The 25 French Wardrobe Basics To Achieve Effortless Parisian Style

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If you want to dress like the French girls, we’ve put together our top French wardrobe basics to have you ready to roam the streets of Paris!

There’s probably nothing chicer than French women’s innate sense of style. The French fashion aesthetic plays away from fashion trends and instead focuses on timeless pieces that give a chic look with little effort.

An over-arching theme is that French fashion, above all, prioritizes good quality materials and good tailoring. So although this means splurging on your items, they will stand the test of time and always look fashion-forward. Though, this doesn’t mean a full wardrobe from Chanel or Givenchy!

In general, the French wardrobe philosophy is that ‘less is more.’ The effortless Parisian style can all be achieved through a capsule wardrobe packed with classic pieces while also incorporating your own style. So if you want to roam your city looking like the elegant women of Paris, we’ve assembled 25 French wardrobe basics to look like a true French girl.

French Wardrobe Basics For Timeless Style

1. Classic button-up shirt


Starting with a classic wardrobe staple, there’s no situation where a button-down shirt isn’t appropriate. 

A white button-down can be tucked into pants or a skirt for work and corporate events. Alternatively worn open with jeans and a white t-shirt underneath for a casual look.

CLASSIC BUTTON-UP SHIRTS WE LOVE
Citizens of Humanity Kayla Shrunken Shirt
Citizens of Humanity

Kayla Shrunken Shirt

At Revolve

Rag & Bone Maxine Stripe Cotton Button-Up Shirt
Rag & Bone

Maxine Stripe Cotton Button-Up Shirt

At Nordstrom

2. Chic Blazer


French women nail looking put-together at all times. Even if you wear jeans and a T-shirt – pairing this with a tailored blazer is the perfect way to achieve this.

There are many blazer styles available on the market; if you like a monochrome aesthetic, a plain black blazer is perfect for you; otherwise, a plaid blazer is great if you like a classic feminine look.

CHIC BLAZERS WE LOVE
Veronica Beard Black Miller Dickey Jacket
Veronica Beard

Miller Dickey Jacket

At Revolve

Anine Bing Houndstooth Kaia Blazer
Anine Bing

Kaia Blazer 

At Revolve

3. Classic Tees


Nothing can be more effortless than a classic white T-shirt.

It’s worth making this an investment piece and committing to a good quality, opaque t-shirt which will stand the test of time.

CLASSIC TEES WE LOVE
AGOLDE White Mariam Tee
AGOLDE

Mariam Tee

At Revolve

Sézane Classic Black Conrad T-shirt
Sézane

Conrad T-shirt

At Sézane

4. Blue Straight Leg Jeans


Skinny jeans are out, and straight jeans are in. Having a good pair of jeans in your capsule wardrobe is a must, and straight-leg jean is a versatile pair that is appropriate for many situations.

Skinny jeans can often look a bit sporty and, when stretched out – just don’t look right. Instead, invest in a go-to jean that you can rely on!

Jeans WE LOVE
Agolde Light Blue Lana Straight Jeans
AGOLDE

Lana Straight Jeans

At Revolve

Good American Blue Good Legs Straight Leg Jeans
Good American

Good Legs Straight Leg Jeans

At Nordstrom

5. Striped Shirt Or Sweater


This is also known as La Marinière or “Breton stripes’, referring to the classic French striped top. This style is as old as time and was inspired by the uniform of the French navy in the 1800s.

Credit goes to the French style icon Coco Chanel who brought La Marinière to women’s fashion. At the time, ladies fashion was regimented and corseted; this casual style started a fashion revolution!

This shirt still stands as the most iconic symbol of French fashion and liberation today.

COTTON STRIPED SHIRTS WE LOVE
Sezane NOAN MARINIÈRE
Sézane

Noan Marinière

At Sézane

La Ligne Breton Long Sleeve Tee
La Ligne

Breton Long Sleeve Tee

At La Ligne

6. Cardigan


Cardigans might not seem the chicest outerwear option, and more so, like what you’d find in your grandmother’s closet. But this underrated knit is the perfect layering piece in the colder months!

