How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian


Paris is the city of love, light, fashion, food, and art. Its inhabitants exude elegance, culture, and confidence to near-goddess status. They eat carbs, take lovers, and embrace all their imperfections. What sets French women apart is that they are unapologetically confident. They never leave the house without looking elegant, they roll their eyes at mediocrity, and they believe in living a quality life, full of passion, sensory exploration, and style.

To live like a Parisian you must ooze chic, look perfectly imperfect, take pleasure in everything you do, kiss in public, slow down and enjoy yourself. Want to capture all that effortless glamour? Here’s how:

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

The best way to capture and bring home the Parisian aesthetic and way-of-life is to experience it yourself — like a local. So hop on a plane to Paris, and choose a luxury home rental over a hotel. Specifically, when in Paris choose to stay in a house in the city. We found the super-charming Pecquay Townhouse (Paris’ 4th oldest townhouse) through a vacation rental company called Luxury Travel Book. Staying in a real Parisian home is the best way to really live (and learn about) the Parisian lifestyle.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

At the front door to 2 Rue Pecquay the townhouse I stayed in, in the Marais

Here are a few of the tips I’ve picked up during my visits to Paris:

Parisian Style

Effortless elegance, tomboyish charm, crisp minimalism and sophisticated tailoring — these are the attributes of Parisian style in a nutshell. French women are deliberately simple, versatile and practical. To dress like a woman of Paris, spend your money on a few quality staples to mix and match. Wear neutral tones that include darks like navy, black and grey. Avoid cheery shades and patterns. Flats are a popular shoe choice, probably due to the uneven cobblestone streets of Paris. But it goes along with the less is more philosophy. Elegantly flattering sunglasses, a silk scarf and understated earrings are all essential Parisian accessories.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

Me, in Paris… in a comfortable yet chic outfit

Parisian Beauty

Parisians find beauty in their imperfections. A gap in her teeth is a sign of character and would never be closed with braces. The idea of the Parisian beauty routine is to have the “I woke up like this look,” meaning natural makeup and tousled hair. Makeup should look natural, except for the lips. French women generally steer clear of eyeliner, but the lips are usually a shade of red. Contouring is a no-no because it changes the shape of their face, instead, aiming for both natural and sensual, they catch light by using a highlighter on their cheeks, brow bones and Cupid’s bow of the lips.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

Paris beauty is all about the natural look, with emphasis on the lips

Dine Like a Parisian

It’s all about moderation when it comes to dining. Parisians eat proper lunches and buy fresh groceries each day. They love farm-to-table eating and spending time in cafes sipping dark espressos. The key to dining Parisian style is drinking water. If you do this, you can drink all the wine and eat all the dark chocolate, baguettes, croissants and cheese you desire (or, in my case, vegan cheese and pastries!). Avoid processed foods and opt for locally produced veggies, fruit, nuts, and olives.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

To dine like a Parisian, always eat fresh

The Parisian Attitude

Speak loud, speak proud. Speak your mind … if you feel like it. You might call a Parisian arrogant, but it’s only because they have the “Je ne sais quoi” attitude that charms and delights those she encounters. Sulking is only appealing if you do it the French way — with good posture and a twinkle in your eye.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

To be a Parisian woman, you must be –above all– confident and elegant

Home Décor, Paris-Style

Naturally, the sophisticated French style extends to interiors. The rules include:

  • Don’t over-style. It’s undone but done. In other words, it shouldn’t look like you bought everything in one store.
  • Incorporate touches of lavishness like silk drapes, complex wallpaper and an oversized mirror.
  • Add sparkle with a vintage crystal chandelier.
  • Integrate aromatic and aesthetically pleasing elements like seasonal/local flowers from the market and a wooden essential oil diffuser.
How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

Learn to perfect a minimalist yet hedonistic style (not to be confused with minimally hedonistic!) Confused yet?

CoCo Chanel redefined what it meant to be a modern woman. Catherine Deneuve’s natural allure made her a style icon. To truly live a Parisian lifestyle, you have to adopt the attitude of minimalist hedonism. If you’re not sure what that means, just remember that quality trumps quantity, old trumps new (in most cases), and classic trumps trendy. Simple, right?!

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.


