The Parisian’s Guide to Dressing for Winter
Parisians are known for their chic style, and many a visitor has tried to emulate the look. They might be a little judgmental when it comes to anything atypical, but this innate sense of fashion judgement (that any tourist wearing knee-high socks and sandals will have fallen victim to) means that there’s something in Parisian blood that just knows what to wear without worrying about it. Below are some fashion tips for when you visit Paris in the winter.
Get Your Coat
That being said, there are a few things we foreigners can do if we want to blend in as much as possible with the locals, and maybe even provoke a “D’où vient votre manteau?” (Where’s your coat from?) – the ultimate style compliment.
You’ll notice that the most popular kind of coat is a “doudoune”, an extremely warm puffer jacket filled with soft down. More often than not, these “doudounes” have a hood with a fur lining inside. They are wonderful for keeping out the cold and wind. No, we don’t share the same weather as Alaska, but the French really really hate to be cold.
If puffer jackets are just not your thing, don’t worry. A general rule when talking about what to wear in France is: if it’s black, it’s – usually – ok. So a thick black winter coat will do just as well. Navy is also acceptable. As is grey.
On Your Head Be It
Don’t be disappointed when I tell you that not every single Parisian has a beret. They’re far more common among the older generation. That being said, you won’t get looked at oddly in Paris for wearing a white fluffy beret every day (that’s me), and you may well get asked by a group of tourists to be in a photo. You will also fit in perfectly at the park on Sundays, when the old men get together to play pétanque.
In the winter months, a scarf is essential. The cowl (aka the infinity scarf) is very popular this season, the thicker the better. Knitwear is very on-trend too, so now’s the time to dig out that scarf your grandma made you all those years ago…
No Mean Feet
As far as footwear is concerned, you’ll see that Paris is a great city for walking around. This means that you’ll be needing a pair of good, comfortable shoes. Sneakers are mostly reserved for students, but you’ll be fine with a pair of black (obviously!) walking boots. Make absolutely sure they are waterproof before you leave home.
Like a Local
If you really like the typical Parisian style, and want to go clothes shopping before you leave, don’t fall for the overpriced tourist traps. The following are a selection of stores (far from exhaustive and not necessarily French) where the Parisians really do buy their clothes:
Expensive: The Kouples, Sandro
Middle Range: Comptoir des Cotonniers
For everything in one place (mostly upper mid-range and luxury brands) go to the Galeries Lafayette or the Bon Marché.
Travel tip: Get your body moving with a bike ride around Paris! It’s a memorable way to see the city and stay warm while doing so.
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