Meet The Modern Storytellers Of Paris

And find out how the city changed their style.

Paris is a city built from stories: this is the source of its magic. The same cobble stone pierced by many a Louboutin stiletto could have once seen the signature heel of the Sun King. Even a 19th-century faucet can be romantic if found in a Haussmannian hallway. 

The women behind the blog Our Paris Stories are here to share the new narratives shaping a more modern Paris. They’re looking for the Gertrude Steins and Julia Childs of our era, who have come from abroad to leave a mark on a city already touched so significantly by centuries of foreigners. 

But after meeting Melissa Lim, Leah Chernick and Christina Bailey, we learned that they too, have their own stories to tell about coming to Paris. They launched their blog just a few months ago with the aim of celebrating the famous avenues and boulevards of this city, as well as the expats brave enough to try and conquer them. This endeavor has subsequently impacted their own relationship with France's capital, including a Paris-sized stain left on their wardrobes. 
L-R: Christina Bailey, Melissa Lim, Leah Chernick

We met the Our Paris Stories team at a classic 19th-century apartment, just steps away from the glorious Champs-Élysees, a massive avenue connecting all things iconically Parisian. In an extravagant salon fit for Josephine Baker — decorated with 18th-century woodwork, antique chairs and endless bookshelves housing tales from Balzac to de Beauvoir — we had one simple question to ask: how has Paris changed your style? 

Observing the three American women against this impressive French backdrop, they had coordinated in an accidental uniform: oversized sweaters, jeans and a bold lip. Bailey's chunky, wide-sleeve turtleneck was from the same color family of neutrals as Lim's V-neck sweater. Chernick complimented her colleagues in black and white, and all three women were comfortable in different shades of denim. Their looks were at the same time effortless and prepared — a giveaway that they'd been studying their sartorial surroundings. In total contrast to their lavish environment for the afternoon, Lim,  Chernick and Bailey were profoundly understated. There was no fuss or frill. Lim, a California native, started with an anecdote about dresses. 

When she moved from California to Seattle, Lim rebelled against the homogenous attire of basic jeans and the color black. Working in a tech office meant, for some developers, shoes were optional. To curate a style identity, Lim wore Kate Spade and Ted Baker dresses of vibrant hues, which, since moving to France, have been replaced by leather jackets and Stan Smiths. "I'm changing as a person, and my style evolves too," she said. "Here, I feel more comfortable with who I am. I'm learning, and that means adapting to my environment." 

And when your environment is Paris, that also means getting reacquainted with the style concept of a well-tailored jean, and picking up tips like navigating the metro in sneakers and saving the embellished Valentino pumps for the office. So as Lim's colorful collection of dresses collects dust, her closet continues to grow with sophisticated basics that, while neutral, would still defy Seattle's color code. 

For Bailey, also hailing from the West Coast — she and Lim actually grew up together — it was redefining the "cool girl" style so synonymous with California that was most challenging. The relaxed, sporty nature of her former surroundings dictated her look: athleisure, casual and comfy. Bailey described her on-the-go attire as one that always allowed her to hop on a bike or take off on a run, but that energy didn't translate well here in Paris. "People here take your appearance as how you feel about those around you," she explained. "It's a sign of disrespect if you're not put together." 

Bailey noticed a refined aesthetic to almost everything in her new surroundings, from the symmetrical facade of a building to the exquisite preparation of a meal. This also manifests in apparel: subtle details — a leather lapel, a perfectly-placed button — elevate a classic, simple look to something effortlessly elegant. She's tried to apply this same attention to detail while maintaining a commitment to comfort. No more ripped jeans or cheaply made trend pieces from Forever 21. Bailey shops less, with the intention of paying for quality over quantity. 

Chernick's wardrobe began to evolve before she even made it to France. She started clearing out her closet of what she wouldn't need, bidding adieu to her Tory Burch dresses without so much as looking back. Moving to Paris triggered a latent fashion fearlessness, compelling Chernick to experiment with pieces that always caught her eye but were either unappreciated or misunderstood at home. Glittery socks and New Jersey, for example, made for an unlikely pair. Paris, however, would be her playground for style exploration. She packed her mother's red leather vintage Coach bag as well as a shopping checklist, which included vintage cut-off Levi's, a Carven bag, and anything with a frilly sleeve or ruffles. 

Now, just months into her relocation, Chernick showed up to the interview well-versed in the Marais, and with the look to match. She had found her 501s, frayed at the ends, and paired them with a navy teddy coat from MKT studio. Chernick characterizes the Parisian vibe as "vintage, trendy... laid-back, but cool," which she channels through white t-shirts, knit cardigans and investment pieces like a well-made leather handbag. 

And while all three women worship the holy French trinity of Parisian street fashion — Maje, Sandro and The Kooples — they also mentioned the famed discount pharmacy stores (if you've tackled the aisles of City Pharma on rue du Four, you are well on your way to becoming a true Parisian). Beauty, after all, is an important element of any style story. 

"In L.A. I'd be in workout clothes and wearing a full face of makeup," Bailey said. "Here, I'll feel totally fine going to the boulangerie with no makeup [on] and its much more representative of me. It's a much more natural beauty." 

Lim, Bailey and Chernick shared an appreciation for a beauty they say is more authentic. You see it in the decreased frequency of their manicures, their faded highlights – and a permanent shortlist of French makeup products (which includes Nuxe lip balmLaura Mercier foundation and Yves Saint Laurent lipstick). You also see it on their blog, a digital testimonial to Parisian culture through an impassioned expat lens. But this team explores a beauty much bigger than the Paris glorified by the mainstream: Lim, Bailey and Chernick search for the real stories beneath the city's familiar facade. They show a cool, exposed city that's charmingly real like the barefaced, French women who inspired their own style transformations. And even though they've profiled everyone from a baseball player to the founder of an online publication, for Lim, Bailey and Chernick, this is only the beginning of their own Paris stories. 

Check out our selection of pieces inspired by and mentioned in our interview with Our Paris Stories: 
Modern Citizen Noa Turtleneck Tunic Sweater - $65
Lovesick Ribbed Knit Cowl Neck Sweater - $45
Topshop Super Ripped Mom Jeans - $80
Inc International Concepts Pointed Toe Studded Kitten Heel Pumps - $90
Loéil Amuza Sweater - $196
Wet Seal Faux Suede Over-The-Knee Booties With Tall Heel - $43
AGOLDE Jaime High-Rise Jeans - $148
Mango Fine-knot Metallic Sweater - $60
Strappy Pointy Toe Flats - $89
Baggu Mini Purse - $90
Genuine People Soft High Collar Sweater - $100
Mango Soho Skinny Jeans - $60
H&M Knit Cardigan - $30
&Other Stories Voluminous Wool Knit - $115
Free People Mystic Charms Heeled Boot - $248.00
H&M+ Slim-fit Pants - $25
Article& Lana Turtleneck - $54
Storets Elena Cold Shoulder Top - $64
Boohoo Plus Gemma Lace Up Rib Cold Shoulder Knitted Top - $20
Nuxe Baume Lèvres Réparateur teinté Pêche BIO-BEAUTÉ - €8
YSL Beauty Volumpté Tint-in-Balm - $34
MKT Studio Marquise Coat - €209
Laura Mercier Silk Crème Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation - $48
Calzedonia Short Socks with Pattern - £4

All photos by Diana Liu. Shot on location in collaboration with BonAppetour