Fashion writer begins year abroad in Paris

Katie RuberyIt’s officially been my first full week in Paris, and it’s safe to say the fashion here is absolutely incredible. The week has passed in a whirlwind of leather purchases, cheap wine and decadent baguettes.

But before I divulge into my French fashion lessons, I’ll begin by giving a little back story on myself. I’m an almost 20-year-old junior majoring in French literature at Hopkins. Since I was a little girl, I always fantasized about moving to Paris and living the grand life. It’s safe to say that I have nurtured my champagne taste over the years and by fall of my sophomore year, I was sure I was going abroad to Paris. My big surprise, however, was my decision regarding the length of my stay. Although Hopkins has been my home for the past two years, filled with life-changing friends and an amazing sorority, there was a general lack of the “joie de vivre” I so craved. By the cold winter peak of March it was official: I was moving to Paris for one whole year. Three hundred sixty-five days of pure fashion, art, lessons and, ideally, happiness.

COURTESY OF KATIE RUBERY Paris offers many study abroad programs for students interested in literature, culture — or fashion.

Paris offers many study abroad programs for students interested in literature, culture — or fashion.

Fast forward to Aug. 29: I departed to Paris with two suitcases (a miracle in the first place). Upon landing I was immediately struck by the ways of Parisian life. In contrast to the typical American hustle and commotion, Paris appears to be in a state of ease at all moments. The air is calm, the people do things for their own sake, and the city seems to be in a perfect harmony. “This was the Paris I always dreamed of,” I thought as my perfectly packed suitcases remained at my feet.

Unfortunately, only one of those statements was true. My suitcase was not ideal at all. I do not mean to sound cocky but, for my whole life, I have been told I have great style. I’ve always just known what to wear for myself and had the ability to dress others. Paris was my time to blend in. However, it seemed like that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Parisians are a force in it of themselves, and I was just not prepared. To be fair to myself, my outfits were still great outfits, but they were in desperate need of the Paris intricacies that would help me blend in.

To begin, the only relevant word in Paris is black, or noir if you’re really trying to understand. All Parisians have an identical wardrobe palette and it consists of black, grey, white, navy, taupe and army green (if they’re feeling bold). To me, Paris is most beautiful after it rains and the stones change color. For wardrobe inspirations, I think they manipulate the colors they see around them into daily wear because, quel horreur, there would never be a neon green rock seen on the banks of the Seine.

COURTESY OF KATIE RUBERY The writer, left, and a friend pause for a picture on the streets of Paris.

The writer, left, and a friend pause for a picture on the streets of Paris.

Parisians also love footwear, but not the kind I expected. Heels and ballet flats are disregarded for sneakers. Never in my entire life did I think that my first French purchase would be a pair of Adidas sneakers. They, however, were a necessity. The typical metro stop is laden with white Adidas, black jeans and black top ensembles. These fabulously simple outfits are only completed with the French light fall coat. From what I have seen, these coats are never heavy in material yet deep in pattern and richness. The waved layers or leather belts ooze femininity and charm.

Really, when it comes down to it, women’s fashion in France is simply chic and decadent. The middle parts, minimal makeup and monochromatic schemes convey an undeniable sexuality that’s hard to ignore and easy to desire.

One week down and I’m beginning to understand Paris more: that I know how to use the metro, that people really do carry baguettes around all day, that if you order the cheapest rosé on the menu you will receive smirks and that I have found a place in Paris. My heart and my passions are most definitely here and soon my wardrobe will follow. I’m currently closing my French storybook windows overlooking the Boulevard Jourdan and feeling absolutely blessed for this experience, this language, this city and most importantly, the Zara I will attack tomorrow. If you bear with me, I think this American in Paris will become so much more.

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