Ripped jeans. Leggings. Hoodies. T-shirts. Flannels. These are a few clothing items I love to where at Clemson. But it only took me a week in France to realize that casual clothes were actually statement pieces (and not in a good way).
"Casual style" in France is much different from how the U.S. interprets it. The French women don't wear much makeup, but they always make sure to look put together. Black tights, tennis shoes, and leather jackets are a common combination you will see women wear on the streets and in school.
For men, they are typically well-groomed, wearing well-fitting bottoms and an overall put-together look. In America, guys might be embarrassed to put effort into their look, but in France, where reputation and first impressions are essential, it's expected.
Coming to France, I thought the clothes I packed would suffice, and to a certain extent, they did. However, the way in which I styled my clothes differed from how I typically would at Clemson. The times I made an effort to put an outfit together, the look fit more into a street style look. In France, I felt like I had to attempt a more polished look than I am used to. I didn’t think I had to start from a clean slate; the only clothing items I felt like I needed to buy were coats and pants. I just had to reimagine how to style my clothes.
A few staple items for me were short black boots, black pants, a neutral-colored coat, and a few favorite sweaters. A thick, black scarf is also a must, especially when traveling to colder countries. It’s best to leave "loud" statement pieces at home.
I never felt like I had to alter my style for the sake of blending in completely. I love expressing myself, through, and I felt like I didn't need to sacrifice my favorite style choices. They just needed elevating. Of course, no one has to dress a certain way at all to enjoy their experiences abroad, but borrowing some fashion tips from the French made me feel a little more like a local in Antibes.
Hannah Rohaley is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in French Riviera, France, and is currently studying at Clemson University.