I Moved to Paris and Learned 5 Very Valuable Fashion Lessons

In 2013, I moved to Paris for love. Yes, I am a cliché. I quit my job, left my comfy apartment and said goodbye to my friends and family in order to relocate to a country where I didn’t speak the language.

So much has changed since I landed, including—perhaps unsurprisingly—my personal style. I spent the latter part of my twenties living in Dalston, east London—home to, amongst other things, a dress-code where anything and everything goes. My wardrobe as such mirrored this more colourful, extrovert and experimental outlook. The first street I lived on was called Rue Rodier, and so it also became the name of the blog I started at the beginning of this major shift, charting my travels and adventures but also my photography work and the inspiring stories of women I meet along the way.


(Image credit: @ruerodier)

At 29 years old, I found myself in the French capital, realising that my once-loved, oft-worn stone-washed high-waisted '90s vintage jeans, paired with a colourful vintage knit and Reebok high-tops (that frankly made me look like my eight-year-old self on a trip to Disneyland minus the bum bag), weren't going to work in Europe's chicest city. Luckily after much trial and error in the years I’ve been living in Paris, I’ve picked up a thing or two about how to dress more effortlessly French and have since adopted a more timeless, grown-up style. I’ve swapped high-tops for pumps and finally found jeans to flatter my figure make the most of my assets. Keep reading to discover the five key lessons I have learnt during my time in France…

Shop My French Essentials

Lesson #1: When wearing heels, go low.


(Image credit: @ruerodier)

Style Notes: The mythical image of a French woman pounding the Parisian pavements in her high heels, I’ve since learnt, is just that: a myth. In fact, French girls' footwear choices err on the side of practical—think ballerina pumps, chunky-heeled boots and espadrilles. Thanks to Parisians, I can’t remember the last time I tottered precariously down the street, attempting to walk tall in skyscraper stilettos on an evening out.

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Lesson #2: Be happy with what you've got.


(Image credit: @ruerodier)

Style Notes: As one who has never been blessed in the boob area, I became accustomed to wearing padded bras. Since moving to France I’ve worried less about my lack of cleavage and instead opted to go au natural and accentuate what I do have with lacy, dainty bras—often wearing black bras under white shirts so as to add a little allure, as is the done thing here.

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Lesson #3: Ditch the skinny jeans.


(Image credit: @ruerodier)

Style Notes: Jeans are a French style staple (just look at old photos of icon Jane Birkin and now Parisian It girl Jeanne Damas), so I’ve learnt a thing or two about jeans and how to find the best fit. They have since become the foundation of my wardrobe, and I’ve lost count of how many I have! A high-waisted pair of jeans with a straight leg or slight flair is much more flattering and will balance out wider hips than slimmer styles.

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Lesson #4: Wear colour, but not too much.


(Image credit: @ruerodier)

Style Notes: I was so fearful of wearing colour in my first couple of years living in Paris that I wore a palette of predominantly black, white and grey. Gradually, as I’ve become more confident with my style choices, I have started introducing more colour into my wardrobe. I find that going tonal is the best way to wear colour and I never wear more than three different shades at a time.

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Lesson #5: Do make investment purchases.


(Image credit: @ruerodier)

Style Notes: French women are famed for their timeless elegance. This is because they tend not to religiously follow fashion trends and instead opt to invest in pieces that will last longer. Gone are my days of shopping fast fashionable items that will only last a few washes. I now invest in albeit more expensive pieces made to last. I bought this Isabel Marant jacket last autumn (pictured above), which is easily adaptable from season to season. Vintage is great too and Vestiaire Collective is a good resource.

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See more of Marissa's fashion adventures over on her blog Rue Roider and Instagram handle @ruerodier.

This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

Next Up, The 9 Most Expensive-Looking Pieces on the High Street This Week

Marissa Cox