Now Reading
The 10 Must-Have French Wardrobe Essentials

The 10 Must-Have French Wardrobe Essentials

french wardrobe essentials

French fashion is all about mastering the art of looking effortlessly chic, a skill that every French woman seems to possess with enviable ease. The secret? A collection of essential pieces that form the foundation of their iconic style. These are not just any items but timeless, versatile staples chosen for their ability to transcend time and trends. I also find myself consistently turning to these essential pieces season after season. They mix and match effortlessly with everything in my closet, becoming my daily go-to pieces. So, if you’re looking to refine your personal style or rebuild your wardrobe from the ground up, today’s article is for you. I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the must-have French wardrobe staples that will guide you in crafting a foundation for endless, chic ensembles.

I carefully select and personally love every product featured on Leonce Chenal. If you buy through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Merci for your support <3

french wardrobe essentials
Collage: Les Collections Particulières by Leonce Chenal.
  1. Sézane Jacob jumper
  2. Anine Bing Randy maxi trench
  3. Sandro tweed jacket
  4. Anine Bing Maxine shirt
  5. Blazé Milano double-breasted wool blazer
  6. Agolde ’90s pinch waist high-rise straight-leg jeans
  7. Le Tanneur Naya small leather shoulder bag
  8. Sandro dress with jewelry collar
  9. Carel Paris Peche patent leather pumps
  10. Carel Paris Estime patent-leather ankle boots

1. A Striped Top (Marinière)

french wardrobe essentials mariniere
Paris Fashion Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

The Breton striped top, or “la marinière,” is a quintessential French wardrobe classic. Born from the uniforms of French seamen, this blue and white striped, long-sleeved cotton top symbolizes timeless French style. For an authentic French look, match it with classic blue jeans, a navy blue blazer, and black leather loafers. This season, I am obsessed with Sézane’s Jacob jumper in navy/ecru. If you’re looking for a more classic style, I recommend Sézane’s Noan marinière.

2. A Classic Trench

french wardrobe essentials trench coat
Paris Fashion Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Despite its English origins, the trench coat— known as “un trench” in French—has become a cornerstone of French fashion. It embodies classic elegance, effortlessly bridging the gap between seasons. Whether navigating the unpredictable spring showers with its water-resistant qualities or adding a layer of chic sophistication to autumn attire, the trench coat proves indispensable. On those all-too-common days when the closet feels empty, it serves as the ultimate savior. For a contemporary twist, try a slightly oversized, masculine-inspired trench coat, such as the Anine Bing Randy maxi, Sézane Clyde, or Rosaé Paris Le Saturnin trench. These aren’t your average trench coats; they’re modern and edgy, stepping away from the traditional double-breasted and belted style. Their maxi length introduces a modern touch that truly makes a statement.

3. A Tweed Jacket

french wardrobe essentials tweed jacket
Paris Haute Couture Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

The tweed jacket, which is quintessentially Chanel, is one of my favorite outerwear options for the mid-season. With its textured fabric and refined silhouette, it adds an unparalleled touch of chic to any outfit and offers great versatility. It’s an indispensable staple if you’re aiming for that coveted Parisian chic style. For a chic daytime look, you can wear it with cropped blue denim and ballet flats or with a midi skirt and chunky loafers. Alternatively, you can throw it over a mini dress for a refined evening look. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect jacket this season, I highly recommend investing in a tweed jacket in soft, neutral tones. Consider opting for this gorgeous Sandro tweed jacket, this beautiful Rosaé Paris Le Pépin chasseur jacket (which I have on my wishlist), or J.Crew tweed lady jacket in natural.

4. A Button-Up Shirt

french wardrobe essentials button-up shirt
Paris Fashion Week Street Style FW24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

The button-up shirt, known as “la chemise” in French, is a cornerstone of any well-curated wardrobe. For a chic look à la Parisienne, a slightly oversized version in white, light blue, or striped is the go-to. It’s a beloved piece for its adaptability, easily transitioning from day to night. Pair it with classic blue jeans, loafers, and a slightly oversized blazer for a refined yet relaxed office ensemble. When evening calls, switch the loafers for Mary Jane pumps and team with a flowing skirt. Add a finishing touch with a black satin blazer et voilà! Among my favorites are the Sézane Max shirt in casual white, The Frankie Shop Lui cotton-poplin shirt, and the Anine Bing Mika shirt in blue. For that unique Parisian twist, I highly recommend exploring the shirt collections of Parisian brands Marie Marot and Figaret. For more, check out my post on the best Parisian shirt brands.

