STREET STYLE CHALLENGE: PARIS & LONDON
I have never felt closer to Tim Gunn than when I was scrounging around for these pictures. Like Tim, I would analyze the outfits I saw going past me on the runway- or rather the city streets. Countless outfits passed that were almost photo-worthy. If they would have just added the bag, the belt, and the shoes I wish they wore, so many looks would have been perfect. Didn’t they know I needed them to match the collection of other pictures I had already gathered? But as Tim would say, I had to “Make it Work”.
Some of my subjects could barely understand me, some had interesting stories to tell, but they all had one thing in common. The clothes they wore were selected intentionally. Their desire was consistent whether it was the classic feminine flare of London or the utilitarian chic style of Paris.
London: Exaggerated High Neckline with A-Line Skirt
The classic A-Line cut skirt is a staple for school wardrobes and work-wear alike. The streets of London feature these skirts in every pattern, length, and color imaginable.
The A-Line Skirt paired with a high neckline a staple silhouette. With a skirt that falls right above the knee, it is essential to balance the length by drawing attention to the waist. Both of these looks managed to accentuate their waist by choosing pieces that featured a high neckline. This cut takes attention away from the chest area and allows the waist to become the center of attention.
The woman in a little white dress communicates a defined style from head to toe. Every inch of her look was calculated down to her red nails matching the red heart on her dress. Her attention to detail in her accessories elevates this look. I would not be surprised to see something similar to this dress being worn by a member of the Royal Family.
The second woman plays with two different forms of lace. The layered top features a lightweight white lace and her skirt features a straight black lace. She is able to create a sensible look without compromising an ounce of fashion. From the practicality of her Apple Watch, crossbody bag, and lace-up flats it is clear that she is comfortable without being dressed down.
I came across both of these women at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. These women take completely different approaches to the classic combination. One highlights a play on the corset with exposed shoulders and the other relies on the fitted layering of a lace short-sleeve. Down to their ballet flat shoes, each woman expresses her style within the same basic silhouette.
Bow Down: The Bow Belt
There is timeless femininity to the bow. All across London, you will see bows replacing sneaker shoelaces, standing in for ponytail holders, and adorning gift boxes.
Walking through a garden in London, I stumbled upon this jaw-dropping outfit. I loved every ounce of personality the woman exuded. When I got behind the lens my eyes weren’t drawn to the beautiful contrasting material or the effortless layers in the skirt but the delicate shape the bow created. A bow as a belt is not a new trend, but it is a timeless classic that you can find from High Street to Carnaby Street.
Paris: The Utility Jumpsuit
The coverall has been an upcoming phenomenon for years. I can now say it has arrived. I spotted (or rather ran after) men and women sporting this boxy silhouette all over Paris. People do not often accessorize these pieces. They take a minimalistic approach when wearing this square silhouette.
The woman in the olive jumpsuit was just too cool. As she stepped off the metro with her entourage the wind had just picked up and she truly looked a character in a movie. She took the classic jumpsuit and completed her look truthfully with her choice of red lipstick and her tattoo. Both were likely unconscious decisions that added her personality to the traditional jumpsuit.
In the all-cream jumpsuit, the woman screamed to me, Parisian. She managed to stay clean into the night, running around after three children in dusty Tuileries Garden. The jumpsuit was made of denim material and to give the illusion of shape it featured a denim belt and large brown buttons. The adornments on the jumpsuit draw your attention upwards and you almost miss her perfectly coordinated sneakers.
These pieces aren’t exactly what I would think of when I stereotypically think of “Parisian style” but they capture a certain utilitarian inspired essence. Both women let the jumpsuit stand alone and speak for themselves. Their personal aesthetic shows in the selection of the footwear and the material of their jumpsuit. You can wear lighter material, roll up the sleeves, throw on your sunglasses, and pair them with slides. Just as easily you can choose a more structured denim material, and matching sneakers. These vintage-inspired jumpsuits create an effortlessly comfortable shape.
Don’t touch the artwork: Hair Beads
Seeing decorative hair beads around Paris takes me back to my childhood. When I was younger, I would accessorize my cornrows with rainbow-colored beads. Each bead would crash together making music as I walked along. This man selected beads to adorn his hair and craft his outfit from head to toe.
Beads are stylistic accents used to celebrate black hair; they connect back to African tradition and beauty standards. Adding beads to braids is a conventional way to add flair to your outfit with little to no maintenance. His little blue scrunchie further stylizes this trend. He plays a pop of color to offset his neutral cream beads and brown hair.
In the tale of two cities, Paris tends to maintain an effortlessly chic sense of style while London has a more structured silhouette. As times change, however, style is becoming increasingly global. You can pull the inspiration for a particular style from anywhere and adapt it to fit your fashion choices. When collecting these photos, I felt like the paparazzi but the permission paparazzi; with a minuscule fraction of the skill and none of the elusiveness. All of these people stood out to me for creating outfits that made me look once, twice, maybe even three times.