10 Essential Shoes Every French Woman Has In Her Closet

best french essential shoes

Here are the ten essential shoes every French woman has in her closet. Being French, I love to write about French style in general. That’s why, in this post, I wanted to share with you the list of the ten essential shoes that are found in every French wardrobe —and on every Parisian street.

For the French, shoes are investment pieces that are meant to stay in their wardrobe for much longer than just a season. They know that the right pair of shoes can make all the difference when it comes to completing a look. French women generally don’t have a vast shoe collection, but instead, a minimalist collection of versatile, qualitative, and comfortable shoes that stand the test of passing fads. It includes shoes for fall and winter like ankle boots, knee-high boots but also springs shoes like ballet flats, slingback pumps, and loafers. In this list, I’ve included also summer shoes like espadrilles and other shoe styles that can be worn all year round like white sneakers.

So whether you want to start with French fashion, or you want to add a few pairs to your shoe collection, keep scrolling to see the ten must-have shoes all French women own. These shoe styles listed below are the kind of timeless pair of shoes that work for women of all ages —French or not. For French shoe brands, see my previous article on the twenty most popular French shoe brands right now.

The 10 Must-Have French Style Shoes

1. Ballet Flats

Being French, ballet flats are one of my footwear of choice for the spring season. They are one of those classic shoe styles that hardly ever feel dated. And this iconic Parisian style is a bit of a wardrobe icon and a staple that continues to be trendy. It’s the perfect French shoe style to look chic without sacrificing comfort. And they are so versatile that they can suit any kind of look. Whether you’re wearing jeans, a summery dress, or wide-leg pants, ballet flats are always a good footwear option.

Being French, I like to wear super minimalist ballerina flats like theManolo Blahnik Gelista suede ballet flats. Iconic ballet flats are theChanel ballerinas, the Roger Vivier ballet flats, and the Repetto Cendrillon ballerinas. The Cendrillon ballerinas are an iconic shoe style from the French shoe brand Maison Repetto, originally made for Brigitte Bardot.

2. Loafers

While still feminine and slim-fitting, the loafer is also a very chic flat-style footwear option for fall and spring. And they’re one of the most comfortable shoe options to wear too! What I love about loafers is they add a very polished vibe to any outfit and they will never really go out of style.

I love to wear feminine-masculine kind of loafers. I have a few pairs in my wardrobe that I keep wearing each year. For a slightly more masculine look, I love Tod’s Patent-leather loafers and Saint Laurent Logo-appliqué leather loafers. Whereas Gucci Jordaan horsebit-detailed leather loafers look more feminine.

3. Low Block Heels

If you’re favoring comfort over style, low block heel pumps are one of the comfortable shoe options you can walk for miles in. Low block heels are the perfect pair of shoes that provide the height to get that feminine allure while still being very walkable. There are two iconic pairs of low block heel pumps that the French women love to wear: the Carel Kina Buckled Pumps and the Roger Vivier Block Heel Pumps.

4. Slingback

For French women, slingback shoes —known as court shoes typically with kitten heels— are the perfect alternative to ballet flats. Indeed, slingbacks are both stylish and comfortable and can be worn with absolutely anything. Made with a strap that catches your heel, you get the comfort of a sandal without worrying about your shoes falling off as you’re walking. You can wear them with a pair of jeans as a simple switch from your regular sneakers or style them with a pretty dress for the summer.

If your budget allows it, I’ll recommend investing in a chic and classic pair of slingbacks like the Manolo Blahnik Carolyne leather slingback or the Gianvito Rossi Ribbon 55 leather slingback pumps. Also, if you prefer flat slingbacks, I love the Saint Laurent Anaisleather slingback point-toe flats.

5. White Sneakers

Uncomfortable high heels are not very “French”. Indeed, hardly any French woman decides to choose high heels for the whole day. And in Paris, it’s far more common to see Parisians wearing flat shoes such as sneakers or trainers. Sneakers no longer carry the casual, lazy day stigma they did in the past. And a simple pair of white trainers can look stylish whatever your look. One of my French style tips is to mix dressed pieces like a suit with more casual items like a pair of white sneakers. It’s the perfect balance to make your outfit look “chic-décontracté” (smart casual in English). Opt for minimal plain white sneakers which make your feet look thin, small, and classy.

I recommend the Esplar leather sneakers from the French shoe brand Veja. I love the Gucci Ace leather sneakers as well and the Re/Done 70s canvas sneakers.

6. Sandals

Sandals are definitely the go-to French shoes of the summer season. Sandals are simple, stylish, comfortable, and easily packable and they go with everything. And this season, you can choose from a pair of slip-on sandals or a pair of chunky/sporty sandals. If slip-on sandals are an elegant and comfortable alternative to flip-flops and other rubber options, chunky sandals are the perfect shoe option if you prioritize comfort more than ever, and without sacrificing style.

This season, I’m in love with the Birkenstocks or Birkenstock-style slides like the Gianvito Rossi Bilbao leather sandals. Like French influencer Leia Sfez you can opt for Roger Vivier’s Swarovski crystal-embellished buckles that are inspired by the original square-shaped ones created for Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian-inspired collection. Or you can opt for a classic pair of Saint Laurent Nu Pieds leather slides.