  1. Della Martin

    Inspiring stuff, Urbanette 🙂

  2. Rosalia Russell

    Fantastic article – beautifully written and so fun to read. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth Gonzalez

    Ahhhh, Paris! I just love this city!!! 🏰 🗼

  4. Karen Abeyta

    I’ve read somewhere that France is known as a country of culinary masterpieces. Can’t wait to dine like a Parisian ☕ 🍩 🍰🍔

  5. Connie Schmidt

    I love Urbanette, you always offer inspirational and easy-to-read articles! I especially love your travel and international-focused articles. I love seeing the world through Hilary’s eyes.

  6. Maxine Ford

    Hi Hilary, HUGE thumbs up for this fantastic article! You really captured the french spirit in a poetic way 👍 👍 👍

  7. Esther Devine

    Interesting and informative! I’ve bookmarked your page and will definitely use this as guide when I visit Paris next month 😉

  8. Ofelia Ruley

    I am a french woman and I must admit that everything that is said in this article is true. Especially one thing: their elegance. It is so undeniable that french woman are the most sultry as well as elegant I have ever seen in the world. They have that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you will never ever find in London or in America.

  9. Among the things you mentioned, I totally agree with this: “Avoid processed foods and opt for locally produced veggies, fruit, nuts, and olives.”

  10. Joan Morales

    The Parisian look inspires me, so natural and effortless. I guess they value taking care of their skin too… you may want to write an article about Frech beauty routines?

  11. Brittany West

    I’m interested in getting a Parisian fragrance, any thoughts?!

  12. Lisa Bryson

    Smart and stylish fashion, yet looks comfortable! Who makes that black skirt??

  13. Deanna Woods

    Thanks for this! I’m off to Paris next week and your post is very encouraging!

  14. Eloise Ferris

    I’ve always felt that Parisians simply radiate elegance. Not sure I could ever be that glamorous… 😉

  15. Classy article! Your article inspired me to achieve the “paris chic” look.

  16. Genie Mackenzie

    I love you, Hilary! Effortless yet very beautiful!

  17. April Henry

    I’m impressed Parisian style because it expresses femininity with a masculine edge.

  18. Jenifer Jeni

    Any tips for vegan dining in Paris???!

  19. Jeni Morgan

    I love Parisian fashion! 👠 👒 👚👜💄

  20. Norisna

    Very interesting article and beautiful photos! Excellent choice Hilary! I would like to be there. Enjoy!

  21. Kim Chambers

    Great post!!! I truly enjoyed reading it and definitely learned quite a few things I did not know.

  22. Cindy Griffith

    I’m hoping for a “Part 2” of this article. Would that be possible? I mean probably you can write about Parisian fragrance, how women date, etc.

    I love how simple French women are in the way they dress, they are simple, polished, yet fashionable.

  23. Michelle

    I enjoyed reading this! It’s interesting to see an article detailing ways to achieve the Parisian elegance! Your article made me realize that I was mostly Parisian before I even knew what the term was 🤣😍😝

  24. Great article, Hilary! You look elegantly beautiful!

    I’ve worked with a lot of “Parisian” models. One thing I’ve learned from them, especially when I was starting — it’s all about the attitude, be confident! I admire them because they don’t ask for opinions for their style choices. They dress for themselves, for their own comfort!

  25. Lana Wiliam

    Hi Hilary, HUGE thumbs up for this fantastic article! You really captured the french spirit in a poetic way 👍 👍 👍

  26. Alena Martin

    French women do not leave the house unkempt, ever. Sounds like a heck of a lot of work to me!!

  27. Nataliya Smith

    French women look good because they believe in themselves as being the most stylish and elegant women in the world. It’s a touch arrogant but it works. You have faults? We all do. However, the secret for French women is not only to not care less but to accentuate the fault as a beauty feature. You can only do so when you feel confident about who you are inside. So get your confidence on and love every part of yourself!

  28. Jurik Smith

    I refuse to believe they don’t wear onesies or joggers because they instinctively understand that such garments insult human dignity! However, my knowledge of French women is gleaned mainly from literature and cinema..

  29. Angelo Henderso

    This article correctly identifies the French women; and they of course cannot take the truth that takes them down from their pedestal, on which they have elevated themselves. Sadly, applying their art of manipulation does work.

