A frequently asked question on the interwebs is “What Should I Wear in Paris?”. And why not? When visiting this legendary fashion capital, visitors want to do their best to look as chic as the Parisians. A question that is often addressed for women, but what do the wannabe monsieurs of this world wear if they want to dress like a Parisian man?
While the cobblestone streets are littered with citizens parading their mysterious je ne sais quoi vibes, the true Parisian style is a perfect combination of très chic and laidback (chic-décontracté). From born-and-bred Parisians to passing inhabitants, the true power of all French fashion is being effortlessly elegant – where you don’t try too hard or look like you’ve spent hours on finding the right outfit.
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Just a little bit more sophisticated than overall French fashion, Parisian style revolves around classic pieces, neutral tones, and a cool, nonchalant attitude. Knowing how to master the balance between chic and casual is the perfect entry point to be a part of les Parisiens.
What do men wear in Paris every day?
While fashion tips for women are abundant and all-encompassing, it can be a tad bit difficult for men to find their style statements. The City of Light has a distinct fashion sense that a lot of male visitors find hard to follow. More than just about clothes and accessories, adopting the authentic Parisian style is all about feeling confident in what you wear.
The French style is closer to what Americans would refer to as “business casual”. While trying to pull off the Parisian style, one should aim for more blacks and neutrals rather than bright colors. With neutral tones ranging from classic beige, white, grey, and black to burgundy, navy blue, and brown, the Parisian style borders on being discreet and risk-free.
The advantage of neutrals is that they can be paired with almost anything and a pop of color can be added with a few simple accessories.
While some French men prefer to wear suits for work, others pull them out for special occasions. The Parisian fit is slightly slimmer than the regular American fit and can take some time to get used to.
A slightly more relaxed fit in menswear is perfect for those summer evening flaneurs around the cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montmartre. To relive life as an intellectual, bohemian artist, it is necessary to learn the concept of well-groomed and slightly undone- a tricky combination to achieve.
While jackets and trousers are tailored to fit, a pair of jeans, on the other hand, is a more casual affair. Denim is a staple fabric in Paris, whether slim-fit jeans, skinny jeans, or relaxed fit. Vintage denim with a casual t-shirt and leather/bomber jacket is a favorite for most social outings.
Sturdy boots or white sneakers can bring together any well-curated denim-on-leather ensemble.
Another popular choice is accessorizing. From subtle jewelry to statement scarves and un parapluie long (a long umbrella), accessories can transform even the simplest outfits into a chic look.
Lately, Paris has seen a boom in athleisure, so comfortable loungewear is an option for casual outings, but still in classic colors or neutrals.
How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Paris
It is common knowledge that Parisian citizens somehow always know exactly what to wear. While Parisians don’t stand out from the crowd, it is quite easy to spot a tourist in the French capital. The point of styling is to ensure it doesn’t look like you tried too hard on the outfit.
Here are some essentials to keep in mind when packing for Paris.
Men’s Fashion in Autumn
Autumn in Paris is a pleasant mix of cool days, sunny skies, and short bursts of rain. When visiting in the autumn season, be prepared for anything. A key style statement for this season is layering – think a button-down shirt under a classic cardigan or a cashmere sweater under a trench coat.
No one does layering better than a Parisian. While hiding the flawless outfit under a fluffy coat can be disappointing, embracing “onion dressing” can come in handy when navigating fluctuating temperatures and public transport. With the right combination of color, texture, and fabric, layering can create a timeless style statement for all occasions.
Men’s Fashion in Winter
The colder days of winter can bring steep temperature drops and icy sleet, with a rare dusting of snow. Even though it’s cold, make sure your packing list contains more than just snow-shoveling outfits.
Winter fashion in Paris revolves around accessories. From hats and gloves to scarves and wraps, accessorizing can make you look like a million bucks no matter how cold and dark it gets.
French men also tend to have specific jackets for different occasions- tailored camel hair pea-coats for business and meetings, warm weatherproof jackets for casual outings, and puffy down-filled parkas for colder winds.
Mens’ Fashion in Spring
Spring brings with it unpredictable weather, from sunshine and blue skies to chilly, grey days. Jeans are a safe bet as everyone wears jeans in Paris. Layering is handy in spring, thanks to oscillating temperatures.
Make sure to pack a light sweater (usually in pale or neutral tones) and light winter coats to go from chilly to sunny. A foldable umbrella and a light scarf are great ways to keep the chill and wayward raindrops away.
Men’s Fashion in Summer
Summer brings the heat to Paris. The sweltering heat means goodbye jeans, and hello chinos! Lightweight, slim-fit chinos are a win-win when it comes to comfort and style. Shorts, above the knees, are also quite popular when paired with button-down shirts and loafers or sneakers.
Leave your fanny packs behind, and invest in classic totes or shoulder bags. Short shorts or shorts below the knees are often frowned upon. Unless you dress them up like this:
French Men’s Fashion for Occasions
While the French prefer not to dress up too much for a show at the opera or a fancy restaurant, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for a stylish night out.
A visit to the Palais Garnier Opera House is a must for Paris itineraries, and as such, dressing for a show can be a daunting task. Since the Opera House has both, ballet and opera performances, the clothing choices in the theatre vary from business casuals to formal and dressy.
With a variety of options to choose from, the rule of thumb is to appear well-groomed and confident. A dress shirt, cardigan, and khakis fit in as well as a suit jacket with slacks and dress shoes. While dressing down can be used to one’s advantage, t-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes, flip flops, and shorts are an absolute no- jamais!
After a spectacular show at the Opera, it is quite common to lengthen the night at a Michelin-star restaurant- a must on every gourmand’s list. Michelin restaurants deserve respect, and as such, dressing up to match the formal decor goes a long way in enjoying the overall experience.
A classic, button-down shirt under a tailored jacket, fitted trousers, and a matching tie and shoes go a long way when visiting such fancy establishments. While most Frenchmen forgo the tie for such occasions, it’s an option that won’t be frowned upon.
Apart from chic restaurants with an Eiffel Tower view and mesmerizing opera shows, Paris also has sparkling nightlife. If the dress codes for restaurants seem a little strict, it is 10 times stricter when it comes to nightclubs. A polo shirt or button-down shirt, either striped or plain or floral, with a tailored jacket and casual jeans or pants is always a great idea.
Smart sweatshirts or turtlenecks paired with a leather jacket are also accepted. Smart, casual shoes or loafers and boots are perfect to round up the ensemble. Sportswear, flip flops, fanny packs, and big logos are automatically rejected.
Another great occasion for exploring and being a part of Parisian fashion is the Apéro- the French indeed know the art of enjoying life! An amicable moment between friends and family, apéro usually means a “pre-drink” where people drink alcohol, eat cheeses or deli-meats and socialize.
80 percent of apéros take place in summer, under blue skies and warm weather. Being a casual event, the wardrobe for an apéro is laidback and cool -picture vintage denim, t-shirts under bomber jackets, cozy sneakers, and accessories to round up the look- weather hats, and beanies or thin-rimmed glasses and statement rings.
Even though fashion shows might introduce new trends every six months, the Parisians have consistently followed Coco Chanel’s words that fashion fades and only style remains. While comfortable clothes go a long way, don’t sacrifice style for comfort. The trick is finding the balance between the two.
How about you? Are you male experienced with packing for Paris? Share your experience and tips!
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