I tried, truly, to resist the charm of that red beret. Didn’t we all? Ever since the debut of Emily in Paris on Netflix in 2020, the series’ audacieux fashion has drawn so much critical ire it’s practically a running gag. Who wears that much color in Paris? Especially when they can’t even speak French? And yet. Watching Lily Collins’ divisive Emily Cooper step out in an acid-green Miu Miu coat in the show’s third and latest season, I found myself struggling not to be swept up in the sheer joy of her devil-may-care wardrobe. A mishmash of clashing houndstooth, vibrant florals, neon gingham, light-catching sequins, and towering platform heels, her closet is as bottomless as her all-American energy. Emily Cooper’s style is forever toeing the line between luxury and kitsch, which is precisely where costume designer Marylin Fitoussi likes to play.
Sourcing nearly 40,000 pieces for this particularly fashion-packed season, Fitoussi—now the solo designer for Emily in Paris season 3, after collaborating with Patricia Field in seasons 1 and 2—is never not collecting unexpected pieces for Collins to slip into. She sources luxury pieces, like the aforementioned Miu Miu coat and one particular Balmain fringe suit, from websites, individual collectors, and vintage stores like Ôdette Curated Vintage in Bordeaux and goodJo Paris. “You never have the right bags or the right shoe color,” she says. “It sounds crazy. We had, like, 500 bags and—it’s not the perfect red; it’s not the perfect shoe. It’s always like that. It’s desperate sometimes, but it’s my passion.”
Never mind that Emily, an aspiring marketing executive, likely couldn’t afford Dolce & Gabbana tops, Jean Paul Gaultier jackets, or Giambattista Valli gowns. Fitoussi couldn’t possibly care less. (As she revealed in Netflix press materials, “The main lessons I learned from Patricia was her ‘we don’t care about reality’ motto, which gave me great freedom regarding tone and spirit. I let go completely.”)
This season alone, Fitoussi says Collins wears 43 different looks over 10 episodes. Only a teeny handful of them feature exclusively what Fitoussi refers to as the “French national colors”: navy, black, and white. The rest are a kaleidoscope of magentas and turquoises and rust oranges and banana yellows, a break from Parisian reality Fitoussi is all too thrilled to take. “In Paris, if you take the metro in the morning, everybody’s totally in black,” she says. “It looks like a church. And people say to me, ‘Oh, for once I’ve discovered how good it feels to be dressed in color.’”
She takes a particular pride in the controversy Emily’s closet choices have stirred up amongst both fashion and television fans. “I’m happy that people hate the show,” she says, smiling, “because that means my duty, it’s done. My mission is done. That means that what we can see on screen, it’s strong, it’s bold, it’s not regular or ordinary.”
And she knows exactly why, contrary to all our educated instincts, Emily in Paris’ costumes continue to inspire even monochrome-addicted cynics like myself: It’s fun. So if you long to shop and dress like Emily circa season 3, Fitoussi has plenty of tips—as do we, all of which you’ll find below—but remember one thing above all. “In Paris, they call me the parrot; they call me the clown because I’m dressed in color,” Fitoussi says. “Don’t care. You need to be unique and you need to be yourself. So play with clothes.”
Ahead, you’ll discover some of Emily’s best looks this season, as well as ideas for where you can find either the exact items, similar dupes, or in-the-same-vein alternatives.
Chic knits are indeed a Parisian staple, but trust Emily to shred the rulebook with iridescent shorts and lime-green knee-high boots from Maison Skorpios. The resulting silhouette is as good a guidepost as any when it comes to styling a lá Emily: Find mixed patterns and textures that share a color family, then layer them on with glee. And never neglect a high heel. Says Ashley Park, who plays Emily’s roommate Mindy, “Marilyn really found like this rhythm of, like, not just putting on an outfit, but really making a look out of everything.”
Early in season 3, Emily dons a gorgeous Paco Rabanne silver-and-violet high-neck sequin gown. You won’t find the exact piece available online today, but a sequin dress is one of the relatively few modern trends Emily indulges in this season, so there are plenty of sparkly alternatives to be found if you’re coveting the style. Just don’t forget to pair with some sort of color.
