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How should I dress/what to wear in France next month?

How should I dress/what to wear in France next month?

Old May 19th, 2012, 10:03 PM
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How should I dress/what to wear in France next month?

I know this sounds like a dumb question, but what should I wear when we (wife and 10yr old/6yr old children) go to Paris and the South of France next month? (I'm a guy, BTW).

Right now, some days I think to myself "EFF it! I'm gonna wear whatever the hell I WANNA wear."

And on other days, I'm thinking that I don't want to dress like a typical American Tourist (i.e. baggy T-Shirt with some sort of athletic team name...or some sort of phrase ("Hawaii '98") on it, baggy cargo shorts with 10 pockets, half-laced high-top Nike basketball shoes, backwards baseball cap, and Oakley sport shades/sunglasses?

Maybe I should opt for the "Retiree Look:" Sans-a-belt "walking" shorts that fall five inches above my knees, polyester "Polo" shirt, black socks, Dr. Scholl "Walking Shoes", clip-on shades over my glasses (I typically wear contacts, but could remove them and wear this clip-on shades/glasses combo)...and a Fanny Pack?

Or maybe rock a "Euro" look: Skinny black jeans, black socks, shiny black leather shoes, tight black T-shirt with the sleeves reaching only an inch down my arm, skinny black belt, black Mascara, and a leather jacket?

Help me out!
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Old May 19th, 2012, 10:51 PM
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If you plan on dining at a restaurant in Paris or elsewhere you might want to wear a pair of trousers, long pants. Shorts are considered beach wear or something worn when hiking in the mounntains. Otherwise, just wear your average casual attire. And don't worry about looking like an American tourist. You can't hide it.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 11:21 PM
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Dress casual but skip baseball caps and team shirts and never enter a restaurant with a baseball cap.
We are in Paris now and see a lot of jeans and sneakers but mostly on the younger people but they are nice jeans and not the big white sneakers.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 11:44 PM
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#1comfortable and #2layers. button shirt over tank top works for you,kids &wife. you can take off the shirt if the temp, location and mood suit you. Nice jeans as mentioned above. Leather sandals would work, bring a lightweight jacket or sweater... even one light suit jacket over a black t shirt might come in handly, less is best, you don't want to be dragging a bunch of clothes around. every time I travel I take less than I brought before and I always have stuff I don't wear. Many Europeans don't change their entire outfit everyday.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 11:48 PM
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I take it all three of your examples are exaggerations for comic effect...

"Smartish casual" clothes that don't "make an exhibition of yourself" (as my mother would have said) - so shorts only if it's very hot, and then not in the evening, colours that don't glare or shout, that sort of thing.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 11:53 PM
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If you go to a family sort of places, e.g. Flunch, Hyppopoptamus, I guess a father wearing shots/bermuda is ok as well. Even baseball cap, when accompanying kids, who cares. But of course you have a choice. In mid summer, I walk in ( nice ) bermuda shorts in Paris as well, and dine at a terrace of casual but still nice restaurants as well as such. People understand because it's so hot.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 11:58 PM
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And you say South of France, and not only in Paris. When I'm in Marseille or Nice (in warmer months ), I walk even more all the time in Bermuda shorts.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 12:49 AM
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Honestly, I don't get this "problem".

If you don't like a neon-colored sports team T-shirt, just take a few basic t-shirts in regular colors.

One or two polo shirts are also light-weight, and add a bit of smart to the smart casual unless you prefer screaming orange and green.

Short-sleeve shirts, or even better, long-sleeve shirts whose arms can be buttoned-up to make them short-sleeve are also an option. Esp. made from light weight fabrics that gets not too warm.

There are alternatives to "functional shorts" with 10 pockets, any bermuda-style pants will do.

White trainers are not smart because of the color, but because you probably get them dirty in no time. A LOT of people here wear something like trainers or runners, just not necessarily the most clunky, the biggest pieces you can buy.

Honestly, what happened to Tommy Hilfiger, Gant, A&F, Ralph Polo Lauren, even Levis, Gap, or stores like Urban Outfitters, etc. etc.?
Did they stop selling their clothes in the US?
Your designers invented smart casual clothes, why don't you just buy and wear them?
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Old May 20th, 2012, 02:31 AM
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windscape: please, no tank tops on men, ever, ever, ever. Black t-shirt or polo under SPORTS jacket, yes. Suit jacket, no.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 04:41 AM
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If the aim is not to look like a tourist, forget it! It's not just the clothes, but the whole attitude that makes people look like tourists or foreigners. But if you don't want to stand out like a sore thumb, my advice is plain, attenuated colours. Otherwise, just dress to be comfortable. France is not a country where they "dress up" but wear reasonably dressy clothes most of the time.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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How about normal adult street wear? And you could have something a little more formal if you are going to any upscale restaurants.

