Parisienne your own backyard?

In Shevia's thread about Parisienne style, I was struck especially by this remarks. 

"French style seems ultimately practical and based on appearing elegant and

charming through wind, rain and cold, while walking on uneven pavement. The vibe was freedom

within structure rather than anything goes and I had the impression of a culture that is more

Haiku than free verse."

Skylurker added the explanation or context that: "Wearing statement clothes - too luxe, too sexy, too eccentric or too loud - is seen as vulgar, esp in bourgeois circles."

This got me wondering. If it is true that Parisienne style is ultimately practical and based on appearing elegant and charming in the actual conditions of city life (in that city), then how does that translate to Miami, or New York, or Tel Aviv, or Toronto? The scarves and motos and sober tailored cuts that make sense in Paris -- what are their equivalents elsewhere? 

What are they, where you live? 

Shevia also suggested that self-knowledge seems to be the basis of great Parisienne style. Perhaps it goes further and includes knowledge of the environment, acceptance of it. 

We've talked numerous times about how important it can be for us Canadians, for example, to develop a real "coat capsule" -- either aiming for variety (if this is a need) or the very best quality coats we can afford. I am thinking that is one example of "translating Parisienne style" to our own reality. 

Well, Angie's been saying this stuff for years (Dress for your body today; dress for the life you lead). I guess it just takes me a while to let it sink into my noggin. 

Or maybe I am still wishing that I lived in Paris....    :)

How about you? How can you "do Paris"?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • MsMary replied 4 years ago

    Ooh!! Such a great question, Suz! I will have to put on my thinking cap for this one...

  • Joy replied 4 years ago

    An excellent observation. The light is different in various locales, which can affect everything. Great fit and fabrics would be part of " doing Paris" anywhere. I also suspect that lots of neutrals work anywhere, but maybe different ones. In the US Heartland shades of denim and chambray blue would be the best neutral, probably paired with cognac or taupe. Flats or small wedges on shoes and boots, small or skinny scarves, natural looking makeup and hair. I need to think about this some more and also how it will change living on the Colorado front range.

  • Elizabeth P replied 4 years ago

    LOL, I think Haligonians "do Parisienne" in Hunters and MEC Goretex.

  • UmmLila replied 4 years ago

    Is that native wear for each location then?  Or what is the best chic for each location?

    Did you all see the Guardian's comic of what the typical Canadian looks like in a variety of cities?  <>

  • AviaMariah replied 4 years ago

    Really good question!  I loved that description you quoted by Shevia.  In fact, as I told her in her post, I immediately wrote it down on my clothes shopping list/goals.  I'll have to think about it but I think the most important component for where I live is shoes.  Not only do I have very fussy feet but where I live gets very dusty and dirty, especially in the summer.  I also live out in the country which makes this worse.  Many times I get home in the evening, pull the kids out of the car and we are immediately exploring the latest bugs in the grass, walking through gravel or playing in the kiddie pool.  So my shoes have to be robust.  The last thing I want to do is worry about getting my shoes off so I don't ruin them.  Like you I think coats are also a big component.  But while we do get pretty cold in the winter, our winters aren't as brutal or as long as yours so a variety of lighter weight jackets/coats are important.  I'll think about this some more.

  • Roxanna replied 4 years ago

    I love this post too, Suz, and it makes me realize that the 'Parisienne style' I sometimes pine over needs to be translated for this Torontonian. That, to me, says a bigger/better quality warm coat capsule, as you mentioned, boots with traction, durability and style for mucky weather conditions (especially if you commute or walk a lot, like me,) and brights for summer (unlike Paris, we get glaring sun and lots of humidity in the summer, so to me, muted clothes and somber styles sometimes look out of place in high summer.)

  • replied 4 years ago

    Lots of food for thought and a reminder that I still tend to shop for and pine over, a climate where layers and sweaters are ideal, but not what I actually live in 8 months of the year.

  • Jenn replied 4 years ago

    I wish I lived in a climate where I could get up each morning, choose between my moto, my trench, and my blazer, and get on with my day. That would be amazing.

    On a whim, I just Googled "Denver Street Style" and I was surprised to find I'm more influenced by my surroundings than I thought. (Joy, you're moving to the front range?! I live there! And interestingly enough, I grew up in the Midwest. There are a lot of us here.)

    Some photos of local style. Though I didn't take any of these, pretty much every one of them was taken on the pedestrian mall that runs right outside my husband's office. We actually live in a small town about an hour north or the city, so style is further diluted where I spend most of my time.

    Note all the jeans, jeans, jeans. Tons of boots. Plenty of non-black neutrals, low-contrast RATE looks. Sunglasses in winter (most of these photos were taken on what looks like a warm January day) because it is always bright. Very casual in the heart of the downtown business district. It almost seems like classic Parisian polish would look awkward on Denver streets.

    #1-4 are from http://www/ and #5 is from

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Great responses: thank you! 

    Ummlila, I'm still laughing over that Guardian piece. It's politically incorrect but pretty darned accurate. Awfully guy-heavy, though. Between us, I'll bet Elizabeth P, L'Abeille, Roxanna, LisaP, Aziriphale, Shannon, Krishnadoux, and the many other Canadians who are lurking more could come up with a pretty funny female-oriented list. 

