Streets Ahead: City Cool

Ready for a masterclass in modern modesty? Fashion authority Maria Alia shows how it’s done on the streets of Paris

Photography by Moez Achour

“I never look at a piece and think, ‘that won’t work for me because of XYZ’, I’m always thinking ‘How can I make this work for me?’ I love experimenting and pushing limits to make the clothes that I find cool fit my personal level of modesty. Using my imagination and playing with pieces that wouldn’t normally go together is my trick to adapting a look to be more modest.

Maria wears: Shirt by Ellery. Bag by 0711. Leggings and boots; Maria’s own.

I’m a sucker for a good statement blouse and no one does them quite as well as Ellery. There’s always a striking balance between wearability and an eye-catching detail that takes the blouse to another dimension. I fell in love with the fringe detailing on this particular number – the way it moves is truly a spectacle on its own. Western inspired style is definitely having a moment and I think the fringe combined with the subtle references in the scallop detailing are just the perfect touch. I wanted to keep the focus on the blouse, so pairing it with some understated opaque leggings and over-the-knee boots seemed like the right move. This woven 0711 clutch is another ode to the western vibes and it pops against the otherwise all-black look.”

Jacket by 3.1 Phillip Lim. Trousers, sunglasses and shoes; Maria’s own.

  “I’ll admit that I’ve been obsessed with all things patent and vinyl for the past season and I’m trying to find ways of incorporating it into my looks year-round without dying of a heatstroke in the process. This vinyl Phillip Lim cropped jacket is THE ANSWER. The material is incredibly lightweight and breathable yet maintains that dramatic vinyl finish. The boxy fit and cropped length make it perfect for pairing with loose trousers or skirts. I’m all about outerwear drama and I can’t stress enough how transformative a simple vinyl jacket can be to a look. I styled with a monochromatic turtle neck and loose printed trousers- a surprisingly comfy yet cool fit.”

“I’ve been a leather pants girl for a few years now, but these are not your typical skin-tight leather pants. These Joseph babies are definitely more of a modest girl’s leather pant if there ever was one. Can we just talk about the genius boot leg? Oh, and the button up detailing? Also, they’re incredibly soft and comfortable. I decided to pair them up with this poppy Rejina Pyo knit that has my favorite type of neckline – non-suffocating turtleneck! I think all of my modest girls can attest to the annoyance of a too-tight neckline, and this one is the perfect fit for coverage and comfort. Topped off with a neutral trench coat draped over the shoulders, this look is the easiest ‘cool girl’ outfit formula.”

The one style piece I can’t live without in the city is a pair of sick sunglasses. They can be transformative to a look but also have their practical uses. I love a style piece that is both fashion and function.”

Trousers by Joseph. Jumper, coat and sunglasses; Maria’s own.

Coat by Bouguessa. Jeans, bag and boots: Maria’s own.

Paris is a city that feels just as alive during the day as it does at night. I love the cafe-culture here, it’s where I feel the most immersed in the Parisian lifestyle. I’ll spend hours at a cute spot like Café Kitsuné or a Parisian staple like Café de Flore with great company, it’s also the perfect way to get in some people watching. I also enjoy Parisian nights just as much. I’m a sucker for late night social dinners at buzzy spots like La Belle Epoque. The energy is always great and I can never say no to good French food.

Parisian fashion is honestly the ultimate inspiration for me. There’s this sense of effortlessness and class that is unmatched in any other fashion scene. It’s never fussy but also never boring.

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