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Dress in Paris

I am planning a trip to Paris in May. I pack light and like to be comfortable but I also want to dress appropriately. Are jeans ok? Any other tips?

Posted by
10344 posts

They used to dress up, but now the men dress as badly as American men do. As I do.
The women dress up a bit more, but not that much more.
The one exception is if you are going to a formal restaurant, they are going to want to see you, esp. the men, in something a little more formal: no shorts, tennies, no t-shirts, not for a formal restaurant. Collared shirt, and if it's really classy, a dressy jacket.

Posted by
552 posts

If you want to really consider all the options we have for packing light and comfortable,...

Jeans are never ok.

Posted by
3313 posts

No. One. Cares.

The exception is for fine restaurants. Church for shorts, sleeveless. The only issue with jeans is the time to take drying them if you want to was them out in your room.

Posted by
5262 posts

Well, I guess Bill just doesn't wear jeans. You know how formal those San Diegans are! ;-)

I haven't brought them to Europe much because of the drying issue, but I'll probably take them to Greece this fall. You see them all over Paris. I wouldn't know about the fancy restaurants 'cause I don't eat there nohow anyways.

Posted by
6720 posts

Half the people you see on the streets of Paris will be wearing jeans including little old ladies. 15 years ago old women were often seen in well cared for old knit suits and it was rare to see anyone who was a grownup in jeans on the street or wearing athletic shoes and most people looked smart. Now between tourists and the decline of local norms of dress, you truly can wear virtually anything and not stand out in the slightest.

Posted by
760 posts

What everybody seems to have forgotten about jeans is that they are heavy and if you are doing your own laundry they take forever to dry whether just hanging to dry in your shower stall or tumbling around in a laundromat dryer that costs a fortune to use. They are the last thing you want to lug around if you are traveling light. As for the rest of dressing in Paris just dress like a normal person would in this country. Thanks to the wonders of container ships clothing is pretty much the same the world over.

No matter how you dress they will know you are a tourist by the fact that yo will be looking up, taking in all of the sights that Parisians never give a second glance. Then when you open your mouth to speak it will be all over anyhow. Just remember to leave your flip-flops at home.

Posted by
5262 posts

The baseball cap is another giveaway but so efficient I bring it anyway. Sometimes I get mistaken for a Brit but never for a local!

Posted by
191 posts

I wear a pair of black slip-on loafers on the plane for convenience at security and to take on and off during the flight. They also make a nice shoe at night with a pair of black slacks to go to a nice restaurant in. I have found that if you do a lot of walking, a pair of low-cut hiking shoes (mine are Salomon Eskape GTX but there are lots of good brands out there) are more comfortable all day than sneakers and they pack easy. Also, I wear collared golf-type polo shirts (in warmer weather) instead of tee shirts just because I think they look better going into restaurants and shops. Whatever the season, I always carry a lightweight waterproof jacket. I will be in Paris for the month of July this year and I too like to pack light (I bring a couple of pairs of shorts to wear during the day). It's not like we are in the middle of nowhere in Paris, so if I need anything else, I'll buy it there (yes, ladies, shop for that little black dress when you get to Paris; you can use it there and makes a nice, easy to pack souvenir to take home especially if it has a French label you can't get back home).

Posted by
3696 posts

If you can't wear your beautiful clothes in Paris, where can you wear them??? As far as no one caring what you wear, I agree... but I care what I wear. The last thing I want to do is feel like a frump... I have great travel clothes (same ones I wear at home) I pack light and always feel like I have the right thing to wear. It's all about how you feel in your clothes, and not some generic packing list... On a few trips I have worn lighter weight jeans and they worked fine. Especially winter trips... I have a great velvet coat and over the jeans it is just perfect. Wear what works for you...

Posted by
10344 posts

You can actually see how Parisians are dressed: go to Google Earth, pick a neighborhood you're interested in, and drag the little orange man over to it, to get a Street View. The resolution is good enough to see what people on the street are wearing.

Posted by
2002 posts

I think terry kathryn's post above is fantastic -- and exactly the way I feel about dressing for Paris! The city inspires me to look my best.

Posted by
1157 posts

We always wear black New Balance running shoes, black Levi's or black slacks, semi-dressy shirts/blouses, scarves for accents by my wife, a tie or sweater for me depending on the time of year, and we have attended the opera in Florence, fancy restaurants in Paris, the Ritz in London (with a coat and tie) and have never had a bit of trouble. You can wear a lime green top with bright orange pants and will likely not get a second look unless your hair is on fire. Stop obsessing on what to wear and just enjoy yourselves.

