There is this perception in America that French women are always classic, chic and put together. That they know how to combine any outfit with panache. For the most part, I don’t see it here. The younger women in particular don’t dress any better than girls in America, except that they show a lot less skin. It’s rare to see cleavage or bellies showing here. As the women age, though, there starts to be a difference. I’d say women 35-50 are marginally more chic than American women. And women over 50, much more fashionable. You just don’t see many overweight people here, nor elastic-waisted poly pants. No Seniors-of-Walmart types; they make an effort. Indeed, some of the best-dressed women I’ve seen here appear to be 65 or older. In the stores I’ve been to in the Marais and St. Germain de Pres here, there’s a lot more shapeless boho styles than classic chic. Also there’s a hard-to-describe style that I’d call French peasant style that is popular here … pale colors, cotton, loose-fitting, faded. Neither boho nor peasant style are all that great on women with curves. Maybe it’s just this season and the lateness of the season, but overall, I’m finding most of the women’s casual clothes in the stores very meh. (The fancy clothes are fab, though.) French women also don’t wear much makeup, which I love.
On the other hand, THE MEN. The men here are 1000 percent better dressed than American men. Groovy pants and cool shoes and man purses. Great sunglasses. Trim sneakers and sandals (with pedicures, not nasty toes). Jaunty hats on some. Plus all their clothes fit, and it’s still masculine, too. Bravo, men of France!
I continue to be envious of all the people wearing long pants, jackets and sweaters in the sweltering subway heat without a bead of sweat. As I admired a particularly handsome man and hoped he got off at the subway stop with me, I realized it was hopeless. I felt like a wilted flower in the face of his magnificent, powder-dry perfection. I limped off the subway while he remained on the car and drifted away to whatever castle he must live in.
FUN FACT: The French government limits sales periods in Paris. Sales are only allowed twice a year. Right now until the end of July is sales season for the summer and you’ll see big SOLDES signs in most every window.