Are you heading to France and wondering what not to wear in Paris? It is true that Paris is the fashion capital of the world and as such there is definitely a Paris dress code. In this guide we will round up the things that you should not pack for Paris and the best alternatives to take to help you not look like a tourist in Paris.
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Note: the following rules about what not to wear in Paris are more guidelines than rules to make you not look like a tourist in Paris however if you are most comfortable in any of the below feel free to wear them just be aware you won’t look like a Parisian.
It isn’t like what not to wear in Dubai or what not to wear in Doha guides where there are legal ramifications surrounding the correct dress code. This obviously won’t happen in Paris, the fashion police won’t arrest you but you may just stand out a bit.
What do the locals wear in Paris
When I think about the Parisian dress sense I think there are three main words that can sum up what the locals wear in Paris
– Muted Color Palettes
If you bear these in mind when putting together your Paris Capsule wardrobe you shouldn’t go far wrong with fitting in with the Parisians.
Why do you want to look like a local in Paris?
The main reason that you may want to look like a local in Paris is to make sure you aren’t marked as a tourist. Like in any tourist place in any country around the world, there are pickpockets in Paris. If you look like a tourist in Paris you may make yourself a target.
So without further ado here is our breakdown of what not to wear in Paris
What Not to Wear in Paris
Bright / Neon Colors
When I think about Parisian dress sense I definitely think about a muted color scheme.
Blacks and whites are often firm favorites in the Parisian wardrobe. On top of that they wear a lot of neutral colors like tan and beige.
Bright and neon colors are definitely not part of the normal Parisian’s day to day wear. If Parisians do wear colors they are more likely to wear a pastel pink rather than a hot neon pink.
Therefore when traveling to Paris try to stick to muted colors instead of your bright ones unless you are going to an event where this is required.
Parisians tend to do understated style brilliantly. The do not tend to wear graphic tees like we would in the UK and USA.
I would personally avoid anything that has a large slogan or image on and instead opt for something that is plain and simple.
If you really are desperate to wear something with wording on I would personally pick something that is very discreet rather than taking most of the front of the T shirt
University / College Hoodies
Are you proud of your alma Mater? Like to wear your college hoodies wherever you go?
Well my advice is don’t do this in Paris. The Parisians don’t tend to wear their College hoodies out and about and nothing says foreigner or foreign exchange student quicker than wearing your college hoodie in Paris.
The Parisians do sexy really well. But the sexiness of a PArisian isn’t overty. It is understated and stylish. Therefore it is unliekly you will see very short short being worn by a Parisian.
If you see short shorts on the streets of Paris then you are likely to be looking at a tourist rather than a local.
Instead of packing short shorts with you instead pick more stylish, tailored and longer length shorts.
Cargo Trousers / Cargo Shorts
Again, something a Parisian would never wear and will mark you out as a tourist very quickly.
I know the pockets can be useful when traveling but you will look like a tourist.
Instead of wearing cargo trousers or shorts men you are better opting for a more stylish and tailored pair of shorts that are matched with a belt.
Bottoms and bum cracks are definitely not a look the French will be going for.
For Parisians sports wear and athleisure is for sports. You won’t find people on the streets of Paris wearing yoga trousers, running bottoms and sports bra as a fashion choice. They will be using them for exercise.
If you plan on doing some exercise on the streets of Paris or if your hotel has a gym by all means pack your sports wear but I personally would not recommend wearing them at any of the PArisian tourist sites.
As with the above, sweat pants aren’t something a PArisian would wear outside. Maybe in the suburbs on a Sunday you would see them but in the center of Paris not so much.
If you want sweat pants and loungewear for in the hotel by all means pack it for Paris but again if you don’t want to look like a tourist don’t wear these to any of the Paris attractions.
I know that the beret is synonymous with France but the truth is you will not see many Parisians wearing them and certainly not the bright red ones like you see in films and on TV.
Although the French do wear berets this tends to only be in Winter and in more muted color palettes.
Don’t be that tourist in the middle of summer in a bright red beret at the Eifel Tower, you will be pegged as a tourist immediately.
High Heels / Stilettos
While you might want to do a cute little photoshoot for Instagram in front of teh Eiffel Tower in a cute outfit and heels but I do not recommend wearing high heels or stilettos in Paris.
Paris is full of cobblestones and uneven streets. Stilettos and high heels in Paris are a health and safety risk as they could easily get caught in cobbles.
On top of this Paris is a city that is best explored on foot. You feet will not want to be in heels or day.
Instead for a day of sightseeing in Paris opt for some nice sneakers or a pair of sandals. If you really are desperate to wear heels at the Eiffel Tower please have a spare pair of shoes to change into.
You and your feet will thank me I promise.
Note: If you are visiting the Moulin Rouge you should be aware it has a strict Dress code. To find out more about the Moulin Rouge Dress code and get some Moulin Rouge outfit inspiration click here.
As I mentioned above Paris is a city best explored on foot. Flip flops offer l;ittle to no arch support and your feet will be killing you by the end of the day.
Instead of a pair of flip flops in Paris pack a nice pair of sneakers or flip flop instead.
White Socks and Shoes
PArisians are a stylish bunch, and the men are no exception. There is no way a local PArisian would ever wear white socks and shoes and nothing will mark a male tourist in Paris out quicker than this look.
It would never happen and there is nothing that will make you look more like a tourist.
Instead switch out those white socks for sneaker socks or wear sandals without a socks.
An Open Bag / Fanny Bag
As with any tourist capital, pickpockets can be a problem and PAris is absolutely no exception to this rule.
There are two ways of mitigating your risk of being targeted by pickpockets when traveling to Paris and that is to not look like a tourist.
The other way is to have bags that protect your belongings.
Therefore we recommend
1) Not wearing a fanny pack in Paris. The French would never use this so you will be just highlighting yourself as a tourist.
2) Using a cross body bag with plenty of zips to make a pickpockets job more difficult.
Our preferred bag for Paris is the following.
Note: This is intended as a guide on the Paris city dress code. If you are planning on visiting Disneyland Paris there are separate dress code requirements so be sure to check out our Disneyland Paris dress code guides:
FAQs about what not to wear in Paris
What tourists should not wear in Paris?
To sum up what tourist should not wear in Paris
- Bright Colours
- Sports wear
- Shoes that will be uncomfortable for a day of walking.
Can I wear sneakers in Paris?
The answer to can I wear sneakers in Paris is undoubtedly yes! You will often see PArisians walking the beautiful streets of Paris in sneakers.
I would advise not to wear overly garish, sporty or dirty shoes in Paris as the sneakers the Parisians wear tend to be of a more stylish style.
However I do think sneakers are the best thing to wear in Paris as they will be most comfortable for a day of walking. Just be sure to wear them in first.
Can you wear leggings in Paris?
Some travellers love to wear leggings. I have to admit that I am not one of those people and I have found that only travellers wear leggings in Paris.
So in answer to can you wear leggings in Paris the answer is that you can but you are more likely to look like a tourist rather than a local wearing leggings in Paris.
Do people wear a lot of black in Paris?
The answer is do people wear a lot of black in Paris is absolutely yes they do. The Parisian color palette is much more muted than American and British counterparts and I would say black is one of the more predominant colors you will see.
I love black and other dark colors in my wardrobe so this suits me perfectly but if you are usually brighter bear in mind that this is not the norm in Paris
What to wear to Paris for dinner
Although generally there isn’t a strict Paris dress code on a day to day level there can be at night. Check out our what to wear to dinner in Paris guide.
Have you been to Paris? What would you add to this what not to wear in Paris list?