Teen fashion around the world: a series—eighth stop, France

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Photo from @erinoffduty on Instagram.

With this series continuation, I feel it’s time to talk about the world’s capital of fashion: Paris, France.

When you think of France, you most likely immediately think of Paris, but some may say Cannes, Versailles, or Bordeaux. Well the French are a lot like us. If you ask them about the United States, they probably immediately think of New York City, but after that, it might surprise you; many think of Texas and the Wild West. This is a country with little cars and little living spaces, so the idea of grand open spaces mixed with a starkly different culture is intriguing to them.

With the capital of fashion dressing in neutrals, wearing light makeup and designer items, we come to learn the value of mere elegance, rather than extravagance.”

There is a passion for everything Country and Western in France: country music, Western riding, line dancing, the clothes, rodeo sports and cattle ranches” (David).

To French girls, teen fashion in America is viewed as casual, and the comfy style is not common in Paris. However, now that French pop culture has an obsession with the Wild West, blue jeans are becoming more and more mainstream.

“According to French teen, Laetitia, ‘We know in America, people think about “Paris girls” and our style. And it’s true—we are very good at a certain kind of fashion. But we see girls in America on Instagram and we love what they wear . . . not even people who are famous on the Internet . . . just New York people wearing Urban Outfitters on Instagram . . .’” (Krentcil).

When it comes to fashion, the French have been known to be similar to Americans. Though school uniforms in France have not been obligatory since 1968, many schools still do have dress codes (Willsher). However, when not seen in uniform, French teenagers are likely to be in similar clothing as U.S. teens, such as designer denim. However, in France, they are much more demure; there isn’t a “go big or go home” attitude with fashion. Their fashion is predicted in the minimalist chic. 

“You will not see French teens in leisure wear outside of the house though, so leave your yoga pants at home . . . ” (Wells). 

The French maintain a level of elegance through their attire, one that our comfy clothes here do not meet. In France, people generally don’t wear many bright colors in combination or prints, their makeup looks are light and natural, and they do not heavily accessorize. The three big differences between French style and American style seem to be when it comes to over the top party dressing, yoga pants, and very high heelsthe French do not embrace any of these trends.

“’I actually find that most Americans are now trying to dress more European. But I do think super-high heels are silly. Less is always more in my opinion,’ says Christina Caradona” (Eggertsen).

With the capital of fashion dressing in neutrals and wearing light makeup and designer items, we come to learn the value of mere elegance, rather than extravagance. This is not to say that French teens don’t wear sweatshirts and tennis shoes. The idea that you can easily spot Americans because they are the only ones wearing sneakers is not the case anymore. Particularly Parisians, living in a walking city, have definitely embraced sneakers.  Their sneaker choice is generally a minimalistic plain white one and it is paired with anything from jeans to skirts (“The 10 Best Sneakers French Women Wear on Repeat”).

They also wear bold colors, just not as boldly as Americans. They tend to pair a neon green or lilac or orange with a tan, black or navy rather than another color (Eggertsen, “5 Colors Parisian Women Are Retiring This Spring”). This is just another example of the restraint they use when dressing. As with party clothes, they don’t over-glitter, they don’t tend toward bold color or pattern combinations in everyday dressing, and of course, the French color combination that always endures—red and blue, like their flag—remains timelessly in style.

Viva la France.