Clothes in Paris?

Old May 12th, 2001, 04:00 PM
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Clothes in Paris?

I'm 22 and visiting Paris for a couple weeks starting this Friday. I want to pack as light as possible but I'm clueless as to what kinds of clothes I should bring. I'd prefer not standing out as a "tourist" - what do you wear in Paris? Is it required to "dress up" on a Friday night in a restaurant/club?

Also - I'm travelling with a friend who speaks French, and I'm the lucky companion who doesn't speak a word of it. Is much English spoken there?
Thank you for the info!
Old May 12th, 2001, 05:39 PM
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I think one of the biggest things that makes Americans stand out as tourist are the t-shirts and tennis shoes. The French do wear jeans but just not typically in the evening. If you bring lots of black, comfortable clothes you should be fine.

As for not speaking French, pretty much all the people in Paris speak some English and a lot of them speak great English. I happen to speak French but my husband does not and he was fine. Take the time to learn a couple phrases and pleasantries (i.e., please, thank you, good day, etc.) so that you at least make an effort. That gets you very far!

Have a good trip...
Old May 12th, 2001, 06:25 PM
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We went to Paris for the first time a month ago. We each packed in one carry-on with wheels to fit under the seat, plus a large purse/bag. I read here at fodors about packing each article in a separate ziplock bag with the air squeezed out. You'll be amazed at how much more you can pack & how few wrinkles. Also packing dirty clothes back in their own bag keeps the rest of the suitcase fresh. Another idea was to take regular balloons and blow them up to place inside wet clothes. It really speeds up the drying time to separate the wet front from the wet back. I also took two thin wire coathangers and a few clothes pins. This helped with nightly laudry duty.

We took basic black which blended in well with Paris. We did wear black jeans, which seemed fine. I saw traditional blue jeans and white tennis shoes and ball caps only on US tourists. We must have fit in ok because I had 2 different strangers approach me, asking in French for change and another for the time.

Neither of us spoke French and had no problem. I found that if you ask "do you speak English" and do it in a humble way that everyone tried to help.

I can't address what was worn in clubs. We were so exhausted from the day adventures that we didn't have the steam to party at night.

