I'm an American Writer in Paris, and These Are the 15 Effortless French Styles I Always Wear From Just $10

Forget "Emily in Paris."

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American in Paris French Looks Tout

Travel+ Leisure / Tyler Roeland

As a travel journalist, I go on assignment everywhere from the Arctic to Australia, meaning my wardrobe varies with more than just the seasons. I’m constantly asked how I can fit so many different outfits in a carry-on (can’t risk losing a bag en route!). The secret is that I don’t have to. Since moving to France a decade ago, I’ve picked up one trick Parisians have always known — the art of basics. 

French style is applauded for its effortless air, and I’ve found that if you have the essentials, you can mix and match and make the same styles look new again. In Paris, I’ve slimmed down my wardrobe but invested in timeless pieces that have become my daily go-tos, both at home and while I’m on the road. The best part? Most of these French styles are just a quick click away. 

From a chic silk scarf that’s only $10 to the most comfortable yet stylish shoes I own, I’ve rounded up my favorite looks inspired by the city I call home (sometimes for much less than their designer look-alikes). Whether you’re sipping an espresso at Café de Flore or simply strolling around your hometown, here are the 15 items you need to look like a Parisian wherever you are.

American in Paris French Looks

Travel + Leisure / Lane Nieset

Veja Campo Sneakers

Veja Women's Mansur Gavriel Campo Sneakers


Perhaps you’ve seen Emily in Paris? One of the main criticisms my friends make about the fashion is the shoe selection. Stilettos? In Paris? Mais non! Since moving to France, my collection of strappy (albeit impractical) stilettos has been packed up and stored away, waiting for that rare annual appearance at an event I’m taking a taxi to (and where I’m not standing for long). But that doesn’t mean I immediately added sneakers to my wardrobe. It took a while to land on one that checked off two main boxes: stylish and comfortable.

Then I started seeing more people donning Veja’s signature “V,” and I tried on a few pairs. I love how this collab with Mansur Gavriel is a subtle variation of the brand’s classic Campo sneaker, and the thick sole gives a platform-like appearance. The monochrome pairs great with jeans, denim shorts or dresses, and I’ll often wear them while traveling on trains or planes. They’re comfortable enough to run around a city, and still stylish enough to wear out in the evenings to a wine bar or aperitivo on a terrace. Plus, they’re made from recycled and transformed materials like Amazonian rubber and rice waste, so they’re sustainable and sturdy.

To buy: amazon.com, $175

Amazon Essentials Lightweight Crewneck Sweater

Amazon Essentials Women's Long-Sleeve Lightweight Crewneck


The simplest wardrobe staple that instantly gives off French vibes is a marinière — a striped sweater. When I first moved to the South of France, one of my best friends gave me a classic Saint James striped sailor shirt, and I wore it nearly every day for years. While I still love that round neck, loose-fit style, these days in Paris, I’m less sailor, more structured with knits like this Rag & Bone Breton striped sweater. But I’m here to tell you there’s a way to get the Parisian look for less; case in point: this Amazon Essentials sweater that’s only $20.

You can wear this lightweight piece year-round in more than 30 colors since it’s a great layering piece; the stripes evoke a classic nautical Breton look that feels more like a fashion statement and less utilitarian than the thicker fabric of its traditional counterpart. You can layer it while traveling, pair it with straight-leg leather pants, high-waisted denim, or even go full nautical with wide-legged sailor pants (white, cream, or even red!). The blend of cotton, modal, and polyester ensures a nice fit while not clinging to your body, and it’s an easy top to bring on the road since you can machine wash it at your hotel or Airbnb.

To buy: amazon.com, $21 (originally $23)

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Polish



While I’m a fan of nail art and playful spins on French tips, it’s hard to maintain a manicure while traveling. I’ve had my fair share of moments trying to squeeze into a salon to fix a broken nail or do a gel polish change everywhere from Crete to Croatia. In Paris, you won’t see trends like coffin-shaped nails (à la Kim Kardashian). Often, Parisians won’t even paint them at all. But there are a few colors that are classics for a reason.

Chanel’s Le Vernis nail polish is both long-lasting and has just the right amount of shine. (And what could be more classic than a polish by a French luxury fashion house?) This vibrant shade of red (not too dark, not too orange) is enough of a statement without having to add any out-there design. It’s also the easiest accessory you can have on your hands while traveling. The color goes with practically anything, and feels dressed up enough for an event or dinner party but relaxed enough even for a simple day of sightseeing or café hopping.

To buy: chanel.com, $30

London Fog Trench Coat

London Fog Women's 3/4 Length Double-Breasted Trench Coat


If you only invest in one outerwear staple, this should be it. A waterproof trench is not only practical — it’s made for all seasons and great for layering — it’s also an easy way to make an outfit appear more put together. Plus, since it’s a cinch to pack, this is a great coat for travel and perfect for airports and on a plane.

