Summer by the Seine

We all know Chicago gets hot and humid in summer, but summer in Paris is HOT! The sun is beaming down on hot cobblestone streets, the subway is sweltering with no A/C (I really missed the air conditioned CTA in Chicago), and all the sweaty commuters packed into the métro car like sardines. I must admit, it wasn’t the most enjoyable moments of my trip. None the less, the energy conscious Parisians stick it out in sweat and tears with no A/C, lots of water, and tall windows that open out to cute courtyards. After a bit of adjusting, the heat in Parisian summer actually becomes rather cozy and romantic.

Naturally, I peeled my eyes open to see what the locals wear to battle against the heat. What I spotted everywhere in women’s fashion in Paris was this: harem trousers. They are kind of like slouchy pajama pants cropped at ankle or mid calf length, but, thankfully, they are no capri pants. These trousers are practical, trés comfortable, and they promise to keep you cool with their low inseam.

In France, there are two major sale periods every year. Based on an old merchant law that is still in effect, stores in France hold Les Soldes (the sale) once in winter and once in summer with strict starting and ending dates and times. Almost everything in clothing and accessories is marked down 30+% and towards the end of the five week sale period there are second or third markdown waves (deuxième / troisième démarque).

The aforementioned harem trousers were on racks everywhere priced at anywhere from 15€ and up. There are many variants: denim, silk, linen, military camouflage pattern- but the most common materials were linen and cotton. It’s a bit of a tricky look to pull off. Worn too baggy and they look sloppy. Worn too tight with a wrong top, and they look awkward and ill-fitting. The key is to get the correct waist size with the right amount of bagginess. Also, look for the length: mid calf or ankles, or even at knees with not too tight bottom hems so they sit loosely (to avoid looking like something old Louis XIV would wear). Keeping it casual and effortless is essential. Complete the look with a tank top for the summer heat, a pair of flats or sandals, and maybe a pair of somewhat charismatic shades to say “I dress casual and still look chic”.

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