Summer is underway and some magazines are talking about something called the “side character summer.” It’s a fascinating philosophy that lets us take a break from our personal growth and the hard work that is onerously called “self-improvement.” No, not forever – just for the summer. Indeed, we’ve spent the last two summers sheltering and trying to create better versions of ourselves, so we really do deserve a break. So why not delve into the fascinating nature of a side character, one that’s there for eagle-eyed readers to fall in love with, the person who provides cool one-liners, thickens the plot and is there to just be their awesome self? Of course, if the novel is set in Paris, а side character is almost always… well, effortlessly chic.
But what to wear?
1. It goes without saying but… Jeans.
Light dresses are a staple. But for a spinoff-worthy side character? Too easy. Why not keep the “light” but attach it to a perfect pair of jeans? It rarely gets more French than that, and a simple top change lets you go from ‘farmer’s market’ to ‘cocktail hour’ in minutes. Zara has something classic that oozes comfort and effortless style:
Get them here.
2. Its majesty – the loooooong white shirt.
Now that we’ve covered the jeans (that go with absolutely everything you already have in your wardrobe) you need an oversized shirt – the accessories will determine whether you’re browsing used books or restaurant menus. Yes, we’ve seen the boyfriend shirts; we’ve worn them and bought them from both the homme and femme section in our favorite store. This summer, however, a more attractive challenge appears – the oversized shirt-dress. The possibilities are endless: wear it as a shirt over jeans, or leggings; wear it as a dress with an epic belt, or a scarf tied around your waist; pair it with heels, sneakers, or tropeziennes – it’s probably one of the best style investments you’ll make this summer. You won’t want to take it off, because its also doubles as socially acceptable sleepwear. It doesn’t get any better than that. H&M gets it:
Get it here.
3. The comfortable slide-on shoes.
Contrary to what TV would have you think, the streets of Paris are not overflowing with high heels and red soles. Parisians walk all of the time, even when using public transport, so of course they opt for comfortable shoes. Now, we’re going through an era of sliders and sandals, but some are tricky to nail. It’s a fine line between looking like you’re watering plants in your backyard and looking classy. Hermés has this perfection, for example:
If you feel like splurging, by all means – get them. But, since the price is not perfect for every pocket, you can always go the ASOS way:
Get them (delivered worldwide!) here.
There’s another option for those who don’t want to blindly follow trends. Clogs! Sure, they’re trendy, but you don’t get the feeling that they’re everywhere. And they can be such a game-changer for an outfit. There are hundreds of varieties out there, from pricey to affordable, flat and platformed, and so, so many colors. You can go with a classic design, or an outrageous Moschino clog – your call. Happy clogging.
Get them here.
Get them here.
4. Try color for a bit of character development.
Color is still very much a thing and will continue to be a thing all summer. Even the strictest neutral-enthusiasts seem keen on flirting with colors, so we might as well join in on the fun. Florals haven’t been groundbreaking since Meryl Streep scoffed at the concept in The Devil Wears Prada, so let’s see what else we can do…
Scarves. We can do scarves.
Get this one here.
A scarf in a primary color can elevate an outfit and get people to look twice in your direction. More importantly, you’ll want to look twice whenever you pass by a mirror. Imagine a fabulous red Moschino scarf on a white shirt, or a yellow one to hold your hair under a boater hat. It’s no longer just an outfit for an afternoon coffee, it’s now street style inspiration. Besides, you always want to go multi-dimensional in side-character-building.
It doesn’t have to end with accessories; it’s fashion paradise out there when it comes to color. The world is now positively littered with bags and baguettes of every size in all colors of the rainbow – all you need to do is find one that matches your soul and your budget. Balenciaga and Jaqcuemus have the investments, Primark has the outrageously low prices – all of them have the color.
5. The Mad Hatter is a side character, you know.
A hat is the perfect marriage of fashion and practicality. Europe is going through a heatwave, and if you spend some time looking for the perfect hat this summer, your whole body will be grateful. (Both your body and your Instagram actually, because hats are always better on a bad hair day and you never know when you’ll stumble upon a picture-perfect moment. It doesn’t have to be mad, but then again, why not?)
Get it here.
6. Make a statement
Layering clothes is an amazing concept, but this weather doesn’t allow any more clothes! Just in case you feel something’s missing, fear not – there’s still jewelry. And this summer, we won’t talk about rings, bracelets, or necklaces – by now, you’ve probably written the book on that. No, this summer, we’re sparkling it up with some glasses chains!
Yes, like your grandmother ages ago (with a twist, though). Embrace the chain. It’s shiny, trendy, totally practical and comes in every size and color. Just don’t forget one thing if you decide to spice it up with a chain – remove one other piece of jewelry before you leave the house, just like Coco Chanel insisted.
So there you have it – your side character Parisian summer style. Everything listed goes with everything else, the effortless and the chic are covered . All you have to do is bring your unapologetic self to the look.
You will do wonders for the plot.
Jana Misho is the author of “Almost Parisian: How To Survive Your Late Twenties in Paris” and “Anais from Montmartre.” She writes things she wants to read and is inspired by art, people and obscure Parisian cafés. Probably the only person in the world who has a tattoo of Tour Montparnasse. Her third novel “Lulu” is coming to Amazon soon.