While I personally love A.P.C.’s effortlessly chic beige trench coat with its double-breasted look and pin-buckle fastening at the cuffs, there are a few more accessible price options out there, like this wallet-friendly yet quality London Fog trench at Amazon. When buttoned and belted, the trench looks polished, but if you want a more relaxed look, leave it open on top of a shift dress that hits mid-thigh or with structured, dark denim. With leather pants or a pair of over-the-knee boots, the vibe shifts and gets edgier. It’s available in black and neutral stone in sizes XS to 3XL — and best of all, it’s on sale right now ahead of the rainy spring season.

To buy: amazon.com, $103 (originally $120)

Fashion Puzzle Triple Zip Crossbody

Fashionpuzzle Triple Zip Small Crossbody Bag


In Paris, you’re going from the métro or Vélib city bike to coffee to lunch to apéro to dinner to dancing — sometimes all in the same day, in that order. You want something that can hold just enough (wallet, keys, phone) so it’s not weighing you down as you’re running around town (or traveling to a new one).

While many bags in Paris may be designer, they’re not usually branded, so it’s easy to replicate their looks for less. This Amazon crossbody (in addition to this Madewell crossbody) are smaller, more minimalist versions of the A.P.C. Grace Bag that’s popular in Paris right now. Plus, the Amazon version is on sale for just $20 right now and comes in 30 colors — and it’s racked up more than 19,600 five-star ratings. The top zipper means you won’t have to fumble with a clasp each time you want to open it, and the strap is adjustable, so it can hang at the perfect height on your hip.

To buy: amazon.com, $20 (originally $25)

Amazon Essentials Terry Joggers

Amazon Essentials Women's French Terry Fleece Jogger Sweatpant


Even the most stylish Parisians have been known to break out their comfy athleisure looks en route to their workout classes or to the shop to stock up on wine and cheese for the evening. Of course, they’re usually dressed up with a trench, blazer, and stylish Veja sneakers — but they’re comfy nonetheless. I’m here for the “non-denim” trend that’s sweeping the city, because as a traveler, comfort sometimes dictates style.

Perfect for the airplane or walking tours, this cozy, sleek pair from Amazon is just $20 and has more than 22,000 five-star ratings. One traveler who bought these to complete their airport outfit said, “I love it. It was super comfy and warm during [my] transatlantic flight.”

To buy: amazon.com, $20 (originally $22)

Grecerelle V-Neck Black Dress

GRECERELLE Spring Summer Dress


The single most versatile piece of clothing in any French wardrobe is a little black dress. Take it from French designer Coco Chanel who once said, “One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a little black dress.” It’s true — this timeless fashion staple is appropriate for pretty much any occasion, including travel days if you choose the right style.

This casual yet sleek v-neck dress at Amazon has a flattering A-line shape, is made of a stretchy rayon blend material, and is even machine washable. It can be dressed down with comfortable sneakers or sandals for a day of city and museum tours (and that trench will be the perfect addition if the weather shifts!) or dressed up with heels, boots, and a few pieces of statement jewelry for a night out on vacation — and it’s sure to be your Parisian-inspired closet MVP this spring or summer. This staple will even get you through chillier days come fall when paired with tights, a scarf, and a leather jacket.

To buy: amazon.com, $31 (originally $35)

Allegra Silk Scarf

Allegra K 70cm Polka Dots Square Scarf


Yes, French women really do know how to tie a scarf in multiple ways. The classic staple is often the finishing touch of any ensemble, and it feels naked to leave the house without one. I’ve seen women wear vibrant silk scarves on their head and pull it down to cover their neck when they enter a restaurant or shop (an elegant way to keep your blow-out in place when it’s windy), or expertly wrap one around the handle of a bag for a pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit.

This large, square marigold Saint Laurent silk scarf that’s almost sold out is a dreamy way to elevate your look, but it’s pricey at $450. Instead, test the waters with this vintage-inspired look-alike from Amazon that will only set you back $10 but is no less stylish than the pricier designer option. Polka dots give it an unexpected textural appearance, and the pattern is one that feels timeless, meaning you’re less likely to get bored with the style and no one will know (or care) which season it’s from.

To buy: amazon.com, $10

Retro Oval Sunglasses

Allarallvr Retro Oval Sunglasses


Paris is nowhere near as sunny as the South of France, but I always throw a pair of sunglasses in my bag before leaving the apartment. Recently, I switched from cat-eye to a retro oval shape like these ivory Celine frames. They’re glam enough to look striking in photos and can be worn while sipping an espresso on a café terrace or basking on a sunbed in Saint-Tropez.

If you want the same look for less, this pair on Amazon ($13) is a near double and comes in a range of colors, from tortoise to translucent jade green. Shoppers have also given them a high rating, with one reviewer saying it’s “an excellent value and perfect for my face.” What more could you want?