5. An Oversized Blazer

french wardrobe essentials blazer
Paris Fashion Week Street Style FW24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

A blazer is a cornerstone of the Parisian wardrobe that can make any outfit instantly feel more elevated. It’s the ultimate versatile piece, perfect over a classic white shirt or a turtleneck paired with skirts or jeans. Whether dressed up or down, it’s all about the fit: slightly oversized with strong shoulders is the current trend. For a touch of femininity, cinch it at the waist with a chic belt, such as the Isabel Marant Lecce leather belt. Stick to classic hues like navy (I love Sandro’s tailored jacket in deep blue), black, beige (opt for Blazé Milano’s double-breasted wool blazer), or brown for a blazer that complements every outfit effortlessly.

6. Classic Jeans

french wardrobe essentials jeans
Paris Haute Couture Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Every French woman knows her wardrobe isn’t complete without the perfect pair of blue jeans. The Agolde Riley high-rise straight-crop jeans are a classic choice, offering a flattering fit for most body types and versatile enough for any season or occasion, with unbeatable comfort. For a nod to the ’90s, try the light-wash Agolde 90’s mid-rise straight jeans, reminiscent of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s iconic style and currently back in fashion. If comfort is your priority, go for wide-leg jeans that look effortlessly chic over crystal ballet pumps. Complete this look with a sleek, long black coat and a black leather crossbody bag for the epitome of chic.

7. A Cross-Body Bag

french wardrobe essentials crossbody bag
Paris Haute Couture Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

A black or camel leather cross-body bag is an indispensable, versatile accessory in any wardrobe. Perfect as a day bag to carry essentials, an elegant evening choice, or a reliable travel partner, its value is unmatched. Investing in one made from high-quality leather means owning a piece that endures through seasons. I’ve fallen for a vintage Celine Triomphe bag in black leather that effortlessly complements every outfit. For those exploring options, Parisian brands like Sézane, A.P.C., and Polène have fantastic offerings. Currently, I have a coup de coeur for this gorgeous Emilie small bag by French Maison Le Tanneur—a wishlist favorite.

8. A Little Black Dress

french wardrobe essentials little black dress
Paris Haute Couture Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

The little black dress, or “la petite robe noire,” is a staple in French women’s wardrobes for any special occasion, be it a chic dinner, a cocktail party, or even a romantic soirée. The perfect little black dress should not be too short, too tight, or too revealing. French women often choose between a short dress or a dress with a décolletage. The perfect little black dress is the one with which you are most comfortable and can wear in any special circumstances. My favorite one is the Sézane Harper dress (which the guest is wearing in the photo), which also exists in a shorter version. I also love this stunning Sandro dress with a jewelry collar that I have on my wishlist. Pair it with ballet flats or evening heels, sheer black tights, and a crossbody bag for unparalleled chicness.

9. Ballet Flats

french wardrobe essentials ballet flats
Paris Fashion Week Street Style FW24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Ballet flats remain a timeless classic, never going out of style and perfectly embodying the French flair for seamless seasonal transitions. They’re my go-to footwear for spring and autumn, embodying both comfort and chic. As enduring wardrobe essentials, they maintain their trendy appeal. This season, mesh, embellished, and Mary Jane flats are particularly fashionable. Among my favorites are the slingback flats, such as the Carel Paris Peche patent leather pumps, which are perfect for this spring and summer season. For a classic and timeless style, opt for the iconic Repetto Paris Sophia leather ballerina shoes.

10. Chic Ankle Boots

french wardrobe essentials ankle boots
Paris Haute Couture Week Street Style SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

There is no safer footwear option than the classic ankle boots (or “les bottines à talons”). Not only are they the ideal pair of shoes for almost any time of the year, but those stylish shoes can suit many looks and can easily be dressed up or down. Whether styled with straight-leg jeans or pleated tailored pants, ankle boots add sophistication to any outfit. This season, consider opting for ankle boots with patent finishes like these iconic Estime ankle boots by Carel Paris. I recently purchased two pairs of Carel Paris boots: one in bright red patent leather and another one in navy blue and white leather. The block heels on these boots are not too high, so they are very comfortable to wear. I absolutely adore them!

View Comments (6)
  • Bonjour. What a great site. I have joined countless FB pages about dressing in Paris. They are for Americans who just want permission to dress like they do in America. I live in France most of the year and I love my town of Cannes because I love to be beautifully dressed and Cannes encourages it. Thank you for your wonderful lists and designer names. I was surprised that Anne Fontaine did not make your “white shirt” or “t-shirt” lists. I am just discovering all you have to offer. Merci.

  • Love every piece you have chosen and for me the most important thing is most – if not all are age appropriate for any age……Fantastic – Merci

    • Thank you very much, Alexandra! Your kind words mean the world to me. I’m thrilled to be a highlight in your inbox! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright 2024 © Leonce Chenal. All rights reserved.

Léonce in your inbox

Get your weekly dose of Parisian style in your inbox, along with lovely surprises.