What To Wear If You Want To Look Like A Local In Paris


It’s funny. So many people love travelling to Paris (or they would love to travel there someday). And while they are in Paris they are more than happy to take in the big name tourist sights.

Yet (unsurprisingly) no one wants to actually look like a tourist.

It’s the big dilemma – how can you look like a local in Paris?

Well, let’s be really honest here. It can be kind of difficult to look like a local in Paris all the time. Chances are at some point you will need to display some tell-tale tourist paraphernalia like a camera, map or guidebook. Or you will open your mouth and the English language will come out – without a sexy French accent.

But, for short, dreamy bursts of time you can achieve this goal – if you choose to wear the right clothes. Here are my top seven tips.

  1. Wear your trench coat. Although beige is a traditional favourite, black is very popular in Paris. We stayed in a very residential part of Paris on our last trip and I was fascinated by the number of trench coat wearing Parisians I watched heading into their apartments of an evening – mainly because it was summer! The trench is definitely a staple all year round.
  2. Carry a well made handbag. Parisians are famed for their love of world class handbags and you see bags by Hermès, Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Longchamp absolutely everywhere. Typically travellers handbags are functional rather than beautiful and you can see the difference. Note that your chosen handbag doesn’t have to be expensive but ideally, it would be structured and classy.
  3. Pop on a scarf. Easy. Authentic.
  4. Wear flats or low heeled shoes. Local ladies don’t tend to wear heels far in Paris – a fact I had confirmed when I spent the day with three amazing Parisians. You are more likely to see tourists in high, high heels.
  5. Lean towards wearing darker colours. Blacks, greys and blues always seem popular in Paris.
  6. Wear ‘normal’ clothes. What do I mean by ‘normal clothes’? Well, if you wouldn’t wear it at home, don’t even think about wearing it in Paris. Wear your favourite, slightly dressy yet comfy outfits.
  7. Finally – a few from the ‘what not to wear’ category. No berets, no high visibility safety gear and no exercise gear (unless you actually happen to be exercising).

Over to you now. Do you have any tips to look like a local in Paris? If so, please share in the comments below.

And until next time – au revoir.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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5 thoughts on “What To Wear If You Want To Look Like A Local In Paris

  • Tonja

    Similar to your purse tip, I found that the less you carry, the less you look like a tourist. One morning we walked down the street for pastry and, knowing we were only out for a few minutes, I did not wear a jacket or carry a purse. Even wearing my plainest clothes and most comfortable (ugly) shoes, a lady stopped to ask me directions in French because we looked like we were locals. Highlight of my day! 🙂

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks for that great Tonja – travelling light definitely helps you to blend in. And you’ve just got to love it when you get mistaken for a local!!

  • Jan Leishman

    I think you have to alternate ‘tourist’ and ‘French’ days. You do need to take photographs and you do need a pack for all-day walking. Perhaps, Janelle, you can ‘Frenchify’ your holidays on particular days. Trench coat, flats and scarf – absoluement!