CARDIGANS WE LOVE
Jenny Kayne Bell Sleeve Cooper Cardigan
Jenni Kayne

 Cooper Cardigan

At Jenni Kayne

Ronny Kobo Two-tone Omorose two-knit knitted cardigan
Ronny Kobo

Omorose Two-knit Knitted Cardigan

At The Outnet

7. Ballet Flats


Last year saw the resurgence of this iconic shoe style, first brought to fame by Audrey Hepburn when she sported the style in her iconic movie ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’

If you need a casual shoe option but don’t want to wear sneakers, these are the ones for you!

BALLET FLATS WE LOVE
Chloé White Lauren Scalloped Ballet Flat 
Chloé

Lauren Scalloped Ballet Flats

At Nordstrom

Piferi Mesh Black Tremaine Mary Jane Ballet Flats
Piferi

Tremaine Mary Jane Ballet Flats

At Neiman Marcus

8. Silk Scarf


If you’re an accessory lover but have got all your shoes and bags sorted, listen up. A silk scarf, whether a twilly or square shape, is a great way to bring some old-world elegance to your look.

You can find tutorials online with dozens of ways to tie your scarf either on your neck, head, bag or waist – some are even big enough to wear as a blouse!

SILK SCARVES WE LOVE
Tory Burch East Coast Map Square Scarf
Tory Burch

East Coast Map Square Scarf

At Tory Burch

Hermès Silk Ex-Libris Twilly White Marine Gris
Hermès

Silk Ex-Libris Twilly White Marine Gris

At Fashionphile

9. Trench Coat


Dressing for transitional seasons is difficult. It’s too cold to go without a coat, but a winter coat is too warm. A beige trench coat provides the optimal level of warmth while still being light enough to let the breeze circulate.

As always with outerwear, if you’re looking to make a wardrobe splurge, this would be a good investment, as you can wear a classic trench year after year and for multiple seasons.

TRENCH COATS WE LOVE
The Row Badva Long Belted Trench Coat
The Row

Badva Long Belted Trench Coat

At Neiman Marcus

Favorite Daughter The Charles Stretch Cotton Trench Coat
Favorite Daughter

The Charles Stretch Cotton Trench Coat

At Neiman Marcus

10. Little Black Dress


When in doubt, the perfect little black dress will solve all your wardrobe dilemmas. 

If you’re concerned about keeping the look elevated and elegant, pair a midi dress rather than a mini, and pair it with sleek, simple accessories.

LITTLE BLACK DRESSES WE LOVE
Reformation Black Cassi Knit Dress
Reformation

Cassi Knit Dress

At Reformation

Akris Punto Sleeveless Kaleidoscope Flounce-Skirt Dress
Akris Punto

Sleeveless Kaleidoscope Flounce-Skirt Dress

At Neiman Marcus

11. Neutral Sneakers


Sneakers are wrongly associated with sloppy, unintentional styling. But sometimes nothing will do, like a pair of classic neutral sneakers.

Go for something in leather to ensure they don’t look too athletic – the Adidas Sambas are of course the top choice of most fashion girls right now.

WHITE SNEAKERS WE LOVE
Golden Goose Super-Star Low Top Sneakers
Golden Goose

Super-Star Low Top Sneakers

At Nordstrom

Saint Laurent Andy Low Top Sneakers
Saint Laurent

Andy Low Top Sneakers

At Nordstrom

12. Classic Wool Coat


Paris gets pretty cold in the winter, and you’ll find a classic wool winter coat in every French girl’s closet.

Dressing for cold weather can mean sacrificing vanity – but a real wool winter coat [and yes, it has to be proper wool] is a perfect choice.

