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Study Abroad Blog

Work the Runway: Fashion in Aix-en-Provence, France

When it comes to French fashion, there is often an assumption that in order to "fit in" one must be dressed for the runway, all day every day. (Even for running errands to the market or class.) For a city like Paris, I might agree. But, for my beloved Aix, this is actually not the case! 

To be honest,  I was surprised at what I found upon my arrival. See, before departing for France, I had read and referenced several blogs to better under what the fashion scene would be like. A good portion of bloggers had me believing that French youth dress completely different from American youth, and that I might need to obtain an entirely new wardrobe. Thankfully, the opposite turned out to be true. Though there are some obvious differences, one would be pleasantly surprised that these are outweighed by the similarities. So, without further adieu, here's the 4-1-1 on French fashion in Aix-en-Provence.
Okay now, ladies (Tyga/ Travis Porter reference)….

First and foremost, stilettos are not at all mandatory to be fashionable, so don't worry. However, many French women DO choose to wear heels on a daily basis. Others, typically teens or college students, choose to rock sneakers (high top Nikes or Adidas). It's common to pair these with a pair of skinny jeans or leggings. Boots (particularly little ankle booties), are definitely a novelty. If you have a pair that is comfortable, but are on the fence about bringing them, just go for it. If not, you can always purchase some over here. Also, pairing stockings and tights with either shorts, dresses or skirts is quite the trend! 

My advice for you....
If you ever desired to try out a bold new hairstyle or bold lipstick, this is the place to do so. Also, don’t be afraid to accessorize! Also, PLEASE, something to keep in mind is that dressing to go out over here is almost nothing like going out in the states. Yes, the idea is to look good, but this does not mean showing everything that you were born with. Instead, the French ladies prefer a look that is both conservative and chic.
Gentleman, you might be a little more surprised to know...

The guys over here definitely have a "swag" and style all their own. It is in fact, quite different from that of American guys. While American guys are more accustomed to rocking clothes that are somewhat loose. To explain it best, I would say that the male population is divided into a few different groups in terms of fashion.
  • The first group, and possibly the smallest, wears only sports jumpsuits. (This means matching, color-coordinated tops and bottoms.) Typically the shoes will match perfectly also. 
  • The second group, is every girl's dream. This group is extremely fashionable from head-to-toe. They often rock the form fitting shirts, with a blazer, nice slacks and incredible shoes. Their hair, which is perfectly sculpted, has even given me some ideas! 


My advice for you...
Though the styles over here might be the complete opposite of what you’re used to, keep an open mind! You just might find that extra flare that your wardrobe has been needing to take it to the next level.
Without question, the French take pride in their wardrobe selection and everyday appearance. Don’t allow the typical “elegance” and “class” of French fashion intimidate you, especially since that same fashion is now sprinkled with more “modern” tastes.  Whether you come to find that the fashion here is capable of reflecting your own personal “swagger”, it’s something that I feel anyone can come to respect and appreciate.
Something to Know.


As is the case in my apartment, as well as many other homes in Aix, there is a washing machine, but no dryer. This might come as a shock, but you will adjust easily and quickly. During the warmer months, it's nice to leave the windows open to get a nice warm breeze to speed the drying process up rapidly. During the winter time, of course, you don't want to do that. Clothes just may take a little longer to dry. 

Kara Henderson is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh.

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