French Fashion: 10 Secrets to Dressing Like the World's Chicest Women

French fashion may be mysterious and masterful, but it’s not entirely unattainable. The residents of this highly chic country are forever at the top of the tree when it comes to effortlessness—no other nation could possibly contend for the title. But as well as adopting their relaxed attitude to getting dressed, there are style cues you can take and tweak to incorporate into your own wardrobe and bring in un petit peu of that coveted je ne sais quoi.

It’s highly likely you know some major French fashion rules by heart already. For example, brushing your hair is a sacrilegious act, one should never skimp on the day-to-day pillars of a closet, and everything is best worn thrown together to encourage the perception that you’ve probably had a really wild time the night before.

French girls are having fun and living life to the fullest—or at least that’s what their outfits tell us—but there are other, more nuanced factors that play into a Gallic woman’s wardrobe as a whole. And that’s where we step in. So, enroll in our French style school, where you’ll learn everything from the grade-one basics through seriously advanced stages of being super chic. Get scrolling to see and shop the French fashion guidance.

And yes, it’s a totally normal—nay, brilliant—thing to dress similarly or even in the same outfit as your maman. Great style and wardrobe classics never fade, so why can’t you wear them now and in four decades’ time? It girl Jeanne Damas proved the point recently, snapping herself alongside her mother, both wearing the same blue ribbed tee (from her collection on Rouje) and high-waisted jeans.
Maybe all French girls are blessed with excellent pins like Ellie from Slip Into Style, or perhaps they just know exactly how to play out a slashed-to-there hemline and not look overdone. We love the flirty, casual ratio of a marl tee and flats with a revealing skirt.
As any well put-together French maven will tell you, there is nothing less attractive than hobbling around in high heels. It’s all about looking cool and breezy. It’s no wonder many French girls (like influencer Anne-Laure Mais of Adenorah) turn to classic brands for classic pieces. For example, Karl Lagerfeld never produces sky-high stilettos at Chanel—just clever ones like the toe-cap mules that you can slip on and off and last in all day. Anne-Laure’s simple two-strap sandals are actually from her own brand, Musier Paris.
No self-respecting French girl would consider their wardrobe complete without a blazer (or 10). They are the beautifully tailored glue that holds all looks together.
We’re not talking about waist-cinching of the extreme variety, but French women always make sure that their figure is in some way in check—even when wearing loose-fitting clothes. Blogger Aria Di Bari provides an excellent example: A shapeless tunic gets the right treatment by this nonchalantly knotted belt.
Anne-Laure Mais has a similar approach to Carine Roitfeld when it comes to sultry dressing: It’s all about a 50/50 ratio. Yes, you can see she’s wearing a bodiced black dress with a thigh slit (with no bra, in true français fashion), but the rest of her look is disheveled and relaxed. Walking this line successfully? It’s all down to confidence.
From biker jackets to boho suede coats, bombers to blazers, French girls invest a heavy amount of cash into great outerwear. It means that your simple jeans, tees, and shirts never have to work hard since the cover-up does all the talking for you. Let’s face it: In our climate, you’ll get the wear out of a well-chosen piece.
In a similar vein to the sassy/sensible ratio we mentioned earlier, there are French fashion rules that apply to the level of accessorizing set against an outfit. Want to wear your new shoes, bag, and hat at the same time? Then you’ll need a clean, simple, super-plain outfit underneath—preferably in a neutral color.
From espadrilles to beachy off-the-shoulder tops, it’s completely acceptable to bring a little seaside style to your city look en France.
Even when you’re wearing a beret and standing in a ball pool, French girls will still maintain a level of nonchalance. Ready to shop your new French girl–inspired look? Keep scrolling to shop the pieces these stylish women love.
This wrap style suits every figure under the sun. Available in sizes 34 to 42.
French girls are now wearing party shoes in a more laid-back way during the daytime. Available in sizes 5 to 11.
French girls are at the forefront of the belted-jacket trend. Available in sizes 34 to 44.
Best worn with seriously messy hair. Available in sizes 36 to 40.

Now that you’ve got Gallic-girl style down, find out which swimsuit styles French girls are avoiding this summer.

Opening Image: @jeanndamas

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK at an earlier date and has since been updated.

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