French Wardrobe Basics
When it comes to style and fashion, French women just have a certain je ne sais quoi. There’s an effortlessness and quiet sophistication they have that we all want to emulate. If you’ve ever taken a trip to France, specifically to Paris, you probably noticed that the French women’s style is so sophisticated and chic…but understated! In this post, and the corresponding video, I’m sharing 10 classic French wardrobe essentials you’ll want to have in your closet for effortlessly chic and sophisticated style. All of these pieces work together to create a little mini French capsule wardrobe too…
I recently took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris and attended Paris Fashion Week…you can read all about it here.
The striped shirt, also known as marinière or Breton, is such a French classic. The striped shirt I’m wearing is by Sezane and has a more oversized fit, which I really enjoy (I’m wearing a Small). It even has enough room in the arms that you could layer under it too. It’s such a great basic in a very versatile, wearable print. In this look, I’m wearing the striped shirt styled with a classic pair of blue jeans. These are a high-rise pair in a wide leg that are roomy (in a good way). They have this effortless look to them. I’m wearing a size 6. The belt I’m wearing is in this yummy brown tone with subtle gold accents. On my feet, I’m wearing some cute clogs that are super comfortable and have a very manageable, low heel. I’m wearing a size US 8.
Note: In the past, I’ve mentioned that horizontal stripes aren’t quite as flattering as vertical stripes. But don’t completely discount the striped shirt. There are style tweaks you can implement to make it work…like adding a third layer as I did! More about this blazer below…
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing more about the beauty, hair, and makeup that French women tend to wear, make sure you check out this video.
More About Sezane
Sezane is a French brand that not only has beautiful styles with incredible fabrics, I really align with the brand’s values for eco-conscious, sustainable pieces, and their charitable contributions to children’s education and support of breast cancer research. They are an all-around wonderful brand and I’m so thankful I got to partner with them in this video.
The next French basic is a wardrobe essential regardless of where you live. The button-down I’m wearing above is a bit more oversized, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it! It has quite a bit of versatility. You can leave it untucked, tuck it in, half-tuck it, tie it, belt it, layer under it, and use it as a coverup. There are so many ways to style your button-down and in this look, I folded it under to get a more streamlined look. I styled it with the same jeans and belt from look #1 and a pair of brown suede booties. This is a classic look no matter where you are!
By the way, if you want to see how I created this streamlined front tuck, make sure you watch the video here!
I specifically picked this navy, double-breasted, gold button blazer because it screams Parisian and French-chic to me. This blazer is also from Sezane and has a more oversized longline fit. The fabric has this very subtle ribbing that you can just tell is high-quality when you touch it. Sometimes longer jackets or coats like this can be tricky for petite women, but all you have to do is highlight the waist like I did in the look above by adding the brown waistbelt, tucking in the shirt, and leaving the jacket open instead of buttoned up. This blazer is a classic piece no matter where you live but is still very sophisticated, chic, and it will last for years and years. Sizing: I’m wearing a size 6.
If you’re petite, I shared 15 game-changing style tips in this must-read post!
#4) Trench Coat
Nothing says Europe like a chic trench coat! If you’ve followed me for a while this Sandro trench probably looks familiar…I wore is all over Europe two summers ago and I’m still wearing it now. This one has gorgeous, pleated details that make it a basic-with-a-twist but really any classic tan trench will give you that quintessential Parisian look. And since it’s such a classic wardrobe basic, you’ll wear it for years and years to come. I linked a few beautiful trench options below…
#5) Classic Jeans
You’ve seen these jeans throughout this post, but I wanted to reiterate that finding your perfect pair of classic jeans is a must for any functional wardrobe…not just a French-inspired one 😉 These are super high-rise (about 11”) and hit right around the belly button on me. I love this rise but it’s really important for you to know what rise works best for your body. Depending on your torso length, the rise that works on me might not work on you so make sure you try different rises to find your perfect fit. I also love the silhouette and wash of these jeans and feel like they’re the perfect classic French style. But if wide-leg isn’t your style, go with a classic pair of straight-leg jeans instead. They’re just as versatile and classic.
French women don’t typically wear a ton of logos or “loud” bags and accessories. If you have a finger on the pulse of fashion, you’ve probably heard the terms “stealth wealth” or “quiet luxury” lately. It basically just means wearing high-quality items that are sophisticated and timeless that don’t show off logos.
That’s why I suggest having a classic, neutral, structured bag that has no logos and very minimal hardware to get the most timeless option with maximum versatility. The Celine bag is the perfect example and is so chic. I’ve had this for years and use it all. the. time. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, designer bag but if it’s something you’ll use for years and years, you might want to invest a little more on it. I linked some high-quality options in mid-range price points below.
#7) White Sneakers
The next three classic French wardrobe essentials are all…SHOES! The first is white sneakers. White sneakers used to be kind of a no-no in Europe for a while but now the white sneaker is “in” in France. But again, they’re keeping the styles of their white sneakers very classic and streamlined with no loud logos, embellishments, etc. The Veja sneakers above are a great example of a sleek pair of sneakers that are classic and sophisticated. Sezane also has some beautiful options that I linked below.
#8) Ballet Flats
Another pair of shoes that’s very classic French style are ballet flats! The pair I’m wearing are black and brown so they’re very versatile. They’re by Fendi so they’re pricier, but I’ve had them for years! And when you consider cost per wear, they’re worth it. I always suggest the 80/20 rule when it comes to shopping…spend 80% of your budget on basics and 20% on trends. These ballet flats would fall into that 80% category.
The last pair of shoes to have in your Parisian wardrobe is a pair of classic black pumps. The pair I’m wearing has a little bit of a twist with the white slingback strap, but their coloring still makes them very classic, sophisticated, and beautiful. Any kind of fabulous black heel would work for this and you might already have a pair in your closet!
When I studied in Paris while I was in college, the first thing that stood out to me when noticing what French women wore was the scarves! Being from Watertown, NY, I was used to wearing scarves purely to keep warm…but never as an intentional fashion accessory.
A scarf is very elegant, chic, classically French, and a symbol of French style. I’m wearing a Sezane scarf above that has a beautiful, subtle print that’s very wearable but still adds a pop of color. I share a bunch of ways to wear a scarf in an older post here. But with this scarf, I decided to first tie it on my handbag and loved the look. Then I wanted to get a little more creative and styled it with a pearl necklace. I actually saw this on TikTok and knew I had to try it! You can see how I did it in this video.
Which of these French wardrobe essentials are you going to add to your closet? Let us know in the comments below!
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