It’s a widely established fact that the French, or Parisians, are amongst some of the best dressed people in the world. This applies not only to those embodying haute couture during fashion shows, but even in the office. If you walk down the Champs Elysées at 9am on a Monday anytime not during the summer season, instead of seeing tourists with backpacks and large cameras, you’ll instead see a sea of black, grey and cream trench coats, boots and scarves. A population that somehow manages to look stylish even from behind a desk.
Which is why, working as an intern in a large French marketing agency, I had the absolute pleasure of using my mornings and lunch break to gather some style inspo. And, to be honest, even from my desk, it’s a lot of fun to spy on my colleagues and spy on their ensembles. I’ve managed to edit down my ‘research’ into a shortlist of recommendations for anyone wishing to stylize their work wardrobe – whether for day-to-day inspo, advice for how to dress for your upcoming interview, or just in general to learn more about Parisian style.
Whilst this may not apply to all offices and workplaces, jeans were the most worn item in my office. Whilst there was, as far as I could tell, no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to which kinds of jeans are best, there are some general guidelines I deduced…
- Skinny jeans, whilst hugely popular across the world, are not preferable here. They lack the classy style and fashionista-like edge that is required to look truly stylish. If you’re going to go for the skin-tight look, make sure they have something else going for them ; they could be white, or go really well with your top, or even have a different kind of print.
- The best kind is a simple blue or black straight-leg denim. Not too loose, no rips, nothing too notable but just a very good fit.
- Nothing ripped. Leave that for youths or the runway.
2. Heeled boots
Basically, the more noise they make, the better. Rather than coming across as trying to hard (as you probably would in the UK), if people can here a sexy clip-clop as you enter a room, not only will your presence be known, but also your style. Be careful, though -the French rarely wear heels high enough they can’t walk. The trick is to find a balance between stylish and comfortable, and they really do have it figured out.
3. Work shirts
As with jeans, there aren’t strict rules – anything goes. As long as it’s simple, fits well, and has no brand logo on it. It’s an absolute no-go in the Capital. You want to look like your outfit was expensive, but without actually telling anyone it’s expensive. Think simple button-up shirts, quality-knit thin jumpers and fashionable styles and shapes rather than colours.
Arguably the most important part of any winter outfit in Paris, you have a selection to choose from :
- A really cool, thick leather jacket. Vintage is even better.
- You can’t go wrong with a trench coat. Unless, of course, you vear away from the acceptable colour palette of grey, black, cream or navy. Then you would be going wrong.
- Any other form of well-tailored coat, although if you want to really follow the French, know that seasonal trends are rarely as stylish as classic styles !
Even though you probably will wear it on your commute and never really inside the office, it is still an absolute essential. As per usual, go for something in neutrals. That way you’ll know that will go with pretty much everything you own!
Whilst of course, there is room for some variation – and I’ve definitely seen some really cool outfits incorporating things like midi skirts, blazers and more classic office heels, this list is a great place to start. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in this internship, it’s that by keeping everything in your wardrobe within this neutral colour palette, you’ll know that every day your wardrobe will produce a perfectly Parisian, matching ensemble.