Monday, October 4, 2010

Blending In

Without sounding too pretentious, if you are looking to blend in, I must say right away that you should leave the following behind:

1) Your Coach bags
2) Your Juicy Couture bags and/or sweat pants and matching sweatshirt
3) Non-basic clothing from the Gap or Old Navy
4) Your fake Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc.
5) Tropical print shirts

Please bear in mind that bringing in fake goods in France is a serious offense. If you are caught, your fake product will be confiscated, and you will be given a ticket equivalent to the original price of your fake goods. Other than the embarrassment, it could be costly.

Paris is also the city where I see the LEAST branded bags with huge logos. The French are not impressed with names. You will be regarded curiously if you had a monogram LV bag with a matching belt and matching monogram shoes, for example. Having style does not mean having a bag stamped with a logo. You will definitely be more chic with a pair of Repetto ballerinas and a Nightingale Givenchy bag. Subtlety is key, if you want to blend in. If you are fine with going around with a camera around your neck and comfy walking shoes, by all means, go ahead. This post is directed to those who want to blend in, experience la vie Parisienne, and not be targeted by pickpocketters.

If you wear a hijab, that will not be a problem in Paris. With a 10% Muslim population, the French are used to the headscarf. A burqa, however, will pose problems. A law has just been passed to make the burqa illegal in public areas, and you will be summoned if you cover your face. A man who forces his wife to wear a burqa can be jailed up to 1 year and fined €30,000! These will be doubled if the person forced is a minor.

For your electric goods, the voltage is the same but the plug isn't. You will need to pack an adapter, NOT a transformer. I use some of my electric products from the States too without problem, but verify the voltage or you risk blowing something up.

If you come in the summer, don't think that just because you are in a European country that "less is more". The French are quite conservative in terms of showing skin, and wearing a pair of short shorts will get you labeled as an American right away. (No racism intended here, just showing the stereotypes) Neither are they keen on very tight clothing. This summer baggy and off-shoulder was very in, paired with pencil jeans or tights. Come to think of it, I feel way more comfortable in KL and NY in my miniskirts/dresses, not here! This is something I'm starting to appreciate more and more, and I am more convinced that French women are just so chic and natural, no matter what social class!

Hope this was helpful!

Cartoon courtesy of Google Images


  1. loving the new backdrop, ali! love how you write too ;)

  2. thanx for the very informative tips :D

  3. My family want to come to Paris for holiday for the first time but we are very worried about pickpocket (especially the gypsies type). Is taking public bus safer than train?

    Your blog is very informative and lovely in term of design.Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi there!
      I normally don't take the bus, bc I feel that the metro is more efficient and quick.. I'd say that you should be careful no matter what. Its harder to get away with pickpocketting on the bus, bc you can't exactly jump out of it! However, in the metro it stops every 30 seconds or so, hence easy to make yourself invisible... Don't worry, its not unsafe, you just have to be aware at all times...