the editor at Her writing has also appeared in Time Out New York, The Daily Meal, Pellicle Magazine, and beyond.

One of the world’s great fashion capitals, Paris is a famously style-conscious city. For visitors, that can be more than a little intimidating. Begin by leaving behind your athleisure, avoiding anything too flashy or trendy, and not dressing like Emily from Emily in Paris.

Instead, invest in timeless pieces, edit your accessories, and pick up vintage staples. Whether you want to try on French styles for yourself (or just disguise the fact that you’re a tourist), these tips and tricks can help cultivate that Parisian sense of style.

Invest in the classics

Person wears a black leather jacket and carries a handbag in France
A classic jacket will lift any look.Bildquelle: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Parisians know timeless always beats trendy.

Trends come and go, but style is forever—especially in Paris. If you’re packing your suitcase, leave behind the Shein hauls or clothes that reflect whatever microtrend is popular on TikTok that week.

Instead, do as the French do, and bring along classic, timeless pieces. Get in the longer-term habit of building a curated wardrobe of high-quality staples. Items such as a well-made trenchcoat, a black leather biker jacket, or a perfectly tailored dress never go out of style—and on the streets of Paris, they’ll have you fitting right in with the best-dressed set.

Insider tip: Still need help? Book a personal shopping and styling session upon your arrival, and you’ll soon master that perfectly Parisian je ne sais quoi.

Avoid going over-the-top

Person walks along the Seine embankment in Paris
Think: understated.Bildquelle: Nikonov Vladimir / Shutterstock

Whatever Emily does? Don’t do that.

If you thought Emily in Paris was a good representation of how people dress in the French capital, think again. The show’s inaccuracies have provoked scorn among Parisian audiences, and Emily’s unmissably gaudy look—complete with full makeup, bold accessories, loud fabrics, and sky-high stilettos—veers more costumey caricature than an accurate portrayal of French tastes.

If you want to try out some French fashion without veering into parody, don a neutral-hued beret or a Breton striped shirt, both of which Parisians regularly wear. Just don’t wear both at once, which is overkill.

Related: 8 Emily in Paris Filming Locations to Add to Your Paris Itinerary

Opt for a neutral palette

Person in puffy winter coat in Paris
Every good Parisian knows a neutral goes a long way.Bildquelle: Artyom Lezhnyuk / Shutterstock

Because your clothes should murmur, not shout.

Wearing noisy patterns or neon hues in Paris is roughly the equivalent of standing in front of the Eiffel Tower with a baguette in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other and screaming, “I’M A TOURIST!” The prevailing Parisian palette, reflective of the city’s typically grisaille (greyish) weather, leans more neutral.

You can’t go wrong with black, taupe, gray, or cream, while a tastefully-chosen animal print or metallic mixed in offers a bit of pop without garishness. If you do opt for color, stick with a single shade, and style it with neutral layers and minimal accessories.

Don’t fear vintage

Person wearing blue jeans and carrying a Chanel bag
Vintage accessories or jeans can lift a Parisian look.Bildquelle: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Learn a Parisian fashion trick and mix newer pieces with vintage favorites.

Paris is famed as a shopping destination—but that doesn’t mean you have to empty your wallet on a wardrobe of fresh-off-the-rack pieces. Well-loved and well-kept vintage is as much a part of the typical Parisian wardrobe as newer designer pieces.

If you’re looking to scoop up some second-hand finds of your own, head to the fashion-centric Le Marais neighborhood—or embark on a guided tour of the city’s antique and flea markets. Keep an eye out for a perfectly worn-in leather bag or pair of throwback Levi’s.

Related: The New Parisienne Author Lindsey Tramuta’s Guide to Shopping in Paris

For hair and makeup, less is more

Person with ruffled hair and neutral makeup enjoys a coffee in Paris
Less is more when it comes to Parisian hair and makeup.Bildquelle: RossHelen / Shutterstock

Opt for understated glamor rather than overly primped.

Put the contouring brush away, and don’t worry about that hair straightener during your next trip. In Paris, less is more when it comes to your beauty routines.

Instead of a full face of foundation, bronzer, blush, and lip gloss, keep it simple with moisturizer, sunscreen, and a light coat of mascara or a classic red lip. As for your hair, slightly tousled tresses lend a laid-back vibe to your look and read far more Parisian than any hairdo that’s been curled, straightened, sprayed, or gelled into submission.

Leave the sweatpants at home

Person strides through Paris wearing jeans and white boots
Skip the athleisure in Paris.Bildquelle: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Nothing is a bigger tourist giveaway in this style-centric city.

Parisians might not like to get over-the-top dolled up before a night out—but that doesn’t mean they’re all about keeping it casual. One of the most obvious faux pas for any visitor to Paris is wearing loungewear, athleisure, or gym clothes out in public.

Yoga pants? Wear ‘em to yoga. Leggings? Still a no. Comfy sweatshirts, holey sweatpants, and a pair of Uggs? Unless you want to receive scowls when you leave your hotel, save the comfortable clothes for home and head out and about wearing a more polished, tailored look.

Get ready to pound the pavement

Person strides through Paris wearing Balenciaga sneakers.
Opt for sneakers over heels in Paris.Bildquelle: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Certain sneakers get a pass in this famously pedestrian city.

It’s worth bringing some comfortable footwear for your Parisian getaway. After all, this is a pedestrian-friendly city, with cobblestones that make heels tricky. Just make sure they look as good as they feel.

Stylish, minimal sneakers are popular among Parisians and a good way to give your outfit a high-brow flair. Though locals often opt for designer versions from brands such as Isabel Marant, Givenchy, or Zadig&Voltaire, sparkling white low-top Converse or Nikes also do the trick.

It’s all about the well-chosen accessory

Person with vibrant orange hair and red lip wearing a headscarf and sunglasses
Go for one, maybe two, accessories at most.Bildquelle: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Think subtle sparkle, not all-out bling.

When it comes to styling your outfit with accessories, take Coco Chanel’s advice: look in the mirror and remove one thing before leaving the house. From statement sunglasses and scarves to clutch bags and jewelry, Parisians appreciate a well-chosen accessory. But unlike many Americans, who tend to pile on the accent pieces, Parisians keep it simple. Choose one (maximum, two) accessories to add just the right amount of flair to your outfit.

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