Posted by
11613 posts

I dress casually but I love Terry Kathryn's philosophy, and when I was in Paris last year I noticed that I tried a little harder. I love buying clothing as souvenirs, too. Put on that dress or scarf once I am back in the US and it's a great memory.

Posted by
8852 posts

I pack light and I wear jeans in Europe. Yes, even in Paris! Many Parisians wear jeans too. I wear them on the plane. You can wear jeans many times between washing. How long will you be in Paris?

If you wear jeans at home and that is what you are comfortable wearing, go for it!

Posted by
2526 posts

Per Google street view, lottsa casual clothing...some like I wear when mowing the lawn.

Posted by
10344 posts

Bruce,
Yes, if you're young enough, even in Paris, these days, what you see on the street is what they're wearing.
If you're older, you probably want to dress up a little, not too many 60 year olds in Paris wearing shorts.
It was different a long time ago.
And if you're talking about a sit down more formal restaurant for dinner, you'll want a collared shirt and maybe some kind of semi-dressy jacket, no tie needed.

Posted by
13658 posts

No. One. Cares.

That's where I'm at. Last we were in Paris, jeans were EVERYWHERE: young and old, tourists and locals. Yes, they can be heavy but mine have some spandex in them so they're a little lighter. I don't know if it's still the case but the work "uniform" among Parisian gents was jeans, a white, button-down shirt and fitted navy blazer or just a nice shirt. Women dressed up their denim with colorful scarves. I wouldn't go very casual for fancy restaurants but we don't eat in those anyway. Practically all of our meals were on outdoor terraces at sidewalk cafes (we love people watching!) and we didn't feel out of place at all.

So wear what's comfortable and familiar: you won't be as relaxed in clothes which feel strange to you. We don't sink-wash our denim but don't mind hitting a laundromat on longer trips.

Posted by
117 posts

I wore dark jeans in November, as did my wife, along with a few other options, and it worked just fine for us.

Go with the Google Street View suggestions and maybe take a look at some Paris sightseeing videos on Youtube and you should be golden.

Posted by
711 posts

I was just in Paris in February and packed as I would if I were going anywhere: Manhattan, Pittsburgh, St. Louis... Didn't put much thought into the jeans that I packed, but there were tons of Jeans over there. This was a quick trip, less than a week, so their weight and bulk weren't really a big deal. I'll be back in may, sans jeans. 3 weeks for that trip and jeans take too long to dry and take up too much space.
In the end, where what you want. You'll be appropriate everywhere but higher end restaurants. You'll always be pegged for a tourist anywhere so you may as well be comfortable. I generally try to be respectful in churches, so no shorts or tanks.

Posted by
524 posts

Great question, I'm in the same boat. I haven't run into any issues across Europe for a (fashionable) getup with nice jeans. I think that's fairly understood. But has anyone had an experience being turned away at a restaurant for inappropriate dress? What's a high-end restaurant, a Michelin star? Every time Rick goes dines in a restaurant vs. a cafe in France, he throws on a tie. I'd hate to make a reservation only to get shut out. Has anyone actually run into this?

Posted by
2250 posts

"Every time Rick goes dines in a restaurant vs. a cafe in France, he throws on a tie"

Rick who?

Guys in dark jeans/slacks and shoes with button up shirt, gals in same with perhaps a scarf will get you into 95% of places you want to go. What's high end? Sure, a Michelin star, or a starting price per person of €75-100 and you should probably inquire as to tie or jacket required.

Posted by
141 posts

My husband and I are forty. We have been in southern France for several days now and have been very comfortable going out in nice fitted dark jeans. We have been to restaurants and brasseries, but have not been anywhere that requires reservations. I have been wearing my cuter casual blouses, and he has been wearing button up shirts or light sweaters. He only thing I wish I had brought was some nicer black heeled shoes. Men and women (and even children) frequently wear thin scarvesand that seems to dress it up. Bring one pair of your newest slimmest darkest jeans and you are set.

We will be in Paris in a few days, I will report back if the dress code changes. So far in Provence, More important than how you dress is how you act. The French people are absolutely delightful if you remember to say bonjour --FIRST THING-- even before you say excuse me!) when you enter a shop/restaurant/hotel or first interact with someone. It has been like a secret password at times. And it has gotten me past a few gaffes...

