The shirt remains an enduring staple and a foundational element in any wardrobe. Yet, not all shirts are created equal, and the French have mastered the art of shirt-making like none other. Whether you’re in search of the perfect button-down for the office, a casual option for weekends, or a sophisticated piece that transitions effortlessly from day to night, French brands offer an array of choices that marry style, comfort, and craftsmanship. From the enduring elegance of Charvet, a label that boasts a rich history dating back to the 19th century, to the contemporary yet timeless appeal of Sézane, there is something for every preference. In this article, we explore the five best French shirt brands that are the epitome of quality and style, making your quest for the perfect shirt an inspired journey through the best that French fashion has to offer.
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1. Marie Marot
Marie Marot is a Paris-based fashion label that epitomizes a seamless blend of simplicity and femininity. Founded by Marie Marot, who herself has been a shirt aficionado since her teen years, the brand takes its inspiration from a variety of fashion icons, including Carolyn Bessette, Lauren Hutton, and Charlotte Rampling. What sets the Marie Marot brand apart is its commitment to creating shirts that are slightly oversized, aiming to suit all body types, and become the cornerstone of any modern wardrobe.
Crafted in premium materials like fine cottons and luxurious silks, these shirts are designed to be as versatile as they are stylish, easily transitioning “from the office to the seaside,” as the designer herself puts it. Marot’s ethos is deeply rooted in the principles of sustainability and timelessness, transcending fleeting trends to offer pieces that are as enduring as they are chic. My coups de coeur are the elegant Lilibeth shirt and the très chic Honorée cotton pajama pants—a true embodiment of Parisian sophistication. It’s definitely one of my personal favorite French shirt brands!
Founded by Charles Sébline, a French-English Paris-based designer with a storied tenure at Yves Saint Laurent’s haute couture atelier in the late 90’s, Sébline represents the epitome of Parisian elegance infused with a dose of British flair. The Parisian label made its debut in 2019 and quickly distinguished itself for its impeccable craftsmanship, versatility, and innovative use of fabrics. Sébline utilizes high-quality cotton poplin sourced from Italy, lending the garments a distinct crispness that mellows beautifully over time. The designer’s philosophy promotes the beauty of a “well-worn wardrobe staple.” In terms of aesthetics, Sébline masterfully combines his French and English influences by incorporating plentiful references and signature codes, most notably the graphical employment of stripes and audacious color palettes. I have a coup de coeur for this Sébline Bunny piqué-trimmed cotton-poplin shirt, which I added to my wishlist ;).
Founded in 1968 by Alain Figaret, the French label Figaret has a storied history rooted in crafting exemplary shirts. Renowned for its dedication to meticulous tailoring, the brand has successfully combined both comfort and aesthetics for over five decades. Figaret’s commitment to excellence extends beyond mere design, delving into intricate details like the number of stitches per centimeter and the use of premium fabrics such as Abini, Thomas Mason, or Monti.
This “surgical knowledge of clothing” has solidified its reputation as a master of shirting, with key milestones including the popularization of the pink shirt for men in 1970 and the launch of its tailor-made service in 2010. My favorite Figaret shirts are the “Je t’aime” shirt —freely inspired by the film “The Things of Life” by Claude Sautet, and the oversized striped Mathilde shirt, which I have in beige and fuchsia and in blue and pink. Figaret is one of my favorite French shirt brands.
4. Charvet Vendôme
Founded in 1838 by Joseph-Christophe Charvet, a descendent of Napoleon Bonaparte’s linen keepers, Charvet Vendôme holds the distinguished title of the world’s first dedicated shirtmaker. Located in the opulent square of Place Vendôme, the brand has been the epitome of Parisian elegance and sartorial mastery for nearly two centuries. With a clientele that reads like a who’s who of historical figures—from Marcel Proust, Gabrielle Chanel, and Winston Churchill to modern tastemakers like Sofia Coppola and David Beckham—Charvet has retained its bespoke roots while also evolving with ready-to-wear lines.
The brand’s co-directors, Jean-Claude and Anne-Marie Colban, have upheld the legacy of craftsmanship initiated by their father, Denis Colban, who bought the company in the 1960s to preserve its French heritage. What sets Charvet apart is its obsessive attention to detail: the yoke drapes perfectly over the shoulders, the stripes are meticulously aligned, and even the thread used for buttonholes is carefully matched to the shirt’s stripes. Crafted from premium Gossypium barbadense cotton from the Nile Delta, each shirt is a masterpiece of precision, featuring six layers of unfused cloth in the collar and an astonishing 20 stitches per inch.
Sézane, a Parisian brand founded in 2013 by Morgane Sézalory, encapsulates the quintessence of French fashion by offering high-quality, sustainable pieces crafted for everyday wear. Born from Sézalory’s early ventures in curating and selling vintage fashion, the brand has evolved to provide timeless garments, balancing luxury and affordability. With a business model focused on both permanence and novelty, Sézane offers a standing collection, seasonal releases, and monthly capsule collections, ensuring a continuous influx of unique and sophisticated pieces.
Incorporating the brand’s ethos of offering high-quality, well-crafted garments, Sézane’s shirt collections are noteworthy for their superior comfort and everyday wearability. Whether you opt for the Tomboy shirt’s straight-fit silhouette or the oversized design of the Max shirt (my ultimate favorite is in casual white, which I wear all year long), you’ll find that these shirts are perfectly designed for daily wear. Each shirt looks très chic and feels extraordinarily comfortable, making them indispensable additions to any wardrobe.
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.