Tourists Beware – What NOT to Wear in Paris

DON’T be a Target…

Why should you care about how you look and worry about not looking like a tourist?

Blending in will help you not only feel more comfortable in your new environment, but it will also help you avoid being a target to popular tourist scams. After all, if you are not recognized as an a tourist, then you will not be targeted by pickpockets or scam artists (see my previous article “10 tips to keep you safe in Paris“).

Since Parisians dress less casually than Americans, you may feel uncomfortable when going out to dinner or to a show. No one, after all, likes to stand out like a sore thumb and be stared at with disapproving glare (the French are experts at this).

What to wear as a Tourist in Paris

For the men, go for a Metro type of look (obviously not Metro Lumberjack ) as a place to start. Stay away from loose and baggy clothes. Gravitate towards button up shirts with a blazer not only for evening wear but also during the day with your jeans (preferably dark-colored).

what not to wear as a tourist - mens wardrobe

For the women, dress just a little bit better than you would back at home. You are looking to create ensembles that look effortless and simple chic. If you can, choose black as the basis for your travel wardrobe, add a few accessories, some scarves, and stylish but comfortable shoes (somehow French women navigate the cobblestone roads in high heels with grace, but I advise against it from personal experience).

Check out these links for more packing and wardrobe tips:

BONUS TIP : For both men and women in any weather, add a scarf for instant “Frenchiness”.

What NOT to wear in Paris - Women

Do they look like tourists to you ???what not to wear as a tourist - typical touristsThey do, and they also do to thieves and scam artists…

Avoid wearing in Paris:

  1. Attitude : Lost and dazed expression, loud excited attitude
  2. Style & Color: Relaxed/casual, oversized, loud bright colors, big splashy patterns
  3. Bags : Backpack, fanny pack, hand-held purse, selfie stick
  4. Tops : Tshirt/sweatshirt printed with home city/state/sports team or “I Love Paris”
  5. Bottoms : shorts, sweatpants, leisure wear, athletic wear, cargo pants
  6. Jackets : Plastic souvenir poncho from street vendor, sweatshirt, hoodie
  7. Shoes: Tennis/running, hiking, flip-flops, Tevas, Crocs, sandals, white socks
  8. Camera : Camera around neck, Canon or Nikon camera bag logo
  9. City Guides : Paris Guide book, metro map
  10. Accessories & Misc : Expensive or sentimental jewelry, too much makeup, baseball hat/visor, water bottles, store bags like “Chanel” or “Prada”.

“What NOT to wear” in Paris, examples straight off the streets…

Guidelines : “What TO wear” in Paris

All of these are items you probably already have in your closet, it’s about what you choose to pack rather than an invitation to go shopping (although I wholeheartedly embrace that as well).

  1. Style & Color : Neutral solids, particularly black or grey, fitted silhouette
  2. Bags : Zippered leather purse slung across chest, money belt, PacSafe bag, Travelon’s Anti-Theft Crossbody purse
  3. Tops : Designer tshirt, polo shirt, buttoned up shirt or blouse
  4. Bottoms : fitted dark or colored jeans, slacks, skirts/dresses
  5. Jackets : Blazer, Chanel style jacket, tasteful rainwear, ScottEvest, peacoats, or similar
  6. Shoes : Ballerina flats, nice sandals, Converse/Vans, loafers, fashion boots
  7. Camera : Non descriptive camera bag, or hidden in regular bag
  8. City Guides : French newspaper, Pariscope (available at newsstand Wed’s)
  9. Accessories & Misc : Costume jewelry, scarves, big sunglasses, fabric tote to carry purchases
  10. Attitude: Relaxed assured expression, calm

The idea is to keep you safe and avoid being a target, and one of the ways you can do that is by not looking like a tourist.  Attitude goes a long way as well.  It’s what I do when regularly I travel solo, and it works.

What TO wear, a few fun ideas straight off the streets of Paris…

Here is my typical packing list for up to 2 weeks in Europe :

  • 5 shirts
  • 3 pairs pants
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 dress
  • 1 sweater
  • 3 scarves
  • 1 pair walking shoes
  • 1 pair heels or dress boots
  • toiletries, nightgown, underwear

Just remember, should you feel you don’t have what you need once in Paris – you’re in the fashion capital of the world – so just go shopping !

Happy Travels,
– Girl Gone Gallic

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  14 comments for “Tourists Beware – What NOT to Wear in Paris

  1. Ayka
    October 14, 2018 at 7:35 am

    I was in Paris last year, October 2017. I was channeling Charlotte Gainsbourg (my girl crush/fashion icon) on my first day. This is what I wore: Ray Ban aviators, scratched leather dark brown satchel, navy military inspired wool coat, blue and white striped blouse, dark jeans, tan faux suede ankle boots. I was walking along Boulevard St. Germain (don’t laugh – walking a la Charlotte Gainsbourg’s swagger) and a Frenchwoman approached me, asking directions in French. I apologized and said I’m a tourist. Later that day, I was in a cab from Montmartre going back to my hotel. The driver asked, “How long have you been living in this city?” I was really flattered. Guess I was able to pass as a Parisienne that day. Not once, but twice.

    It’s true what you said in your blog entry. Before my trip, I made sure that the clothes I will wear will not make me stand out as a foreigner because I was travelling solo. I was fascinated with the classic, sophisticated style of the French and their neutral palette. I was making mental notes of the color combinations when I was there.

    • December 8, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      There is something about Charlotte Gainsbourg that is fascinating, she certainly has that “je ne sais quoi”! Good job on your wardrobe picks, sounds like you felt very comfortable during your trip and that your clothes made it feel like you belonged to the city. Why not continue to channel Charlotte once you get back home???

  2. October 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I love your comparisons here and can agree with this and stretch it to London and Toronto too (the two cities I have lived in the longest.) I did get a kick out of the older tourists outfits you put in here. It is so important to blend in and not stand out. Targeted travellers that is for sure.

  3. sabrinatrevis
    October 26, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Mhmh I lived in Paris for three years and I think that there’s SO MANY TOURIST in that city that you can actually blend in perfectly if you dress like them! I love Parisian style. When I used to live there I considered normal to go to uni in high heels, a fancy skirt and red lipstick 🙂

  4. Erin
    October 25, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    If I’m ever going to Paris though i have to remember to always pack black and neutral because I always wear bright colors!

  5. Paroma Chakravarty
    October 25, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Those “I love Paris” sweatshirts and hoodies and Tees are such a dead giveaway! hahahha! Loved the list, very practical and fashion friendly.

  6. April 20, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Europe is such a tough one to dress for as a traveler, thank you for the tips!

  7. October 25, 2016 at 7:30 am

    So many excellent tips here – thank you so much.

    • October 29, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks Janelle. Check out my latest post ” Dressing for Paris in the Autumn” and see what you think! Hopefully more good tips for your next trip.

  8. Ava
    October 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

    In what not to wear, third picture, there’s another person with a BRIGHT RED backpack. My friend (who is close to 70, no less) swears by them. She says they keep her hands free. Personally, I detest them! I think they are as tacky as fanny packs and being in leather doesn’t make them any less so. That’s my opinion, of course.

    • October 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Backpacks are never a good idea in my mind, just makes it so obvious that you are a tourist and who needs that! Bright red is particularly a bad idea 🙁

  9. April 24, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Great tips – Merci wishing you a bon dimanche!

  10. diane pierce
    December 15, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Great article. my bags are packed, I’m ready to go!

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