Posted by
175 posts

There are some great ideas for dressing in Paris on Pinterest. I'd rather be on the nicer side rather than the shabbier side personally. We're going this June and I'm taking a pair of dark, fitted, light-weight denim, but I'm mostly wearing a mix of black leggings, a black skirt, and a casual dress. With synthetic blend tops that are quick to dry (and look better than T-shirts) and a light black blazer you can easily fit in amongst the crowd and be comfortable to boot! **Shoes can also easily be styled up or down with a little effort, I'm planning on bringing black Merrill mary janes that will be good for walking AND look good.

Posted by
4 posts

Jeans for travel, and traveling lightly?
I think not.
We are the 'one carry on only' people, and do multiple weeks in Europe while doing so.
Jeans just don't make the cut.

Posted by
1064 posts

"Jeans just don't make the cut."
Not for you but they do for me. I wear a pair on the plane and pack a pair in my carryon along with two pair of dark polyester pants. No problem. I get more wearings out of the jeans and wash them in the tub, when they finally need it, on the first night of a three-night stand.

Posted by
141 posts

These aren't heavy duty jeans, but slimmer fit with lightweight fabric. The dark color wears well and they have remained presentable throughout the trip. For packed clothes, I had 1 jean, along with 3 lightweight hiking pants, 10 super light tops (yes 10, they layer well), 1 dress & pantyhose, raincoat, 10 pairs socks, 10 undies (yes 10!), canvas Docs, black ballet slipper shoes... and I only have 1 carryon plus my personal item. On the plane, I wore a black trench, scarf, warmer button up shirt, 'jeggings', and trail shoes. The packed carryyon&personal item came in around 26 lbs on the scale at home. I used the campmor carryon bag which I now love so much more than anything with wheels, that is how I kept the weight manageable. My personal item is my messenger bag. I wouldn't go on a backpacking trip like this, but for driving around and transferring hotels quite a bit, it works for me.

Posted by
3 posts

If you want to eat out in a posh restaurant you will need to take a bit more care over your appearance. It is a bit similar to how you would dress of an evening if you were going to go out somewhere really exclusive, like an after-party at the Monaco Grand Prix. A little black dress or cocktail dress would work well. In the summer months it should be made from a light, thin material. Thicker, darker dresses are for Spring/Fall/Winter.
If you don't intend to eat out anywhere that is posh then I would suggest jeans with a jacket or blazer.
Just have fun and as long as you feel comfortable then that is the main thing :-)

Posted by
11975 posts

I don't pack jeans but I'm tempted to pack some of my slim-fit 514's that are made with a thinner/lighter fabric that the old 501's. Generally I dress like a casual Friday workday, not formal but not at all grubby. Each trip is different, I start by assessing whether I'm going more casual or more formal - and that depends on my itinerary (does it included hostels/take out food or nice dinners/opera performances?).

Jeans, especially slim dark jeans, are plenty fashionable. The issue is more about weight, bulk and drying times. You can pack two better travel pants for less than the cost (in weight and bulk) of one pair of jeans.

Posted by
3936 posts

My hubby and I are carry on only people, and hubby ONLY wears jeans at home, so that is what he takes abroad . Two pair in the bag and the pair he has on. We've had up to 23 day trips with only a carry on. The first trip he took a pair of khakis he bought on a whim...he never wore them at home and never wore them on the trip - so that was a waste.

I try to book somewhere with laundry halfway thru so things can get washed...if they don't, jeans are pretty tough and don't really show dirt unless you drop food on them. I generally take 2 pr jeans - one in the bag and wear a pair, and a couple prs of lightweight capris. If I was going when it was cold, I'd take 3 prs jeans.

So, jeans are ok, and it possible to travel carry on only when packing a few pair. My experience!

Posted by
31 posts

Go Casual Chic and you will be fine. Wear your jeans, plain T-shirt and throw on a light weight scarf. We have been to Paris 5 times in the last 6 years and I am noticing a more and more tennis shoes. I still prefer a slip on loafer. We always carry on and manage to get three pair of jeans in my suitcase. You will need to take it up a notch for nice restaurants.

Have Fun!