    Roxanna, I couldn't agree more that because our seasons are so extreme, what looks and feels chic differs markedly between summer and winter. I'm so into colour in the summer, too -- it just feels wrong to go around in subdued tones all the time in the humidity and bright angled light. 

    AviaMariah, it sounds as if your shoe needs are similar to mine -- but more so! 

    Elizabeth,  there's a good reason Hunters and Goretex took such hold! But they don't really have the cachet of Emmanuelle Alt's fab moto and heels, do they? 

    Joy, I agree so much about the light. That is the primary reason my colours change from season to season (well, that and the heat, of course!). I like your proposed "uniform" for your area. 

  • Roxanna replied 4 years ago

    That is so interesting. @Suz and @Joy, about the light. I never thought of that before. But in the beautiful, diffuse, Monet light on Paris, it's easy to distinguish between subtle layers, textures and patterns. In the often glaring sun or grey, snowy days of Toronto, that gets lost and outfits look murky, which is why i often go to colour or crispness. What an interesting dimension.

  • Astrid replied 4 years ago

    That's a very interesting thought Suz. And I think it's definitely possible to take what's typical for your own little corner and combine those items in a way that says practical, elegant and charming. Why not?

    I did a quick search for "berlin style", those below were the first results. I think it's pretty typical for what I would have said Berlin style is - neutrals or muted colors, oversized and fitted, contrasts in general, casual, practical, often sporty, not matchy matchy. I think I dress more plain, classic, coordinated in comparison.


    On the topic of light - Berlin is awful in fall and winter. It's all grey grey grey and depressing. So do all those muted and dark colors mean we prefer to blend in?

  • Elizabeth P replied 4 years ago

    OMG Ummlila, that Guardian piece is hilarious. 

    And yeah Suz, my comment was all about practical and not so much about style :)  But you know?  When it's pouring out, I think people look plain ole silly in wool coats and pumps.  This is why I have been looking for years for an actual waterproof trench coat.  Practical and stylish can be difficult here!  And I tend to go for practical...

    I never thought of googling "Halifax Street Style" but I'm not sure it exists.  We have such an eclectic city, with such eclectic weather, when I look around nothing strikes me as consistent in how people dress.    Which is why I pondered on the other thread, if style stands alone or if it's part of the culture. 

  • Marilyn replied 4 years ago

    Great topic!

    Style definitely varies by location.  I find Ottawa style to be pretty boring, actually.  Everyone is super casual.  You would think a government town would be more dressed up but it's not.  My husband works for the government and black jeans are dress clothes.  People actually go to work in shorts.

    I recently spent a few days in Toronto and I spent a lot of time staring at both women and men.  Only 4 hours away but so much more stylish and a different vibe. I found myself dissecting what women were wearing as I walked behind them.  There were so many chic looking women and the men in suits were so sharp looking. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 4 years ago

    OK, so I googled Halifax Street style.  I see bikini clad women near a muscly dude and a motorcycle, socks with sandals, sweatshirts and ball caps.  Need I say more?

    Actually there is a lot of nice stuff too, but I bet those options don't show up in Paris!

  • L'Abeille replied 4 years ago

    Fascinating topic.

    Some random thoughts:

    Re: light: many many years ago I spent 2 months doing a medical elective in Kathmandu Nepal. Where bright saturated colour was everywhere, was toned down by the brilliant sun and thin clear air and stood up to the omnipresent dust (only the very wealthy could wear white or pastels without getting dingy right away). So on my return to Toronto, it took a couple of months to stop dressing that way--couldn't understand why I got side-eye for wearing brilliant red tights with a grey dress in the bowels of the teaching hospitals...

    Re: Halifax street style, my only comments are: when DS was at uni there, he spent all winter in a leather jacket (didn't need a puffer like at home in New Brunswick). And I recall a visit there (some years back now), hanging out in a bookstore, wearing a fedora and baggy tweed jacket (and midi skirt I think), and the store owner "could tell" I was from Sackville NB (crunchy university town) by my dress... At home, the Acadian women are more likely to be in makeup and heels (for Canadians, that is).

  • carter replied 4 years ago

    Very interesting post, Suz. I read it earlier but could not come up with an answer. I can't remember the last time I saw someone out and about with a style that appealed to me, not even in the slightest. Following Jen and Astrid, I googled "Atlanta street style", and this is what I got. Can I pick another city?

  • replied 4 years ago

    The Guardian piece pleases me greatly - because there I am in my Jets jersey :)  

    Anyways, interesting topic  Suz.  I was particularly struck by skylarker's comment about the ostentation of luxe/loud and other clothing  seen as such by the borgeousie.   Paris is such an old, old city, and it makes sense that new and loud and different is considered distasteful to a certain group.  That said, what the genteel class considers appropriate is not really of concern to me.  Interesting though.  How it relates to where I live?  Well, there is a certain humility that Canadians are noted for - as we all know - and that is reflected in how we dress, to a large extent.  We apologize for being over-the-top and standing out in any way - and I know a lot of people who absolutely subscribe to that in all parts of their life (dressing too).  

