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What to wear?

My husband and I are traveling to Paris and Normandy area in about 3 weeks and we are wondering what we should wear. We both typically wear shorts and t-shirts and we aren't planning on anything formal.

Posted by
784 posts

Shorts and t-shirts in August will be okay for day time, but shorts should be "bermuda" length and t-shirts should be without any writing. Take some long slacks or capris for eating dinner out. Your husband should have either Polo shirts or button-down; you should have a couple of nice tops. Normandy will be more casual than Paris, but you will see a lot of shorts in Paris because it is hot in August.

Posted by
15037 posts

And below-the-knee garb is generally expected for churches though it may not be strictly enforced.

Posted by
21287 posts

Depending on the weather in Normandy--which can be cool, wet and windy--you may not be too happy in shorts there. Or it might be warm during your visit. The weather is very changeable, and I found the weather forecasts not very accurate as to whether rain would occur. The temperature predictions did seem pretty accurate.

As I write this, the internet tells me it is 61 F and raining in Bayeux (at about 8:30 AM).

Posted by
223 posts

I generally advocate against shorts and t-shirts for travel in France but in some venues (especially parks) shorts are quite common during hot weather, more commonly with younger men but even some older men wear them during exceptionally hot weather. If your husband chooses to wear that kind of thing, I would recommend that he pack at least one set of adult clothing (long pants and a button-up shirt) so he won't look ridiculous in restaurants or disrespectful in cathedrals or basilicas.

A previous comment stated this:

t-shirts should be without any writing

Which puzzled me because shirts with writing and patches (which have writing) on them are very, very common in France; as in it's hard outside of sporting goods stores such as Decathlon to find them without writing on them. Often it's meaningless stuff in English, such as "Outdoor Experience State Park" or "Oil Services Speeding Wheels Co."

My favorite was a sweatshirt I saw at a clothing store that proudly stated "North Dakota Mountain High" on it.

Posted by
2466 posts

You don't have to avoid "writing" on t-shirts as long as it isn't obscene. That's ridiculous.

I'd plan to keep an eye on a live weather channel for Normandy, because the weather can go through all the seasons in one day.
Paris can be more stable, but not much.
I'd definitely bring shorts and t-shirts, as well as a pair of long pants and a long sleeved shirt, and a medium-weight windbreaker with a hood. Umbrellas are useless with the wind.

Posted by
4716 posts

pack at least one set of adult clothing (long pants and a button-up shirt) so he won't look ridiculous in restaurants

Are shorts not adult clothing???

I'm constantly bemused by this preconception that Europeans don't wear shorts, of course they do but they tend to be smarter shorts rather than baggy sportswear.

A previous poster stated that shorts should be bermuda length, why? The current trend is for mid thigh length shorts however the older one gets the less able to pull them off you become.

Posted by
2466 posts

I've seen all kinds of shorts on men and women - baggy, saggy, tight, long and short.
Nobody cares what you wear, if it's hot enough.

The fashion of the 1950's will apparently never die. Some still perpetuate the myth of the "titi Parisienne"...

Posted by
1424 posts

There are lots of videos on the YouTube featuring walks around Paris on both typical and touristy streets. Whatever fashion advantage normal Parisians once had on the rest of us, it's gone. They dress as sloppy as we Americans.

ETA: Here's a good video walking tour.

Posted by
82 posts

I'm going to Paris next week and I plan on bringing some shorts and some pants. I'm going to bring tanks/tees but bring cardigans to go over them if it's cooler. I'm also bringing a couple of dresses for night.

We went to Germany last year and I brought more shorts than pants and I wished I had more pants, less shorts and more cardigans. It was cooler than I thought it would be and Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam are further north so I'm adjusting accordingly.

I also brought wedges, which looked great but I almost broke my ankle several times on the cobblestones so as much as I want to bring them, I'm leaving them home.

Posted by
1172 posts

Honestly, look at the weather and wear what you would wear at home in similar weather.

Yes, in instances, Parisians may be more fashionable but you are not Parisian and they will know you are American in 3.5 seconds flat anyways.
I agree with bringing some nice pants/dress if you are planning on eating in nicer venues... just like you would at home

Above all, bring comfortable shoes and have fun!

Posted by
2923 posts

I don't wear shorts except to the beach or to parks/picnics but for a person who wears shorts out and about, the decision to wear shorts is not that deep. Ask yourself two questions: is it hot and are shorts permitted/appropriate in the place where you plan to wear them. I have found that the inappropriate places are fancy restaurants and all you have to do is ask when you make a reservation. I had dinner last week at Aux Pres and my husband was saying that he would not go because Aux Pres is one of the most self-important places in Paris and he thought they would prohibit shorts and he was not in the mood to wear long pants. Anyway, I called and checked and was told that shorts are not a problem. Lo and behold, we went and about 25% of the men in the place were in shorts. I have only been to Normandy three times (all in August trying to escape the heat in Paris) and each time, it was quite cool so pack layers and long pants for that unless you wear shorts when it is cool and rainy.
Most tourists are going to touristy places and a lot of people at these places will be wearing shorts if the weather permits it. As to the T-shirts with words on them, most people I see wearing them are 25 and younger and vintage looking rocker/concert Ts appear to be very much in favor.
By the way, I have never been to church in Paris that had a dress code for visitors.

Posted by
8493 posts

Correct about the church dress codes as the buildings belong to the French government, and have since 1789. This is unlike Italy, which does have a dress code. There is one Traditional church with a Latin mass, which might impose a dress code, but it's not on the sightseeing circuit.