(If what you describe above is your normal street wear - I don't think any advice will help.)

And kids should dress like kids - but clean.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 11:52 AM
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PatrickLondon - totally agree with you.

Smart casual wherever you go, particularly if you're reaching that certain age.

No jeans, no shorts, usually button down shirts with slacks of some ilk.

Aussie has a point, wear reasonable classy clothes.

Years ago, I was renting a car in Tours. My French was pretty good back then, and my last name is French. The woman looked at me as I was filling out the paperwork, and said in French "your name is French, but your nose is too small". Pretty funny at the time as I look like my Scandanavian grandmother.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 12:00 PM
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I'll weigh in...no flip flops (and they are terrible for your feet with all the walking, anyway). My European friends really make fun of Americans in flip flops.

No athletic attire unless you are engaged in sport, otherwise not great street attire.

Nicer, darker jeans with a nice shirt, collared, polo, or nice, quality T shirt. Good shoes, if you can swing something other than athletic shoes, that's what my husband wears in Paris. Wear clothes that are in good shape and that fit well. And no baseball caps.

I do think it's true that you will still be identified as an American tourist, but who cares? You will be busy enjoying your trip.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 11:12 PM
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Denisea, I absolutely agree. Being identified as a tourist isn't important. You should dress to be comfortable and practical. I don't think the French care about the way Americans (or other tourists) dress. It's more about being respectful of French customs that matters.Observe how people do things and then follow.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:18 AM
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If you are going to the South of France, you will want to dress casually but appropriately for the weather. Instead of plain khaki shorts for you, for example, try a subtle plaid or chambray shorts. A short-sleeve button down (NOT a Hawaiian shirt!) will look great with it along with boat/deck shoes or slip-ons like Vans.

For your wife, you can never go wrong with dresses! A simple sundress and cardigan combo will look fabulous. A cotton or poly-blend jersey travels well and is comfortable. Not-so-new flat sandals in a metallic will look great day or night and get you through lots of walking.

The key is to be simple but add your own style with jewelry (a statement necklace or light scarf for your wife, for example), a cool print (on your shorts or pants - a super subtle seersucker would be cool) or pops of color (in your shoes or with your shirt). Have a great trip!
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:29 AM
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My wife and I argue about flip flops all the time. As a compromise, I wear one flip flop and one tennis shoe. This may not work for the OP.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:44 AM
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Ray - aren't you the person who started that "ever notice how sloppy Americans dress" thread about 13 or 14 years ago?
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 06:31 AM
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I do love these threads (no pun intended).

Ray, wear whatever you like and what you're comfortable in. The way I look at is, I'm on holiday, I'm not an entirely different person.

If it's hot, I wear linen trousers or shorts (just like I do at home). If I'm going out, I wear exactly what I'd wear at home. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't (just like at home).

I've been let into clubs in Paris when I was only the only person in the place wearing jeans, trainers and a t-shirt and probably been turned away from an equal amount whilst wearing 'smart casual' (but never a button down shirt - I'm not a six year old at a wedding).

You're allowed to be badly dressed and on holiday, just as you're allowed to buy clothes you never would at home (I know I have) because you're in the holiday mood.

I've worn the same clothes in mainland Europe, Scandinavia, America, the Caribbean and Asia. Maybe I need to extend my wardrobe, or maybe it's full of timeless classics, but either way I wear what I want, when I want.

I've even had compliments on my 'style' from shop assistants in France (yes, multiples but never directly to me, always via my wife) but the outfits have ranged from the aforementioned jeans, trainers and t-shirt to a bespoke suit.

It all depends on how you wear it.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 06:40 AM
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The problem is not being identified as an American, unless you are on some covert mission. And it's not like Europe is one big Prada runway. You just want to be dressed appropriately.

I agree with almost all advice given above. Shorts and maybe flipflops are OK in resort areas but not in Paris and never at night. I am personally contemptuous of baseball caps on adults (thinks he's still in college, didn't wash hair, hiding baldness, etc) but I guess it would be OK in the South as long as you didn't wear one inside. No gym clothes or athletic shoes unless you are at the gym. But a lot of this is basically the same as in the US for people who care. You should be able to wear what you wear at home.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 10:38 AM
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ok Ackislander!! I am not a man - was 'thinking' sport jacket, won't say tank top again - except at a beach?
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