Culture Shock: French Women will not not Dress Up

By Christina

Whenever I went to the doctor, to the store, or anywhere where people with eyes would be I was required by my mother to dress appropriately. 

I would have never dreamed in a million years the freedom I would experience going to Target in my sweatpants. Until the day I ventured out to do just that. 

Mind you I was nervous the “fashion police” were going to come out of the bushes and snap photos for my mother to see. The other reason why I was ok with it, my first time wearing sweats to the story was during the pandemic. So, hardly anyone was there. 

Still, going to the story that way I felt as though I was doing something wrong. 

I had no makeup on, my hair was not done, and I was wearing nonflattering sweats!

With an oversized Columbia jacket. 

In my soul I knew this was wrong

If you have been keeping up with my culture shock stories be sure to check out the latest here! 

a woman wearing sunglasses and a scarf sitting in a car

I thought my mom was crazy requiring us to look our best whenever we went anywhere. Especially the doctor. Seriously, my employer used to think I went to interviews and not the doctors. 


When I visited France for the first time by way of Germany, I was poised as I was taught. I wore make-up, dressed in a nice sweater and good jeans. 

I didn’t go anywhere in Europe without looking decent. Or respectable. 


Still, I had no evidence that my mother was right. I figured she was just a control freak or something. 


Then I moved to France.

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French women dress up to take out the trash. 

I read this in a book and found myself nodding my head. 

I go to the laundry mat and women young and old are looking as though they are heading to a meeting. 

Large sunglasses, check. Red lipstick, check. Hair combed, check. Sweatpants, um no!

Leggings? Only under a skirt. 


I head to the small market just up the street from my house, in a hoodie and jeans.

The women there are looking down their noses at me. Some are wearing elegant wool coats and hats. Boots that would make any woman drool. 

It was then, at that moment when I realized my mother was teaching me lessons she grew up with.

Lesson: You never know who you’re going to run into, so don’t look like a bum. 


I’ll have to ensure I recall the other lessons she taught me if I am to integrate into society. 

Looking for more to read? Check out How I’m owning my Anxiety. 

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Hi, I’m Christina

how i'm managing my anxiety

I’m the coffee-addicted creative behind Christina Q. Writes. As a full-time writer and lover of history, I share insights into my crazy wonderful life.  Christina Q. Writes is where I share tips and advice to help you live simply and in the moment, and do it your way. Don’t be afraid to laugh at my mistakes!