We have traveled the globe and explored many beautiful cities. If asked which is the most enchanting, it has to be Paris — hands down. The streets of Paris are filled with an undeniably romantic ambiance. The sweet aroma of pastries wafting through the air, music and laughter trickling out of cafes, muted clinks of espresso cups and wine glasses and the echoing sound of the seductive French tongue envelop you. Suddenly you and the City of Love are one.
Besides being the most romantic city in the world, it is also brimming with high-end luxury brands, couture boutiques and a sense of style that some would deem a work of art. Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, Hermes, Louis Vuitton…the list is extensive and enduring. As you stroll through the streets, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that both men and women display their elegant ensembles so consummately, adding to the aura that engulfs the city. French couture is unquestionably stylistic and ageless, with a long history of design mastery that can be traced as far back as the 17th century. Any portrait of King Louis XIV is the perfect image of style, opulence and luxury.
French prominence for sophistication and flair has not faltered for centuries. Traditionally considered a necessity versus a luxury, the trade was localized and without fanfare, intended to serve the needs of the surrounding community. It was until the mid-1850’s that clothing design and crafting was done mostly anonymously by village seamstresses.
The term haute couture is often misused, and was originally representative of French custom dressmaking. These were made-to-order pieces for private clients, with one or more fittings. To qualify, a design house must have an atelier in Paris that employs at least 15 staff members full-time, and has 20 full-time technical people in at least one atelier.
It was English fashion designer, Charles Frederick Worth, who first chose to establish his brand by sewing a customized label into the clothes he designed. This movement began to define the modern day fashion designer’s brand or label. This trend spread, creating a shift in society and culture. So began a trend that today is one of the fastest growing industries, considered both alluring and prestigious: fashion.
Stylish men play a strong supporting role in the lingering romanticism that engulfs the city. Handsome features are accentuated by a put-togetherness that makes the visual that much more appealing, beyond the features of the man himself. Poised, confident and impeccably dressed, the Parisian man is the epitome of je ne sais quoi style and taste. A man of average looks can somehow be elevated onto another level of attractive and desirable with just the right accoutrement.
Of course you’ll see traditional pieces that are trademarks of Paris fashion, including a beret here and there, trench coats, leather jackets and thin mustaches. The balance of blending these classic, timeless pieces with a little bit of flair seems to be the magic formula that creates a well-rounded, classic yet edgy look we associate with the sophisticated urbanity that is Paris. The end result is versatility, creating ensembles that seamlessly transition from work to play. The next time you peruse your wardrobe trying to decide what to wear, take some tips from men from one of the world's most fashionable cities.
What’s the difference?
The key style takeaway of a Parisian is their polished yet effortless look, focusing on fit and fabrics. There is an underlying appreciation for buying what makes you feel and look good instead of merely what is available, trendy or affordable. A typical day includes a lot of walking, so it’s not surprising how talented they are at mixing fashion and function. Perhaps the sharp appearance is a direct result of tailored pieces that complement the body, nothing too big or too small. Quality is also a major factor. Before buying something off-the-shelf just because it’s easy, think again. It’s worth investing in yourself by investing in your wardrobe.
Don't be afraid to mix it up.
Beyond the combination of classic and on-trend, one of the signatures of French style is blending different prints and fabrics that don't typically pair together. It’s the juxtaposition of these opposites that seem to create a striking image in our mind’s eye. We’ve all heard the term leather and lace. Yes… you can (and should) have both: soft, delicate and colorful accents balanced with masculine and sturdy, blacks and blues.
This tension is what makes us turn our heads when we see the soft luxury of cashmere worn with a strong leather jacket, a colorful silk scarf neatly tucked into a tweed jacket, or a camel overcoat paired with dark denim. The message conveyed is one that speaks volumes: decisive and sensuous. The end result is eye-catching with textures both smooth and rough, classic with en vogue, creating a unique and unforgettable look. This art of pairing simple, yet visually pleasing elements results in timeless style without ever sacrificing comfort.
It’s okay to accessorize...tastefully.
Accessories should always be subtle accents that are somehow absorbed into a first impression, but aren’t loud and obnoxious. We’ve all seen “that guy” in a restaurant or bar with multiple gold necklaces, rings and huge, flashy timepiece... Don’t be that guy. The goal is to master the craft of creating understated, yet undeniable elegance.
Stylish men are often seen with an accessory or two, adding dimension to their overall style. These are tasteful additions to an outfit that tie it together flawlessly. Tossing in a solid leather belt, a handsome watch, silk pocket square or a classic newsboy hat is a no-fail recipe for looking well put-together. Leather is a timeless material, and wearing it via a nice pair of shoes, belt, watchband or elbow patches has the effect of creating a uniquely masculine, yet sophisticated look.
Step up your shoe game.
Frenchmen have an amazing shoe game, rocking everything from stylish sneakers to Valentino leather loafers. A typical Frenchman also leads a healthy social life. A lot of time is spent walking the avenues, mingling with friends and coworkers, popping into street cafes or local shops. All of this walking doesn't result in a sacrifice on style. The key is to find labels that offer very high quality materials and craftsmanship as well as designs that focus on comfort. It’s also not uncommon to see a gentleman wearing a suit paired with leather dress shoes or choosing instead to wear high-end suede sneakers, making for yet another contrarian, but fashionable and eye-catching statement.
Let’s break it down.
Parisian style is achieved through combining classic with trend, rugged with sleek, monochromatic themes with a touch of flair. It is the art of subtlety at its best, and when done well, creates head-turning ensembles that represent a gentleman with taste. Keep the following in mind:
- Insure your pieces are either tailored, or appear to be, and fit well
- Think outside of the box when mixing textures, colors and prints
- Choose pieces of the finest quality fabrics and craftsmanship- most will last a lifetime
- Never sacrifice comfort- feel is as important as fit
- Accessorize quietly with timeless, quality pieces that last
An element you can’t buy that completes any look is confidence. Confidence is like a seductive cologne. Wear it well. Those with it are not easily forgotten. When paired with a strong fashion sense, you’ll find yourself looking and feeling irresistible. Incorporate these few tips from our stylish French friends and voila! Je ne sais quoi.
What’s your favorite go-to piece? Join the conversation.
Be a TENLEGEND.