Are you looking forward to a special meal in Paris? Whether it’s in a starred restaurant, a good value bistro, or a budget friendly chain, there is something you need to know: When dining out, French people make an effort to dress well.
Dressing well doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable, buy an alternate wardrobe, or pack an extra bag. But resist the urge to wear sweatpants, shorts, or a baseball cap.
If you have room to pack an extra outfit for nights out, go for it. Dress as you would for a nice meal out at home, with one exception: leave the high heels at home. Dress slacks and jacket for men, a skirt or dress for women, with stylish but comfortable shoes work well. (One outfit will do; you don’t need multiples.)
Otherwise, jeans are fine. Men: Slacks or chinos are better, but if you only have a carry-on, a pair of nicer pants for one or two meals might not be worth the space. But do make room for a sport coat. And a good pair of shoes.
Can’t do both? Then go for the jacket. Unless you’re in a starred restaurant, you can even get away with sneakers and jeans paired with a sport coat. (To save room in your bag, wear your jacket on the plane.) If you’d rather opt for shoes, make sure to take a dress shirt. A tie takes up no room at all in a suitcase.
Women: To casual pants, add a scarf and nice sweater or a tailored jacket. A belt and pair of simple earrings are easy to pack. A pair of strappy sandals or boots, depending on the season, finish the outfit nicely.
Food is highly respected in Paris. When dining out, your appearance shows how well you understand and how seriously you take the culture. The better you dress, the better you will be treated, and the more comfortable you will feel.