Paris has traditionally played the role of Europe’s ‘old soul’.
While literary romanticism and a deep sense of history lingers in the air, Parisian men are channeling a more nonchalant, je ne sais quoi approach to contemporary style.
Les parisiens have today crafted a seamless blend of France’s high-fashion ancestry – think Balmain, Saint Laurent and Dior Homme – with newcomer labels A.P.C, Ami and Maison Kitsuné.
It’s an ageless interpretation of what’s fashionable, keeping things simple and elegant.
Breaking It Down – How To Dress Like A Parisian
Most Paris men have moved on from the beret and pencil-thin moustache, but some classics like the Breton tee, rollnecks and well-cut blazers remain. Not forgetting the refined bohemian who still wanders the cobble-stone streets in silk, linen and some floppy type of hat.
Key tip on how to dress like a Parisian? They are big on neatness (no hipster beards here) and impeccable fit, wearing clothes that highlight the silhouette, more so than big statement prints and look-at-me colours.
Active wear is big in the French capital too, mixing with traditional tailoring that changes with the seasons: tweed in winter, cotton in summer. But the coolest truc of all for how to dress like a Parisian, is the simple way they work the basics – effortlessly donning a bomber, jeans and tee.
Sourced from across the pond, Parisian’s have refined the retro American look of a leather paired with denim jeans. Beating the yanks at their own game, the Parisian pared-down bomber or moto jacket never boasts excessive hardware and is cut super sharp, from the shoulder to the tip of the leather boot.
Largely monochrome, it’s the fabric and fit that catches the eye, and the little refining details such as straps on boots and t-shirts layered under open button-downs. Working greys, white and blacks into one outfit is the Parisian way looking trés chic.
While Parisians are proud of their fashion ancestry – think berets, waistcoats and lapel pins, today’s Frenchmen likes to intermix classic pieces with more comfort-driven attire, and even pieces inspired by England.
Smart casual looks are often tweed-ish with textural jackets or coats than look anglais, the fleck of sturdy wool offset by smooth, cotton shirting, and leather shoes.
Fans of activewear, sneakers often base a heritage-inspired outfit, matched with raw denim or indigo cotton trousers, which are cropped and relaxed. Like the Parisian, quirky leathergoods – think satchels and backpacks – are an essential carry-thing for transporting literature on your way to the Tuileries.
Oh, just to flaneur the streets of Montmartre as the bohemian artist and ponder life. Being dressed like an artsy, intellectual is very Parisian and is carried-off best in lightweight linens, earthen tones and pops of colour brightening up the deep-thinking mood.
Key accessories are often beaded or made from natural fibres such as straw, then worked into more structured hats such as summery fedoras.
But elegance remains an important part of how to dress like a Parisian, and the traditional boho must also be relaxedly chic, with unstructured blazers and pleated trousers making elegant his breezy stride. Two-tone brogues in pastel-on-neutral hues anchor the refined, eclectic look.
Tailoring Black & Blue
Not ones for predictability, all-black looks aren’t enough for the Parisian – opting for the more difficile combination of black and navy. The look is sartorially savvy with pared-back suiting, with pops of white – whether it’s a shirt or simply a pocket square, breaking up the heaviness of the darker look.
The key combination for how to dress like a Parisian is a slim-fit tee or rollneck in black under a navy jacket; and then strip it back – losing the belt and socks with your lace-ups, adding a beanie and sunnies for a different kind of accessorising that feels quite français.
Taking the denim train that is chugging on through men’s wear this season, Parisians have caught on to the rustic simplicity of the indigo, cotton cloth.
But, unlike the more hipster antics of east London and Brooklyn in New York, French denim maintains its clean lines and classic washes (raw and mid-blue), without vintage hues or heavy signs of distress.
There is an evident Nordic woods trend going on in Paris, with denim outfits looking a touch lumberjack with fleeced jackets and hiking boots, accented by denim shirts or red plaids. You won’t find grizzly beards on the stylish Parisian; but a button-type beanie is a trés bien addition for the winter.
Key Parisian Fashion Items
For traditional, luxury suiting look to Lanvin or Saint Laurent for super slim. Minimalist, unstructured blazers and pants are made by A.P.C.
Leather jackets are French rock from Balmain and Surface To Air. Overcoats from Dior Homme are sophisticated, while Acne Studios offers clean minimalism. Sandro offers great trenches and pea coats.
Linen shirts from James Perse and simple rollnecks come from John Smedley. Grab a classic Breton shirt from Topman, Reiss or Allsaints, and button-downs (especially granddad collars) look exceptional from A.P.C.
Parisian denim makers AMI are a classic choice, as well as the clean-lined jeans from COS. Source your denim jackets from Levi’s and Neuw Denim.
Frenchmen favour Nike sneakers for pared-down street style and more luxury kicks from Valentino. Bi-colour brogues from Paul Smith are a classic option, and leather Derbies in glossed back from AMI. Pebbly-leather Thom Browne Oxfords are super no-sock lace-ups.