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10 Timeless Items Every French Woman Has in Her Wardrobe

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 bridesmaid 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 have worn in the past, and I have an entire archive dedicated to saving images of the ensembles my favourite French influencers wear. Upon looking at these snaps, 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

French Fashion Essentials: @ruerodier wears a chic trench coat

Photo:

@ruerodier

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:
& Other Stories Relaxed Belted Cotton Trench Coat
& Other Stories
Relaxed Belted Cotton Trench Coat
£120
Shop Now

Mango Classic Cotton Trench Coat
Mango
Classic Cotton Trench Coat
£80
Shop Now

Ba&Sh Alan Trench Coat
Ba&Sh
Alan Trench Coat
£455
£228
Shop Now

2. FLORAL BLOUSE

French Fashion Essentials: @lenafarl wears a floral blouse

Photo:

@lenafarl

Style Notes: French women are masters at looking effortlessly polished, and the piece that helps them achieve this potent combination is the blouse. While they’ll wear just about every blouse look out there, we find that the French we follow always opt for floral iterations. 

Shop floral blouses:
Rixo Carly Pink Floral-Print Cotton Blouse
Rixo
Carly Pink Floral-Print Cotton Blouse
£155
Shop Now

Faithfull the Brand Pontina Top
Faithfull the Brand
Pontina Top
£139
Shop Now

H&M Flounce-Collared Blouse
H&M
Flounce-Collared Blouse
£18
Shop Now

3. FLARED TROUSERS

French Fashion Essentials: @andi_mun wears flared trousers

Photo:

@andi_mun

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
& Other Stories
Front Slit Trousers
£55
Shop Now

Re/Done 70s Ultra High-Rise Corduroy Pants
Re/Done
70s Ultra High-Rise Corduroy Pants
£335
£168
Shop Now

Veronica Beard Verity Velvet Flared Pants
Veronica Beard
Verity Velvet Flared Pants
£375
£188
Shop Now

4. BALLET PUMPS

French Fashion Essentials: @vikilefevre wears a pair of ballet flats

Photo:

@vikilefevre

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:
Jil Sander Stitch Edge Ballet Pumps
Jil Sander
Stitch Edge Ballet Pumps
£490
Shop Now

Michel Vivien Vivi Flats
Michel Vivien
Vivi Flats
£430
Shop Now

Dune Corallina Shoes
Dune
Corallina Shoes
£80
Shop Now

5. STRAPPY DRESS

French Fashion Essentials: @tamaramory wears a strappy dress

Photo:

@tamaramory

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
Réalisation
The Alba Dress in Dazed Noir
£230
Shop Now

Patrizia Pepe Fluted Slip Dress
Patrizia Pepe
Fluted Slip Dress
£405
Shop Now

Mango Printed Camisole Dress
Mango
Printed Camisole Dress
£36
Shop Now

6. STRAIGHT-LEG JEANS

French Fashion Essentials: @frannfyne wears a pair of straight-leg jeans

Photo:

@frannfyne

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
& Other Stories
Keeper Cut Jeans
£65
Shop Now

Totême Ease Mid-Rise Jeans
Totême
Ease Mid-Rise Jeans
£210
Shop Now

River Island High-Waist Straight-Leg Jeans
River Island
High-Waist Straight-Leg Jeans
£40
£16
Shop Now

7. BLACK BLAZER

French Fashion Essentials: @leiasfez wears a black blazer

Photo:

@leiasfez

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 and bestow dresses with some je ne sais quoi. 

Shop black blazers:
Mango Double-Breasted Blazer
Mango
Double-Breasted Blazer
£70
Shop Now

Arket Oversized Wool Hopsack Blazer
Arket
Oversized Wool Hopsack Blazer
£135
Shop Now

Weekday Rumi Blazer
Weekday
Rumi Blazer
£45
Shop Now

8. SOFT CARDIGAN

French Fashion Essentials: @sabinasocol wears a soft cardigan

Photo:

@sabinasocol

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:
& Other Stories Gold Button Cardigan
& Other Stories
Gold Button Cardigan
£75
Shop Now

Sézane Gaspard Jumper
Sézane
Gaspard Jumper
£95
Shop Now

Nanushka Effie Bouclé Cropped Cardigan
Nanushka
Effie Bouclé Cropped Cardigan
£295
Shop Now

9. SHOULDER BAG

French Fashion Essentials: @slipintostyle carries a shoulder bag

Photo:

@slipintostyle

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
Gucci
Jackie 1961 Small Hobo Leather Bag
£1860
Shop Now

COS Mini Leather Shoulder Bag
COS
Mini Leather Shoulder Bag
£99
Shop Now

Staud Kaia Brown Leather Shoulder Bag
Staud
Kaia Brown Leather Shoulder Bag
£215
Shop Now

10. MINISKIRT

French Fashion Essentials: @annelauremais wears a mini skirt

Photo:

@annelauremais

Style Notes: No women embrace the miniskirt 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 miniskirts:
AlexaChung Marnie Suede Button Front Skirt
AlexaChung
Marnie Suede Button Front Skirt
£395
£119
Shop Now

Rejina Pyo Shift Mini Skirt
Rejina Pyo
Shift Mini Skirt
£585
Shop Now

H&M Mini Skirt
H&M
Mini Skirt
£18
Shop Now

Next Up: 39 of the Coolest French Fashion Brands Everyone Should Know

This piece was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

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