  30. Selli Coaze

    I love Urbanette, you always offer inspirational and easy-to-read articles! I especially love your travel and international-focused articles. I love seeing the world through Hilary’s eyes.

  31. Juli Woods

    Great tips… not super easy to implement, but I’m going to give it a shot. Well written article, Hilary.

  32. Hena Taylor

    I love that adapting to anyone else’s notion of what you should be is an aberration for French women. Self-help books and lifestyle courses are the preserve of the “feeble Brit.” LMAO

  33. Lusi Martin

    On the flipside, I heard that “special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” that Madeleine Albright spoke of has been exclusively cordoned off for French women, who long ago realized that sharing their diet and style tips or handing over the number of their (excellent) dermatologist – even to their best friends – is a fool’s game known as “cosmetic kamikaze” amongst the French non-sisterhood. It’s every woman for themselves in this brittle, competitive land.

  34. Jessi Agusta

    Did you know that Paris’s Sorbonne University offers Britons summer courses on the virtues of being French – including a course “dissecting the role of women in French history, literature and the arts,” which will cover everything from “the contemporary French female body” to “ageing gracefully” and “female diplomacy”?

  35. Honey Smith

    Is it true that European countries do not place nutrition labels?

  36. Bela Christo

    I’ve been reading about Parisian fashion style and I discovered that French are known for their sartorial savvy. Is it hard to adapt?!

  37. I’m reading your dads book, Ockham’s Razor (I’m loving it) and just finished the Paris section when you catch a glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe for the first time and exclaim “That is magnificent!”. I am so glad I found your blog it has inspired me to do the Paris staycation next summer! Ps tell your dad thanks and I’m going to use his book as my guidebook for France! Merci?✨?

    • That’s great! I’ll definitely tell him. Thanks so much for leaving a comment and letting me know! xox

  38. Great photos and article!

  39. Ulrike Kreiner-Holzhauer

    I love your article, we also rent an apartment for the month we stay, and live for 30 days the Parisian life. We go early in the morning to the bakery for oven fresh croissants and a crisp warm baguette ! And we visit, of course as early as possible, the neighborhood market where the men and the ladies spend great time to buy everything fresh for today’s lunch and dinner. Yes, you need to be dressed and wear at least some lipstick to fit in! We are also close to Bon Marche which is a great place for people watching. It is fun to see the ladies pick little wonders of pastries and tarts for tonight’s dinner or negotiate with the butcher what the best cut of meat for the beef stew is!
    All is done very loud and with lots of energy… And staying in line is not their strength!
    It is a colorful fun city and while their, do how the Parisians due… Drink your coffee with a glass of water while people watching In a cafe and make reservations for a great restaurant to have dinner that night or prepare a fresh meal with all the farm fresh ingredients and a good bottle of wine!

  40. Elia Scott

    Amazing article!! very useful Tips. Parisian style is famous all over the world. French people take pride in how they look, and they take pride in how they dress. You won’t see them dressing down for comfort outside the home.

  41. Naincy Winget

    The real French style is not only about clothes, it’s more about a behavior.I would say that French girls dare things and they assume to be free. I wonder if, besides fashion stuff, it’s not the reason why they are like a mystery and object of fascination for so many people.

  42. Lulia Jan

    I like Parisian style.French women don’t think they need a lot of other makeup if they’re wearing red lipstick. It makes the only statement they need. Thanks for sharing information about it

  43. Issabbell Symon

    French women dress for their body type, no matter what it is, and they enjoy slim-fitting clothing that accentuates curves. They don’t try to hide their curves in too-baggy clothing.

  44. Pasty Clin

    Great article! Paris is my favorite place for shopping. I like Parisian style. Shoes help complete the overall look in Paris. You’re not going to see a lot of Parisians slumming it around the city in tennis shoes. Cheap or scuffed shoes will give you away as a tourist.

  45. Christina Brown

    Their are simple yet elegant. They uses simple make ups and mostly saw them with a “no make up” look. Confidence is really the key to become beautiful. Thanks for such informative post. You literally unlocked living the effortless elegance of a Parisian.

