Ready to start working French girl style into your closet? Getting the effortless French look is only possible after building up a solid foundation of wardrobe essentials. The following pieces are found in nearly every French girl’s closet, each serving a practical purpose and offering versatile use.
1. The Little Black Dress
The little black dress is just about as French as a buttery croissant. This classic wardrobe staple is one of the foundational items in a French girl’s wardrobe because of its practicality in so many life situations. You can wear it on a job interview, to a cocktail party, your boyfriend’s parents’ dinner party and so many other places. It is the go-to dress for those I-have-no-idea-what-to-wear events in your life. The LBD can be paired with a special jacket or favorite handbag to add some character and personality to the outfit.
2. The Button-Up Shirt
A classic white or blue button-up shirt is the second key piece to the French girl’s wardrobe. Many French wardrobe staples are borrowed from menswear, like the Oxford shirt. This button-up collared shirt can be paired with a plaid blazer or straight black pants for an effortless yet chic look. I recommend purchasing both a blue and white version. Figaret is the brand of choice for French girls, but if you can’t make it to France, then try these American options:
3. The Silk Shirt
French girls love silk. Whether it’s a silk cami to layer under an oxford shirt or a blazer, or a 70s-style bow-tied button-up blouse, silk is necessary to the French girl’s wardrobe. The slight sheen gives instant elegance and class to the French girl who wears it.
4. La Marinière Top (Blue and White Striped Top)
It may be the most cliché of all, but French girls really do love their blue and white striped marinière tops! The classic blue and white stripes found on so many shirts in France come from Bretagne – where the label Saint James first popularized them after drawing inspiration from local sailors. You can shop Saint James in the United States at both Nordstrom and Tuckernuck.
5. Straight-Leg Jeans
A French girl doesn’t wear much skin-tight clothing and the same goes for jeans. Instead of skinny jeans, chic French girls often wear straight-leg jeans which still follow the form of the leg, but in a looser way, leaving just the right amount of open space towards the ankle.
Read our guide to French girl jeans to know which washes French girls wear most.
6. The Beige Trench Coat
The beige trench coat is a French girl’s best friend during the gray rainy days of the Parisian climate. These coats are knee-length, waterproof, and versatile. If you can’t afford the classic yet expensive Burberry original, then try this APC version. A trench coat is the one piece of outerwear that will take you through all seasons!
7. An Oversized Blazer
Another staple borrowed from the boys, an oversized, almost masculine blazer is absolutely found in all the cool French girls’ wardrobes. They were popularized most recently by Isabel Marant, who makes some of the most coveted ones. Look for a cute blazer made of wool or linen with a plaid or houndstooth print.
8. A Black Smoking Jacket
Even if she can’t afford the original black Le Smoking Jacket by Yves Saint Laurent, the French girl has certainly found an affordable French style version of this classic black jacket to pair with just about any outfit in her wardrobe. Black evening jackets are great for nights out to dinner, cocktail hours, and more special occasions.
9. Camel Winter Coat
If there’s one winter coat a French girl keeps year after year, there’s a good chance it’s camel. While the Scandinavians stick to black or grey for their wool coats, the French much prefer the warmer tone of camel. Who knows why this color is so popular, but perhaps because it matches the beige-colored buildings Paris is known for? In any case, you should absolutely invest in a quality wool camel coat for your French winter wardrobe.
10. The Cozy Sweater
Great for the transition weather of early fall, the oversized, cozy sweater is a French wardrobe staple. It hangs loose on your body and gives you a carefree, relaxed look. It’s not trying to be sexy at all – and that’s why the French love it! Go for a French style chunky knitwear sweater and stay cozy all winter long!
11. The Tailored Pant
A classic-cut, tailored pant is a must for any French girl’s wardrobe. Again, nothing skin-tight, but rather a straight or slim leg fit works great. Try Nathalie Dumeix in the 12th arrondissement for a high-waisted, 70s style straight leg pant that is a favorite of Parisian it girls. This is one of the key French girl pants you must own!
12. The Wrap Dress
The wrap dress may have come from the United States, but it’s a wardrobe essential in the French girl’s closet. This universally flattering French girl dress can conform to fit your body. Since the 70s look is very popular with French girls, this dress fits right in place. Floral wrap dresses are perfect for those mid-summer trips to the south of France… My favorite place to shop for wrap dresses is without a doubt Reformation, but I also love ones by Rouje and Réalisation Par!
13. The Silk Scarf
It could be vintage or it could be from Hermès, but every French girl owns at least one French silk scarf. This item, unlike the others usually has a brightly colored pattern on it. This accessory is one that has a long and storied past in French culture. The silk scarf has been a symbol of elegance since the 1930s. Farfetch has an amazing selection of vintage Hermès scarves for sale.
14. Black Flats
Repetto is the brand of choice for the classic and easy black leather flats so many Parisian girls wear – but you can find this classic style shoe at nearly any retailer these days. Ballet flats are great because they can be worn year-round (ok, except on those really cold winter days) and don’t distract too much from your outfit.
15. A Leather Shoulder Bag
The leather shoulder bag is practical, convenient, and stylish – three things French girls love. When it comes to leather bags, APC is a great place to start looking if you want a cool French minimal look.
If you have a larger budget, then consider the Marni Trunk bag or any Céline bag designed by former creative director Phoebe Philo.
If you want a more unique bag at an affordable piece, then take a look at the numerous local leather designers in Paris like Léo and Violette or Polène. Leather bags are in high demand in France and the supply is certainly plentiful.
A quality leather handbag is vital to your French handbag collection!
I hope you found this list of French wardrobe essentials useful. Let me know if you agree or disagree with our selection in the comments below!