April in Paris: What real women wear

I wasn't looking for the "must-haves" or classics while in Paris, but there they were right under my nose, worn sunny mornings by women who walked to work or ran their errands. 

I am assuming these are not tourists, because of the neighbourhood, time of day, and their assured movement (no maps, no checking street names) but who knows?
The scarf: always present, always emphatic:

The trench: Feminine detail is the secret ingredient:

Abundant black, even in high-60sF weather. The woman in the background is as formally-dressed as anyone I saw going to work:

Black and red sweater-coat, a long grey tunic, leggings, heels and the big ecru scarf, lots of jewelry, long grey hair—loved this look:

Given the unseasonably warm, sunny weather, her white jacket looked fresh as the day:

As the day warms, we can see what's under those coats. A marinère dress (stripes are the French woman's pattern), worn with bright red-orange trainers, which are often paired with dresses or skirts.

Shoes of fine metallic leather on awoman (of at least 60), who wore them with a black pencil skirt, off-white blouse and black blazer.

A woman in a classic navy sweater, white jeans and scarf, whom I wanted to show to reassure anyone who worries about what to pack, if you visit. You already have something similar, I'll bet. (Also, she is not a skinny little thing; there are all sizes here, despite what that book says.)

Though all hues of blue comprise the official spring colourway, some women give theirs a spark; I loved her accents: purple scarf and trilby:

And in one of the great crossroads of the world, there is the occasional surprise of someone in national dress, like her exuberant ethnic prints:

What didn't I see? Makeup, at least by day—not even lipstick on many women (and not just youth). 

I became rather obsessed with this lip shift, and eventually spotted a bit of sheer rose and the rare flare of poppy red. Nor did I see the shiny-wet gloss that some North American women favour. When the sun set, colour came out, so those bags and briefcases must be hiding a makeup kit.

Nor did I see multi-colour eye makeup (the sort of effort that rules YouTube makeup videos) in daytime. My post on Isabel Marant was a harbinger. The one time I glanced into a face precisely painted with everything possible was that of an octogenarian in fishnet gloves.

Women of all ages turned their faces to the long-awaited spring—and I hope, applied their sunscreen.  


Thanks so much for your efforts in this area - I always love people-watching in Paris more than almost any other activity! But you're not quite right about body types - I don't know that I've ever seen a really morbidly obese person in Paris.

Now, to find a striped dress...
Madame Là-bas said…
It is fascinating to watch the women in Paris. There are so many different styles and looks in the streets.
An individual look for everyone! I love the casual hair
and subtle makeup. All Parisian women are not thin but I think that walking and climbing stairs helps to keep the women strong and fit.
Susan B said…
Great roundup, Duchesse. My favorite look is the sweater coat and leggings. I've observed the same lack of makeup on all of our visits. I noticed you included one pair of bright trainers, were they still prevalent? Last year were on *everyone*.
LPC said…

Parisiennes are people too:).
materfamilias said…
Yes! This is so much more of what really happens on Parisian streets, especially once you move into the more diverse arrondissements. I'm always so grateful we began our visits by staying in the 13th. Heading off tomorrow, primed by your survey...
Such lovely photos - fortunately the weather is lovely now here in Montréal too. Of course I noticed the lady with the long grey hair, though I think I'm going to have mine cut just a bit shorter soon. I also noticed the very dapper fellow next to the lady in the purple scarf and trilby.

I usually stay in the East end of Paris as most of my friends live in that relatively more affordable area, and there are many people in ethnic clothing; not only West and North African, but also South and Southeast Asian.
LPC said…
Back to add; a small quibble. Why do we call clothing born of indigenous cultures "ethnic?" It's always used wrt people of color. If we mean Clothes That Are Culture-of-Origin-Specific, then a kilt might qualify, as would, perhaps a navy twinset and pearls.

I have the same quibble with the "ethnic" food aisle. To someone in China, our boxes of cereal look pretty damn "ethnic."

OK. Returning the mike to the fashion MC;)>
Murphy said…
Thanks for this, Duchesse. We are leaving for Paris in a couple of weeks, and I was afraid that my clothes weren't okay - maybe too dark and not dressy enough. But now I see I will fit in just fine - bright sneakers and all!
Duchesse said…
Janice: I have seen obese persons but on this trip I would say, more men than women. It depends somewhat on where you are.

Mme: Well, that's what I told myself as I walked and walked... to the boulangerie.

unefemme: Yes, still a hot look, especially on young adults.

LPC: Probably I used it because of this definition of ethnic:
" pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) •sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like•." So yes, a kilt would be ethnic attire, and others have appropriated that and many other ethic garments.

I had originally written that she was "in national dress" but then thought, since I do not know which nation, that may not be accurate.

Not sure to which group the navy twinset attaches, so I would be wary of according it the "ethnic" adjective. And as for the term "person/people of colour", I prefer to ponder that after I have finished my coffee of morning.

materfamilias: Bon voyage! Those photos were taken in the 5e.

Murphy: Wonderful; don't worry, you see nearly everything.

Susan said…
I also loved the look of the red/black sweater coat and the long gray hair.
A perfectly timed review as many of us plan our summer pilgrimage to France. The lack of makeup worn by Parisians radiates a personal confidence. Perhaps the French women have read information about the toxic chemical that can be found in many makeup products – both expensive and cheap?

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