  • La Pedestrienne replied 4 years ago

    Well, that's an interesting thought. For one thing, French culture is staunchly regionalist. Cosmopolitan, yes, but always decidedly French. In North America, identity is less unified/unifying -- so maybe it's not as easy to come up with a single unified definition of "chic" here. (French Canada is possibly an exception -- Montreal could be perhaps the New World counterpart to Paris. However, when I'm there visiting family, I never feel underdressed, and I'm extremely casual. I think Montreal is several notches less formal than Paris, and IME has a pretty wide variety of more "out-there" looks -- punk influenced, boho influenced, etc. -- worn even by those who don't identify strongly w/ a particular subculture.)

    New England definitely has its own response to chic -- and it's known elsewhere as "prep" -- the breton tops, the Bean boots, the chinos. The archetypal look has both maritime and woodsy/mountain permutations, depending how far you are from the coast (i.e. don't take your Nantucket reds camping). It's definitely a climate-driven style -- New Englanders are pretty much slaves to the weather.

    In the Southwest, I'd say boots (e.g. ropers, Frye Harness) are an integral and environmental element of local chic. They would look *so* out of place on a Parisian street, yet so normal with a pair of dusty jeans and a checked cotton shirt on the streets of, say, Austin or SLC. Hats too! That brutal sun...

    I'd also be curious to know how immigrant cultures factor into and/or deal with this -- for example, do Moroccans and Sengalese in Paris have something distinctly Parisian in the way they dress that distinguishes them from Moroccans in Morocco, or in the US, or elsewhere? Or do those who identify as foreign or other within a community play by a different set of rules altogether when it comes to style?

  • Chris987 replied 4 years ago

    this is a great topic, thanks for starting it Suz!

    That posting from the Guardian is hysterical! Thanks UmmLila!  Here is a similar one about "New England" although it's pretty heavily slanted toward Maine. You may have to click through a request to sign up for a magazine subscription to get to the funny stuff.

    I will have to give some more thought to what Parisian would translate to where I am...

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Oooh, I'm loving these city street style collages -- thanks!

    Jenn, you really do fit into your surroundings...and elevate them! :) But it does seem as if there's a particular look that works well...I can see you on these streets in your fedora, for sure. 

    I agree with you, Roxanna, about the murky greys of our winters. Astrid, you would feel right at home in Kingston. Most people seem to do what Berliners do and dress in casual denim, black or grey. I do it myself (with more navy than most) but I get awfully tired of it. 

    I think it does come (in part) from a desire to blend in, Astrid, but also some internal sense of what is "fitting," is what L'Abeille says. The vivid brights that make so much sense in Nepal just feel "off" in a different quality of light. 

    Elizabeth, that's hilarious about the bikinis. I googled Kingston, Ontario streetstyle and from the evidence before me, I'd say Kingstonians take things literally!! (Images below from the first ones that pop up). 

    Marilyn, you are right -- Ottawa is super casual. It reminds me of Vancouver that way. A lot of people live for the outdoors there, and the weather is pretty brutal (killer hot in summers and seriously cold and snowy in winter). I understand how fashion can take a back seat. Yet they did open a Nordstrom's there. I wonder if it is doing well? SOMEbody must be wearing what they buy there? 

  • Astrid replied 4 years ago

    Yes you're probably right about that internal sense if what is "fitting". Remember when I bought my puffer coat? I tried it in bright pink and silver. The forum loved the bright pink and it looked good on me, but I would have stood out like a sore thumb. Even the silver one is attention grabbing compared to what most people around me are wearing.

  • Marilyn replied 4 years ago

    Suz.....I'd love to know how Nordstrom in Ottawa is performing.  It's always busy and I see a lot of people carrying bags.  The Rideau Centre, where it's located, is currently undergoing an expansion and has opened a whole slew of luxury stores.....Tiffany, Ted Baker, Kate Spade, etc.  There are definitely people here with money to spend.  I have seen a handful of very nicely dressed women browsing in Nordstrom.

  • Janet replied 4 years ago

    I confess, I don't have such big aspirations to "Parisienne" style. I get the appeal, but it is not me. I don't live in Paris, and what may seem elegant and simple in one place and on certain women will feel inauthentic or boring in another place on another type of woman.

    I googled Baltimore street style just to get an idea of what comes up in my area, and it's eclectic, but even then, the pictures I found only represent a small segment of my area's style. I don't care to blend in too much or stand out too much, but just to be physically and emotionally comfortable and true to myself while expressing some of my creativity through what I wear. It's that simple.

  • Jenn replied 4 years ago

    Carterthat woman in the second photo of your collage showed up in the Denver street style search, too. I investigated and she's actually in Indianapolis. Weird. I went searching for Atlanta style the other day in anticipation of a possible trip there (my husband travels there 6-8 times a year on business, and I might tag along one of these times). It's really pretty all-over, isn't it?

