I ♥ PARIS – The French Dandy vs. the Streetwise Homme

Kassy I Heart Paris - Hanna LeeKassy Hayden delves into the wardrobes of Parisian men and discovers something quite astonishing.

It’s a fact, French men have style. But I wasn’t expecting this: Parisian men beat the girls in the style stakes.

While many of the women here sport casual chic, the men are dressed to kill. And yes, I’ve been shot down by their style.

Being a menswear designer, I become ecstatic when I see a well-heeled chap. And here they are found in droves. I’ve taken to wandering the Left Bank alleys amongst the legions of tiny art galleries and dealers just to hunt out these rare beasts.

I have to watch out though. They seem a little taken aback when I give them the full camera pan with my eyes; the excuse of “I’m just checking out your outfit,” doesn’t really seem to wash.

I’ve spotted two distinct camps among the young and stylish set.

The first – the French Dandy – is all about classic pieces, often with eccentric or surprising inflections. Think soft cashmere cardigans with contrasting buttons; striped trousers rolled up to just above the ankle line, sometimes paired with vintage braces; tailored shirts, again with the ubiquitous stripe; or cheesecutter caps in cotton or plaid.

All in all, this look gives the Dandy a sense of having walked off the set of a movie. They’re perfectly turned out in a mix of vintage and high-end design, but it looks effortless rather than pained.

French Dandy & Streetwise Homme - Hanna Lee

The other style that you will see tripping around Paris is a completely different breed indeed. In stark opposition to the French Dandy is the Streetwise Homme. These men are more urban, less dreamy, and reflect the current trends you see on the streets in New York, London or even Wellington – but with their own French twist.

These urban flâneurs go for spectacles with chunky black frames, plaid shirts in bright colours, skinny jeans, leather satchels, sneakers and (like the French filles) a scarf wrapped twice around the neck. It is a much more casual look but it’s obvious that a lot of care has gone into dressing. There’s not a single sniff of vintage to be found in this camp. Each piece is limited edition and worth a mint.

Kiwi boys, you need to meet these men. Make them your friends, rummage through their wardrobes, and steal their clothes if you have to. The ladies will love you for it.

Illustrations and title image crafted by Hanna Lee

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