When you are preparing for your trip to France, one of the things you’ll be doing is packing and thinking about what to wear in France.
There are some cultural differences when it comes to dressing in France and the United States and you may want to try to blend in with the locals. This is more than a mere question of feeling comfortable because you are suitably dressed in places like restaurants… In big cities, like Paris, tourists are pray for pickpockets and sadly they are numerous.
Lisa & Francis’s tips for “How to Look French”
You can make just a few simply modifications to your wardrobe to appear less American and more French. Some things that are helpful to know is that there is less “unisex” style in France. Women usually try to accentuate their womanliness. Men are more secure in their masculinity and don’t hesitate to wear colors that tend to be reserved for women in the United States such as pink.
BODY LANGUAGE Adjusting your body language is the simplest way to blend in more. Americans are famous for their toothy smiles and perfect teeth, French tend to wear more reserved facial expressions. Americans tend to put their hands in their pockets whereas this is considered rude in France.
PERSONAL CARE Haircuts are very important for both men and women. French people don’t necessarily wash their hair everyday and they tend to prefer more natural looking styles over highly styled and overly perfect ones especially for women. For Men: Men tend to be far more conscious of having their hair well-styled and in place. To look very French, don’t hesitate to catch your reflection in a shop window and fix your hair! 😉 You are handsome and you shouldn’t be proud to take care of yourself. For women: Women will often go for a tossed, just out of bed look that is done in a very purposeful way so as not to appear messy but rather sexy. (Except of course for special occasions.) Pull a few strands of hair out of neatly done bun or French twist to give it a more French-look. Natural beauty and the charm of imperfection is highly valued when it comes to beauty.
Here are a few more simple things you can do to blend in…
LOOK MORE FRENCH BY ADDING A FEW THINGS TO YOUR ATTIRE:
French men are fashion conscious and are expected to be stylishly dressed even in casual settings. Looks reign over comfort when it comes to men’s wear.
- Striped shirts
- “Feminine” colors
- Newspaper boy hats
- New Converse, Espadrilles or well kept Dress Shoes and Leather Sandels
- Facial Hair
- Linen Pants or Shirts
A signature of French city women is that they are mindful of what it the current fashion but they won’t necessarily wear it. What is most important is wearing clothing that accentuates and flatters a woman’s body shape and coloring regardless of what is in style. Every shape of body is beautiful in France: Apple, Pear, Banana… not just the hourglass or prepubescent shapes. Find yours and do some research on what styles accentuate your assets and then flaunt what you’ve got!
- Neck Scarves
- Flat Ballerina Shoes, Birkenstock Sandals, Roman Sandals, Leather Boots, Converse, Heals… Shoes are accessories not necessities!
- Striped shirts
- ABSOLUTELY NO PLAIN T-SHIRTS: Ruffles, Lace, Feminine Prints, Pleats, Folds, Embellishments of any and every kind, Interesting Necklines…
- Leather Pants
- Billfold Dresses
- Animal Prints
- Jewelry (especially eye catching earrings)
- Understated Natural-looking Make-Up that accents just one of your best features such as heavy eyeliner or striking lip color.
- Purses are accessories, not necessities!
FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN…LOOK LESS AMERICAN BY AVOIDING THE SIGNATURES OF AMERICAN STYLE:
- Athletic Clothes (In France these are only worn when doing sports.)
- Baseball Caps
- White Athletic Socks (French men and women wear dress socks and they are rarely white)
- Flipflops (In France shoes are very important. People invest in good quality shoes. Flipflops are for the beach.)
- Sports Shoes (The grand exception here are Converse and Vans which the French consider stylish. But the French generally take very good care of their shoes, so be sure yours are clean and looking new.)
- T-Shirts with Logos or Writing (The French are far less likely to wear a shirt that advertises a product or university. The French also tend to wear clothing that is fitted, so baggy t-shirts are typically American. French women tend to wear t-shirts with frilly additions like ruffles or lace and feminine necklines)
- Shorts (Though jean shorts have recently become a style that some men are wearing in France, for the most part French adults do not wear shorts.)
Happy packing and Bon Voyage!
-Lisa & Francis