Coco Chanel once said that “fashion changes but style endures.” Here, the iconic fashion designer defined French dressing sensibilities perfectly—French women focus not on trends but on timeless, elegant style.
“A woman can be overdressed, but never over elegant,” said Chanel. French girl style is all about minimalism, sophistication, and quality over quantity.
While French style appears effortless and undone, utilizing easy pieces like jeans, flats, and t-shirts, it’s anything but thrown together. Less is often more—when French women wear easy, simple pieces in a neutral palette that are tailored perfectly, the end look is incredibly polished and chic. For inspiration, check out style icons like Jeanne Damas, Jane Birkin, and Taylor LaShae.
French style also goes hand-in-hand with sustainable fashion—it’s all about investing in pieces you love that’ll last a lifetime, knowing how to maximize a small wardrobe by mixing and matching, and tailoring clothes to fit your body so you’ll wear them again and again.
Here you’ll find six of our top French girl style tips, along with a few pieces to inspire you to franc-ify your wardrobe.
Identify your personal style
Because French style is all about a timeless fashion sense, one of the best ways to dress French is to be yourself. Figuring out your personal style means you can shop consciously for the pieces you know you’ll repeatedly wear—and your pieces will be easier to mix and match with each other, too.
Invest in quality pieces
French women veer away from fast fashion, opting for items made of quality materials that they can wear for years. Simple pieces in fabrics like cotton, wool, leather, and silk lay the groundwork for a wardrobe that looks elevated because of its quality, but is classic enough to be worn in everyday life, year after year.
Don’t overdo statement pieces
Emily Cooper from Netflix’s Emily in Paris is a perfect foil to French girl style. She wears pieces like bright bucket hats and berets, pink knee-highs, boxy patterned jackets, and sky-high stilettos, her loud colors and contrasting patterns making her stick out like an American sore thumb. Her wardrobe is part of the show’s comedic appeal, but in real life, Emily Cooper goes against the Parisian fashion edict that less is more when it comes to statement pieces.
To achieve French girl style, keep color palettes and silhouettes neutral and understated, leaving room for one statement piece per outfit, like a brightly colored shoe, an oversized blazer, statement earrings, or a red lip. Accessories, in general, should not steal the show.
Focus on the fit
An emphasis on well-fitting pieces is the common thread that runs through any French girl ‘fit. Pants, button-downs, and blazers should be neither too tight nor too loose, and you shouldn’t hesitate to take clothes to a tailor, so your pieces fit your exact measurements. You’ll get more use out of pieces that fit you perfectly, and tailored clothing makes you look put together even when you throw on a casual outfit without thinking much about it.
Avoid flashy logos and activewear
This is super un-American—French women don’t wear activewear unless they’re going to or coming from the gym. They might wear one athleisure piece at a time, like a hoodie or sneakers mixed with more tailored pieces, but never a head-to-toe athleisure look like we do in the States.
French women also avoid flashy logos like Louis Vuitton bags or Prada shoes. Visible designer logos, in French culture, are usually distasteful and indicative of flaunting wealth rather than sophistication.
Form your wardrobe around a few essentials
Invest in a few quality basics to form the basis of your wardrobe. We’ve already touched on a few staples of a French wardrobe, like button-downs, tailored pants and jackets, and flats, but other essentials might look like light sweaters, sun dresses, pumps, a trench coat, camisoles, a leather handbag, or a little black dress. Pick a few of these pieces in neutral colors and good fits to lay the groundwork for a wardrobe you can wear over and over, and then experiment with layering and statement pieces from there. Stilettos can dress up a great pair of jeans, while a cardigan can dress down your dresses.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, here are a few example pieces to give you an idea of a French wardrobe.
Conrad T-shirt from Sézane, $55 | XXS–XXXL, 100% GOTS certified organic cotton
Jacques Jacket from Rouje, $415 | 34–44, 100% pure wool
Wide Leg Trouser from Vetta, $148 | 0–18, 100% Lenzing Tencel, closed loop production
Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt from Everlane, $150 | 00–16, 100% silk made in an Ever Better Factory
Petra Cylinder Heel from Reformation, $278 | 5–11, sustainably made in Brazil
Lauretta Dress from Sézane, $215 | 2–14, FSC certified, OEKO-Tex certified 100% viscose
Foret Cable Knit Cardigan from Reformation, $198 | XS–XL, 100% organic cotton
Celeste Ankle Boots from Rouje, $375 | 36–41, certified leather, made in Europe
ASE Jeans from Warp + Weft, $98 | 14–24, made with less water, with energy-saving technology
Reversible Cropped Tank from Vetta, $98 | XS–XL, 100% recycled fabric, Global Recycle Standard certified
Bruno Knit Dress from Reformation, $128 | XS–XL, TENCEL Lyocell, closed loop production
Italian Leather Day Glove from Everlane, $125 | 5–11, 100% Italian leather
Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!
Featured image includes model Norrine Maupin wearing jewelry by Apse