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What Not To Wear in Paris (8 Items to Leave Home)

Traveling to the French capital and wondering what not to wear in Paris? This article will show you all the clothes/items you’re better off leaving at home!

In my previous posts, I’ve always shared what to wear, from what to wear in Paris in winter, what to wear in Paris in summer, to what to wear in spring in Paris!

While those posts give you ideas of the clothes to take, they don’t mention what to stay away from!

Drawing from my years living in this fashionable city and observing the local style, I feel like it’s crucial to also discuss the flip side: what not to wear in Paris!

It’s no secret that Parisians put some thought into what to wear; — no wonder one of its nicknames is the capital of fashion! 

What not to wear in Paris

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To make sure that you blend in well and dress like Parisians, there are some clothes that shouldn’t leave your closet while packing for Paris!

In the same way, to make sure that you don’t scream tourist everywhere you go, I’ve put this post together to help you discover what not to wear in Paris! Trust me, blending in is easier when you know what to avoid, and my years in Paris have taught me exactly that.

Of course, no one will “arrest” you if you wear any of them but the best way to enjoy Paris is to blend in and dress like a Parisian, or at least try! So, leveraging my experience and observations, I’ve crafted this guide just for you.

So without any further ado, here’s what not to wear in Paris.

Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips

WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (8.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)  

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What Not to Wear in Paris

1. Baggy T-shirts With big Colorful words Printed on them

What not to wear in Paris.

Trendy? Maybe, but not for Paris! I’ve literally not seen anyone in Paris wearing a baggy t-shirt with huge and colorful words on it!

They may work well in a hip-hop music video or even in some other parts of the world but not on the streets of Paris! We love you but keep them baggies at home!

What to wear Instead? You can opt for this slim-fit plain t-shirt or this lovely crop top.

2. Sportswear

Sportswear are some of the things not to wear in Paris.

Unless you’re actually doing sport; running, jogging, walking, or whatever way you break a sweat, stay away from sportswear while exploring the city!

No one will say a thing but you’ll definitely scream tourist if you visit some of the Parisian landmarks in your yoga pants! 

Yes, leave those expensive Adidas workout tops you’ve just bought at home!

What to wear instead? I recommend taking this pair of skinny jeans. It works well in all seasons.

3. Pum Pum shorts

What not to wear in Paris.

Going to the Caribbean or even the beach? Then pack as many pum pum shorts as you wish! In Paris? You’ll definitely get stares and most people will wonder what you were thinking wearing something like that!

I know, I know, they’re cool and se*y but you might want to leave them behind while exploring the city of love! Parisians like to keep things classy and a bit decent — at least to a certain level.

Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen many people wearing pum pum shorts here! The first one I saw was suffering from stares and you could see it made her super uncomfortable.

I think it’s just that it’s not a norm here for someone to wear super tight and extremely short shorts.

What to wear instead? A good pair of jeans can substitute this because if you’d love to stick to a pair of shorts, I recommend taking this one instead. It’s classy, comfortable, and cute.

Related post: Big Mistakes to Avoid in Paris

4. stilettos (High Heels)

Stilettos are some of teh things not to wear in Paris

Stilettos are the in trend when it comes to shoe fashion and I understand wanting to bring them to Paris!

Unless you just want to wear them when taking Instagram photos in Paris, but if your plan is to wear them as your everyday shoes, you may want to think twice! 

Firstly, you need to know that Paris is best discovered on foot and the city’s streets are covered in cobblestones! Now imagine walking in your high-heeled shoes on such streets running from one attraction to another.

If you want to do that, I commend you, (but I don’t advise that )otherwise, please leave them at home! Get yourself some comfortable walking shoes and you’ll enjoy Paris without torturing your feet

What to wear instead? Sneakers, converse, or this pair of boots will work just fine.

5. Cargo Pants (As of October 2023, These are ok)

What not to wear in Paris.

Cargo pants are super practical and not forgetting comfortable! They have lots of pockets to put some of your travel essentials in, and they usually come in dull colors so you can wear them multiple times! There is nothing not to love about Cargo pants!

However, in Paris, you’ll be committing a crime; literally! Ok, I am exaggerating a bit but please don’t wear them in Paris!

They may work well in some cities but in the capital of fashion, they look extremely lazy and scream ” I am a gigantic tourist.”

What to wear instead? The good old pair of jeans will work well.

Update October 2023: As we all know, fashion evolves and while Crago pants were one of the things not to wear in Paris in the past years, the cargo pants trend has made its way to Paris and locals are embracing it Paris. You’ll find so many teenagers and young adults adorning them so if you’re coming to Paris, you can pack them!

You should however note that the cargo pants you bring should be in plain colors and not over-the-top colorful or even camouflage.

What Not to Wear in Paris Infographic
What Not to Wear in Paris Infographic

6. Flip Flops

What not to wear in Paris.