  • JAileen replied 4 years ago

    I live in the interior west. I googled street style and pictures of motorcycles came up. A friend and I used to joke about what a real housewives show in our area would look like - lots of fleece and Dansko clogs I think. Hey, I'm all set - I have lots of both! Since finding YLF I've added boots to my wardrobe, including several pairs of western boots. When I went to the rodeo a couple weeks ago, however, I didn't wear them. I saw one truly chic woman at the rodeo. I wish I had taken a picture. Her outfit hinted at the western tradition without being the least bit costumey, like most people's outfits.

  • carter replied 4 years ago

    Interesting, Jenn. That outfit is one of the few I like;-). Perhaps I need to move to Indianapolis? Let me know if you're coming to Atlanta. Would love to arrange a meet-up.

  • columbine(erin) replied 4 years ago

    Fascinating questions. I have to think some more on this. I live in the Front Range region, too. Tons of friends and neighbors and family members are military or former military, and now working as government contractors on the many bases here, and they wear very conservative business wear for work, and then gear or denim or Carharts the rest of the time. Women at my church, say, wear denim skirts or jersey maxi skirts and denim jackets in the summer. There's an emphasis on fitness here and people do wear fitness gear a lot.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    JAileen, that's the best of regional dress, isn't it. When it isn't a parody of itself but actually makes sense. I guess that's what Shevia is talking about, really. 

    Jenn...I sense a YLF meetup in the making! :) Weird that the Indianapolis woman shows up in Atlanta and Denver!

    Janet, I think that's what Shevia was talking about. That Parisienne women seem to have a certain level of self-knowledge that allows them to do what you say. Though I am not sure how much "creativity" figures into it, in Paris. Perhaps that is the difference? 

    Marilyn, I hope Nordstrom's is doing well enough to keep going at least! 

    Astrid, I do remember your puffer coat, yes. The pink looked lovely on you, but I understand. Though I wear a red coat happily here, I tend to prefer my navy peacoat over it most days. 

    Chris, I'll bet Paris would translate as a bit preppy, as LaPed suggests. Those Mariner sweaters work on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems. And hey, isn't LaCoste made in France?  :)

    LaPedestrienne, those are excellent observations. I agree with what you say about New England and southwest style. But most interesting, to me, is your question about the effect/ role of immigration. On the evidence before me, I'd say it's mixed for sure. In one way, the immigrant populations blend in completely -- I sure see a lot of black puffers on people of all ethnicities, races, and country of origin!! But first generation immigrants often keep some elements of the style of their country of origin. Sometimes small and unobtrusive and sometimes more obvious. And some of those elements end up on the runway. It isn't always clear what is "filtering down" and what is "filtering up." 

    LisaP, did you wear that jersey over top of the beautiful outfit last night? I sure hope not!  ;)   You make Winnipeg look darn good, Beautiful Lady. You're right too, I think, about this Canadian disdain of tall poppies. 

    Carter, you are single-handedly improving Atlanta street style every time you go forth! :) 

  • Ginger replied 4 years ago

    I also had a lack of real results in my image searches. Most of the hits were associated with [Big City 50 miles East]. When I looked further, most of those were posted from style blogs with [Big City] in the name but weren't from that city at all! (The pictures that were from my city were more along the lines of the Kingston ones. ;) )

    That said, the Atlanta collage is a lot more like what I see around than Denver or the various Canadian ones.  The weather swing is significant, so while jeans are very important, they're not the be-all end-all. And it's almost always sunny and bright. You really do avoid being outside. (Even street photographers!)  Anecdote: Yesterday when the heat index was 105*F, I fast-walked to my car in about 5 minutes, drove 10 minutes with the A/C blasting, and sat in a very cool building for an hour. At the end of that time I still didn't consider my cardigan, whereas usually I want it within 5 minutes. Now I know that I'm smart to avoid walking and going places at that time of the day. :D

  • Vildy replied 4 years ago

    I don't know how to post a collage of street style photos. But if you Google Image: Camden NJ street style.... 

  • Astrid replied 4 years ago

    Vildy, I just took a screenshot on my laptop.

  • Vildy replied 4 years ago

    Well, Suz, I see you marked it comedy. I'm not offended or anything but it's definitely not a comedy situation to know how to dress for this. There is a section downtown near the university branch where students are dressed as typical students and professors as typical professors. Neither one of of which suits me. If you attend any daytime cultural events there then there are often retired people from the suburbs who have driven in. They look like retired people from the suburbs. There are business and government workers downtown who just go from their car to their place of work and back out again. Even in city hall, there used to be a handwritten sign in the lobby that addressed city hall workers: Please! No hoochie mamma dress.

    We used to have the only supermarket in the city in our neighborhood. Since closed and eventually replaced by a cut-rate market. But it used to be a pleasure to shop midday Sunday because many people from the black churches used to shop there after church. They were dressed to the nines. I think the old gents just stopped short of spats. They were all so beautifully costumed. But, again, it's not for me. And I've never seen any of them after the supermarket closed.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Hi, Vildy -- my apologies. I was reacting to the fact that when I googled it, a lot of streetscapes vs. street style came up, just as in my city, where there weren't even any people in the images at all -- just buildings. (Compare to Astrid's, or Jenn's.) Although agreed, the images of Camden, NJ are very different and represent a place with marked divides in style. 

