Here is how to achieve chic French Riviera style with these ten wardrobe staples. Whether this summer you’ll happen to spend your holidays (les vacances) on la Côte d’Azur (think Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Antibes, or Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat), or you wish to elevate your summer style, in today’s post, I’ve gathered a list of the ten must-have pieces to get chic French Riviera style.
It’s the ultimate summer-style guide to the French Riviera to learn what to wear in the South of France and what to pack for a Riviera holiday.
What is French Riviera style?
Playground of the rich and famous, the French Riviera has an unwritten uniform that combines nautical and Parisian fashion. La Côte d’Azur exudes a casual elegance that is unlike anywhere else. For the anecdote, this timeless style started with affluent holidaymakers nearly a century ago, traveling to southern France and who needed elegant yet casual clothing for leisurely activities in the heat.
The French Riviera style is timeless and elegant. Crisp whites and neutral or classic colors blend seamlessly with nautical elements to create a refined yet laid-back vacation look. Breton stripes, straw boaters, and basket bags are just a few of the signature touches that make this style a classic.
Think white flowy dresses paired with wedge espadrilles, wide-leg linen pants, and blue oversized shirts worn with chic sandals. Seek natural and premium fabrics such as linen, cotton, and silk to keep you cool in style. Keep scrolling below to see (and shop) the ten essential items to achieve that coveted French Riviera style this summer.
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The 10 Essentials That Define French Riviera Style
1. White Blouses
If you’re looking for a summer top with a little extra polish, consider opting for any ruffle, off-the-shoulder or puffed-sleeve blouse in ecru or white. Depending on your mood, this hot-weather savior can be worn with almost anything and dressed up or down. If you’re seeking something more sophisticated than a white t-shirt this season, a white blouse is the way to go.
2. Breton Stripes
In 1917, Mademoiselle Chanel made la marinière an icon of French couture when she introduced the design in her nautical collection. Nowadays, la marinière is a key component of any French women’s vacation wardrobe, whether heading to Normandy or the south of France.
If you’re looking to shop for authentic marinières made in France, I recommend the French label Saint James. This brand has made authentic striped sailor tees and Breton knitwear in Saint-James (Normandy, France) since 1889. I also love Sézane’s iconic Colette and Noan marinières.
3. White Pants
Whether in ecru, ivory, or cream, white pants are undoubtedly a spring-summer wardrobe essential. Paired with even the most classic (others might say “boring”) pieces —think white T-shirts, oversized shirts, or striped sweaters, white pants can add sophistication to any look.
Whether in cotton, denim, silk, or linen, a beautiful pair of white pants is the perfect versatile piece for those warm Riviera evenings, keeping you smart and cool. Wear your favorite à la Française with a marinière or a blue oversized shirt and a pair of espadrilles. This season, I love this très chic Totême cotton-gabardine tapered pants and white high-rise tapered jeans.
4. Breezy Shirt Dresses
Nothing says summer quite like a shirt dress. For an afternoon at Pampelonne beach or a summer evening soirée at Les Caves du Roy, shirt dresses exude an air of elegance. Whether it’s a plain cotton poplin, a pretty guipure lace mini, or a flattering wrap silhouette, shirt dresses are effortless and can easily be dressed up or down. They are also very comfortable when temperatures are too hot to wear pants.
This summer, I have this beautiful Sézane Maxine dress on my wishlist. I love also this très chic Delphine dress and this Loulou Studio Mago cotton-poplin mini shirt dress. Wear your favorite with a pair of espadrilles like these Castaner Chiara 80 espadrilles and a cute basket bag like this Loewe x Paula’s Ibiza Anagram basket bag.
5. The One-Piece Swimsuit
The one-piece swimsuit is a classic swimwear style that is incredibly chic and always feels right. Inspired by old-world glamour, this swimwear style suits all body types and is the most flattering for large and small chests. Also, it can be easily worn as a bodysuit paired with silk wide-leg pants and chic leather strappy sandals.
Despite being Spanish in origin, espadrilles are beloved by French women almost as much as ballet pumps. These are the perfect summer shoes for walking across uneven cobblestones in southern France all day. They are also very versatile, as they can be paired with any outfit. This summer, I adore these beautiful Castañer Chiara 80 espadrilles in the color blush.
7. Chic Flat Sandals
Strappy leather sandals are one of my favorite footwear options for summer! Thanks to their easy-to-wear silhouettes, they can bring any outfit to the next level. These flat sandals can go with your favorite white dress just as well as your kaftan and chic white pants. This season, I love these gorgeous Chloé Rebecca leather sandals and these Isabel Marant Jools studded leather sandals.
If you’re looking for authentic St. Tropez fashion, I recommend the French label K. Jacques (created in 1933). This iconic shoe brand designs beautiful sandals in the style of the ancient Spartans: extra-flat sandals with thin straps that highlight the ankle.
Another French shoe brand I recommend is Rondini. For over 94 years, the Rondini Family —Saint-Tropez’s first-ever sandal cobbler has made the legendary Tropéziennes sandal one of the most iconic sandals in the south of France.
To get French Riviera style this summer, consider opting for a boater, straw boater, or classic straw hat. Lightweight, breathable, and great for keeping the rays off your face, straw hats can elevate any vacation or beachy look. This summer, I love this très chic Gucci color-block straw-effect boater hat and this beautiful Maison Michel Virginie straw sunhat.
9. Basket Bags
Whether it’s a market basket à la Jane Birkin, a raffia, a woven, or a rattan bag, something about a straw bag instantly signals summer. This bag is definitely a must-have summer accessory, perfect for carrying all your daily essentials and making your summer outfit look classic and stylish.
This season, straw bags incorporate details like chain straps and leather accents, making them more polished than the classic floppy beach bag. I have this gorgeous Loewe x Paula’s Ibiza leather-trimmed raffia tote on my wishlist.
A great pair of sunglasses can elevate your style and add sophistication to any outfit. This summer, consider opting for pairs with an oversized shape with chunky, round frames that feel decidedly retro (like these Chloé Gayia sunglasses). Or consider cat-eye shapes evocative of French Riviera vintage glamour like these Bottega Veneta Edgy sunglasses.
What you won’t need in the French Riviera
- Flip-flops or Croc
- Distressed denim
- Slogan t-shirts
- Sweatshirt or sweatpants (unless you need them for flight and/or exercise)
- Lycra leggings
- Too-short shorts
Et voilà! I hope you will have a magical trip to the Côte d’Azur and that this French Riviera style guide will inspire you.
Leonce is the founder and editor of Leonce Chenal, a lifestyle platform launched in 2018. Originally from France, Leonce offers a fresh perspective that comes from her experience at top tech companies in Paris and London. Having spent several years in Paris and now residing in Amsterdam, she combines her professional expertise with a personal passion for French and Parisian styles. Leonce is committed to guiding her readers through the intricacies of Parisian chic, empowering them to embrace the elegance and sophistication of French style.