I am far from being an expert in fashion, French or otherwise, but I’ll share a few do’s and don’t’s with you…
Striped shirts are not mandatory in France. Some people wear them. Others don’t. Fashion will also change depending on what year you visit. Two years ago, there were a lot of young guys with pink striped shirts in public transportation in Lyon.
The mustache (or the beard, for that matter), can be frequent if you’re over 60 years-old, and becomes less and less frequent the younger you get from there. Facial hair does not mean being unique, it’s often seen as being lazy or as pretending to be a philosopher. Also, men are not the only ones to shave in France: non-shaved legs and armpits are a myth in most cases. The beret is becoming fashionable again for ladies in some cities. It had disappeared since the 1950s.
Smoking is less and less fashionable.
Miniskirts and mini-shorts do exist, but they’re not as popular as they are here in the US. It is frequent to hear a bad comment about how short your skirt is, if you’re a woman wearing something like what is on this picture (comments coming from people of all genders and all ages), but the right attitude is usually to answer back or to completely ignore the offenders.
Sportswear is often (not always) a dressing code enabling young people from difficult areas to affirm their identity and dynamism – to be avoided when you go to work or to class, though, but it can be seen as “cool” (if it’s the right size). I think that this is an attempt to get closer to America in a way: young people supporting this fashion style usually know a lot about American shows, celebrities, films and music (I mean, everyone does, but they often do even more), BUT you’ll find a lot of soccer fans among them.
BLACK IN WINTER (Brown and Grey are ok), LIGHTER COLORS IN SUMMER. As you can see in these two pictures taken in Lyon, dark clothes are a rule for winter, and lighter clothes become more popular in summer (remember the pink striped shirts?). BUT I have a friend who likes to dress in bright red or fluorescent yellow with big green spots. There are always exceptions.
I put smoking in “don’t” mostly to go against the idea that it is super-popular, but it’s actually something most people don’t care about. Other fashion things that are not clearly fashionable or un-fashionable include:
Tattoos: not as frequent as in the US and usually smaller, tattoos are nonetheless getting more fashionable. During my research for this article, I found several websites promoting tattoos as a way to be “like the stars in Hollywood”. Piercings are usually more of a feminine thing (even though the word “un piercing” is masculine), but some men also have one or both ears pierced. Same as for tattoos, I don’t think that there are a lot of strong opinions for or against piercings in general.