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french girl wardrobe essentials basics

7. Espadrilles

Espadrilles are the French go-to summer shoe your closet needs! They are literally on the feet of nearly every French woman during the spring and summer season. These shoes are a wedged sole designed from a rope-like material and they also usually have a tie closure that you can lace up around ankles for an eye-catching effect. You can choose from two types of espadrilles: the ones with 2-inch heels give you a little extra leg length, while the flat ones are perfect to walk all day across uneven cobblestones in the South of France. Over the years, Castañer keeps being my ultimate favorite espadrilles brand.

8. Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are definitely a staple of the French fall/winter wardrobe. There are so many styles of ankle boots out there but suede, black leather, and block heel boots are the three shoes French women are wearing in winter. And if suede ankle boots are quite popular in the fall, black leather boots are best for rainy days in Paris. Also, one of the best things about ankle boots is that they are very versatile. Indeed, those stylish shoes can suit many looks and can easily be dressed up or down.

I always have a few pairs of boots in my wardrobe. I love Saint Laurent army glossed-leather ankle boots and the Gianvito Rossi Margaux 65 suede ankle boots as well. Also, Acne Studios Leather ankle boots are a great footwear option if you’re looking for low heels ankle boots.

9. Knee-High Boots

Knee-high boots are perfect shoes if you want to stay warm in the colder months but you still want to look stylish and pulled together. Versatile shoes, knee-high boots can look fantastic with a variety of outfits. You can wear them with a dress, a skirt, a pair of skinny or straight-leg jeans. This season, opt for wedge heel boots —as they offer a bit of height that helps elongate the legs— or flat ones that are more practical and walkable.

10. Evening Heels

French women don’t try too hard to look sophisticated. And even if they don’t really dress up, French women also like to look a little bit chicer on a regular basis. Their overall look is very discreet, except for nonchalant touches, say a nice pair of evening shoes. French women usually opt for a pair of black pumps like the Manolo Blahnik Hangisi embellished satin pumps that are perfect with a dress, suit, or jeans. Opt for pointed toes like the Amina Muaddi Georgia suede pumps as they tend to elongate your leg and work ideally with cropped pants, or any kind of dress. Also, small kitten heels are a more practical party option but are a good evening shoe option as well.

Et voilà! I hope this guide to the ten French style shoes will help you curate your own shoe collection. If you have any questions, let me know in the comment below!

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View Comments (9)
  • Love French fashion! Every time I go to Paris I notice I wear much prettier clothes.Thank you for posting these beautiful fashion pieces, for me to wear here in New York!

  • Thank you so much for these articles! Have traveled the world frequently over the past five years and planning a trip to Paris Sept. 20-27, 2021! I can’t wait! Planning to come with one of my fashionista girlfriends and it would be so special to meet you! If you know of any “must experience” things related to Coco Chanel please write back to let me know! I’d like to go places she has been that only the locals know about and have access to, and not just the obvious tourist attractions. Now I can come in style and might even dressing like a French lady here in America! I love fashion and missed my calling but getting back into it at this time in my life!

    • Bonjour Ema! Thank you very much for your comment! Lucky you, I hope you’ll have a wonderful time in Paris!
      Just in case you missed it, I’ve written a very detailed article on how to do Paris like a local, I hope it’ll help you! Also here are a few places to go if you love Coco Chanel:
      – The Chanel boutique 31 rue Cambon (obviously); Chanel’s flagship store where it all began in 1918
      – The Ritz Paris; where she lived for 34 years!
      – The Marché aux fleurs on the Île de la Cité (one of the oldest market in Paris)
      – The café Angelina on rue de Rivoli; one of Coco Chanel’s favorite cafés
      – The restaurant Le Grand Véfour; where Coco Chanel used to dine
      – Le théâtre des Champs-Elysées: Coco Chanel had created the costumes for the ballet Le Train Bleu
      – Le Grand Palais where all Chanel’s fashion shows happen every year.
      Et voilà! Have a great and safe trip to Paris 🙂 xo

  • J’adore votre blog , c’est tres utile et interessant ! Selon vous, qu’est-ce qu’ une bonne hauteur de talon? Merci : )

    • Bonjour Elina! Merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire. Personnellement, je pense qu’une bonne hauteur de talon se situe entre 3cm/1inch et 8cm/3inch (5cm/2inch étant l’idéal). Je marche beaucoup tout au long de la journée, j’ai donc besoin de chaussures à talons assez comfortable. Au delà de 8cm, je garde ces chaussures à talons pour une occasion spéciale ou pour une soirée/ un dîner. Voilà! En espérant que ma réponse puisse t’aider 🙂 xo

  • Hi!
    Great blog!
    Please help me with an outfit idea for nude loafers. I just got a pair that I love, from Jonak, but I dont know how to style it. Everywhere I see only black loafers…
    Thank you!

    • Bonjour Aida! Thank you very much for your comment! Nude loafers are a great shoe option for the fall and spring seasons! You can pair them with jeans (dark or light blue will be great), black denim or pants as well as a little black dress. I think the nude color works well with grey, camel/beige, black, olive, and bronze. I hope that’ll help 🙂

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