Posted by
6720 posts

Jeans are too warm for summer travel especially in AC light Europe, but they are the most practical travel pants ever invented for the other three seasons. As I pack lighter and lighter, my dark black jeans (which don't have a lot of grommets and other jean elements and thus read as dark slacks) are the base of the wardrobe. They are tough; they don't show dirt; they are warm and can be made warm enough for cold weather with silks underneath. And laundromats are neither pricey nor do they take a long time to dry a pair of jeans. (those one use machines in apartments are another story) In summer I take linen slacks and skirts; in winter two pair of black jeans and I rarely need anything else. Basic black can be dressed up with a fancy top and is fine for the opera or a nice restaurant with fancy top, scarves, jewelry etc. And if you build your wardrobe around slacks you don't have to worry about shoes as pretty much anything unobtrusive and comfortable works. When I bring skirts, I have to bring shoes that work with skirts -- which for me is usually the best looking sandals I can find that have a cushioned athletic sole. Merrell makes a couple -- not stylish but passable.

For older people who want to look smart, very dark blue jeans paired with a jacket is the look that works for a lot of Parisian men as well as tourists. Faded raggy jeans are only appropriate for the very young but dark jeans are commonly worn by grownups in western Europe.

Posted by
1870 posts

Well, we find it easy to wear jeans and pack light: We take no other pants. After many trips we have eliminated the dockers and dress pants and wear only jeans. They are nice ones...dark, new, and well fitted but nothing with a label that sets us back the cost of a plane ticket, or even a mid-priced lunch, for that matter. We just don't go where nicer clothes are required, and that's the way we like it. We don't have a problem washing them either, but I won't tell you why. Back in the 60's when we started traveling to Europe, it was a whole 'nother story. Now we're in the 60's, and Donovan's " I love my jeans and my jeans love me " is our constant refrain, both home and abroad. In the spirit of full disclosure, lest you too readily take my fashion opinions to heart, I also have forsaken all shoes except my Crocs. We have been treated with courtesy and kindness everywhere we have been, and I don't believe for a moment that it had anything to do with what we chose to wear. Have a great trip!

Posted by
2927 posts

jlwenstrup,
I'm not sure if you are male or female. Obviously, you received quite different answers from the men than the women. I am female. I'm the type that leaves the house, except I wear black jeans, in business casual... because of my daughter's 7 years in Europe and her return for visits in which she said Americans dressed like slobs. It really doesn't take much to look decent. The French, IMO, have a flare that I have not mastered but am working on, but will likely never have. They can dress up the most casual and inexpensive outfit with flare. My last travel was with two pairs of black bootleg NYDJeans for a 17 day trip. That was all I needed, but I will always consider one more dressier, but not dressy, pair of black pants. These jeans are well fitted. I think a lot of the issue between European and American clothes are the lack of fit, particularly for the men. Well fitted jeans can be dressed up, baggy 'farm' jeans cannot. Anyway, I wear leather shoes and business casual tops, etc. and I felt I fit in any where I went, including one upscale restaurant. I hand washed one pair of jeans and they dried overnight easily (May/June Sweden). One hotel had laundry so I sent the other pair of jeans to the laundry. Sorry, longwinded this morning. So I say 'yes' to well fitted jeans, but wear nice tops, etc. (No crappy tee shirts, plain or otherwise). BUT, I find everyone has their own system so work on your own…it will likely change for each trip. There is no 'right' way, as every personality has a different way of expressing. Best, Wray

Posted by
12 posts

Currently in Paris. Been here a week and a half. Staying in a non-touristy part with a Paris resident. I followed all the advise: wear sandals, no gym shoes, no jeans, nice tops, scarves, no ponytails. And I thoroughly regret it. I see countless Parisians everyday in jeans or skechers or tennis shoes or ponytails. Just don't do a combination of all three or you will stick out as a tourist. Always wear a nice top. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes or you will be in a lot of pain.

Posted by
145 posts

Yes, Nice, dark jeans are DEFINITELY ok in Paris! I actually also got a lot of miles from my yoga pants. Dark, light, easy to dress up or down and quick to dry. Everyone worries about how to look like you fit in! IMHO just don't wash your hair for for 3-5 days, then fluff it about to look like you just woke up and you will blend! Oh...and the necessity....a scarf! Men too! No White Sneakers!

Posted by
345 posts

Just got back, and it was super hot! Most Parisian women we saw wore lightweight dresses with flats. There were a lot wearing tunics over leggings or nice fitted yoga-style pants, also with flats. The only women we saw wearing heels were clearly tourists, and they had multiple bandaids on their feet. Men mostly had on lightweight trousers or mid-calf pants -- not sure what to call those. Because it was so hot MOST young people had on some version of shorts. My most-worn outfits were a simple black knit dress with different sandals and accessories. In the mornings and late evenings, I added a lightweight cardigan with 3/4 sleeves. Second most comfy/appropriate was a knee-length skirt with lightweight tops. Layers are key, so you can shed/add as needed.

