How Moving To Paris From NYC Transformed My Style

Transitioning from bohemian chic to learning the art of minimalism

France is synonymous with style, not just for those well-versed in fashion but for anyone who can locate the country on a map. It is the cultural core of Europe, the center of couture.  A New York native, I was moving here from another mecca of design and innovation. Manhattan is a city drenched in a new kind of elegance, an empire built from the brilliant minds of the best in their craft. Artists and designers played a massive role in the American city’s rapid trajectory to its current status of international influence. But France’s cultural history dates much farther back, as is reflected in a more mature approach to fashion and attention to detail. At least this is what I’ve learned and adopted now living in its capital of Paris for a year.  

 


France has taught me the art of subtle sexiness. It has a culture that has celebrated the natural allure of women like Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, icons that marked a generation of beauty at just the peak of a shoulder. We learn from these powerfully engaging women that femininity doesn’t need to be overdone with frills and florals, but rather radiates from within. Living in Paris can mean invitations to elegant soirées, fancy dinners or even a romantically spontaneous picnic next to the Seine. For me, fashion has always been an expression of my personality, but I’ve learned how to make a statement without doing it loudly. A long, structured dress can still be sexy with just a mesh tease at the waist. Instead of wearing something tight or low cut, a bold lip can send the same flirty message. 


I’m proud to call the East Village my former stomping ground, and I loved incorporating the casual, bohemian attitude of my surroundings into my wardrobe. I found that this doesn’t work well in Paris as far as clothes, but it does in the beauty category. Women spend less time on hair and makeup to allow for a more natural, real look. I’ve opted for a haircut that I'm confident sporting straight out of the shower, and wear subtle, fresh makeup almost everyday. Beauty and style comes across as effortless, while channeling a certain attitude brings your look to the next level. 
 


There is a classic Parisenne profile that has been born and reproduced by the media: striped crew-cut shirt, black well-fitted pant and a red beret for a bold color to break up the look — baguette  in tow, of course. This stereotypical image of a French person, man or woman, has been so widely repackaged and diffused across advertisements and cartoons that people believe this is actually what you will find on the Champs-de-Mars in front of the Tour Eiffel. While the look itself inaccurate and dated, it’s not far off to say that fashionistas have taken elements from the style and appropriated them into their wardrobes to literally wear their Frenchness but to do so subtly. Stripes are a given. French people love them, and people visiting Paris love to pack them. I knew I wanted to incorporate the motif into my daily wear when moving here, but I have also adapted a Parsienne approach to my wardrobe overhaul, which is quality over quantity. Instead of following fad trends that fade quickly, I have taken on the shopping practice of less is more, where I invest in a well-made, classic piece that I know will last me a long time both by its style and its quality. 


This Nicole Miller top embodies my new fashion mantra. I could’ve bought three funkier, trendy tops for how much I spent for this one, but I love the fit, I love the material, and I love that I can just as well break it out next season without hating myself for having followed a certain trend that will make me cringe a year later.  That’s why the iconic image of a French person is still relevant, and stripes are always safe. It’s an ageless, classic look.  That’s not to say French women don’t play with trends or challenge traditions in the industry — but the inspiration comes from long-lasting status of elegance. Drawn to the accent of a red beret, I like to make a statement either with a bold lip or here, with this structured Ralph Lauren purse. The white sneaker has been a fashion girl’s friend that dates back to Converse and has been reworked, transformed, and carried out to today's Adidas Stan Smiths. My choice:  my mom’s Keds from the 90s. Truly a recycled classic that doesn’t go old. 
 


Trends like Athleisure and Normcore took off in the United States. I wasn’t against them, but that’s not to say I support flip flops anywhere other than the beach. While I think it’s important to have a go-to outfit that is comfortable and reliable for multiple occasions, in Paris I’ve upgraded from leggings as pants. For me, a well-fitted onesie is the secret. This is because little thought goes into the look — you have a built-in top and bottom, and you know that they're going match. The style is also versatile. Pair the outfit with a clean white sneaker and you’re set to explore from Trocadero to the Marais. Switch to a black pump and the look is amplified for a night out. This particular jumpsuit was a thrift find, and while I love the daring dip of the low-cut back,  I can easily hide it with a blazer or a cropped jacket so I can transition the style into a more professional setting. 



I’ve also learned the art of minimalism since moving to France. As an avid thrifter and a vixen of vintage, I have an impressive collection of jewelry that tell stories of my adventures across hidden pockets of New York's pre-loved scene. Before, I would wear them all together — stacking bangles with charm bracelets, layering rings and wearing scarves as belts all in a single proudly mismatched outfit that managed to unify all its separate parts. Obviously I had never heard Coco Chanel’s quote about looking in the mirror and removing an accessory before leaving the house. Nonetheless, the look worked, and I regard my bohemian days as some of my best style moments to date. But Paris has taught me to appreciate the different kind of story one can tell with a single, carefully selected accessory, whether it be a delicate bracelet or a scarf you dug out of a bin at a friperie on Rue des Rosiers. Before, this black onesie would have been a blank canvas to decorate with vintage chains and accessories. Now, I take just as much time as I would accessorizing to pick the right item to make this simple, comfortable piece the perfect look for wherever I'm going. My jumpsuit hack guarantees style success without factoring leggings into the equation.  

Photography by AM Photography