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10 Essential Fashion Tips French Women Swear By

10 Essential Fashion Tips French Women Swear By

best french style tips and rules

Here are my best French-style tips to help you make space in your closet, save money and look the best you ever have. Whether you want to know how to dress like a French woman or the qualities that make French women so stylish, here I’m breaking down the ten best style rules French women always follow. From the clothing style they avoid to their philosophy regarding accessorizing to their relaxed attitude toward getting dressed, these tips are timeless, simple, and relevant to women of all ages.

Being French, I have a good idea of what French style is. In this article, I wanted to dissect the set of rules, guidelines, and tips French women follow religiously to achieve that effortless style they’re known for. These are style tips you can take and tweak to incorporate into your own wardrobe and bring in un petit peu of that coveted je ne sais quoi.

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1. Buy less, buy better

One of the first French style tips is to always emphasize quality over quantity. Wherever you shop —whether it’s Sézane, Sandro, ba&sh, or Maje —invest in timeless quality clothing. First, seek natural fabrics —such as cotton, silk, wool, cashmere or linen, etc.— that will last for a very long time. Shop versatile fashion items that you can re-wear and re-style often, and that you can easily wear every day. Also, always choose comfortable styles to wear every day.

If your budget allows it, try to invest in timeless quality clothing. From trench coats, blazers, and ankle boots to crossbody bags, French women invest a good amount of money into great outerwear, shoes, and accessories. It means that your simple jeans, white tees, and shirts never have to work hard since the cover-up, shoes, and handbags do all the talking for you. Hone in on what you need, save up and purchase what you love and will continue to use for years to come. Being French, I definitely prefer to have less clothing in my wardrobe but the highest quality I can afford.

2. Mix casual and dressed up pieces

Although French women like to make their looks appear low-maintenance, they also like to look a little bit chicer on a regular basis. French women like to mix casual and dress-up pieces rather than wearing all casual pieces at once, or looking too dressed up. Think trench coats over jeans and tees, white sneakers with dresses, white jeans with ruffle blouses, red lipstick with a simple white shirt, or wide-leg pants with heels. And add some chic with timeless accessories like a watch, a black Chanel bag, and a stylish silk scarf.

3. Discover new brands

One reason you can get stuck in style ruts is that you can get attached to certain shops. It’s great to have your core favorites who you know well, but there are always so many new, amazing brands hitting the market that are waiting to be discovered. From high-end designer labels to more affordable mid-range brands, keep exploring all year round.

To indulge your love for French style in general, I’ve brought together thirty of the most popular French clothing brands right now. From French luxury fashion brands to mid-range brands (like Maje, Sandro, and ba&sh) to newer and more affordable clothing brands like Sézane, there are a lot of French labels to get to grips with. I guarantee you will end up with some truly stylish finds!

4. Keep activewear as a gym-only look

French women, famous for their discreet style sense, generally don’t wear sporty clothing —except at the gym. They have yet to embrace the athleisure trend. You do not see people in Paris walking around in their gym clothes —it’s not seen as appropriate and not very elegant as well. And if you see a woman in sweatpants or leggings and a sweatshirt in Paris, it shows that she either didn’t want to make any effort or, that she’s going to or coming back from the gym. Here in France, we tend to only wear a few activewear pieces at a time —like a t-shirt, a hoodie, or a pair of sneakers— but not a sporty total look.

If you don’t know about this new fashion trend, athleisure —a fitting contraction of the words “athletic” and “leisure”, is a combination of sportswear and leisurewear. It refers to athletic apparel which people can wear in non-athletic settings.

5. Seek neutral colors

French style is about discretion. French women generally do not wear more than two colors at the same time in an outfit —blue jeans don’t count. The French opt for neutral colors like khaki, beige, oak, cognac, navy blue, grey, camel, black, and white. One benefit of neutral colors is that you can easily mix and match them with other pieces of clothing. Also, French women generally do not mix brown and black together and usually match the color of their shoes to their purses. You can add one accent color to your outfit, whether it’s a scarf, a hat, earrings, a statement necklace, or a nice purse. Finally, when it comes to prints, the French do not wear more than one print at the same time in an outfit.

