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).
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:
- Packing Light for your Trip to France
- A Packing List for Paris and Beyond
- Travel Tips: Packing for France
- How to Pack for 2 Weeks to France in a Carry-on
BONUS TIP : For both men and women in any weather, add a scarf for instant “Frenchiness”.
Avoid wearing in Paris:
- Attitude : Lost and dazed expression, loud excited attitude
- Style & Color: Relaxed/casual, oversized, loud bright colors, big splashy patterns
- Bags : Backpack, fanny pack, hand-held purse, selfie stick
- Tops : Tshirt/sweatshirt printed with home city/state/sports team or “I Love Paris” and avoid anything too low cut
- Bottoms : shorts, sweatpants, leisure wear, athletic wear, cargo pants
- Jackets : Plastic souvenir poncho from street vendor, sweatshirt, hoodie
- Shoes: Tennis/running, hiking, flip-flops, Tevas, Crocs, sandals, white socks
- Camera : Camera around neck, Canon or Nikon camera bag logo
- City Guides : Paris Guide book, metro map
- 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!).
- Style & Color : Neutral solids, particularly black or grey, fitted silhouette
- Bags : Zippered leather purse slung across chest, money belt, PacSafe or Travelon’s Anti-Theft Crossbody purses
- Tops : Designer tshirt, polo shirt, buttoned up shirt or blouse
- Bottoms : fitted dark or colored jeans, slacks, skirts/dresses.
- Jackets : Blazer, Chanel style jacket, tasteful rainwear, ScottEvest, peacoats or similar
- Shoes : Ballerina flats, nice sandals, Converse/Vans, loafers, fashion boots
- Camera : Non descriptive camera bag, or hidden in regular bag
- City Guides : French newspaper, Pariscope (available at newsstand Wed’s)
- Accessories & Misc : Costume jewelry, scarves, big sunglasses, fabric tote to carry purchases
- 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 or T-shirts
- 3 pairs of pants
- 1 skirt
- 1 dress
- 1 sweater or cardigan
- 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 !
– Girl Gone Gallic