Right after university, I found an apartment in the Marais and spent a summer living in the city. During those three months, I really just soaked in everything about Paris and its people—and it had a huge impact on me. One of the biggest ways was the fashion.
It was in Paris that I decided I was going to pursue a career in fashion. After seeing the editors and models buzzing around fashion week, I knew I wanted to be a part of it all. But beyond that, it was French street style and the fashion lessons I learned from real Parisian women that made a huge impression on me. Many of these takeaways—like buying less and smarter—are things I’ve put into practice for years since my time living there and always make me feel more stylish. Ahead, I’m breaking down how I learned to dress like the French, even when I’m far from Paris.
Lesson 1: Skip Bold Colours and Go for Head-to-Toe Neutrals
One of the first style rules I learned in Paris was to stick to neutral colours like black, brown, tan, and white. The French tend to wear seasonless outfits that aren’t tied to trends, so these are pieces that can be worn again and again.
Lesson 2: Ankle Boots Are Essential
Perhaps it’s because Paris is a walking city, but ankle boots are required to tap into French style. They’re the perfect blend of practical and cool.
Lesson 3: When in Doubt, Wear Tailored Menswear
One thing I noticed among all Parisian women: Oversized blazers. Look for styles that are loose-fitting but tailored and style them with anything from a T-shirt to trousers.
Lesson 4: Get a Jumpsuit
Up until I lived in Paris, the versatility of jumpsuits never dawned on me. You can style one with practical boots or dress it up with heels.
Lesson 5: Skip Uncomfortable Heels
French women tend to avoid sky-high stilettos. Instead, they wear comfortable shoes like loafers or low heels that can work from day to night.
Lesson 6: Get a Bag You Can Wear Anywhere
The bags French women wear are very versatile and tend to shy away from anything too trendy.
This story was originally published onto the US site.
Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including Vogue.com, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.