It Took a Trip to Paris to Realize That I Understood “French Girl Style” All Along
I’ve always been intimidated by clothing, but my trip to Paris showed me that somewhere along the way, I developed a sense of style.
This is a weird confession to make as an M.M. employee, but here I go: For most of my life, I never cared about clothing and absolutely loathed shopping. As a teenager, my wardrobe was primarily composed of jeans, T-shirts, and hoodies—think Mark Zuckerberg with boobs—and I refused to go to the mall unless it was absolutely necessary. In contrast, my mom was always beautifully put-together and dressed in timeless-yet-fashionable pieces, and she did her best to instill the importance of self-presentation in me. It led to plenty of butting heads when I was young, but as I got older, I realized the wisdom of her words. I figured out my sense of style (polished separates that are comfortable and easy to care for), bought a hand steamer, and even tried experimenting with new styles.
All that said, I’m still pretty self-conscious about my sense of style, and the thought of shopping still makes me break out in hives. So when my mom and I planned a mother-daughter trip to Paris, a.k.a. the fashion capital of the world, I immediately began emotionally preparing to feel like a swamp hag compared to the average Parisian (and my always-fabulous mom). Rather than go out and buy a whole new wardrobe of things that seemed vaguely French, I decided to pack my favorite pieces—heavy on the M.M., of course—so I’d at least feel like me.
Want more M Dash?
When we meet at the airport, my mom and I realize we’ve both worn M.M. joggers, so now we look like one of those families that wear matching outfits on vacation (but in a chic kind of way). I’m wearing the Joni jogger—which is actually named after my mom!—and a T-shirt, while my mom opted for a full OrigamiTech look with the Delaney jogger and Langley bomber. All machine-washable, travel-friendly, and super nappable, which helps to make up for the fact that we have the seats in the back next to the bathrooms.
When we land in Paris and head down to get our bags, a man comes up to us and asks us a question in French, mistaking us for fellow Parisians, and I start to think that maybe I won’t be a total outcast here after all.
My mom and I are big museum fans, so the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay are two of the first places we visit. I know museums tend to go heavy on the A/C, so I opt for my trusty Butler in gray (I need to specify, because I own this sweater in three colors) as a perfect lightweight layer to keep me warm without overheating when walking between museums.
It’s at this point that I start to realize that I don’t actually look much different from the other women walking around Paris—in fact, my rolled-at-the-sleeves Butler paired with cropped black pants and crisp white sneakers blend in perfectly.
A Night Out
After finally beating jet lag, we’re feeling adventurous and ready for a night out. My one goal for the night is to try escargot for the first time (spoiler alert: escargot is delicious), but otherwise, we want to mosey around, explore the city, and drink Sancerre. We get dressed separately, which is a giant mistake, as we both come out wearing the same M.M. print.
After losing a round of rock-paper-scissors, my mom is forced to change, which is great, because I’m really feeling myself in my outfit. I’ve always loved jackets, and the unique cut and color of the Oliver in twilight (shop similar here) made it an instant favorite. If I had to pick the quintessential “Alexa” outfit, it’d be a straight-legged, cropped pant with a cami and jacket—which is probably why I love our Power Casual selection so much.
Even though I love this look, I’m still the girl whose friends all said “Really? Are they sure?” when I told them a clothing company had hired me, so imagine my surprise when this favorite outfit combination of mine got ENDLESS compliments from Parisians! I had never thought clothing, especially comfortable clothing that I loved, could make me feel so confident and powerful.
Our last night in Paris is also my mom’s 64th birthday, so we have plans to go out to a nicer restaurant. I usually panic the moment things are “fancy,” because I always feel pressure to wear a dress and heels, which is not my scene. However, I’ve been in Paris long enough by now to know that Power Casual is not only accepted, but encouraged, so I feel way more confident getting dressed this time. I do wear a dress, which is exceedingly rare for me, but I dress it down with white sneakers and the Anna jacket in Better Than Denim with rolled sleeves. Yes, I’m a little out of my comfort zone, but I still feel confident and very much like myself. It also helps that the restaurant is actually not that fancy: my mom and our waiter celebrate her birthday by doing absinthe shots. We barely manage to make our plane the next morning.
Home Sweet Home
Paris was a blast, but it was also a lesson in self-confidence. I’d always been intimidated by clothing and styling, but at some point along the way, I’d apparently started cultivating a style that combined my own preferences (comfort, casual) with classic, timeless pieces and tailored lines that actually work on my body. I don’t know when I internalized all of my mom’s teachings, but it took flying halfway around the world to realize it.
So mom, if you’re reading this: thank you.