Emily bares some midriff with this classic look, in which she pairs a Barbara Bui sequin blazer from the designer’s Pre-Fall 2017 collection with a check-print bandeau from lingerie label LIVY. That exact bandeau will be available until Emily in Paris fans snap up all the stock, but other options include gingham crop tops or—if you’re bold enough—bikini tops.
It’s almost difficult to believe Emily is bummed during the scenes in which she wears this gorgeous Mira Mikati pastel blazer. The resulting look is so joyful it feels counterintuitive to watch our protagonist struggle with indecision. But perhaps that’s the real idea behind Fitoussi’s clashing patterns in this look: “Cooper,” as her boyfriend Alfie calls her, is caught between two worlds.
Collins herself is partial to this Dolce & Gabbana look, which, she tells ELLE.com, “looks kind of like a zebra and an elephant combined with the little micro shorts.” Emily styles them with a set of eye-popping Louboutin platforms, which were mere prototypes at the time Collins wore them. “I just loved the combination of those things amongst the neon of Pierre Cadault.”
The D&G top isn’t available to shop online, but you can evoke the same aesthetic with a zebra-print jacket, tiny black shorts, a pair of transparent black tights, and some gleaming silver heels. (Or you can opt for the actual Louboutins, if you’ve got some cash to burn.)
On a trip to Provence midway through season 3, Emily matches the picturesque skies in this light blue polka-dot midi with a torso cut-out. The billowy long sleeves add an extra layer of romanticism as she dines with will-they, won’t-they love interest Gabriel, one of the few characters not constantly outfitted in neon. You’ll find a few similar dress options below to test-run on your next date night, plus a few Emily in Paris-inspired accessories—including a Pierre Cadault-branded tote ideal for your next European vacation.
During an event with Maison Lavaux and McLaren, Emily dons this Giuseppedi Morabito mini with a voluminous lavender jacket to welcome guests to the party. Fitoussi’s had the dress sitting around since season 1, but she says she could never find the right pieces to pair it with. Finally, ahead of season 3, she stumbled upon the ideal flounced jacket from Iris Apfel’s collaboration with H&M, released earlier this year. It’s the perfect example of Fitoussi’s mentality: Luxury fashion can go with budget buys, so long as you know how to mix them.
“Try to see beauty everywhere because every piece can be interesting,” she says. “And sometimes you don’t know at the moment how are you going to style it, but keep it.”
For Emily Cooper’s idea of athleisure, abandon your LuLuLemon and look no further than this anorak-and-turtleneck combo courtesy of La DoubleJ. The striking cherry pattern might not be anything particularly outrageous for Emily’s wardrobe, but at your local gym, the look is certain to spark a few double-takes. Better yet, pair the top and jacket with joggers for your next airport excursion—and make sure you pack season 2’s infamous Pierre Cadault suitcase.
Says Fitoussi, some of the season’s best looks—including this adorable sunflower-inspired get-up—came to fruition through creative fusion with Collins. “I can have a feeling if I get it wrong, or if she prefers that, or if she has also any suggestions,” she says. “I’m pleased that she’s now able to say to me, ‘I really feel comfortable, or I feel beautiful, or could we…?’ [We] have this beautiful relationship now with no hard feelings; we can say, ‘Okay, let’s try this. What do you think?’” That artistic process led to this look, which combines a light-pink lace top with a yellow blazer, kerchief, lavender socks, and yellow gingham platforms. Is it practical? Of course not! C’est la vie.
You might notice in season 3 that, in rare moments, Emily’s allowed a true Parisian mentality to rub off on her wardrobe. She wears more neutrals—though always in some sort of pattern—and she’s started to embrace more elegant French silhouettes, as you’ll find with this wide-leg pants look.
“I think now it’s time for her to embrace, a little bit, the French culture,” Fitoussi says. “She decided to stay in Paris. She was observing the way Sylvie was dressing, the way of Camille was dressing. We can see that this love-hate game between both of them means that Sylvie is now taking some color of this young and a little bit arrogant young American … and this young American girl is saying, ‘Oh, the high-waisted trousers with the wide legs, that’s so iconic about Sylvie’s silhouette. [Can] I can take it and do it in my own style?’”
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion.