Unimpressive Parisian Street Style

Is Paris losing some of its fashion credibility with the rise of street style?

Accidental shot of (hopefully) a tourist.

Accidental shot of (hopefully) a tourist.

I often daydream of Paris. Strolling down the cobbled streets, looking up at the beautiful uniform buildings on the way to a store or a gallery, stopping for an impromptu hot chocolate on a terrace on the sidewalk, and relaxing in the sunlight.

In reality things are much different: I find myself having to quicken my pace to overtake dawdling tourists and dodging out-of-the-way of those who have stopped because they have decided to take photos of absolutely everything. I’ll gulp down my hot chocolate as quickly as possible before my carefully-selected clothes smell of the cigarette smoke from other diners. With a burnt mouth, I’ll get to the gallery; listen to my audio guide and be suddenly jolted out of my peaceful, educational bliss, by a sweaty tourist, angrily telling me to move out-of-the-way so he can take a picture of his child next to the statue I’m actually appreciating (and he is clearly not)*.

Last week, I popped into Paris, on the last leg of a trip, as I wanted to go to a few select shops and take photos of what people were wearing. I noticed a distinct lack of style. For a city which is arguably known as the most stylish city on earth, there were only two people who stood out (and one, unfortunately was moving too quickly, trying to escape those dawdling tourists).

I long for this, but it is pure fiction. Image source: http://theclothes.blogspot.co.uk/

I long for this, but it is pure fiction. Image source: http://theclothes.blogspot.co.uk/

I cut my losses and decided to head to the airport early, before rush hour hit. On the train, I thought back to all the other times I’ve explored Paris, both on and off the tourist trail. Has anyone ever stood out as a street style inspiration for me, or is this city chic only in my daydreams?

It occurred to me that tourists are swarming in a lot of places and may dilute the true style of the locals. However, even off the well beaten tracks, only on three other occasions has someone stood out to me. One was clearly a model on her way to a shoot, and the other two were actually on a shoot, so it kind of doesn’t count. Oh and there was that one girl who inspired me to get a leather backpack.

Yes, great designs and ideas come from the Parisian catwalk, but in a world which is steering greatly towards street style as a way of measuring how sartorially gifted an area is, I have to admit, Paris just does not cut the muster.

Stylish Paris is as fictional as the rest of my Parisian fantasies.


*That actually happened to me a couple of years ago, and I am still really angry about it! If I go into all of the details, it will turn into a post of its own!


11 thoughts on “Unimpressive Parisian Street Style

  1. Hey! Great post, I definitely agree with you on street style. I have never been to Paris, or abroad for that matter, but I always imagined the streets to be filled with super stylish people. The image of tourists overrunning the place never really entered my mind, although that image would no doubt depict the most realistic modern day Paris, or any major city.
    I also wanted to say that I enjoy your blog and have nominated you for the Liebster Award. Enjoy!

    • Hi! Thank you for the nomination! I really appreciate it 😀

      Yeah, you’re right, most modern day capital cities that I have visited seem to have a lot of tourists. It is a shame, but I shouldn’t really complain because I’m a tourist too..!

      I’ve always daydreamed about Japan and I’m a little scared to go there in case it is totally different to what I think it is :S

      • Your welcome, no problem! 🙂

        Lol true, it’s a shame and yet we are all tourists sometimes… Although I think it’d be more fun to actually try and dress like I’m not a tourist and that I’ve lived in that city my whole life… No one need be suspicious of my constant fumbling about and shouts of excitement over an ancient artifact I must have seen a thousand times already :-p 🙂

        I really want to visit Japan someday too. It probably would be a bit different than what you expect, but I would hope that for the most part it’s the same.

  2. How interesting and actually quite surprising! As an American, I would expect to see effortlessly styled Parisians elegantly going about their daily routine in some chic way….interesting to hear that isn’t quite the case. I visited Paris several years ago but that was before the “street style” revolution and I really didn’t notice the average Parisian’s attire. I must say I was unimpressed with NYC’s street style also during my last trip (Christmas 2013). Of course, it was winter and freezing cold…so most people were bundled up. Still…I did expect more. Although considering that the tourist you have in your pic is wearing a NY bag …that only confirms what I saw during the winter…and it isn’t any better in the summer! xx…Cortneybre…

    • I think the media really builds an image of a place in our heads, and it’s always disappointing when it doesn’t live up to our expectations. That being said, it’s always nice to be able to say “The people of my hometown have more style than the people of Paris”!

  3. That’s quite mean though, I love to go there bec I heard a lot of beautiful things about Paris, but if locals would accuse me or ruining beautiful Paris bec Im a tacky tourist who loves to take photos on how beautiful the city is, then I would have second thoughts of going there, or maybe I just misunderstood your whole point. On the other side, it’s good to know that Paris is not all luxury as we know it =)

    • I’m sorry to hear you think I’ve been mean. And I certainly don’t want to put you off going there. Let me explain.

      Personally, I don’t think what I’ve written is mean because it’s true. The use of the photo of the tourist is mean and I did really have to weigh up the pros and cons of using it, but I think the girl is pretty unrecognizable from the photo.

      Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in Paris, at the end of the day, I still am a tourist there! And I’ve definitely been guilty of taking lots of pictures. I try to be as considerate as possible when I do so though. Other people will stop and not even check behind them, on really busy roads, to take photos. And sometimes it’s of things that are really unnecessary.

      One example is, on this last trip to Paris, a whole group of tourists stopped and completely blocked the sidewalk on both sides of the street to take photos of someone being accused of shoplifting by two H&M security guards. It’s a little excessive and disrespectful, if you ask me. Not only is it unfair on the poor “thief”, but no one could get past and people have to work in the area. Did they really need a photo of that?

      And as I mentioned in the post: A man touched me and told me to move out of his way so he could take a photo of a statue, even though he could see I was listening to an audio guide. He was fully aware he was disturbing me, but arrogantly thought he had more right to occupy the space I was in because he was taking a picture. This seems to be the attitude of a lot of people with a camera in their hand. (Oh and in that particular gallery, you’re not even allowed to take photos).

      I realise not all tourists are like this and this kind of thing is not just exclusive to Paris.

      I’ve also been known to wear some not-so-beautiful clothing. I turned up to a restaurant, which my guidebook said was “casual”, wearing a summer dress and comfy sandals and everyone in there were dressed like they were going the the Oscars!! I was so embarrassed, but I wasn’t going to walk all the way back to my apartment to change because I looked like a tourist. No way. So I totally understand that these things happen and when we’re in other countries we’re more likely to commit a fashion faux-pas, or even pack a whole suitcase full of clothes which are inappropriate for that culture.

      It is unfair to assume that people only visit Paris because they have the same daydreams as me. What this post is trying to say is that Paris is one of the first cities that come to mind when most people think of “stylish places” or “fashionable cities”, and yes, that may be true in exclusive events, but out on the streets, it’s a different story. And with Street Style becoming so important in the fashion world, Paris isn’t quite living up to it’s reputation.

      Don’t let what I’ve said put you off going to Paris! The buildings are beautiful, art & history are plentiful and the food is great, but don’t go to have a relaxing time, or be inspired by Parisian style because you’ll be disappointed. I can think of lots of places where the local ladies and gents wear more interesting and visually pleasing things. And as you quite rightly said “Paris is not all luxury as we know it”!

      I hope this cleared things up 🙂

  4. Interesting post! I am one of those people that dress super nice for work, but to run out for errands or weekend shopping, I just throw on whatever.. haha.. I think a person cannot keep up looking good all the time, unless it’s part of their job. Even celebrities got caught walking in public wearing their jammies, people just want to be comfortable 🙂

    • Yes, I know what you mean! I can be casual too: Especially on the evening walk with my dog, but I try to go out after dark!! To be honest, most of my casual clothes tend to be well fitted and I still make an effort to make sure the colours go well together etc. Maybe I need to chill out! Haha!

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