To buy: amazon.com, $13

Cicy Bell Casual Blazer

Cicy Bell Womens Casual Blazer


A blazer is an easy item that makes an outfit instantly look pulled together. I have one boyfriend fit from Alexander Wang that I’ve worn so many times, I keep having to get the lining redone (finding a good tailor is one of the first orders of business in Paris). Throw it on over a dress on a chilly evening, with jeans and a classic tee during the day, or with shorts in summer.

While I also love a velvet blazer like this one from ba&sh for an elegant touch, you really can’t go wrong with this classic black blazer look. This style is Amazon’s number one best-selling blazer with 11,800 five-star ratings, and it’s on sale right now for just $60. The tailored construction gives the jacket a dressed-up feel, so it can easily go from day to night and be a more sophisticated alternative to a leather jacket in the evening. From the looks of it, other travelers are impressed too, like this Amazon shopper who said, “This is my second one, and I couldn't be happier. They hang beautifully, travel well, and don't wrinkle.”

To buy: amazon.com, $60 (originally $71)

Rouge Dior Forever Lipstick

Rouge Dior Forever Transfer-Proof Lipstick


I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but one item I always have in my purse while traveling is red lipstick. This is the sole color that never fails to look good, no matter the occasion. Shopping? Pourquoi pas! Lunch? Absolutely. Friends know red lips are my signature, but not all shades of red are created equal.

I’ve tried a variety of red lipsticks from tons of different brands. I’m not a fan of anything too glossy or with a glitter-like sheen. But some of the matte shades can be too dry and look like I colored my lips with a Crayola crayon. The Rouge Dior Forever is the brand’s first transfer-proof bullet lipstick, meaning once it dries, the color will actually last on your lips, instead of fading away quickly as you eat and drink. And for those who don’t wear much makeup, this lipstick is so light, you won’t feel like you’ve even put any on. Which color to choose? 999 is the brand’s most popular and flattering shade.

To buy: nordstrom.com, $45

Lucky Brand Hikalli Ankle Boots

Lucky Brand Hikalli


Classic Chelsea boots are always an easy go-to in a city like Paris. When the annual soldes (sales) take place, French designer Isabel Marant is the first store I hit for these; their short Western boots in cognac-colored suede are a fun spin on this wardrobe staple.

For a friendlier price point, these similar comfy ankle boots from Lucky Brand at Zappos are a good look-alike and fraction of the cost (they’re originally $129, but now on sale for $79). The heel is just enough to give you some height, but still comfortable enough to run around town all day or night (I often wear this style right through dinner or out to a wine bar). Plus, shoppers have given them great ratings and praise, calling them “high quality leather” and “perfect for casual or dressy attire.”

To buy: zappos.com, $79 (originally $129)

Re/done Jeans

'90s Low Slung Ripped Jeans


These ’90s-style, low-slung jeans are my daily go-to both in Paris and while I’m traveling. I first discovered Re/Done at Le Bon Marché (I lived next door to the legendary department store and would often browse the new collections when I needed a break from writing) and loved both the style of jeans, as well as the philosophy: deconstruct, reimagine, and reinvent vintage Levi’s. 

This style fits true to size and is great for all seasons. In the winter, I’ll pair it with ankle boots and an oversized sweater, and in spring and summer, I’ll throw on a crop top and a pair of low heels when I want to dress up the look in the evening.  They’re on sale right now at Nordstrom, so it’s a good time to try out the high-quality travel staple.

To buy: nordstrom.com, $200 (originally $285)

Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer

Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer


Part of what makes French style so intriguing is that it challenges gender norms and champions androgynous fashion — and a structured loafer is one of the best examples (apart from Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo suit, of course). 

These trendy yet sturdy slip-on leather Sam Edelman Loraine Loafers are narrow with a rounded, pointed toe that give them just enough of a feminine silhouette so they can go with pants, skirts, dresses or even shorts. They’re also comfortable enough to wear for an entire day. One shopper called them “buttery soft” while another said, “The comfort and fit is perfect. I have them in two colors and will buy another. They are amazing.” Plus, black is classic and can make an outfit feel more dressed up, especially with the gold, horsebit hardware reminiscent of Gucci’s Jordaan loafers.

To buy: zappos.com, $150

Haomay Cropped Wide Leg Faux Leather Pants

HaoMay Women's High Waist Wide Leg


When I’m packing, my Rag & Bone high-rise skinny leather pants are always first in the packing cube. This item isn’t thought of as French, per se, but it’s something you’ll notice everyone wearing. Think of it as the more sophisticated version of leggings. 

Amazon’s wide-legged, high-waisted cropped pants come in faux leather, so they’re much more affordable and machine washable. While the style is almost opposite of the ones I usually wear, the cut gives off retro ’70s vibes and look great with a simple white button-down shirt, chunky knit, or cotton tee. A pair of kitten heels add height (perfect for people like me who are on the shorter side) and dress up the outfit for dinner. Amazon shoppers are calling them “beautiful” and say they “look way more expensive” than they are. 

To buy: amazon.com, $41

American in Paris French Looks

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