    I loved the little girl skipping. And I also love the sounds of the churchwear. But I can see how it would be a sartorially difficult place in some ways. Certainly different from Paris. 

  • carter replied 4 years ago

    Vildy, I must have that sign to post at my local Publix (and the mall, the gas station, etc)!

  • texstyle replied 4 years ago

    I use Bing so I binged Austin street style and came up with exactly what I would have expected. But I didn't realize how many people in Austin share a sort of similar boho, western, somewhat "hippie" style. But it is pretty spot on as to what I see there. That's my closest real town so I can't do a search of where I actually live in the hill country quite a way from Austin. Most people here come from Austin or San Antonio though.

    As for myself, I don't really fit into the boho style. I'm way more classic casual nature girl oriented. But I love Joy's color scheme of chambray with cognac and taupe and would like to wear more of it!

  • crazyone replied 4 years ago

    this is slightly tangential, but one of the reasons I dislike Parisian style being held up as the "beau ideal" for everyone is that there's an inherent value judgement there that neutrals are superior to colors, and that wearing bright colors or more ornamented clothing is gauche/tacky (not saying that you, Suz, or Shevia were saying that).  I don't feel that head to toe neutrals suit me very well nor do they reflect the culture my family come from.  Not only do bright, saturated colors tend to go with areas with bright sunshine and warmer weather, they often tend to suit darker skintones very well (though I tend to think that everyone looks good in colors, just depends on the particular shade).  

    Wearing head to toe neutrals is a wonderful choice, and can often look extremely chic.  But I'm glad I don't live in a city where that's the norm, or where there's a more uniform "look".

  • Ruby Tuesday replied 4 years ago

    It is very hard to pick a style for Edinburgh, there are so many faces to the city and style tribes to match.

    Edinburgh old money can be found in the New Town and Stockbridge, if you think Prince William and Harry you've nailed the look.

    Edinburgh librarian chic, can be found meandering through the cobbled streets of the Old Town on her vintage bicycle, often seen wearing brogues and an a line skirt with perfect tumbling auburn curls.

    The creative, works for Ed Fringe or one of Edinburghs many theatres, socialises with the street artists and the tattooists, they take individual style and crank it up.

    Mix in the students, the tourists and the overall effect is a wonderful hot mess.

  • replied 4 years ago

    Ha. I googled Atlanta street style too, and as a native, found it pretty abysmal!

  • kerlyn replied 4 years ago

    Very interesting topic, Suz!

    I'm nodding along with everything Crazyone said, though.  And now I'm wondering why it seems we equate restraint with chic and sophisticated?  And what keeps that restraint from being boring?  

  • Vildy replied 4 years ago

    Here's a sidelight. I know the former mayor and she definitely cares about clothes. I was at her swearing in, in bitter January, and she wore a full length mink coat. She's the lady in red in the picture I'm trying to upload. Anyway, she has two sisters in their 80's who coincidentally shop at the same church thrift store I do. I remember one of them sported double denim with a red top and denim cap on her 80th birthday. She apologized for wearing double denim, "knowing" she should not, but she looked amazing. And not amazing "for an 80 year old" either.

  • Sal replied 4 years ago

    Here's my picture...

    While I live in a provincial city in NZ, we have an eclectic mix of cultures, styles of dress from students, professionals, artists, farmers etc...  NZers probably are low key in their dress in general but artistic, grungey, punk, retro, minimalist, bombshell - really anything goes.  We probably don't have some of the constraints that other countries may place on themselves in terms of what is appropriate or not....which can lead to it's own problems!!

    I see there being a tension/continuum between dressing for your location (both climatic and norms) and dressing for yourself (your own style, your own culture).  And for some of us, myself included, there is a tension between what we want to wear and what is practical, realistic for our lifestyle, and at times for our body.

    I always remember the start of Sex and the City with SJP wearing a tutu and heels and getting splashed by the bus.  She dressed (at the time) in a crazy adventurous way but I loved it on her.  She "owned it".  As does our wonderful forum member Ledonna.

    I don't think neutrals are the only way to do classic or elegant or chic - Michelle Obama, Angie, Queen Elizabeth to name three women who come to mind.  

    I actually feel really confident in my choices for my environment here.  I have a good  gauge on what works for work, sports, parties, weddings etc.  I do know in my stints working in London and Melbourne I did get it wrong a couple of times as their expectations were different, but I quickly adjusted and learnt my lesson.

    A quintessentially appropriate and genuine outfit for my location and lifestyle in winter would be a quality jacket (trench/rain/parka/blazer) parka, a merino sweater, great jeans and ankle boots/rainboots/sneakers.  Add in a scarf, beanie, iphone, sunglasses as needed.   This works for men and women :)

  • Janet replied 4 years ago

    It's really fun to see what comes up with all of your areas!

    Here's a sampling of my town. Not sure where I land in all this, but I'm significantly older than most of the people the local street shooters snap. 

