Paris is a city with 2.2 million people, or around 11 if you include the suburbs. Hosting this many people, even while boasting the largest square kilometers of any European city, is difficult and life is quite expensive. Up the ante by adding the fact that the city is home to some of the most tempting designer stores—I’m looking at you Louis Vuitton, Dior and Chanel—and that parts of the city cater especially to tourists, making it nearly impossible to find a reasonably priced meal in these areas.
But the expense of daily necessities is really what has made Paris stand out. We always hear how lucky we are to take long showers and drive often because we live near water and gas is pretty cheap in the US. Well, in addition to your sandwich and Starbucks costing more in France, so does your water. You want a hot shower to take the chill off a damp day? Nope. Need to shave your legs? Not with the water on, you don’t. But showers aren’t the only thing: laundry uses a lot of water and is harder on clothes here than in the US, so the typical Parisian wears her clothes many more times before washing. Dirt shows less, if at all, on dark clothes and in a big city with crowded streets and public transportation, anywhere you sit will probably be a little (or a lot) gray.
The solution? Just wear black. We all remember Audrey Hepburn’s look à la Parisian in Funny Face, and with black cigarette pants, sweater, flats and a nonchalant ponytail, she wasn’t too far off the mark. It’s become iconic from sheer practicality, and it really does look good on everyone.
With the exception of red lipstick there isn’t a lot of color in the city right now, but as the city warms up for fashion week and the sun starts to shine again, I’m looking forward to what spring brings. Next week, in preparation for the week of all weeks to be a Parisian I’ll be writing about street style and the staples in every stylish Parisian woman’s closet.