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Study Abroad Style: Fashion Inspired by Paris


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What girl doesn’t dream of Paris in springtime? (The lucky ones who live there year-round, I suppose.) If you read the previous post in this series, you know that I’m spending the semester studying abroad in Madrid. The great thing about studying in Europe is the proximity to other countries: it seems like the rest of Europe is just a stone’s throw away! For spring break, or “Semana Santa”, as they call it in Spain, my friend Nicole and I spent eight days exploring Paris.

Fond as I am of my new home in the city of Madrid, I’ll admit that I fell head over heels in love with the City of Light. I’m still a little sad I had to leave, but I can relive my memories by sharing these looks inspired by some of the famous monuments of Paris!

P.S. All the photos in this post are from my trip, so apologies for gratuitous pictures of myself! Although I do have to say that I think I did a good job blending in– I got asked several times for directions from both tourists and locals. It’s safe to say that trench coats and leather jackets are a good choice. Also, scarves are the holy grail of Parisian accessories.

Joie de Vivre: About Paris

Paris is the capital and the largest city in France. The city is divided into 20 districts, called “arrondissements.” The 1st arrondissement is in the center of the city and the rest are named in clockwise order spiraling outwards towards the city limits. (We stayed in the 12th arrondissement, which led to many dumb jokes about being in District 12 and volunteering as tribute.)

What to Do in The City of Lights

  • Apart from the sights listed below, we also visited Notre Dame Cathedral, Victor Hugo´s house, and Pere Lachaise Cemetery (where Jim Morrison is buried), all of which are free. We also ventured down into the Catacombs (they house over 6 million skeletons–so creepy but so fascinating). The Seine river cruises are super touristy, but still really fun.
  • If you want to soak in all the history, I’d recommend getting the Paris Museum Pass. It comes in two, four, or six day passes and grants admission to over 60 museums and monuments, including Versailles, the Louvre, Centre de Pompidou, and Napoleon’s Tomb.

Housing & Food

  • Since we were there for a week, Nicole and I did a short-term apartment rental instead of staying at a hostel or hotel. We rented from a Ph.D student, and it actually came out to be less than a hotel would have cost. The apartment had a kitchen, so we also saved money by cooking our own food.
  • Three words: Freshly baked baguettes. At 90 cents a pop, there’s no guilt in eating an entire loaf every day! (Caloric guilt, maybe.) Cheese and wine are also incredibly affordable in the supermarkets.
  • The crêpe stands on the street are totally irresistible, but make sure to insist that the vendors make the pancake part fresh, as there’s nothing worse than paying for a soggy, limp crêpe!
  • There’s a reason the line is out the door at Ladurée: their macarons and other pastries aren’t just beautiful, they’re also beyond scrumptious.

Shopping & Fashion

  • The ubiquitous supermarket Monoprix is sort of like a Parisian Target. They sell regular groceries as well as makeup, clothing, and accessories. Other popular (but pricey) brands are Petit Bateau — which started as a kids store but has branched into women’s wear — Comptoir des Cotonniers, Maje, Kookai, and shoe stores Andre and Jonak.
  • If you’re looking for a bargain, many of these brands have stock stores, which are like individual outlet shops for last-season merchandise. Just Google “stock store Paris” for comprehensive lists.
  • There are tons of flea markets and vintage shops around Paris as well, if you’re looking to score that one-of-a-kind piece. I had lots of luck with the thrift store chain Guerrisol.
  • Make sure to take a walk down Champs D´Elysees. All the high end designer goods were way out of my price range, but it was nice to daydream. Fun fact: the French term for window shopping is “faire du lèche-vitrine,” which literally translates to “licking the windows.”

Outfits Inspired by Paris

Musée d’Orsay

Orsay header
L-R: Monet’s Woman With a Parasol, Rhinoceros, Musée du Orsay Clock

When it comes to Parisian museums, everyone knows about the Musée du Louvre, the stately home of the Mona Lisa and possibly the Holy Grail, but my personal favorite has to be the Orsay, which houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings.

The building, constructed in 1900, was once the Gare d’Orsay, a major train station, but was closed in 1939. In 1986, the Musée d’Orsay opened its doors to patrons eager to see works by artists such as Degas, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne, and Seurat.

