The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

Chicago Manual of Style—October 6, 2009

In France, stylish students get an “A” in fashion.

I spent most of the summer sequestered in the library stumbling through Sontag and by the time September rolled around, I was eager to soak up some sun and some style. I took a whirlwind tour through Europe, where I gorged my stomach on crêpes, pizza, and tapas and feasted my eyes on gorgeous coats, cropped pants, and tote bags. Though I loved sifting through luxurious goods at chic boutiques, I found the best fashion inspiration in a somewhat unexpected place: Not on the well-edited racks of high-end stores or on the bodies of lovely, lanky locals, but in the adorable ensembles of Parisian school children.

I stayed in a little hotel at the corner of Rue Cler and Avenue La Motte Picquet, which was right down the street from an elementary school. I loved watching the kids parade into their building each morning when I popped into a nearby patisserie to pick up a baguette. Despite the language barrier, the kids’ tailored, textured style didn’t get lost in translation. Their school yard staples translate perfectly to a Chicagoan’s fall wardrobe.

Paris is teeming with well-dressed youngsters; there’s even a monthly edition of French Vogue dedicated to the enfants. Their school clothes dramatically upstage the sloppy hoodie and sweats I wore to grade school. Instead, they head to class in cropped patterned trenches, leather bomber jackets, tweed suspenders, pocketed felt vests, and cable-knit cardigans with leather elbow patches.

I channeled school-kid style when I picked up a pair of monogrammed maroon-and-plaid knee socks in the Marais district at the Tabio store, the first Parisian branch of the Japanese specialty hosiery store known for highly-saturated tights, leggings, and socks. The socks will look preppy and polished sticking out above a pair of brown boots, and easy and gamine when paired with flats. I also picked up a cheeky, puppy-patterned silk handkerchief from Arnys, a high-end menswear atelier. I plan to tie it to a purse for a fun, fresh look.

You, too, can emulate the school-yard look without crossing the pond. Head to the Gap for Parisian-inspired shrunken blazers ($98) and cropped capes ($68). Their black and gray rugby peacoat ($128) also references the clean lines and muted color palate of school uniforms. Anthropologie is the place to stock up on 3/4-sleeve blazers that look like little boys’ coats. I’d splurge on the double-breasted Pietra blazer ($118) or the cute, cuffed Ponte Bleu ($98). Forever 21 has some beautiful, budget-conscious options, like the adorable Lady Capelet jacket ($34), a short-sleeved, gray pleated jacket accented with a bow.

Take a hint from French school children and earn an “A” in style when you update your fall wardrobe with Parisian-inspired fashions and a little je ne sais quoi.

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