    At any rate, clearly a very different scene from Paris! I'm comfortable with my style in the context of my surroundings, to Shevia's point. :-) 

    Also, see:

  • Irina replied 4 years ago

    Well, for me it is more important to be true to yourself than to one's environment. I don't care how appropriate the bright colors are for any given summer in Toronto. I won't wear them if you pay me :) I am not comfortable in them anywhere. But it doesn't stop me from admiring other women in bold colors. The climate absolutely affects my choices of clothes. Being short on most things like height, ideas and budget, limit my choices. Well, mostly budget! :) Also, when we talk about "surroundings", what do we mean? In a big city like Toronto, what is appropriate and in tune for the financial district is too overdressed for a mid town office. May be an environment of a city is more an environment of one's peer group?

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    So many great responses -- thank you all. I will be back a bit later. I appreciate and have learned from everything you've said. 

  • Staysfit replied 4 years ago

    So when I look up my city, only the local university pops up and I'm not sure that represents the population. It's fairly isolated from the general population. It isn't well integrated into the community. I'm not surprised. I think I ne d to go back and try another city near here that's larger. Maybe Albany.

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    I have been thinking about this and have to think more. I feel a bit stuck because I don't think 'elegant, charming, and practical' are California values. This is the land of 'dreams, tinsel, and letting your hair down.'

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Rachylou, that is so astute, as always! I think this is what I was trying to puzzle out and what others have also touched on. Culturally, the Parisienne values may not translate any more than the light or the colour of the why do we torture ourselves with the idea that we should be "Parisienne chic"? Then again, if we identified the values of our place and our own culture and subculture and dressed true to those, we'd be doing Paris in our own way. That's what I'm trying to get at. Clumsily, I admit!

    I absolutely love all the photos -- thank you for showing me your regional style or what the interwebs consider that! 

  • Janet replied 4 years ago

    I think there's a lot of romanticism of "Paris style" because, well, PARIS. :-) Who doesn't want something in their lives to evoke such a romantic, beautiful place with so much history and elegance? 

    The truth of the matter is, North America, where most of us are posting from, is a far more diverse set of cultures. New York style, LA style, Dallas style, Chicago style, Toronto style, Montreal style...are all pretty different, and there are subsets in each area that create so much diversity that "American style" is pretty darn hard to pin down. Maybe that's why I don't fret the "Parisienne" thing and do my own thing. :-)

  • Angie replied 4 years ago

    Fun read. Thanks, Suz. 

    I am careful to generalize, but will give it a go. In Seattle, the street style in the burbs is quite different to the grit of the city - VERY GENERALLY of course. I live in the city where the style is hard edged, tattooed, RATE, grungy, sporty and very casual. There is as much disconnected and rainbow hair, as there is gear. My crisp, bright, polished, soft and dressy style sticks out like a sore thumb - but makes me very happy. Seattle's street style and I can live in harmony - and do! 

  • jenanded replied 4 years ago

    As a non USAer I often think of women in the USA as pretty, verywell groomed, nicely dressed etc. I know I tend to travel to big cities etc but that is my impression. You have soooo many affordable clothing and make up brands that no doubt contribute. There is far more makeup and hairstyling than Paris but still pretty overall. While there are beautiful women in Australia too generally there is too much overweight flesh in too skimpy clothes, bad footwear and overprocessed but understyled hair. And for such lovely weather there is too much black clothing in stores and on the street. Europeans have a far better sense of doing summer yet its our dominant season.

  • Cococat replied 4 years ago

    I have been thinking about how to answer this and it's impossible to reply for Australia in general as our looks are so different from city to city and region to region.

    I live in a warm coastal city with a huge tourist industry and strong beach and surf culture. We do casual beach boho style pretty well. That includes flowy peasant/kaftan 70s style in retro prints, faded distressed or white denim, subtle tie dye, maxi dresses, sun dresses, fringing, worn-in looking soft tees, sandals. The designer Camilla Franks is very popular for dressy occasions because of her soft flowy silks and jerseys in spectacular prints.

    From my experiences I feel that in general Australians dress as well or as badly as other countries. I've seen good and bad everywhere. If I'm being critical, perhaps we can be a tad too casual.

  • Astrid replied 4 years ago

    CocoCat I agree, there is good and bad everywhere. And this is also true for Paris. I guess all the people visiting get a skewed perspective because they usually just visit certain parts of the city (where there's money). When I visited Paris on a school exchange we were situated far from these areas. The style there had absolutely nothing to do with what we were discussing here. The same is true for Berlin, the majority of people don't dress like those in the collage I posted, obviously.

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    Oh great thread Suz!
    Just to be clear, I do not idealize Parisienne style or think it is the universal ideal. After spending yesterday in Manhattan (mostly Soho) I was completely energized by the sheer variety in a very different way than I was inspired by the elegance of Paris. My post was intended as description not prescription!

    From what I have seen of French women that have moved to a very different climate (Israel) they do retain their French preference for neutrals but it is their posture and walk more than anything that gives them away. For me, truly the one most important takeaway is that style is not stagnant and how you move is as important as what you wear.

    Anyway, this thread is a delight and I reread and think about more.

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    Ok. So I'm now toying with the idea that the only times I've ever seen people achieve a just-so look here - they've been in gear. CAMPING gear. I mean, not ever gonna make it into a this poses a problem for my theory!

