Friday, 3 October 2014

How to dress… when you’re an expat in Paris


It is fairly usual for any move abroad to call for a wardrobe shake up - a different climate, religious code and lack of luggage space are amongst the reasons why expats find that, when their destination changes, so do their clothes.  

In Paris, a key consideration is how to dress when living in one of the most fashion forward cities in the world. Known for its chic Parisians and eternal stylishness, the last thing you want is to feel like your clothes earmark you as a scruffy tourist or an uncouth foreigner. In a city where books will be judged by their cover, you need to make sure that your cover portrays you as your best (and most elegant) self.  If this makes you feel nervous, fear not - we have compiled our guide to fitting in and looking perfect in one of the world’s most stylish cities - with a little inspiration from Coco Chanel.

(Image source Pixabay: Gaetringen)

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”- Coco Chanel

As Coco, and our expat friend says, simplicity is king! Steer away from a mélange of colours and stick to neutral classics (black, navy, grey and white). Keep clothing simple yet stylish with a black pencil skirt, a beautiful blouse, a cashmere jumper and well-fitting basics. Hair and makeup should also be kept minimal (the aim of make up in Paris is to look like you aren’t wearing any!) and nails manicured. If you’re craving some colour, go for a striking red lipstick or bolder nail polish.

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”- Coco Chanel

Unleash your personality into your outfit with an accessory. An elegant scarf is the Parisians complement of choice. If scarves aren’t your thing though try a belt or necklace. The key to accessorising remains in it being simple, so take Chanel’s advice and stick to the minimum.
If French fashion had a national colour, it would be black. When in doubt of what to wear, a simple black outfit will have you blend in with style. Always keep a little black dress aside too for those unexpected evening events. 

There is nothing less stylish than being caught in a downpour or spraining your ankle in heels on the steps of Montmartre. Each country and city has its own outfit challenges - from London’s heel-testing cobbled streets, to the soaring temperatures in the Middle East – but the key with them all is to wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you. In Paris, make sure you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing and that your shoes remain both stylish and practical. While comfort is important, don’t get too comfortable - leisure wear is a big no. While it may be acceptable for home and the gym, keep it away from the streets. 


Image source: HSBC Expat Explorer

The best way to become attuned to the Parisian style is to observe it. Gain inspiration from the city and let your style take its own personal shape. Before you know it, Paris will be looking to you for inspiration!

Share your global dressing insights with us in the comments section or on Twitter (@expatexplorer).

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