CLASSIC WOOL COATS WE LOVE
Mackage Mai Long Wool Wrap Coat
Mackage

Mai Long Wool Wrap Coat

At Nordstrom

Max Mara Madame 101801 Icon double-breasted wool and cashmere-blend coat
Max Mara

Madame 101801 Icon Double-breasted Wool & Cashmere-blend Coat

At Net-A-Porter

13. Classic Loafers


Like ballet flats, a classic loafer is a great versatile option that has gained popularity over the past few years.

These can be worn with your work outfits for an appropriate look or dressed down with straight-leg jeans and a boucle jacket for an everyday chic aesthetic.

CLASSIC LOAFERS WE LOVE
Gucci Brixton Horsebit Convertible Loafers
Gucci

Brixton Horsebit Convertible Loafers

At Nordstrom

Gucci Summer Charms Walk Suede Loafers
Loro Piana

Summer Charms Walk Suede Loafers

At Neiman Marcus

14. Printed Dress


The French aesthetic is often associated with being boring and monotone, but the Parisians like to have fun with their fashion choices too!

A printed dress can be styled for the day or night, making it perfect for a summer capsule wardrobe!

PRINTED DRESSES WE LOVE
Reformation Juliette Dress
Reformation

Juliette Dress

At Reformation

Sézane Marguarita Dress
Sézane

Marguarita Dress

At Sézane

15. Broderie Blouse


Broderie Anglais is a favorite of many French brands, like Sézane and Isabel Marant.

Translating to ‘English embroidery,’ this embellished white blouse is an absolute must-have if you want to ‘fashion’ the French way.

BRODERIE BLOUSES WE LOVE
Veronica Beard Vitale Eyelet Button-Front Top
Veronica Beard

Vitale Eyelet Button-Front Top

At Neiman Marcus

Sézane Chlo Shirt
Sézane

Chlo Shirt

At Sézane

16. Black Designer Bag


We all have handbags, but no one does handbags like the French. Accessories are usually where you can make a bold statement, either through a bold color or embellishments.

But there’s nothing quite like a classic black shoulder or tote bag, which works for city-hopping as well as nights out! While the French love luxury brands of French origin, they don’t necessarily need to be exceedingly expensive – for example, check out Polène or DeMellier for chic bags under $1,000.

SMALL BLACK DESIGNER BAGS WE LOVE
Saint Laurent Mini Le 5 à 7 Leather Hobo
Saint Laurent

Mini Le 5 à 7 Leather Hobo

At Nordstrom

Celine Shiny Calfskin Triomphe Bag
CELINE

Shiny Calfskin Triomphe Bag

At Fashionphile

17. Carry-all Tote


In the same breath that a small black bag is a must-have, a carry-all tote bag is too!

Whether a leather bag for everyday use or a basket bag [like our favorite from Loewe] for summer and visiting the fabulous French farmer’s markets.

CARRY-ALL TOTES WE LOVE
Saint Laurent East West Calfskin Shopping Tote Bag
Saint Laurent

East West Calfskin Shopping Tote Bag

At Neiman Marcus

Loewe x Paula's Ibiza Anagram Basket Tote Bag
Loewe

x Paula’s Ibiza Anagram Basket Tote Bag

At Neiman Marcus

18. Cashmere Sweater


Natural fibers are underrated and not given enough importance outside of European fashion. Fabrics like linen and cotton keep you cool, while cashmere keeps you warm and cozy.

If you feel like sweaters are unflattering, go for an intentionally oversized sweater with a rollneck, and pair it with simple jeans and a coat or jacket over your shoulders.

CASHMERE SWEATERS WE LOVE
Jenni Kayne Everyday Sweater
Jenni Kayne

Everyday Sweater

At Jenni Kayne

Vince Boiled Cashmere Funnel Neck Pullover
Vince

Boiled Cashmere Funnel Neck Pullover

At Nordstrom

19. Wide-leg Pants

It can take work to get to the perfect pair of jeans that can fit you in different ways on different ways. A pair of wide-leg pants, however, will always cooperate.

If you are sitting down for most of the day, at your desk or otherwise, opt for an elasticated waistband for optimal comfort while still looking presentable.

