The Chic List: ‘Immaculately dressed down? How Parisian!’

So I finally made it to Paris. And, post-lockdown, the chicest city in the world was bursting with life again through the usual haze of cigarette smoke, fuelled by copious verres de vin and strong black coffee.

In Place des Vosges, wearing a dress by Victoria Beckham, which I hunted down in the summer sale. The bag was bought at the Paris boutique Noe Vannes.

From the cobblestone boulevards to the jazz musicians down by the Seine, Paris’s live-and-let-live attitude became a little bit contagious. Burning the candle at both ends – up early for croissants at a pavement café, out late for dinner, cocktails and bad dancing – I got to experience it more this time than on my normal fleeting Eurostar trips.

Through sometimes bleary eyes, I lived among the Parisians’ natural and effortless look – achieved, of course, with great effort. Style-wise, the majority of Parisian women of all ages dress in a subtle neutral palette: black, grey, navy and white. Despite the sweltering weather, they stride around the city in perfectly fitted denims and chic ankle-length black trousers.

Leather jackets and stomper boots are worn with fierce attitude, while the bourgeois blazer and white shirt is very much alive and kicking. Flashy labels are a non, non, non. (This subconsciously rubbed off on me as I bought two pairs of Frame jeans in blue and grey.) Do French women not feel the heat like the rest of us? None of them looked the sticky mess I had become by the end of the day.

Deciding what to wear to go out for dinner was especially tricky because, while everyone gets dressed up and looks immaculate, nobody looksdressed up. According to some locals, you are made to feel guilty if you are seen to care too much about your appearance. Make too much of an effort and you might as well wear a neon sign around your neck – ‘tourist’. Bright colour was a rare sight.

One day I was missing our British summer dress culture and decided to throw caution to the wind and wear this red dress (above). I couldn’t be certain what the reaction I received at a local café was because sometimes French women’s faces are inscrutable.

My Paris tips? Have a lazy day down by the Seine reading on a deckchair and eating at a riverside café. I’d recommend Boulevard Beaumarchais for a good scattering of independent shops – including Merci – and vintage stores. Check out Noe Vannes boutique nearby on Rue Saint Gilles for clothes, baskets and jewellery. Find divine perfume at Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, people-watch and enjoy a late lunch at La Palette (an old haunt of Picasso and Hemingway). And dance your heart out at Serpent à Plume.

Top, £205, Pleats Please Issey Miyake, matchesfashion.com

Add a little sweetness and texture with this.

Dress, £29.95, zara.com

A linen LBD goes with everything.

Satchel, £195, cambridgesatchel.com

Unique and homegrown.

Shirt dress, £49.99, mango.com

A whole outfit in one, this is a wardrobe staple.

Trousers, £69, cosstores.com

Perfect wide-leg trousers for comfy travels.

Sandals, £145, net-a-porter.com

These easy-on-the-feet Birkenstocks look chic with a summer dress.

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