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Disappointed by Paris?!?

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

woman in a black dress in front of the Eiffel Tower
In front of the most iconic Parisian tourist site

I recently returned home from one week in Paris, which I made the rookie mistake of visiting at the hottest time of the year. (It's not a mistake I will be making again. More on that in a minute.)

When I travel abroad, I like to observe how people live and behave, and especially, what they're wearing.

But before I get to the fashion, here are my:

Observations of Paris, in a nutshell

* So many smokers everywhere! There were young smokers and old smokers. There were so many people taking cigarette breaks outside of workplaces. Smoking is so prevalent that you need to be mindful of it if you choose to sit outside a restaurant or cafe. The chances of having someone smoke next to you are relatively high.

* Everyone jaywalks, except for the tourists. Not needing to wait for the signal is so freeing!

* Parisians do not comprehend the concept of air conditioning. They don't have it everywhere, and even when they do, it's not cranked up enough to make a difference. Unless you enjoy living in a sauna, I'd recommend traveling to Paris before June or after August.

Parisian cafe covered in red flowers
One of the many beautiful flower-covered cafes in Paris, Montparnasse.

* Everywhere you go in the center of Paris, there's something stunningly beautiful to admire: a pretty cafe covered in flowers, incredible pastries or some intricate architectural element.

* Now for my most shocking observation... Nearly everyone I saw was casually dressed for comfort.

Parisian summer style

Paris is known to be one of the primary fashion capitals of the world, and I confess that I arrived with high expectations. I was genuinely shocked by how little style was on display in the City of Lights.

Nearly all the women I saw, women of all ages, prioritized comfort over beauty. The majority were clad in light, loose summer dresses paired with "comfy" (this is my euphemism for the word "unattractive") footwear. I saw every possible kind of summer dress. There were oversized bohemian-style dresses, babydoll dresses, floral dresses, shirt dresses, wrap dresses, brightly colored dresses and neutral dresses. All the dresses had this in common: they were made of relatively light fabrics and they were all loose to accommodate the heat and inevitable accompanying sweat. The few form-fitting dresses I saw were worn by women who were clearly not natives (myself included, see above pic!). The best dressed women were wearing dresses you might find at & Other Stories or The Reformation, but they were - sadly - few and far between.

woman in a polkadot dress and comfy sandals with a bow in her hair.
Light summery dress, with "comfy" sandals. (This woman isn't a native Parisian. She is also dressed better than most of the other women I saw.)

Footwear, as I mentioned, was also geared toward comfort, taking into consideration the uneven Parisian sidewalks and the occasional bit of roadwork. Most of the women I saw were wearing trendy sneakers, ACTUAL dirty gym shoes and SOCKS (with dresses!), or chunky, "comfy", orthopedic sandals. A very small percentage of women wore cute espadrilles, ballerina flats, stylish sandals or loafers. I saw one pair of stilettos the entire time I was in Paris (she was on a date!).

In addition to the dresses, other popular choices for weathering the hot Parisian summer included clothes in lightweight linen, and long-sleeved bohemian blouses in gauzy cotton.

There were numerous cyclists in Paris - which, fascinatingly enough, didn't affect fashion choices. Going on a bike ride while wearing a miniskirt or a flowing, voluminous skirt? Not a problem for Parisian cyclists! Bring on the bike!

Parisian woman in a dress riding a bike in Paris
Parisian woman on a bike. It doesn't matter how long, how short or how voluminous the skirt or dress, Parisians will bike in it!


It kills me to say it, but Parisian style in the summer was disappointing. I'd counted on photographing tons of people for my Street Style page, but Parisians really didn't make much of an effort in the sweltering heat of the summer. Perhaps understandably. (Although in Milan, another fashion capital of the world where it's just as hot, they do make that effort.)

I think the only solution is to return at a cooler time of year, so I can give Parisians the chance to properly wow me.

So... What footwear did I wear in Paris?

Sometimes when I travel, I find myself influenced by the place I find myself in. In this particular case, even though I had brought a pair of classic chic loafers with me, intending them to be my main footwear, I ended up primarily wearing my trusty metallic bronze or my platinum/black Aros.

("What are Aros?", you ask? Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite trendy sneaker!)

I confess, after all my kvetching about Parisian footwear, I let the Parisians influence me and I wore my Aro sneakers nearly the entire time.

When in Paris...

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