Fashion inspired by Paris - Musee d'Orsay
Product Information: Blazer, Dress, Shoes, Bag, Necklace, Ring, Bangle

Take inspiration from this masterpiece of a museum with an artistically-inclined outfit that would be suitable for exploring any museum!

A watercolor-print dress is reminiscent of the Impressionist works in the Orsay, while a taupe blazer adds a touch of formality. Comfy wedge sandals are cute, but won’t kill your feet as you wander the exhibits. Add an ornate pocket watch-style necklace as a reference to the huge Beaux Arts clock in the Main Hall (it was, after all, a train station!) Keep using accessories as homage: a sunflower ring pays tribute to Van Gogh, while a gold bangle is a cute miniature of the rhinoceros statue outside the museum.

Tour Eiffel

Eiffel header2
Visiting the tower, the view from the top

There’s no Parisian monument as iconic as this one! The Eiffel Tower, named for designer Gustav Eiffel, was erected in 1889 as part of the World Fair.

Since most of us can’t imagine Paris without the iron structure, it’s interesting to note that many Parisian artists absolutely despised the building when it was first constructed, calling it a monstrosity. The Tower was initially scheduled to be dismantled in 1909, but was allowed to stay due to its additional function as a radio tower. Today, the Eiffel tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.

Eiffel outfit
Product Information: Top, Skirt, Shoes, Bag, Scarf, Necklace, Lipstick 

I tried hard to figure out a flattering outfit that resembles a 320 meter tall iron tower, but eventually decided to just go with a more relaxed interpretation. This classic and oh-so-French ensemble would be perfect for strolling the gardens that surround the Eiffel Tower.

You can’t go wrong with classics like a perfectly worn-in chambray shirt, slingback nude flats, and a black leather tote. Statement pieces like a striped skirt and metal lattice necklace keep the look fresh, while a black and white scarf with an Eiffel tower print provides a subtle tribute to the famous tower. Complete the look with a perfect red lip!


Montmartre header
L-R: Moulin Rouge, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Cabaret au Lapin Agile 

Montmartre, located in the 18th arrondissement, is home to the white-domed Sacre Coeur Basilica. Although less active today, the area was also known, historically, for its community of bohemian artists and a lively red-light district. During the early 20th century, artists such as Picasso and Modigliani frequented Montmartre cabarets such as Le Chat Noir and Lapin Agile. Montmartre also serves as the backdrop for many well-known movies such as Amelie, Moulin Rouge!, and La Vie En Rose.

Product Information: Blazer, Top, Jeans, Flats, Bag, Scarf, Earrings

Follow in the footsteps of generations of aspiring artists and get inspired by this colorful district!

A white blazer is super on-trend for spring and is the perfect complement to a simple gray button-down and jeans. Don’t forget to add a pop of color with the Frenchwoman’s favorite accessory, the scarf! Rabbit earrings allude to the Cabaret au Lapin Agile (which translates to “nimble rabbit”) while chic striped ballet flats will guarantee you a certain je ne sais quoi. Stash your sketchbook and pencils in a casual tote bag emblazoned with an elephant (a subtle reference to the Moulin Rouge! film).

Château de Versailles

Versailles header
L-R: The Queen’s Bedroom, The Hall of Mirrors, Courtyard 

The Château de Versailles, located outside of Paris, began as a humble hunting lodge and eventually became the grand epicenter of French political power, housing the court of Louis XIV, the Sun-King. It was also the home of doomed monarchs Louix XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Today, the splendid royal apartments and gardens are open to the public. While you’ll literally have to fight your way through the swarms of tourists, the incredible chambers and gilded decorations are well worth the trouble.

Versailles outfit
Product Information: JacketTopShorts,ShoesEarringsNecklaceRingMirror

While no one envies Marie Antoinette‘s eventual fate, there’s no harm in taking inspiration from the lavish court life she once enjoyed.

Pair a metallic tweed jacket with brocade shorts for a take on the shorts suit. A mint blouse complements the cream and gold colors. Versailles is well-known for being absolutely slathered in gold, so bring on the bling with a gilded lace necklace, a fleur de lis ring, and cute cameo earrings. Finally, pay homage to the famous Hall of Mirrors with a pair of gleaming flats and a cute pocket mirror to stash in your purse.

