Paris is known to be the “City of Lights,” “The City of Lovers,” and the cultural center of Europe, but it is also the fashion capital of the world. After watching many cycles, not seasons, of America’s Next Top Model, I think I know a lot about this industry and Tyra’s various wigs. (She has had more weaves and wigs than there have been contestants on that show.) If you haven’t ever watched you are missing out, so do yourself a favor and watch it around March 4, 2009, when it is supposed to come out (even though Karl isn’t a fan). Anyway, I am pompously proclaiming myself as a French fashion know-it-all, so here are my styling rules so that you, too, can look French.
- Hair is very straight and sleek right now, the longer the better. Curly is silly, don’t do it.
- Blonde is so five minutes ago, become, or go back to, brunette now!
- You must have bangs either cut squarely or side-swept. If you don’t have bangs, you look dumb.
- Bright colors are out, blacks, grays, and whites are in. Color comes from accessories.
- Jewelry should be subtle and not gaudy. If you are going to go gaudy, do it excessively.
- Coats should either be short or mid-thigh in length. Waist-length coats are not good.
- Your coat should be made out of wool or some other animal’s hair in a black, gray, white, or a subtle pattern like houndstooth or squares. No zebra print or anything like that.
- If you are older, a full-length fur coat is mandatory.
- When going out, you should always have a hat, but not a shaped hat, something woven.
- If you are going to wear jeans, make them skintight, or don’t bother, in a dark wash, please.
- If you are wearing a dressier pant, they can be as loose as you like, here, this is preferred.
- If you are wearing a skirt or dress and are not going out to a fancy dining establishment you need to be wearing leggings.
- You need to wear a high heel whenever you can, flats are dead.
- Your bag should be bigger than you are, you must have the largest bag possible, but make sure you carry almost nothing in it. That’s true.
- Makeup is very subtle and unnoticeable.
- No woman in France would be caught dead with French tip nails.
- You should always be wearing dark colors, but they don’t have to be black, gray, and white. Dark greens, blues, purples, reds, anything really is perfectly acceptable.
- Your hair either needs to be short and spiked at the forehead or mid-length and styled to look carefully disheveled. (See my passport photos on the BLOG page for examples on how to do this.)
- If you have straight hair, and it is longer, cut it off. Nobody here, with taste, has long, straight hair. It may pain you, but a shorter cut for straight haired men is the best choice.
- Shoes should really be made of leather, whether they are dress shoes or casual shoes.
- If they are a tennis shoe, they should be a matte leather, for a dress shoe, the glossier the better.
- Your dress shoe should be black or brown with a long tapered front.
- If wearing tennis shoes, and feeling particularly hip, cuff your pant leg one time. Do not cuff any more than once or you will look like a retarded man-child. You have been warned.
- Jeans are only acceptable if they are a straight or slim cut.
- Dress pants should be of a slim cut as well. Baggy doesn’t work here like it does for the ladies.
- Your coat should be black wool or a gray herringbone. Anything else is silly. Mid-thigh is particularly in right now.
- Never wear anything meant for skiing in public.
- Every man must have leather gloves.
- Men must be much more careful with hats than woman. For example, if you have short hair, you should not wear a hat outside. If you have longer hair, you need to wear one and make sure that we can see your hair, too.
- Never wear a tight, form fitting stocking cap, or baseball cap, you need to either wear a loose fitting beanie, or a trapper cap. Faux-fur lined trapper caps are particularly in style right now, but if you are over 30, or look it, don’t try this–recipe for disaster.
Finally, if you don’t have a scarf at all times, whether you are male or female, you will stick out like a sore thumb. Every French person is wearing one at all times and so should you. Funny thing is, though, is that there are no rules when it comes to scarves. Wear whatever style you like, silk ones are particularly nice, though. All you have to do is fold your scarf in half, wrap it around your neck, push the ends through the loop and tighten. Then tuck it into your coat and you are free to go. When you take your coat off, leave the scarf on, though.
With these easy rules, you can look just as chic and elegant as any Fashionista in Paris whether you are in Des Moines, Iowa or Milan, Italy.