French Style: How To Dress The Parisian Way

Before we dive into the world of French style, care to join us in a Parisian fantasy for a moment? Picture yourself traversing the city’s streets, your heels clacking on the storied cobblestones. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by historic buildings and landmarks. Maybe you’re flagging down a taxi to take you to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Or, perhaps you’re strolling to a café for an afternoon apéritif. It’s hard to resist the warm, inviting smells of fresh bread and rich cuisine wafting your way. Oh là là

Want to bring a little slice of that romantic “Emily in Paris” daydream into your real life? Then delve into the world of women’s French style fashion with us. Keep reading to learn how to incorporate this nonchalant, chic style into your own wardrobe. Before you know it, you’ll feel like you’re jet-setting to the most visited country in the world. No phrase book or plane ticket required.

What Is French Style?

In terms of fashion, women’s French style is an effortlessly elegant way of dressing. It’s characterized by neutral colors, clean lines and timeless basics. When you think of French girl style, visualize fashion and comfort coming together as one. No restrictively tight clothing or sky-high heels here. Instead, Parisian fashionistas reach for simple pieces with straight or slightly tailored silhouettes. Their color palette thrives in shades of black, tan, white and muted blues. They collect quality, easy to mix and match pieces with an evergreen appeal.

“Mode passes, style remains.” — Coco Chanel

For example, a polished tweed jacket and the perfect little black dress always have a spot in French women’s closets. To quote Coco Chanel, “Mode passes, style remains.” Chanel herself is an important figure of Parisian style and is often credited as its founder. But did you know that France’s position as an influential taste-maker long predates her? Time for a quick history lesson.

A Glance At French Fashion History

French fashion’s fame goes back all the way to the 17th century. During this time, King Louis XIV put increasing importance and finances toward using luxury fabrics in clothing. In the next century, Marie Antoinette set the bar even higher for extravagant apparel and the country’s textile manufacturing boomed. After the fall of the monarchy, France continued to produce eye-catching, eccentric outfits throughout the 1800s. In 1925, Coco Chanel turned the industry on its head with menswear-inspired women’s clothing and understated designs. Since then, tried-and-true pieces with subtle nods to contemporary trends continue to define French girl style. Now that you’re familiar with Parisian fashion and its roots, let’s tour the different versions of this aesthetic. 

French Chic Style: Stylish Simplicity 

Most of what we consider Parisian design falls under the umbrella of chic style. This should come as no surprise, considering the term means smart elegance and sophistication. This sartorial genre sticks to the French style rules and dabbles little in the world of fads. Say au revoir to loud patterns and fussy details and bonjour to solid hues and minimalist construction. If you’re looking to build a capsule wardrobe, women’s French chic style has you covered. All you need are a few good basics.

For tops, look for button-downs made of natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk. Classic sweaters in crew neck or v-neck silhouettes are also welcome for a cozy, yet metropolitan vibe. When it comes to bottoms, opt for pencil skirts or trousers. Want a more casual approach? Dark-wash jeans in straight and slim silhouettes are go-tos for a bistro lunch or reading Baudelaire in a local bookshop. Though French chic style loves a good menswear moment, don’t be afraid to incorporate dresses into your closet. Feminine wrap and shirt dresses are both French staple pieces. Last but not least, let’s talk about shoes. Complete your outfit with flats or low heels. French fashion favors practical footwear like leather ballet flats, ankle boots and kitten heels. Slip on the pair of your choice and you’re ready for a stroll by the Seine. Très chic.

French Street Style: Elegance On The Go 

Looking for a version of women’s French style that’s a bit more à la carte? Then French street style is just the thing for you. This fashion movement still emphasizes neutrals, straight silhouettes and classic pieces while making greater space for trendy touches. Envision an outfit you’d wear to visit the Louvre or while rubbing elbows at Paris Fashion Week. Don’t worry if an ensemble doesn’t immediately come to mind. That’s where we come in. Replace the go-to slim denim silhouette with high-waisted wide-leg jeans but keep the dark wash. Take this look a step further by partnering a denim miniskirt with a beige button-front cashmere cardigan. Alternatively, wear a shacket with a window-pane print instead of an old-school blazer for the ultimate French style look

Just like conventional street style, the French version has a relaxed and playful aesthetic. You can incorporate provocative elements like a lacey bra top or an unexpected splash of color. Statement pieces are welcome here, as long as they are paired with muted options to keep the look cohesive. For instance, if you’re loving dramatic sleeves, skip the candy-colored versions and opt for a top in tawny brown. Or, downplay turquoise heels with taupe-toned trousers. One last thing. Make sure your statement pieces don’t actually have words on them. Though logomania is central to street style in America, it’s usually avoided in the City of Lights. Enjoying the laissez-faire attitude of French street style? Then follow us to our next stop: French fashion with a romantic twist.

Romantic Parisian Fashion: Swoon-Worthy Styles

For the lover of French girl style who can’t resist a dash of dreaminess, there’s romantic French fashion. This is ideal for warm weather and sunny seasons. Although we love Paris in the springtime, we have a different region of the country in mind for this trend. Instead of clothing to wear to the Eiffel Tower, these French style looks are more suited for the Côte d’Azur. That’s right, we’re traveling south to the breath-taking French Riviera.

Imagine yourself on a boat, sailing across crystalline blue water with a salty breeze in your hair. Here, airy puffed sleeves, ruffles and embroidered details are your friends. You can even get away with boho-inspired touches, like painterly florals and crochet trims. But as with the other categories of French fashion, balance and sophistication are still paramount. Pastels are on trend for spring 2022 fashion and we love them for this idyllic style. Flirt with soft hues, like blush, champagne and mint. And, as always, complete your ensembles with clean lines and neutral colors. Bon Voyage!

Let us help you turn your wardrobe into a tour de force. Take your style quiz, order a Fix and don’t forget to ask your stylist for French style outfits. Sit back and relax while we do the work for you. We’ll ship five items to your doorstep that you can try on from the comfort of your home. Pay for what you keep and send back the rest. Or, head over to Stitch Fix Freestyle™ to instantly buy pieces curated to your style and size. Shipping, exchanges and returns are always on us. Magnifique!

A New Way To Shop

Stitch Fix connects you with personal Stylists to send you looks you’ll love.

Get Your Fix

Need expert fashion advice?

Get a personal stylist

Want more tips, trends & insider news? Follow @stitchfix on Instagram