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! We’ve already put together a list of 50 of our favorite French brands for classic pieces.
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
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
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
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
5. Cotton Striped Shirt
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
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
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
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
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
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
11. White Sneakers
Sneakers are wrongly associated with sloppy, unintentional styling. But sometimes nothing will do, like a pair of classic white sneakers.
Go for something in leather in all-white to ensure they don’t look too athletic.
WHITE SNEAKERS WE LOVE
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
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
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
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
16. Small Black Designer Bag
Handbags we all have them, 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 neglected is an item like a classic black shoulder or crossbody bag, which works for city-hopping as well as nights out!
SMALL BLACK DESIGNER BAGS WE LOVE
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
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
19. Tailored 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 black 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!