You might think that Flip flops are acceptable since heels are not but, you’re dead wrong! Most Parisians do not wear flip-flops on the streets! Instead, you’ll see most of them wearing sneakers or boots.

So depending, on the weather, carry either a pair of sneakers or boots for roaming around the city.

However, you can still pack one pair of flip-flops just to wear when you’re in your hotel room if you’d like.

What to wear instead? Comfortable walking shoes like sneakers or boots.

7. Sweat Pants

What not to wear in Paris.

Who doesn’t love sweatpants? I would argue they’re the most comfortable piece of clothing ever made and it’s just natural that you would want to carry your most comfortable clothes from your hotel to the streets!

No, no! That just doesn’t work in Paris! Parisians know how to balance comfort and looking well and however much sweatpants are comfortable, let’s just agree that they’re not the most flattering.

Yes, on lazy Sundays in the suburbs, you might find a few wearing them but you won’t find them running around the city in sweatpants.

What to wear instead? If comfort is your ultimate measure of fashion, then you can get away with this comfortable but stylish pair of pants.

8. Heavy Makeup

What not to wear in Paris.

This might sound conflicting if you have already created a picture of a well-dressed Parisian but let me explain.

Yes, of course, Parisians do wear make-up! What they just don’t do as a norm is wearing full-blown heavy makeup with thousands of layers.

There is nothing wrong with wearing the kind of makeup you prefer with different colors but it’s just not common here.

And since the goal is to look like Parisians, try to do what they do — wear your makeup in moderation.

What to wear instead? Wear light makeup. Things like mascara, eyeshadow, and the basics are all okay as long as they’re not in extreme measures.


Final Thoughts on What Not to Wear in Paris

While I’ve shared what not to wear in Paris, the idea is not to intimidate you but rather to give you a glimpse of what Parisians don’t consider a norm so that you’re best prepared for your trip.

Of course, you can wear what you like since you’re as smart as how you feel but the general idea is to try to find a balance between comfort and looking good. When you find that line, then you’ll be sure as h*ll close to dressing like Parisians.

Were you surprised by any of these items on the list? Which one shocked you the most yet you kinda feel like you’ll just break the rules and bring it anyway? Do let me know in the comments below.

NEVER TRAVEL TO PARIS WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE

One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make when planning a trip to Paris is to forego Travel Insurance!

You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!

Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for
more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.

Check out these posts to help you plan your trip to Paris

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5 Comments

  1. I don’t know if this advice is still true today, but most of it was right when I was last in Paris in 2000! The only thing that was not common was jeans. Something you didn’t say was that NO ONE in Paris walks around with a backpack on. That’s a sure give away that you are schlepping. About the sandals, I did not see sandals anywhere in Europe in either of my trips there except for tourists. I DID however, wear mine when my feet were hurting from miles and miles of walking. LOL At that point I did not care. Ha ha. I’d also add, I didn’t see anyone with a travel purse except tourists. Women wear cross body purses, mostly leather, which they wear with the purse section hanging in front of their abdomen. People there judge you by your skincare, nails, and shoes. JMO. Also, since I only had high school french, I found that when people spoke to me (always in french), if I just said to myself outloud, “Oh, my french is so terrible” and just tried a few words, they’d often just laugh nicely and then speak to me in engish. I’d also suggest, watch your posture and how you sit. Your tips regarding makeup, etc, is spot on for all of europe.

    1. Yes, over 20 years later and these are all still true! And yeah, you’re right! Locals don’t wear backpacks at all — well you’ll see cute girly backpacks among young women but that’s all! All the other kinds of travel backpacks (think Osprey daypacks and others) are worn by tourists.

      Hahaha I can imagine! When your feet are k*lling you, you’ll be like, whatever, I am just gonna wear whatever I feel comfortable in instead of doing what the locals do.

      Thanks for the additional tips, Dodie.

  2. Went there several times in the late 90’s and into but not beyond 2010, and the only time wifey and I were not bothered by pesky beggars and street salesmen, where when we got married there and dressed ‘nice’. (not wedding dress, just a nice formal skirt suit for her, light summer suit for me.) We were absolutely just taken for being a Parisian couple out on lunch/dinner! (We travelled alone and had a party later at home)
    The other times were pretty much summed up in the article, but as we stayed in the Opera area, there were lots of ‘old Parisian style’ mature women shopping in their Prêt-à-Porter outfits and Dior handbags. 😀
    I never do wear either jeans or trainers myself, so I’m pretty much ok in Paris, but I found that shorts are also not that much used even if pretty warm. (google ‘paris pedestrians’ and see the photos..) I wore them anyway at several occasions.
    Women can perfectly use small sandals as well in the summer, but not bulky ‘adventure’ varieties with thick soles. If you see a MAN with sandals (AND especially with socks), he’s probably from Scandinavia..

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