  46. Stephanie Thomas

    You have definitely capture the essence of why and how French women are effortless elegant. I always like to read your comments and posts on the French lifestyle view thru an American eye. French like to enjoy life. They like to appreciate their life. That is one of the main reason why I loved being friends with them. 🙂

  47. Cornelia Green

    I always love when a French woman stops by to add to the conversation whether they’re my friend or not. I realize I will never be French, no matter how hard I try. However, I love taking the fashion and lessons from their culture and infusing them into my life. You are a sweet soul sister and I truly feed off your inspiration. It leads me to keep searching for more.

  48. Louise Stone

    I felt every sentence of this article in my being. I will re-read it as often as needed. I believe that if I pursue them little by little every day, I will find the quality of my life increasing dramatically.I thank you so much for your inspiring words. I love everything you have to said. 🙂

  49. Laura Strother

    I love this! Every single point rings so true. I’ve always wanted to travel and visit Paris. I may need to print it out and slap it up on the wall so I see it every day. You have a beautiful way of expressing how to live a luxurious yet very attainable life. Thank you so much for this Hilary! I needed this so very much.

  50. OMG! Paris! My place for shopping 🙂 A place where many of the boutiques tailor on the spot in-store. What I noticed is that Parisians dress for their body type — dowdy jackets, too tight pants, or ill-fitting dresses.

    Oh no! Your article is so inviting that I’d like to book a trip to Paris (for the nth time) and put these tips into action…

  51. Jealous! I love your writing style, Hilary! Haven’t been to Paris but I can conclude that Parisians are simple but beautiful and stylish. It’s all about one fabulous piece and a dramatic red lip for Parisians.

    I was reminded of Coco Chanel’s words: “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

    • Susie Moore

      Yeah! Parisian fashion style reminds us, women, to be feminine without being overly sexy or have excessive extras!

  52. I can’t let this post pass onto my feed without me giving my comment. As a French girl living in New York, I believe I can speak for “us.” You know what, your article made me think, did you live in Paris to learn all these?! I mean how many days, months or years did you spend? You’ve seen Parisians “beyond the rudeness” that most non-Parisians think.

    Anyway, yes, we love fashion but we are not slaves of short-lived fads. Super flashy outfits are no-no. For us, it’s always about the timeless, well-cut classic look: jeans, classic blazers or trench coat, cashmere sweaters.

    Lastly, I’d like to share that we are obsessed over fabric too! It has to feel expensive even if it’s not.

  53. Why do you always have wonderful photos?! Sooooo jealous!

    For me, Parisians always have that distinct energy and personality and no matter what I do, it’s an effort to be and feel like them… Thanks for the tips! Definitely helpful!

  54. You’ve just given me more reasons to consider moving to Paris! I’m seriously thinking of moving to Paris. Based on my research, Paris follows a more realistic circadian rhythm, they emphasize on working to live not living to work. I’d like a better work-life balance because my daughter is growing up.

  55. Great! Now I’m prepared and I’m definitely going to enjoy my upcoming Paris tour 🙂 I always find Parisians elegant, less is more for them. They take simple cuts and mix ONLY a few colors per outfit.

  56. Paris is one of the cities I’d love to visit. Informative article! From the bedroom picture you shared, I can conclude that Parisian interiors… mix of classic and contemporary.

  57. Fantastic! I learned new, exciting things from this 🙂 I wonder, what’s the Parisian way of greeting friends? How do they greet people they just met? Americans shake hands, what about them?

    • Delit L'Angelier

      They shake hands with them. 🙂

    • Delit L'Angelier

      I mean, with strangers, but they kiss on the cheek with friends. 🙂

  58. One thing I love about your articles is that you always add photos of yourself, making them very personal. I would agree, Parisian women dress simply yet they remain stylish, effortless yet chic.

  59. I must confess, I was hesitant in checking out your post. I was thinking of rehashed tips. But then I was wrong. The more I read, the more I was impressed with your writing. Subtopics organization is perfect!

    One question though, would you know if they really stick to one brand of perfume?

  60. Wonderful photos! They look professional! Yeah, they speak loud and proud that’s why they are labeled as “RUDE.”

    Whenever I’m in Paris, I maintain the “I woke up like this look.”

  61. You nailed it, Hilary! Great tips! Parisians exude natural elegance and cool demeanor. On various trips to France, most of the French girls I met don’t wear “foundation,” just mascara and bright red lipstick.

    BTW, I love your photos!

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