Posted by
1331 posts

I am taking one pair of dark jeans and one light "boyfriend" style Jeans to Europe and have no plans to wash them while there, because of course they would take 3 days to air dry (I only air dry them) and I usually only wash them 3-4 times a year anyway. Most people I know don't wash their "good" jeans that often, you can always spot clean a stain. I love reading trip reports and looking at peoples travel pictures and everyone is wearing jeans! We only do carry on and every singe shirt I have will go with the jeans, even tunics look cute over them.

Posted by
11450 posts

Jeans are absolutely worn in Paris.. by locals and tourists. Only difference you may note is europeon wear nicely ironed fitted jeans.. not baggy( unless of course you are a 18 yr old skater kid lol ) farm style jeans.

My dad ( 80) wears jeans with a sports jacket out for nicer dinners. He blends in perfectly.

I personally usually go in summer.. so yes, jeans are hot and I don't bring them. I prefer skirts and sundresses, that's personal taste, I never wear jeans much at home either.

One great thing about jeans.. you do not need to wash them for at least 3-4 wearings.. so for a trip of 7-10 days you can get away with only 2-3 pairs .. wear one , pack two. Frankly, I bet some men can wear their jeans longer( and do)..

I always throw in a pair of black plain yoga pants. Super easy to pack and wash.. and then I have my one long pair of pants in case it turns cool, ( it did one august I was there.. cool and rainy for days) so its always good to have a back up .

Posted by
1217 posts

I'm convinced that one of the reasons why Parisian women have a reputation for staying slim is that they walk 5-6 miles a day from house to metro station to work to shopping to metro and home again. Elegant but comfy flats are always much seen in day to day life; the heels are reserved for more formal events and/or clubbing. (and even then I suspect many women have some ballet slippers in their bag for being in transit to those kinds of places)

The men's mid-calf pant has been dubbed the 'manpri' by some. I first heard the term in a discussion about tennis star Rafael Nadal's common on court attire.

Posted by
1331 posts

selkie-I wished I lived in a "walking" society. I went to London a few years ago for 10 days and lost 10 lbs, never watching what I was eating. But like you said, we walked from our apartment to the tube, to our destination, then back to the tube for the next place then home. No car was wonderful. Our feet ached and we were dead tired but we were in London so who cares?

I also love to wear skirts and dresses, but jeans it is when the weather turns cold. I like the Leggings and a tunic idea!

Posted by
503 posts

I have never understood the angst about taking jeans to Europe. If you wear them at home, wear them over there. they don't have to be the very heavy ones, there are so many different kinds out there now, some that are quite lightweight. As for long drying time...first trip to Europe (for 2.5 months) I had one pair of jeans and one pair of jean cutoffs. We could afford NOTHING beyond the basics so Laundromats were not even an option. When we got somewhere where we knew we were going to stay at least 3 nights, we'd wash jeans out in the tub, ring them out as much as possible and hang them out the window to dry. Yes, it did take a couple of days. But it worked. Also, the jeans got washed for the first time after 6 weeks!! They were just dusty from sitting on train station floors, park benches etc., but they actually held up pretty well for that period of time. I was 21 then, 61 now. would I wear a pair for 6 weeks without washing now, probably only if I had too. Point is, most people are questioning a2 - 3 week trip,, so in reality, you could go without even washing them. A little spray bottle of Febreze to spray on and hand press the wrinkles...you are good to go.

Posted by
43 posts

Jeans do not need to be washed at all for two or three weeks of city travel! (Unless they've absorbed cigarette smoke.) Just wear clean underwear and spot clean the jeans if necessary.

Posted by
2250 posts

And stand em up in the corner at the end of each day 😀

Posted by
160 posts

In Paris now and think they were jeans MORE than we do, especially given the heat! Seriously I have seen everything and would suggest being comfortable and appropriate:)!

Posted by
160 posts

In Paris now and think they were jeans MORE than we do, especially given the heat! Seriously I have seen everything and would suggest being comfortable and appropriate:)!

Posted by
5 posts

Practically there would be many ppl wearing jeans.. specially with so many tourists flocking from all over the place!
Believe me most of them are not on liesure tour, so they would choose to wear what is comfortable...
plus.. arent you going to the land of GAP and Lacoste ??
I find denim pretty fashionable! :)