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare header
Shakespeare and Company 

The Left Bank of the Seine is peppered with stores and stalls hawking antique books and prints. One of the most famous is Shakespeare and Company, which was opened by George Whitman in 1951. Whitman, an American GI, allowed young writers, travelers, artists, and poets to stay in the apartment above the bookstore so long as they read a book every day and contributed to running the shop.

Shakespeare and Co. was one of the first English-language bookstores in Paris, and remains a popular spot to this day – it was recently featured in the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris. (I had never heard of it until last year, when I did a scavenger hunt that included taking a picture in the shop as a hunt item.) It’s a delightful, dusty little place full of books and dreamers.

Shakespeare and company outfit
Product Information: Top, Skirt, Shoes, Scarf, Earrings, Bag, Glasses 

Whether you’re searching for rare books or just poring over your notes for your upcoming finals, make sure you look chic while doing it!

A classic white button-down is the perfect foil for a skater skirt in the same hue as the bookstore’s facade. Nude flats with mustard bows will make your legs look fantastic. A literary-inspired infinity scarf (this one’s Les Miserables) and chic reading glasses will have you prepared to tackle even the most daunting of tomes. Angel earrings allude to the motto painted inside the bookstore, while a cognac satchel is perfect for hauling around a stack of books!

Disneyland Paris

Disney header
L-R: Magical Hippo, Magical Castle, Magical Beanstalk 

Disneyland, you scoff? Really? I thought this post was supposed to about culture. Well, I’m the one writing this article, and I happen to be a firm believer in the eternal magic that is Disney. Faith, trust, and pixie dust, folks!

Disneyland Paris (once called Euro Disney) is located about 40 minutes outside of the city and contains the Disneyland Park (akin to Disneyland Resort or the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World) and the Walt Disney Studios Park, which is similar to California Adventure and Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Disneyland Paris is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary year.

As an OC native, I’ll always love the Anaheim park best, but I had to admit that Disneyland Paris was pretty magical! Their version of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is absolutely beautiful. (And, I have to admit, out of all the castles in Europe, this is the one I was most excited to see.)

Product Information: Jacket, Top, Pants, Shoes, Scarf, Earrings

Sprinkle some pixie dust into your wardrobe with a cheerful ensemble inspired by one of the happiest places on Earth!

A peplum lace shell is princess-worthy (no need for a ballgown) and pairs perfectly with bright pink trousers. Add a teal blazer for an easy take on colorblocking. Next, slip on a trusty scarf — this one’s emblazoned with a map print. Finally, bring on the magic with sparkling Mickey earrings and a pair of glitzy oxfords that would be perfect for a day of running around a theme park.

What do you think?

Would you wear these outfits? Have you ever visited Paris? If so, what were some of your favorite sites? Would you like to see more posts inspired by cities? (I’m thinking about writing an article about Spanish cities other than Madrid.) Let me know in the comments!

Posted on on April 24, 2013 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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33 Responses to “Study Abroad Style: Fashion Inspired by Paris”

  1. 1
    April 24th, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Can you do on Canada please thank you

  2. 2
    April 24th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I looove that literature scarf, but I can’t justify paying $55 for it including international shipping! I wonder how easy it is to make one??

  3. 3
    April 24th, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Absolutely loved this post! I’m going to be in Paris for a month this summer so this post is super helpful.

  4. 4
    April 24th, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Do Seoul next please?! :)

  5. 5
    April 24th, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Some beautiful (inspiring!) outfits! Since my roommate is studying abroad, I’d love to see you tackle IRELAND in her honor :)

  6. 6
    April 24th, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    These are beautiful! Also, Natalie, I dunno if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but I used it for a script scarf–

  7. 7
    April 24th, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Paris is such a wonderful city, but do not wear a skirt or dress when visiting Eiffel Tower, there are so many staiirs and so many people looking up, you will show all of them your underwear. There is fake grass on the platforms, so make a mini picknick. I loved the Musée d’Orsay, it was better than all other sight seeing spots together, I love the outfit you picked for it. If you are from Europe and still younger than 28 or so, a lot of entries are free.

  8. 8
    April 24th, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Eek!! I always love your posts but this one is super special because you included Disneyland Paris!! Who says Disney isn’t about culture?! It changed pop culture forever!