I hope you have as great a time as we did on our first trip to Paris. You can search this forum for "fodorites" and you should find a posting that says "Just back from Paris and Portugal, thanks to fodorites and comments". That posting will tell you some of our personal encounters in Paris.
Old May 12th, 2001, 07:08 PM
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I'm 40 something so I don't know how useful my advise will be, but I'll try! First, check the forecast before you go so you take the appropriate weight clothes, rain gear etc. When we were there last July it was quite chilly. Stick to a few basic pieces--there are some very stylish nylon black or khaki pants available. These are wonderful. They wash and dry in and hour (take some woolite packets). Other basics-black skirt, one pair of black jeans (denim is heavy and doesn't dry fast), one good pair of black walking shoes, one pair of nicer black shoes that are confortable. Several shirts-washable silks are great--they'll keep you warm or cool as
needed. I found a black quilted nylon jacket at the Gap that was the perfect weight. If you have a Chico's in your area, they have some cute traveling clothes. I had a pair of khaki nylon pants that I wore with several different black shirts. Other must takes--find a carry bag that unzips from its own pouch, it's the size of a wallet when zipped. You can throw it in your purse and unzip when you're loaded down with shopping bags. Pack of hand wipes, small pack of tissues, packing cube for small stuff, couple of large zip loc bags for wet stuff, wash cloth (they don't provide them in hotels). Smallest collapsable umbrella you can find. Make a copy of the information/photo page of your passport and stash it somewhere safe just in case.You'll find godd travel gear at Bently's and luggage stores/outlets.
Old May 13th, 2001, 05:43 AM
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I'd like to try this trip to get everything into a carryon. I've tried before and failed miserably. Is it possible to do that for a one week trip in December? Winter clothes seem to take up more space. Maybe I could just wear six layers on the plane!
Old May 13th, 2001, 09:02 AM
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Just dress nicely as you would going to any major city. Sweater sets, slacks or skirt. Chinos good for during the day. At night a bit nicer but you don't have to dress to the nines. Avoid the jeans, sneaker look. (Al this from my wife). For more Paris informatiomn e-mail me - [email protected]
Old May 13th, 2001, 09:45 AM
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One dead giveaway that you're a tourist is carrying a backpack. I think every tourist in Paris was carrying one when I was there in April. Avoid this if you really don't want to stand out.
Old May 13th, 2001, 12:06 PM
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It can be done , you just can't take everything in your clost and you have to be willing to wear the same outfit twice,.I think a pr of black wool pants are essential, teamed with a variety of colored or black silk or thin wool sweaters and topped with a black sweater jacket you can go just about anywhere , day or night. I also take grey flannels, a grey jacket type seater, a grey knit skirt, and a pr of kakais . Insteead of a winter coat, I have a thing I have been calling a poncho but it really is a huge rectangle of wool and cashmer with a slitabout half way thru you fling it around over your sweater jacket, and another sweater or if its really cold put one of the thin silk sweaters under the other sweater and you should be warm enough. I wear a finger tip length rainjacket during the day with a liner. Good walking shoes, and a pr of dressiere shoes and bag and your makeup ought to fit in the carry one especially if you have a largere purse for the plane. Some cheap but good looking jewelry, and a couple of scarves , a great looking belt, should do it, don't forget gloves , I hate my hands to be cold!I haven't tried the ziplock trick yet, but can't wait till Oct. when we are going away to try it out. I even take a rain hat and avoid carrying an umbrella.Invest slowly in some good cashmere sweaters , they last forever( 1 of mine is 20 years old) if handled carefully, and are super warm. I've seen a lot lately at the stores like marshall's, Costco, Ross for about $50.00, they are an investment worth making, especially a black ribbed turtleneck.
Old May 13th, 2001, 04:18 PM
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I'm 23 and I'm also going to Paris in a few weeks. I've been there before and packing can be challenging. One thing I've learned is to stay away from jeans as much as you possibly can and instead focus on Khakis. Also it probably won't be as warm as you would imagine so you may want to bring a few sweaters and also an umbrella for the rain. As far as tops are concerned I've found that the more conservative the better (dark colors like black, and no sleeveless tops). You're going to want to bring comfortable shoes but like everybody says try to stay away from tennis shoes. They really stick out.
Good Luck!
Old May 13th, 2001, 04:41 PM
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(maybe a dumb question, but) why no sleeveless tops? Weather or fashion-faux-pas? I had planned on taking a few tank-tops.
Old May 14th, 2001, 05:59 AM
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Hi Jen,
Am an Aussie living in London and gotta tell you - Americans ALWAYS stand out. It's the baggy jeans, trainers and big sloppy tshirts or sweaters.
Get rid of the back pack! Why do you always carry around the kitchen sink?
It will be difficult for you to hide the fact that you are a tourist but you can stop yourself from 'standing out'. YOU NEED TO WEAR eg long black linen skirt, lycra tank top, small cardigan with some flat shoes (NOT trainers). Sandals of some sort, or closed shoes but must be ladylike. Or you could wear the same cardigan another day, a different coloured top and a pair of black slimline linen drawstring slacks with the same flat shoes/sandals.
Good luck.
Old May 14th, 2001, 09:32 AM
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I just wanted to thank you all for the awesome advice, it's SO helpful. (I'm off the mall for some chinos and sweaters!) I'm not really sure about shoes - comfort and style is hard to find. I usually wear black boots (which make me look 5" taller) w/dark/tight Jeans - probably too NY-USA-ish. I'm thinking Bananna Republic would be a good place to shop for Paris?

I'm actually going for 16 days and only bringing a carry-on (insane fear of losing luggage). So I'll let anyone who's wondering know how that works!

Random question: Is travelers checks the way to go? Also, what is the average spent on food for you guys (in a day, or week even)? I'm staying at "A Parisian Home", so fortunately it is apartments so I'll be able to grocery shop a bit. I have a Debit card also (Master Card) - would that work as opposed to travelers checks?

OK, my novel is finished... thank you all again for your informative responses
Old May 14th, 2001, 12:17 PM
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You can definitely pack for a week or two in the wintertime in 1 bag. I have a Tumi backpack/rolling bag/suitcase which is 20x14x9 and can be carried on. I've only used the backpack straps when we have to slog long distances in ankle-deep water (Venice) or many flights of steps (hotels). I get by with 2 pair of pants, 1 skirt, 3 twinsets, another sweater or two and a long sleeved shirt or two. Wear hiking/Doc Martinish boots on the plane (mine are Mephistos and are worth their weight in gold) and pack a pair of flat shoes that you can wear with either the skirt or pants. Some underwear, a few pair of tights, lots of scarves - good to go! I have a decent sized handbag that holds my toletries and a couple of books (and requisite in-flight snacks) and that's it - if it doesn't fit, it doesn't go.
A couple of years ago I got my dry cleaner to sew a zippered pocket inside my winter coat - just about where a breast pocket would be on a man's suit coat. The pocket is big enough for my passport, ticket, and credit cards - so somebody has to get my coat off of me to get my stuff. Happily I don't check my coat in museums, and I keep it with me in restaurants so my things are always close at hand - a lot of the time I don't even carry a handbag.
Old May 15th, 2001, 08:05 AM
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Hi guys,

Not to beat this thing to death…but I was planning on wearing mostly capri pants and some skirts.

Brenda, were they wearing capris when you were there?

Also, do you think the airline would have let you bring on 2 carry-ons? I have a small bag on wheels that fits under the allowed specs, but I also have another very small piece of luggage that I was hoping to carry on as well. Any thoughts?

Thanks for all the great info--we're leaving next week and I'm a little anxious!

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