  • Style Fan replied 4 years ago

    Thanks for starting this thread Suz.  Very thought provoking.  The guardian article was predictable.  Maybe because I am Canadian but I didn't think it was all that great.  Also it was mostly men and all the same but different.
    In Muskoka there really isn't a street style.  There are the "summer people" as the locals call them (people who own cottages in the area), the tourists, the newbies (people who have recently moved to the area) and the locals. 
    I find the fashion quite interesting in Montreal.  So does DH.  Both men and women are dressed in ways that inspire me.  Of all the big Canadian cities Montreal is my favourite. 

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Thanks, everyone, for chiming in. Great discussion. 

    Style Fan, I am with you in admiring Montreal style. It's quite varied and can be quirky or attention grabbing or quite sophisticatedly sedate, but it is also (often) practical. Long live Mackage and Lole and Soia and Kyo and m8051 and la Canadienne! Long live Simons. 

    Rachy, you and I are both in trouble. Camping gear is probably what works best where I live, too. :) 

    Thanks for popping back, Shevia. I agree that there are many styles we can learn from! Paris is not the only stylish place, by far. That was sort of my idea -- how can we affirm that by bringing the spirit of Paris style to our own selves and environment? Not the specifics, but the essence.I am very interested in what you said about posture and movement being key to a typical Parisienne style, or what remains when the environment changes. Fascinating. 

    Astrid, very good point about tourists getting a skewed view based on their limited knowledge of a city. I agree wholeheartedly. 

    Coco, I think we see the influence of the boho in your own style. You wear it with the best of them, and then do it better by adding your own sophistication to the overall look. So you are setting the standard for where you live! 

    Jen, very interesting remarks about grooming. This is an often overlooked element of style that plays a huge role. A French woman wearing unobtrusive makeup and a simple haircut, not dyed, will look very different in her Breton sweater than an American woman with dyed hair, stronger makeup, and flashy jewellery. Same sweater, different look. 

    Angie, you set an example for all of us of staying true to who you are, whatever your environment! I can empathize with your love and need for colour in a grey and grungy place. I wear mostly neutrals (if blue is a neutral, as it often is) and yet if I don't have some vibrant colour in my life (especially in our grey winter) I feel miserable. So while I admit that I do wear my neutral coats more often than the others, that's sometimes because I'm wearing bright colour underneath! :) 

    Janet, it's so true that style is far from homogenous in North America, and that is part of what makes our part of the world so fascinating and rich. I remember travelling through Europe as a teen. At that time, Toronto was already a mutil-cultural food lovers' mecca. But in Europe, you pretty much got the food of the country you were visiting -- and only that food -- at least at the price points I could afford. (Well, there was curry in England, but that was an exception.) And food is of course representative of overall culture. I missed that vibrant mix of cultures. I know it is very different now in most parts of Europe, or at least in the large cities, but the change was longer in coming than it was in the big cities of North America like New York and Toronto. 

    Staysfit, Albany sounds like a good bet as it is close, but I know from experience how different the style in a small place can be, compared to its closest larger city. 

    Irina, you are so right about subcultures and specific workplaces playing a role in all this. Of course what is appropriate will vary according to your job, your age, your peer group. 

    Sally, as a fellow (post) "colonial" I identified with so much of what you said. But this in particular: 

    I see there being a tension/continuum between dressing for your location (both climatic and norms) and dressing for yourself (your own style, your own culture). And for some of us, myself included, there is a tension between what we want to wear and what is practical, realistic for our lifestyle, and at times for our body.

    Those times we feel we've resolved those tensions are probably the times we feel the best in our clothing. 

    Vildy, I LOVED that photograph of the beautiful, stunning former mayor!! 

  • replied 4 years ago

    Canadians really know all the different brands of puffers. We are puffer experts. There is Canada goose, quartz, soia and kyo and mackage and....MEC! name a few.

    I contrast this to Americans, who only seem to know about Lands end, Eddie Bauer and Patagonia.

    As a Canadian, I do feel a slight superiority complex when it comes to my knowledge of puffers.

    Also snow boots. Canadians know a good snow boot. And we also know that wearing snow boots every day is overkill. You need a variety of boots to get you through the winter,and they aren't always heavy-duty. Canadians know that you can wear rain boots as snow boots if it's sufficiently mild out.

    So while the Parisians may excel at look elegant in the rain, Canadians excel at wearing the appropriate coat and boots for any given day.

    Figuring this out is a bit tough sometimes, and I think we should be proud of our winter style!

  • Jenn replied 4 years ago

    So not true, smittie. Americans know about The North Face, too.  ;)

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Haha, Jenn! And REI (your equivalent to MEC). 

    Smittie, you said it. We should be proud indeed! And seriously, if we didn't figure out that different boots suit different weather, we'd be confined to snow boots for 5 months a year (or more). Well, not those wimps in southern BC, but the rest of us. :) 

    Hmmm....I actually do feel confined to snow boots 5 months a year so maybe I should come and take some lessons...

  • JAileen replied 4 years ago

    Smittie, I love your comment. Canadians are connoisseurs of warm clothing, and I have benefitted from your collective knowledge. BTW, you also forgot Cabella's, Woolrich, and Fjallraven.