TAILORED PANTS WE LOVE
& Other Stories Tailored Straight Wide-Leg Trousers
& Other Stories

Tailored Straight Wide-Leg Trousers

At & Other Stories

Sezane Damon Trousers
Sézane

Damon Trousers

At Sézane

20. Leather Ankle Boots


Classics are sometimes really difficult to find, but once you do, you can wear them on repeat every year. Leather ankle boots are fabulous for dressing up outfits in the colder months, where strappy heels will have you in near frost-bite conditions.

Go for an all-black boot with a chunky heel and slightly square toe for a retro French staple!

ANKLE BOOTS WE LOVE
Tony Bianco Black Leather Brazen Booties
Tony Bianco

Brazen Booties

At Revolve

Gucci Blondie Leather Medallion Ankle Boots
Gucci

Blondie Leather Medallion Ankle Boots

At Neiman Marcus

21. Leather Jacket


A favorite sub-culture of French fashion is the bohemian French women. Brands like Zadig & Voltaire have mastered this punky [and still tasteful] aesthetic.

Juxtaposing a classic black leather jacket with a ruffled tiered mini dress is the easiest way to this French girl style.

LEATHER JACKETS WE LOVE
ALL SAINTS Cargo Leather Biker Jacket
ALL SAINTS

Cargo Leather Biker Jacket

At Nordstrom

SIMKHAI Becka Boxy Zip-Front Vegan Leather Jacket
SIMKHAI

Becka Boxy Zip-Front Vegan Leather Jacket

At Neiman Marcus

22. Red Lips


Not a clothing option, but our list wouldn’t be complete without it. Nothing says Parisian it-girl more than a classic red lip.

To keep this looking elevated, keep the rest of your makeup and hair clean and minimal and have your lips do the talkin’

RED LIPSTICKS WE LOVE
YSL The Bold High Pigment Lipstick
Yves Saint Laurent

The Bold High Pigment Lipstick

At Nordstrom

MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour
MAC

Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour

At Nordstrom

23. Silk Shirt


Like a cotton shirt, a silk shirt is a misunderstood garment. Often you can picture it being paired with a pencil skirt and court pumps for an office look, and not much else. In reality, this is as versatile as a classic white t-shirt.

Pair this with a pair of pants or a mini skirt for date night. Or with a pair of jeans for a girls-night-out! Alternatively, this can still be worn in the daytime, dressed down with sneakers and a baseball cap!

SILK SHIRTS WE LOVE
Cinq A Sept Marta Cowl Neck Silk Camisole
Cinq à Sept

Marta Cowl Neck Silk Camisole

At Nordstrom

Quince Washable Stretch Silk Notch Collar Blouse
Quince

Washable Stretch Silk Notch Collar Blouse

At Quince

24. White Pants


For those who aren’t fashion aficionados – and find it difficult to pair the right shade of blue jeans with your outfit or want to stop wearing black year-round, invest in a pair of good white pants.

These can be jeans or a pair of tailored linen pants – whichever suit your lifestyle.

WHITE PANTS WE LOVE
TOTEME Cotton-gabardine Tapered Pants
TOTEME

Cotton-gabardine Tapered Pants

At Net-A-Porter

AGOLDE Riley Long High Rise Straight
AGOLDE

Riley Long High Rise Straight

At Revolve

25. Bermuda Shorts


No, you haven’t read that wrong. Truly Bermuda shorts are making a comeback this year.

These shorts hit just above the knee and look much more sophisticated than a pair of denim daisy-dukes which aren’t appropriate for every occasion.

BERMUDA SHORTS WE LOVE
Reformation Francis High Rise Pleated Shorts
Reformation

Francis High Rise Pleated Shorts

At Reformation

& Other Stories Tailored Pleated Knee-Length Shorts
& Other Stories

Tailored Pleated Knee-Length Shorts

At & Other Stories

And there you have it – your French-style wardrobe is only a few clicks away with these stylish basics! If you enjoyed this, and are looking for more styling tips, have a look at our other articles below!

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