A Woman’s Guide to Paris Street Style Fall 2014

{By Brittany Sadler}

Paris is the style capital of the world – and not without merit. Even a brief walk down the winding streets or along the Seine is a feast for the eyes of fashion. Parisian women dress with a flair and uniqueness that is unmatched. It is both understated and eye-catching. Thankfully, this way of dressing, this way of being actually, is not unattainable.

I kept my eyes open on our recent trip across the Atlantic, and here are some basics that I noticed:

1. Parisian women don’t do their hair

paris street style women

Unlike a major American city, where every stylish woman has her hair perfectly in place, the women of Paris let their hair go. I don’t think I saw a single woman with her hair perfectly curled or perfectly straightened. Most either looked like they had washed their hair and let it air dry (usually it was a little messy and slightly wavy), or it was in a ponytail or a bun (not a ballerina bun, a messy, relaxed bun).

Give this a try – put together a stylish outfit, a little subtle makeup, and don’t touch your hair. Just let it do its thing and step out of the door with confidence.

2. Parisian women aren’t worried about looking perfect

classy paris street style

Again, in the US, the most beautiful women are the ones that look the most perfect – perfect makeup, perfect hair, perfect matching outfit. In Paris, there is much less of a focus on having every aspect of your appearance perfect – less glamorous perhaps, but more chic. There is an alluring confidence about French girls. They know they look good, so they aren’t afraid to let some things go.

It gives off an air of lackadaisical self-assuredness that is very intriguing.

So choose one or two aspects of a look to focus on and let something else go. If you do your hair, don’t wear makeup (or very little). If you decide to wear makeup, leave your hair in a ponytail. Let go of our obsession with perfection for a day.

3. Parisian women aren’t afraid of unconventional pairings

paris street style fall

I saw so many girls pairing clothing that I never would have thought to put together. They weren’t afraid to pair a long skirt with long top, heavy boots with a light dress, a loose jacket over a loose shirt over loose pants. It’s very free-form and creative.

Play with your clothes. Try pieces together that you never would have thought to put together. Try some unconventional pairings. Full disclosure – this can be hard for me. I tend to put together pretty classic outfits and it can be hard for me to put together creative combinations. But with some Parisian inspiration and some great fashion blogs (my faves: The Sartorialist and Man Repeller), I’m trying to branch out a bit.

4. Parisian women are very comfortable in their own skin and their own clothes

parisian women street style

As Hailey noted, Parisians look a bit like they slept in their clothes. They are so supremely comfortable with who they are and what they wear that their clothes play second fiddle to their faces, bodies, and personality. They seem to have embraced the idea of clothing and appearance as an extension of their personality so much so that it is apparent to everyone that looks at them. Rather than clothes as a covering, a mask, or a show, their clothes are them, a visible representation of who they are.

5. Parisian women do their own thing

tips for dressing like a parisian

I think this comes from being so comfortable and confident with who they are. Not all Parisian women are pretty, but they all seem to have this subtle self-confidence that allows them to be creative or even careless without bringing their appearance down. They embrace their own good points, the quirks that make them unique, and play them up unashamedly. If your eyes are your strong point, play them up with bangs or emphasize them with make-up. Bold brows? Let them shine, don’t tweeze them to death. If your hair is curly, leave it untamed. Freckles on your nose? Step away from the concealer and embrace them.

6. Parisian women have a different idea of sexy

paris fashion for fall

And make no mistake, French women are sexy. However, it is a much less overt, in-your-face sexiness than is at the forefront of American culture. American culture has created a Barbie-style beauty, where everyone must conform to a single ideal or be found wanted. It tends to be a very obvious sexiness – push-up bra, bandage dress, four inch heels. For a generally individualistic society, we are very mass-produced when it comes to beauty.

how to dress like a parisian

Even at night in Paris, when you would definitely see some short and tight, it was very rarely both short and tight. Short flowy skirts, tight black ankle pants. Clothing during the day tended to be looser – particularly the tops and dresses. Pants were usually skinny but paired with a less fitted top, a boxy jacket, or a slouchy sweater. Parisian sexiness is more subtle and much more individualistic. At the heart, it’s a celebration of the girl herself.

This observation made me re-think how sexiness can be portrayed. And I think it is healthier and more lovely when we take who we are, what makes us different and unique, and emphasize that – make it our trademark, rather than cover it up or “fix” it in order to fit the mold. There is an allure to a girl who wholeheartedly embraces who she is. So maybe it’s time to stop squeezing ourselves into a one-size-fits-all, curvy, skinny, perfect idea of beauty.

Create your own unique version of beauty – a version as one of a kind as you are.

What do you think about Parisian style? Any ideas about how you’re going to incorporate it into your everyday look?

[Photo Credits: Ellery Sadler]