As a French woman, I love to write about French style. And today, I wanted to dive a little more into the French summer wardrobe and more precisely into the 10 summer wardrobe staples that are in every French girl’s closet.
Whether you’re going to Corsica, to the French Riviera, or to St Tropez this summer, this article is for you! If you’re wondering what French women wear in summer or what to pack for the South of France, here are the 10 staples of the French summer wardrobe.
Before diving into the staples of the French summer wardrobe, there are five rules that French women follow religiously in order to dress effortlessly chic during the summer season.
- First, when it comes to their wardrobe, French women stick to classic shades like navy, white, red, beige, khaki as well as earthy tones like tan and rust.
- In terms of prints, always go for seasonless patterns like polka dots, gingham (Vichy), and simple florals patterns which will always be in style.
- French girls play the intellectual card and they don’t like to be over-sexy with summer dresses or shorts being too-short, too-tight, or too-revealing.
- In terms of fabrics, seek for cotton, silk, or linen which are light and breathable summer fabrics that are perfect to wear when the weather gets hot.
- Finally, French women don’t dedicate their wardrobes to new trends but instead, they incorporate different wardrobe staples based on the season.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the French summer basics that will never go out of style and can all be worn together. If you have a thing for French style, need reading to shop my selection of the best summer outfits from Sézane, H&M, Mango, Other Stories, ASOS, Reformation, and more.
The 10 Wardrobe Staples That Define French Girl’s Summer Style
1. Basic Cotton T-shirt
The basic cotton T-shirt is one of the staples of the French summer wardrobe. Indeed, a little white T-shirt is the prettiest thing you can pair with jeans, skirts, shorts and everything else in the summer. You can choose from all kinds of neutral colors such as grey, nude, white, or beige. In terms of designs, prefer a more well-fitted type of shirt. In order to get that very chic French stylish look in summer, make sure to choose a plain T-shirt without any details (no pleats, flounce, or buttons).
2. Linen Shirt
A white, grey or beige button-down shirt is an absolute must for summer. This French summer staple is so versatile! Indeed, you can wear it at work, on vacation while you’re traveling, on the beach over your favorite swimsuit or over shorts in the evening for a refined vacation look. I really love linen shirts, they are so comfortable to wear and very chic in summer. On beach holidays, I usually pair my favorite linen shirt from Asceno with my favorite one-piece swimsuit from Sezane, a hat, and a pair of espadrilles.
3. Wrap Dresses
A wrap dress has always been an iconic piece of the French summer wardrobe, perfect to wear for both workday and weekend. The elegant wrap dress is easy to wear and looks flattering on absolutely everyone and on almost any body type. A simple wrap dress is such an easy, breezy way to get ready on a hot summer day. I don’t wear dresses a lot in general, but I do love them in the summer. My favorite wrap dresses are from Sézane, Reformation, and Ganni that have their own variations of the wrap dress that range from classic to trendy. Check my article on the 8 dresses French girls love to wear in summer.
4. Silk Midi Skirt
Just like the slip dress, the silk skirt seamlessly goes from day to night, depending on your styling. You can pair it with a white T-shirt and a pair of espadrille for a day look or you can wear it with a silk camisole and a pair of gold lace up for a very chic night outfit. Prefer a silk midi skirt in a lighter color for a day outfit, something like light pink, beige or ivory would be perfect. You’ll be surprised to find just how elegant a silk midi skirt makes you feel.
A pair of shorts is the item that gets the most use throughout the summer months. This staple of the French summer wardrobe is my go-to summer savior. I usually pair it with a pair of espadrilles and a basic T-shirt for an easy, effortless daytime look. As you may know now, French girls play the intellectual card and they don’t like to be over-sexy with shorts being too-short, too-tight, or too-revealing. So, prefer a beige, ivory, or sand mid-rise short that is not too short.
6. Straw Hat
French women love to wear a beautiful straw hat, especially on vacation and at the beach. French women know how UV rays can damage their skin, that is why they always wear a straw hat on holidays and especially at the beach. And straw hats are so chic and stunning! There are usually quite expensive (however you can find some for a good price on Etsy), but they definitely worth the investment. Finally, a straw hat is a super versatile accessorize and can match with any outfit. My favorite straw hats are from Janessa Leoné.
7. Classic One-Piece Swimsuit
The one-piece swimsuit is one of the staples of the French summer wardrobe. This swimsuit suits all body types and is the most flattering swimsuit shape for large and small chests. You can wear it as a bodysuit as well. Just pair it with linen pants and a pair of espadrilles. This shape of swimsuit is really classic, timeless, and chic at the same time. It’s definitely an investment worth making. For more, check my article on the 5 swimsuit and bikini styles French women swear by. By the way, Sezane swimwear collection is now available!
Espadrilles may seem a French-girl cliché but they are literally on the feet of nearly every French girl during the summer season. 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 Provence. The shoes are very comfortable and actually so versatile. They can be paired with any type of outfit: they work well with shorts, dress, and any type of pants. For more details, check out my previous article on the 5 summer shoes French women wear on repeat.
If you’re looking for handmade espadrilles I really recommend the brand Monge (a brand that I discovered during a trip in Mallorca, Spain). All of their products are handcrafted in Mallorca using the finest European leathers and materials. Check out below my selection of the cutest espadrilles for this spring/summer season.
9. Straw Bag
The straw bag is the iconic piece of the French summer wardrobe! And in fact, the straw bag is originated from France. French women would take large woven straw bags to the farmer’s markets to load up with fresh fruits and vegetables. And now, French women take this bag everywhere from the city to the beach. From baskets à la Jane Birkin to artisanal raffia to neatly woven wicker, this accessory is a French girl favorite. You can choose from different sizes: the large ones are great as totes to the beach and small/medium ones make a great handbag for daily use. For more details, check out my previous post on the best French market baskets French girls love.
10. Cat-eye Sunglasses
A pair of cat-eye sunglasses is the ultimate accessorize to nail French girl style in summer. Cat-eye sunglasses are an effortless way to nail a vintage look. It’s the perfect sunglasses shape for elongating the face and emphasizing the cheekbones. Pair it with your favorite one-piece swimsuit, a linen shirt, a pair of espadrilles, and a straw hat and you’re ready for the beach à la Française. Finally don’t forget the sunscreen and a Thermal water spray. For more check my article on the French girl’s summer skincare routine.
And you, which one of those French summer staples is your favorite? What is your favorite closet staple for the season? Please add your comment below.
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Bonjour! I’m Leonce, I’m French and I’m a Parisian expat currently living in the city center of Amsterdam (I previously lived in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, on the Ile-Saint-Louis). I created Leonce Chenal back in 2018 when I was living in London and missing my home country way too much. Because I truly believe you don’t have to be French or to live in France to experience the French art de vivre, Leonce Chenal is a French digital magazine to help you live your French life, wherever you are. Enjoy <3