It’s been a little while since I sat down with Barbara Agnes in one of my favorite cafes in the St Germain neighborhood in Paris (the cafe is Le Pre aux Clercs btw). But after reading our conversation through, I feel confident that everything I asked her about Paris style is relevant and current.
Barbara is an extraordinary talented textile designer turned fashion designer. Her silk scarfs are the scarfs of dreams and will instantly elevate any outfit. She has a keen eye and while not being originally from Paris, she is definitely one of the cities most stylish residents. Below is our conversation on Paris, the style, the beauty, and what to pack.
Me: So Barbara, how would you describe Paris street style?
Barbara: Well, I guess there are different types of women and they have different sort of styles. So if you lived in Saint Germain, you would always be looking fairly chic and sophisticated. Even if you wore trainers they would be matched with something that balances it and is a bit more chic than the trainer.
But I think a lot of women wear ballerinas. Ballerinas are always there. And skinny jeans. Everything is fairly fitted. I think you would never just be loose-loose. Either you have a fitted top or you have a fitted bottom but you would never really have anything that was just sort of…flowy.
Get some ballerinas. They’re not super sophisticated or chic but they’re definitely not flip-flops either. So get some ballerinas.
Me: How is the Parisian vibe different from other cities and what do you think is original about it?
Barbara: It’s very beautiful. I suppose even Parisians appreciate the beauty of Paris. They’re not very blasé about it. Like if you hang out with them when you go to a dinner and there is the Eiffel Tower in the background they say, “Oh, look, isn’t it beautiful, the Eiffel Tower? It sparkles.” Everybody still takes pleasure in it. I think it’s definitely the beauty that keeps everyone in love with Paris. And even, like, little things, like when they pass by a beautiful old door or something like that, they comment on it. And people are really appreciative of their city.
Me: And do you think that kind of comes into the style?
Barbara: Yeah. It’s not edgy and it’s not raw – that’s more London. It definitely doesn’t have that kind of vibe. I think it’s still more based on the fact that it is a beautiful romantic city. That’s why people come here and maybe that’s why they stay too.
Me: Do people tend to wear a lot of black here?
Barbara: Beige, black, camel. Yeah. A lot of black and beige. I do wear a lot more beige and navy.
Me: What is a go-to outfit for you?
Barbara: That I just wear? My black jeans, what I’m wearing today. Like jeans, one of my blouses and ankle boots.
Me: What are some key pieces that you wear often?
Barbara: I have like a nice navy blue corduroy velvet jacket that I like to wear. I like to wear jumpsuits as well that I wear with my silk scarves to make them a bit more chic, if you like.
I suppose even Parisians appreciate the beauty of Paris. They’re not very blasé about it.
Me: What would you advice packing for visiting Paris?
Barbara: Yeah. Don’t bring your Birkenstocks.
Me: Always leave your Birkenstocks at home. Okay.
Barbara: And your flip-flops. Don’t wear flip-flops if you normally wear flip-flops.
Me: Maybe get some K Jacques. sandals?
Barbara: Get some ballerinas. That’s the good thing. That’s a neutral. Ballerinas are comfortable but they’re still sort of, let’s just say they’re kind of just neutral. They’re not super sophisticated or chic but they’re definitely not flip-flops either. So get some ballerinas.
Me: It’s hard to look chic when you have flip-flops.
Barbara: No, but I noticed that when you go to L.A. that’s okay. Because that’s what people do there and it’s almost like the thing if you don’t… Like when I went to L.A. and I just looked normal, people would think I’m dressed up or something, where I’m not. I didn’t like that. When you dress up they’re like… “Who are you?” Like they turn heads and like who’s that person? But like here, people turn heads if you wear… even if you just wear multicolored tracksuit bottoms and a jersey, or something like that. You wouldn’t wear those. You wouldn’t wear trainers and tracksuit bottoms or one of those kinds of looks. That just would not happen.
Me: No flip flops at all.
Barbara: Yeah. Find some ballerinas and some nice comfortable trousers because if you want to walk. Let’s say you’re going to walk around a lot, like you want to visit the place. So bring some ballerinas. Bring some comfortable trousers. They could be a blue jean. Then like really classic, just bring a white shirt or something. That’s fine.
Me: Just keep it simple.
I think it’s definitely the beauty that keeps everyone in love with Paris.
Barbara: Just keep it simple.
Me: And you’ll feel like you’re appropriate and you fit in and you’re not standing out in that way.
Barbara: Don’t bring your rucksack and don’t wear it in front of… I mean, like depending on if you want to just blend in or like just feel like you walk into a restaurant and everything is, you’re not like a sore thumb.
So don’t wear any rucksack. Just bring a nice little handbag and white shirt, ballerinas. Pack a few jeans. Skirts are fine too. And dresses,. Pack little cardigans, they’re fine. I know that sounds very conservative almost and normal… and then nice scarves. Like you can have a colorful scarf. A lot of people they don’t really add color to their wardrobe but they accessorize more with colors, like bags and scarves and shoes even. You can have red ballerinas or… So you can have different color accessories but like your general clothes… Also, a trench is always good.
Me: Other than ballerinas, what shoes would you pack?
Barbara: Well, I would pack also a pair of high heels.
Me: For going out?
Barbara: If you feel comfortable wearing high heels, bring some high heels. Trainers, I guess, if you can style them well. Then it comes more into like you have to know how to style. A nice pair of sandals or good flats. Flats are good in Paris. People here are not wearing heels all that much. People walk around a lot so they don’t walk around in high heels in the daytime much. There are a lot of nice casual flat shoes that you can wear like open-toe sandals or things like that. And people really do, they do wear a lot of flats.
Me: What is your go-to bag when you know you’ll be out all day?
Barbara: Well, just because of the ones I have, I have like a white leather bag that’s fairly big and simple. I like soft bags. All my bags are kind of soft bags. Even when they’re big, when they’re small, they’re like, you can always squeeze them. So that’s just my thing really. So yeah, my go-to bag, if you like, would be anything big, soft, leather. Not too flashy.
Need help packing your bag to Paris? Shop the must-packs below:
All scarfs by Barbara Agnes: http://www.barbaraagnes.com