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Vogue 101

October 22, 2014
by CEA MOJO
The hardest task for me before leaving to Paris wasn’t finishing the CEA application or saying goodbye to friends and family, but rather squeezing 4 months of clothing into one 28 inch suitcase. To narrow down my wardrobe and decide what was appropriate for the stylish Paris streets, I decided to do some online research. In my research, I came across several “rules” for how one should pack and dress for Paris, such as the “no more than 3 colors” rule and the “no sneakers” rule. However, after living in Paris for the past six weeks, I have realized that the only rule to live – or dress – by is that there are absolutely no rules.
 There's nothing like checking out street style at the
Chanel Spring 2015 fashion show before class!

There are several common assumptions as to how one should dress in Paris; yet with assumptions, comes much leeway:
 Actress/model Elisa Sednaoui at Paris Fashion Week,
proving that color is style's best friend.

Common Assumption #1: Parisians only wear neutrals

Most people know the cliché that Parisians only wear black. It’s no matter of discussion that black slims, sophisticates, and strengthens most articles of clothing; we have Coco Chanel’s “little black dress” to prove it. However, while several sources may tell you that color doesn’t belong in a Parisian wardrobe, it’s more a matter of how one decides to use color in their overall ensemble. Fashion is about commitment – especially when it comes to color. Although Parisians often opt for neutrals, their ability to incorporate color and details into their look sets them apart individually. Whether one opts for standout jewelry that brings out a subtle hue in their primarily neutral dress, or if one chooses to pair basic dark skinny jeans with a statement textured colorful top, the question isn’t what color to wear, but rather how to wear that color.

Common Assumption #2: Parisians only wear tailored clothes

When I close my eyes and imagine Parisian style, the first image in my mind is Audrey Hepburn – who ironically enough was British. Nationality aside, however, everything from her tailored skinny pants, dark fitted tops and simple ballet flats screams stereotypical Parisian fashion – just throw some black and white stripes in there and we’re all set! Yet while the sleek, tailored look is a french woman’s go-to, it’s extremely fashionable in Paris to play with proportions. When mixing up proportions, it’s best to aim for opposites. In the warmer summer months, I often saw women in cafés or the metro pairing baggy boyfriend jeans with a crop top or wide-leg pants with a fitted tank. Now that the weather is beginning to change, the best way to keep warm with your slim leggings or jeggings is to pair them with an oversized knit sweater.

Common Assumption # 3: Leave the gym clothes for the gym
 Who knew Nike's could look so chic?!

There isn’t much to disagree with when it comes to this assumption. Being the workout enthusiast that I am, coming to Paris wasn’t going to alter my morning routine of slipping on my Nikes, plugging in my headphones and stepping outside for a brisk jog. I receive looks of confusion and disdain from pedestrians as I run past them, so you can imagine judgement I receive when performing simply day-to-day tasks, such as grocery shopping or laundry, in this highly looked down upon attire. I must admit though, while head to toe athletic gear is unheard of in French fashion vocabulary, cool kicks are extremely popular at the moment among all ages and both sexes. I’ve noticed everyone from chic college students to restaurant waiters pairing their dressy, sophisticated outfits with fun and colorful statement kicks from brands similar to Nike or Converse.

Common Assumption #4: Stick to classic staple pieces
 My first Paris purchase where these
platform blue velvet kicks from ElevenParis!

While I may have packed my white oxford button-down and beige trench coat in my suitcase, I’ve learned that Parisians often exceed the expected in order to create memorable looks. Being one of the most prominent fashion capitals in the world, Paris is known for staying on top of and ahead of trends. Not even living in San Francisco or going to school in Los Angeles could have prepared me for the unique, forward and drool-worthy trends that I have come to admire and crave here in Paris. On street corners and in department stores, I see fashionable women in everything from platform converse and geometrically shaped sunglasses to huge fur coats and wide-brimmed floppy hats, Warning: these newly popular styles may be an asset to one’s wardrobe, but will undoubtedly become the enemy of one’s bank account!

 

There is no scientific or mathematical formula one must abide by when it comes to fashion (maybe that’s why I love it so much). Fashion is an expression of self, and similar to how studying abroad shouldn’t change who you are, your study abroad city shouldn’t alter how you express yourself, especially if that expression is through fashion. While certain fashion pieces may be helpful for day-to-day Parisian living – a cross-body bag with zippers to fashionably ward off pickpockets, an umbrella for last minute showers, a felt fedora or floppy hat for those inevitable bad hair days – there's really only one essential style staple you need: confidence (and maybe some red lipstick; red lipstick always helps)!
Madison Vlay is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Paris, France. She is currently a junior at UCLA.



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