  • Jenn replied 4 years ago

    Hmm, perhaps the trick is to stop saying, "I cannot look chic because [insert extenuating circumstances here]" and start looking at the opportunities afforded by our locale. Parisians look great in the rain because... trench coats! Denverites look great in the cold because... boots! Etc. Etc.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Jenn, that's exactly what I was trying to convey. That if we considered our environments very honestly and thought about the type of garments that really work and look great well as considering our own personal characteristics and what suits us, we might acquire the Parisienne confidence and savoir faire. 

  • Staysfit replied 4 years ago

    Smittie, I was rolling on the floor at your catalog comment! Come visit Central New York some time. We have a wide variety of sporting goods and catalog shops. We have the Bass Pro Carhart crowd, the Sears/Lands End crowd, we have the EMS/REI/and or what I will call upscale sporting goods crowd ( I would place The North Face and Columbia here) we have the llBean/Eddie Bauer crowd which is sort of between crunchy and preppy, then we have the more sophisticated/elaborate cold weather shoppers as well. All these divisions are arbitrary of course. Move any company into whatever category you feel it belongs, it doesn't matter. If you are in the United States, it probably varies depending on where you live! :-) As I'm writing this I am starting to believe these divisions are due to socioeconomic and educational/vocational demographic divisions, not lack or presence of sophistication about how to dress for cold weather.

    In cities with multiple seasons is it harder to pinpoint a sense of style for the population? Does the style shift and change with the weather, or does is it shift with the demographic? For example do college students dress differently than business women,? If they do, is it because of budget? Age? Taste level? Need? Sophistication?

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Staysfit, we could do a fun US/ CAN comparison of the outdoor stores available!! Cross border shopping at its finest. 

    In my small city, the style does change to a degree between summer and winter, but some of that is also dependent on a changing demographic! I live in a university town so it is filled with college kids in the F/W. Then in summer the tourists arrive in their shorts and flip flops but most of the tourists are older so they wear a different type of shorts and flip flops than the college kids would! Far more bright colours and bling on display in summer. Far more white (we live on the lake so nautical looks are popular). In winter, it's all denim and boots, all the time. And puffers! 

  • Staysfit replied 4 years ago

    Suz, I would say it's fairly similar here in our small city, which has multiple college campuses, although it's not a tourist destination except for our mall which was enlarged and designed to attract Canadians. :-) Seriously! Our mall is the tourist destination! Who knew?!  FWIW I hate our mall!  It's too large and I rarely find anything I like there.

    Our city is also located on a lake, but they have been clearing it of toxic waste for the past few years!  I'm not sure I trust the clean up crew (does anyone here work with toxic waste? I need some scientific reassurance.).  In any case, they say it's safe to swim in the lake now, but I have no plans to try. (Would you?) 

    Mr. Staysfit is a professor at one of the local universities/colleges. The colleges are all so different from each other and that leads to different style personas for each.  I wish I could come up with a description as nice as yours about the different shorts and flip flops! Maybe thrifting would be the comparison.  Everyone thrifts in college.  However, one college campus thrifts for environmental friendliness and minimalism/ the other campus does it for their artful creative side.  It leads to very different sorts of looks(right?).  The minimal utilitarian, vs. the arty bohemian.  The boundaries aren't time of year as much as geographic with a slight overlap of campus along one edge.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    That is fascinating, Staysfit!! We should visit each other's cities and be flies on the wall. I'll bet each of us would have interesting insights about the differences and similarities between our two geographically close environments! 

    We also have multiple institutions of higher learning here. There is the university, the Royal Military College (which grants university degrees), and the community college. And I would agree that there is a different fashion vibe at each. I study and teach at the university and Mr. Suz is a prof there, so I am most familiar with that. Plus, there are a lot more males at the military college. 

    I like your distinction between the different types of thrifting. There is thrifting here also but I think it is done more by "townies" than by the college kids, who tend to be quite well off. The university is one of the top ones in our province and even in the country. Many of the students drive BMWs and Audis and wear Nobis and Mackage rather than North Face parkas. 

  • Freckles replied 4 years ago

    What a fascinating topic.  
    I'm not sure if all places are  like this or not but here a lot of people bike, run, walk to work or on their lunch etc. so what you see on the street is not actually what they wear to work.
    I truly find it appalling what Marilyn said about the government workers though...jeans and shorts, give me a break.  Back in my day it was suits or suits.  They later relaxed the dress code to include a dressy skirt or pants and jacket with blouse or silk/cashmere/lambswool sweater .  No jeans or cords ever!!!  Not even if your entire office was moving to join another department due to reorganization..Sure you wore your jeans in but went downstairs to the gym and changed into real clothes before going up to the offices.  Not all government offices were the same as they had a different clientele but a minimum still existed with a no jeans policy.
    I do think parisienne style is revered as most women would deem it appropriate for a business meeting, wedding, ladies lunch or funeral.
    Fascinating about the play of light and true yet I never even thought of it in those terms.  Also fascinating about the universities and colleges and yet so true.  My ds and his mate are from alternate universities here in town and more than just fashion is different, no idea how they got

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