I can trace the root of my obsession with French style all the way back to the first time I watched Beauty and the Beast. Belle might have been bored with her provincial life, but I certainly wasn’t. I begged my aunt to let me cut the hem of an old blue bridesmaids dress that resembled Belle’s own, asked my mum to style my hair in a bow every morning, and insisted upon carrying a basket with me wherever I went.
Today, I still find myself trying to emulate the look of French women, albeit with less taffeta involved. I trawl through vintage photographs of Paris, looking at the outfits women wore in years since the past, as well as having an entire archive dedicated to saving images of the ensembles my favourite French influencers wear. Upon looking at these snaps that a pattern began to emerge—I realised that almost all of the women I follow own the same core capsule wardrobe of French fashion essentials. Of course, I am all too aware that this uniform may not apply to everyone in a country, but the women I’m particularly interested in? They all subscribe to a look I love.
“French women invest in timeless pieces over trends,” confirms Marissa Cox, a friend of Who What Wear, who now resides in Paris. “Wearability is integral to a French woman’s closet as she doesn’t tend to overdress. She looks for pieces that can be dressed up or down.”
So which French fashion essentials do the country’s best-dressers rely upon to ensure they look chic at all times? I decided to do the honourable thing and share them with you. Scroll below to find out.
1. TRENCH COAT
Style Notes: Coats don’t come more classic than the trench coat, so it’s little wonder that they appear so heavily in, not only French culture, but the real-life wardrobes of its chicest residents.
Shop trench coats:
Arket Oversized Trench Coat (£175)
H&M Double-Breasted Trench Coat (£60)
Ba&Sh Alan Trench Coat (£455)
2. FLORAL BLOUSE
Style Notes: French women are masters at looking effortlessly polished, and the piece the helps that achieve this potent combination is the blouse. While they’ll wear just about every blouse look out there, we find that the Frenchies we follow always opt for floral iterations.
Shop floral blouses:
Yvonne S Lime Green Queen Victoria Ruffled Floral Blouse (£510)
Étoile Isabel Marant Adigra Floral Shirt (£210)
H&M Draped Blouse (£13)
3. FLARED TROUSERS
Style Notes: French style tends to take subtle cues from the ’70s, which is likely why so many of the country’s sleekest dressers still consider flares to be their trouser-shape of choice.
Shop flared trousers:
& Other Stories Front Slit Trousers (£55)
Re/Done 70s Ultra High-Rise Corduroy Pants (£168)
Veronica Beard Verity Velvet Flared Pants (£375)
4. BALLET PUMPS
Style Notes: We know what you’re thinking: Ballet pumps, for French women? Groundbreaking. But out of all the French style clichés, this is the one item that French women actually wear.
Shop ballet pumps:
Russell & Bromley Xpresso Crossover Flat Shoes (£195)
Michel Vivien Vivi Flats (£430)
Dune Corallina Shoes (£80)
5. STRAPPY DRESS
Style Notes: When it comes to dresses, the French typically prefer fuss-free silhouettes (unless they’re couture). For day-to-day wear, you’ll see countless Gallic girls wearing simple strappy numbers.
Shop strappy dresses:
Réalisation The Alba Dress in Dazed Noir (£230)
Joseph Clea Silk-Satin Dress (£425)
Arket Shirred Sundress (£59)
6. STRAIGHT-LEG JEANS
Style Notes: It’s hard to think of a time when straight-leg jeans didn’t dominate our wardrobes. French women have been championing this denim trend for years and to chic avail.
Shop straight-leg jeans:
& Other Stories Keeper Cut Jeans (£65)
Totême Ease Mid-Rise Jeans (£210)
River Island High-Waist Straight-Leg Jeans (£40)
7. BLACK BLAZER
Style Notes: Finding a jacket to match your daily outfits can be tricky, but not if you have a black blazer at your disposal. French women use them to dress up their denim, as well as for bestowing dresses with some je ne sais quoi.
Shop black blazers:
Frankie Shop Cotton Blazer (£250)
Arket Oversized Wool Hopsack Blazer (£135)
Weekday Rumi Blazer (£45)
8. SOFT CARDIGAN
Style Notes: While cardigans are a staple in our winter wardrobes, French women will carry them through to spring and summer as an effortless cover-up solution. They’ll often wear them sans top underneath, too.
Shop soft cardigans:
Monki Super-Soft Cardigan (£30)
Sézane Gaspard Jumper (£95)
Ganni Cropped V-Neck Cardigan (£245)
9. SHOULDER BAG
Style Notes: More practical than top-handles and more elegant than crossbodies, shoulder bags are, naturally, a French girl’s arm candy of choice.
Shop shoulder bags:
Gucci Jackie 1961 Small Hobo Leather Bag (£1750)
COS Mini Leather Shoulder Bag (£99)
Gu_De White Lisa Medium Leather Shoudler Bag (£290)
10. MINI SKIRT
Style Notes: No women embrace the mini skirt quite like French women. While they naturally wear them with heels when the occasion calls for it, you’re much more likely to spot them wearing miniskirts with chunky boots and jumpers or T-shirts.
Shop mini skirts:
AlexaChung Marnie Suede Button Front Skirt (£395)
Marcia Tchikiboum Skirt (£228)
H&M Bouclé Mini Skirt (£30)
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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