  9. 9
    April 24th, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    This is wonderful!!!! I’ve always wanted to study abroad in France, and now I want to even more. Lovely outfits and great job! :)

  10. 10
    April 24th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I love this post. I must got to Shakespeare and Company next time I’m there. Can you do a post for London? I’m studying there starting in september

  11. 11
    April 24th, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you!!!!!!!! I am going to France for a few weeks in August and was looking for places to visit in Paris other than the whole Eifell Tower-Versailles-Louvre bit. Now I have a list of places to go AND ideas on what to wear!

  12. 12
    April 24th, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I am crying
    I am crying sad tears

  13. 13
    April 24th, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I <3 the Disney outfit!

  14. 14
    April 24th, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    all of these outfits are actually perfect! good on you, Shannon, you have amazing taste :)

  15. 15
    April 25th, 2013 at 12:06 am

    I’m visiting Paris in a few weeks and these outfits are so helpful! I studied in Sevilla and absolutely fell in love with the city. If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it and would love to see an post about it!

  16. 16
    April 25th, 2013 at 12:06 am

    I’m visiting Paris in a few weeks and these outfits are so helpful! I studied in Sevilla and absolutely fell in love with the city. If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it and would love to see an post about it!

  17. 17
    April 25th, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Great outfit choices! I only visited Paris for a day so I didn’t get to see many of these places, but I’m dreaming about going back. You should visit Barcelona!! or Prague!!

  18. 18
    April 25th, 2013 at 6:07 am

    great post! i especially like the montemarte look (and those shorts in the versailles look are gorgeous, but the link seems to be broken.)

    i’d love to see you tackle barcelona next–that city is amazingly colorful and has some great architectural inspiration.

  19. 19
    April 25th, 2013 at 8:40 am

    These are perfect and you’re adorable and I’m blown away by the quality of this article. So impressed!!

  20. 20
    April 25th, 2013 at 9:09 am

    You seem to have a very good taste on travel. I love those peaks that you went to, especially the Victor Hugo’s house (sounds interesting). Thanks for adding up all those places for us!

  21. 21
    April 25th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    This is a magical article. Totally inspired to visit Paris now, and I feel you captured the city’s aesthetic beautifully. Loved your trip pics, too :)

  22. 22
    April 25th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Incredible post right here! I like the amount of detail you put in and that you included more outfits than usual. So helpful <3

  23. 23
    April 25th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I studied abroad in Paris. These outfits are very cute, however it’s very windy at the top of the Eiffel Tower so I would not recommend wearing a skirt! Another cute/affordable French clothing store is Camaieu! They have stores all over France and other parts of Europe.

  24. 24
    April 25th, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I loved all the travelling tips in here and loved your outfits too!

    Believe it or not, according to my personal style, I only found the first wearable for me as-is but then saw the oufit you wore on the pictures and loved it so much! I’m wearing it tomorrow! Who’d know jeans and a white tee could look so French! Thanks!

  25. 25
    April 25th, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Paris can be cooooooold in April, make sure you have a coat that is windproof and a warm scarf.

  26. 26
    April 28th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    As someone who lives in Paris, I am quite impressed with your ability to blend in as a tourist because not many people can! Girls, stay away from the sneakers, uggs, a track suits!

  27. 27
    April 29th, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for all the great feedback! Paris is always a good idea :)
    Good point about skirts and the Eiffel Tower: I actually did wear a dress when I went to the top, but it was a structured (read: not prone to flashing) skirt and we took the elevator up. Definitely good to keep that in mind if you´re planning on taking the stairs!
    @Shelby: Alas, I don´t think I´ll be able to visit Ireland before the semester ends. I am dying to go there, though!
    @Emily: Hoping to do a London post soon!
    @Jacqueline: Just visited Barcelona last weekend…can´t wait to write an inspired-by post for the city.
    @Amy: Aw, thanks! That means a lot coming from a fellow CF writer :)

  28. 28
    April 29th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Where is the Paris Opera House?! I’ve been to Paris and it was easily the most beautiful place I saw the entire time. Aside from maybe the Galerie Lafayette ;)

  29. 29
    April 30th, 2013 at 9:37 am

    i think you should do an asian city….

  30. 30
    May 1st, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I rarely comment on any CF posts, although I’m an avid reader, but I simply must comment on this one! I enjoyed reading all of the thorough information about Paris’ most popular attractions and your interesting insight on them. Also, all of the outfit creations were adorable and really caught the essence of the attractions themselves. I LOVED IT!

  31. 31
    May 4th, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Thanks, Mason!

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