Hi everyone! I hope you’re not expecting an in-depth French beauty inspiration article because that is not what this post is about. I mentioned in a previous article that I turned myself into a Parisian to avoid being scammed. I also made this my goal because I wanted to fit in, to not look like a tourist and mostly to feel at home…and, friends, I sure did!
Here are some tips on how to swiftly turn yourself into a Parisian:
- Dress the Part: You may be thinking. Hm, I thought you said this wasn’t going to be a beauty/fashion article. This will be quick though, I promise! I was in Paris during one of the biggest canicules (heat waves) in Parisian history. It was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit/37 Celsius and Parisians don’t like AC because they think that it’ll give you a cold. It was HOT HOT HOT all the time. Therefore, dressing the part felt like an incredibly challenging task. I was still up for the challenge though. Instead of shorts, I opted for skirts, dresses, and nice breeze blouses. I always carried my cardigan around, specially when I had to do research at the library/the archives. It makes a good impression to not have bare arms. The French don’t usually wear flip flops or shorts, but that doesn’t mean you should dress up either. Opt for casual looks and don’t overdo it like the 897128309218 American influencers I saw every day.
- Make (it) UP too: Alright, alright. I need to talk about beauty a little bit. Wear a bare face or keep it light. Do NOT contour your face in Paris. I already mentioned that it was incredibly hot. Imagine if I had been sweating off pounds of foundation. I only wore a couple of touches of concealer (because the dark circles under my eyes will ALWAYS be my biggest insecurity), some mascara and some lip balm. C’est tout ! In addition to that, make sure you don’t style your hair too much. Remember to keep it simple! 😉
- Learn the language: If you want to become an actual Parisian, you need to learn actual French! haha! I know that it’s easier said than done, but a little French goes a long way. The Frenchies appreciate it a lot and if you work on getting rid of your accent, they’ll love you even more. Order in French, ask for directions in French, THINK in French. I promise you that it’ll be appreciated.
- Learn the customs: I remember walking into a store with one of my American pals and having the owner give us a stern look until he said, “Vous êtes Américaines, n’est-ce pas ?” He hated us after that. It was the ONE time I forgot to say Bonjour and it bit me in the butt. When you walk into a shop or a resto, say “Bonjour”. Don’t forget your manners! Say Merci, S’il vous plaît, Excusez-moi, etc. Americans claim that French people are rude, but actually a lot of Americans don’t make the effort to learn the customs and use them on a daily basis in France. Be polite!
- Order like a Parisian: As Americans, we’re used to asking a lot of questions about the dishes on the menu or asking for a lot of changes (no pickle, no mustard, extra mayo). The Frenchies do not do that (especially if you don’t bother to (a)say it in French and (b) say it politely). The French have a specific menu that they carefully crafted and they expect you to order from that. Imagine if you had 50 different questions about a jambon beurre (ham and butter sandwich) at the boulangerie. I think the owner would kick you out. Remember to order like a Parisian: confident, polite, and sans questions!
- Memorize your route: I had people (mostly Non-Parisians) stop me on the streets to ask me for directions to the métro or to a specific street. I always gave them my best answer in French and if I didn’t know I would say, “C’est pas mon quartier” (It’s not my neighborhood) and I would keep walking. It always made me feel so excited as if I had fooled them somehow.
- Take the métro: You’re just going to have to do it. Ubers are SO American. Unless you’re going to and from the airport, I can’t see how an Uber can take you somewhere faster than the métro will. Memorize your line and make a routine out of it. It’ll be great!
These are all of my suggestions for “becoming a Parisian”. They all worked really well for me and I was only mistaken for a non-Parisian on one-on-one situations where I could no longer mask my American/Puerto Rican accent. Don’t get me wrong. This worked for a brown girl like me because Paris is so racially-diverse. That being said, Parisians still have a lot of biases about People of Color and they especially do not know what to make of Latinxs. At picnics, friends of friends would ask me if I was Asian or Moroccan because I didn’t look “American” . My advice is merely a series of options to portray a casual French vibe without getting carried away with a myriad of striped shirts, berets and baguettes.
Here’s a little outfit that I wore a lot: a simple dress. I took advantage of les soldes (yearly sales) and bought this one at Vicxite A. in the Montmartre area.
Purse: Mango. Ballet Flats: Michael Kors. Sunglasses: Rayban.