6. Choose the right cut

One of the most important French style tips is to never buy something that doesn’t fit! Indeed, whatever you’re wearing make sure that your clothes fit perfectly. The proper fit should be not too tight, not too loose, not too short, and not too long. Also, some clothing can be sometimes oversized but only if it has been designed for this purpose, like an oversized button-down shirt or blazer. Dresses shouldn’t be too tight, too revealing, or too short. French women don’t like to be over-sexy.

7. Don’t over accessorize

French women generally keep the accessorization of their outfits to a minimum. You can add one statement piece whether it’s a silk scarf, a nice hat, or a great purse. Remember, your accessories should be more timeless than fashionable.

When it comes to jewelry, French women follow a few rules. First, never mix metals: it’s either gold or silver. Then, if your budget allows it opt for quality materials like 18-carat gold. Always opt for low-key pieces of jewelry like gold chains, small stud earrings, with classic watches. Also, do not wear more than three pieces of jewelry. And if you wear large tear-drop earrings, then don’t wear any necklace. On the contrary, if you wear a statement necklace then avoid wearing any other piece of jewelry.

The key to French style is to not be afraid to invest in a few investment statement pieces, but make sure they are subtle so that you can wear them for years and perhaps a lifetime. Finally, remember that if you keep your accessories classic, simple, and minimal, you can never really go wrong.

8. Simplicity is key

French women always keep their overall look simple and polished. They are never overdone or overdressed. In a typical French outfit, there are no flashy colors or any complicated items. Instead, it’s all about the basics —that may seem safe or boring— but which work well when put together and look flattering on anyone. That way, you, rather than your clothes will be what everyone will notice.

A beautiful silk blouse paired with a pair of jeans that fall just to the ankle worn with a stunning pair of Roger Vivier ballet flats, nothing else is needed! Classic pieces and quality pieces are enough.

9. Found your own style and stick to it

If watching Paris fashion week and seasonal runway shows are a great source of inspiration, French women generally don’t follow the latest fashion trends especially if it’s a one-season phenomenon. French women do not change style every season or every year. They just find their own personal style —meaning they know what they like, what they don’t, and the type of clothes that flatter their body type— and stick to it. And it’s especially true for French women over 50, who generally make the most of their knowledge of what suits them.

The most stylish Parisians have their own uniform —they keep it simple, they know what looks good and they stick to this formula. I know such a discovery of your own style takes time. Keep exploring and trying new things until you will eventually find what works for you. For example, if blazers are your flattering cut similar to french style icon Emmanuel Alt, then include a couple of quality blazers in a variety of hues in your closet. Remember, French style is all about staples over trends.

10. It’s all about the attitude

French style is not just about how you dress but is mainly an attitude. Pay attention to your posture, and your expressions, speak with elegance, act in an elegant manner and be confident. It is all about the way you mix clothes and how you move, how you open your bag, how you cross your legs —just little things that make a difference. Prefer to emphasize attitude over clothing to favor minimalist basics.

Don’t try too hard to look sophisticated —and if you do, just pretend like you’re not paying attention. Indeed, French women don’t look like they’re trying too hard and don’t change much with the seasons —see for example what French style looks like on vacation. And even for dinners —or at the French Riviera— French women don’t really dress up —everything is very discreet, except for nonchalant touches, say a nice Chanel bag or a pair of Roger Vivier. I promise, you don’t need much to feel and look good, and at any age!

In the end, the clothing you wear is meant to spotlight the talented, intelligent, fun, and curious woman you are. Don’t make your clothing the conversation piece, do not hide behind your clothes. Instead, choose clothes regardless of the designer and elevates your confidence. Stick to what works and let go of what doesn’t. And above all, dress for yourself.

Et voilà! I hope these ten French-style tips will help you to look the best you ever have! Please add your comment below if you have any questions.

View Comments (4)
  • Your advice to select “24 carats” gold is misplaced. 24 carat (no “s”) is too soft for jewelry. 18 carat is outstanding.

  • Hello from Omaha Nebraska! I placed an order from Sezane after reading your article. The clothes fit perfectly and are more beautiful than I expected that arrived in 2 days. I just placed a second order. Thank you for your advice!

    • Bonjour Toni, thank you very much for your comment! I am happy to hear you enjoyed your order from Sézane! I love this brand as well 🙂

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