Finding my own style in the fashion capital

MyFrenchLife™ - fashion capital - french dressingMany things sprung to my mind, when I began to contemplate the different environment I’d be living in, as I was preparing to move to Paris. Not the least of which was how much more stylish I would inevitably become.

How could I not?

Paris is the fashion capital of the world, so at the very least I’d be surrounded by inspiration, and at the very most I would finally understand how to put a decent outfit together that didn’t age me by ten years. Obviously, the building of an amazing, new, age-appropriate wardrobe would commence shortly after my arrival.

The part of this little dream of mine that came true was the portion about inspiration. As I ride the metro and stroll the streets of the city, I’m continually confronted with women who are exponentially more fashionable than myself, either in person or among the barrage of advertisements featuring alluringly well-dressed models.

MyFrenchLife™ - fashion capital - closet

As an optimist, I have refused to see this experience as further proof that I need a personal shopper and have instead focused on studying my subjects and making mental notes of certain elements of style that I could adopt.

But, for some reason, I can’t seem to follow through with this adoption and add some freshness and chic to my existing collection of clothes. Too many times I have left my flat with aspirations of fashion grandeur and have come back empty handed, dejected and still looking like an unwilling participant of America’s What Not to Wear.

What is the problem?

Well, there are several factors at play here.

MyFrenchLife™ - fashion capital - french styleOne is that, despite shopping in nearly all of the major hubs in Paris (Saint Germain, Galeries Lafayette, Opera, Bazaar Hotel de Ville, Magasin Printemps, you name it…), I have yet to find much of anything that I actually like. Another is that when I do find things I like, they are so far removed from my price range that I don’t even pretend to consider buying anything by entering into a fitting room. To further exacerbate this situation, I am faced with the shame that comes from living in Paris yet buying most of my new items from non-French chain clothing retailers like H&M and Mango.

I often wonder if perhaps I’m just not stylish enough to see the potential in most of the items I come across. Or perhaps I just haven’t fully adapted to French fashion. I would certainly be better-dressed if I had a bigger budget, but who wouldn’t?

As I wrestle with the conundrum of loving the class and flair of what is worn by the women that I see around me, yet be unable to channel it for myself, I continue the search for my personal holy grail: charmingly chic clothes that are also affordable.

Paris, I know you are the keeper of this treasure… Show me the way!

What french fashion inspires you?

Image credits:
1. French style via Do it in Paris
2. Closet by Rubbermaid products, via Flickr
3. French style by Mo, via Flickr

About the Contributor

Nikki Lavoie

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  1. lonneke Mar 29, 2012 at 8:38 PM - Reply

    You hit the nail Nikki! Your story really resonates with me.

    I work as a personal stylist for expat women moving or already living in France (or elsewhere in Europe).

    Most of my clients feel, just like you describe, overwhelmed and intimidated by the French flair and new dress code. I help women to adapt to a new dress code without losing their personal identity.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing!

    Your European Stylist

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