Posted by
595 posts

I would have a layer or two you can add if necessary. When we visited Normandy in June a couple years ago, it was rainy and COLD! And we had a difficult time finding somewhere to buy a light jacket or umbrella. Next time, I will make sure I have a light jacket at the minimum. The rest of France (Loire Valley, Provence and Paris) were all very warm and humid. But COLD in Normandy that day.

Posted by
988 posts

We are in Paris now and it has been chilly (high 60s low 70s) overcast and little rainy. I actually prefer this weather! But I have worn light pants and a small sweater. And of course a scarf! :)

Posted by
6779 posts

A church is a church even if you are just there as a tourist. Whether they have a bouncer enforcing a dress code or not, its about respect for the people for whom it is a place of actual religious significance.

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you for all your responses. I will definately look at the weather, I think that will be my most deciding factor for what I decide to pack.

Posted by
776 posts

I agree with others who pointed out it can be cool in Normandy. check WUnderground's website and look for historical weather. Sometimes it is hard to find. The site will give you the last 10 years of weather if you put in your travel dates. That gives you an idea of what "might" happen.

I do recommend layers and more layers. It will be warm in Paris. Do pack a raincoat; mine serves as a windbreaker and raincoat. I always have a sweater that will fit under my coat for warmth and a scarf or 2 for fashion and warmth. Evenings could get cool, with humidity it may feel cooler, especially if you are out and about all day and tired.

I try to dress a bit nicer in Paris, but still pack carryon. A plain t-shirt can look nicer with a scarf or a plain sweater. Do dress how you feel comfortable and pack light, pack light, pack light!

Enjoy Paris! View the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero at sunset and watch the first twinkling of the lights on the hour. Simply magical even when surrounded by hundreds of others.

Posted by
1 posts

Good morning! I just returned from Paris, and honestly anything goes. Just be comfortable. I saw plenty of shorts. I saw plenty or sandals. I saw a lot of Adidas tennis shoes for some reason, which surprised me bc I thought that athletic shoes were a no-no. Paris is hot right now and so most people seem to be dressing for comfort. If planning nice dinners I would bring something similar to what you would wear to nice dinners back home. Oh and I 100% agree with bringing a raincoat and maybe some keen-style shoes you can get wet. It rained off and on for several days we were there.

Posted by
8493 posts

June's idea about historical temperature is good but with Normandy anything goes. We toured the beaches one July, temps in the 50s, drizzle time to time, wearing wool sweaters under raincoats, so we were ok. The other two US couples weren't prepared for the weather because who would have thought it would be 50 in July. Easier to start out with protective clothing than shiver and soak on the beach. BTW another shout-out for Overlord Tours.

Posted by
6720 posts

20 years ago you didn't see jeans on adults much in Paris; this spring while waiting on a metro platform without about 60 people I surveyed what was being worn. I would estimate that at least 80-90% of the people waiting there were wearing jeans. This includes little old ladies who 20 years ago might have been in a well preserved knit suit. What is worn on the street has dramatically changed over the past decades. Parisian adults tend to wear dark blue jeans rather than faded old jeans but you see those on some young people.

In hot weather plenty of people wear shorts, particularly tourists. The toddler outfit beloved of Americans i.e. baggy cargo shorts, t-shirt, baseball hat is not so much worn by the French but you certainly won't stand out in Paris in shorts in summer. For women, skirts may actually be cooler and you do see a lot of women in lightweight summer dresses or skirts. I have seen shorts with tights on young women in cold weather in spring and fall.

Posted by
223 posts

JC asks:

Are shorts not adult clothing???

No, not really.

Any other questions?

Posted by
8493 posts

So I'm confused. Was my five-year old son an adult because I dressed him in long pants?

Maybe dressing for age and dressing for an occasion may have been mixed up, which would be too bad, as it projects an air of condescension, whether intentionally or not.

Posted by
2923 posts

I am pretty sure the condescension on this thread about shorts not being adult clothing is quite intentional.

Posted by
11432 posts

Shorts can be classified in three categories

Below the knee--respectful, adult, possibly even chic

Just above the knee--playful, youthful, perhaps even a bit of wimsy

Well above the knee--open to those who have the legs for it. If not, please choose from the above two categories.

As stated. Paris has changed over the years. If it is hot, wear what is comfortable. Just have "respectful" dress for houses of worship.

Posted by
4716 posts

JC asks:
Are shorts not adult clothing???
No, not really.
Any other questions?

No. I have no further interest in reading the opinions of one so pompous.

Posted by
11450 posts

Shorts are fine .

However not in nice restaurants for dinner , some places may tell you bye bye if you show up for dinner in them . Of course there are many casual touristy places that won't care , so you won't starve .

Taking something other than just shorts is smart , if you are cold you will regret not having some pants . A few years ago I took a friend to Paris in August , I told her to pack clothes for hot weather .
It was cool and rainy for 7 or our 9 day visit and we both only had one pair of slacks and one or two long sleeves shirts , we had to buy another!

Posted by
2923 posts

I am in Paris right now. The temperature today is around 72F. I am staying in the 14th arrondissement near Pernety metro station for 4 days -- so not in a super touristy area and so I decided because of this thread to really pay attention to what people are wearing. We also had to run an errand in the 6th on Rue du Cherche-Midi. I saw loads of women in rompers, which I think are a big thing this summer and all of them were not 25 and under and my guess is that most of them were locals. I saw a few guys in shorts, not including my husband who as usual was not wearing his adult long pants but was instead wearing his big boy shorts.

Posted by
16 posts

Wow people have lots of opinions about what to wear! I do as well! I say own it! Wear what you are comfortable with and have a fabulous time!

Posted by
7691 posts

To be fair, the OP asked for people's opinions on what to wear . . . so that's what people have responded with here.