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What do Jean Paul Gaultier, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy have in common? They’re among several iconic French designers who’ve shaped today’s fashion world. Considering their popularity, it’s little wonder why women are eager to convert their closets to the French girl style.
Paris is one of the epicenters of fashion, hosting the annual Paris Fashion Week — a prominent display of upcoming seasonal haute couture. In 2022, the Paris Fashion Week’s online platform for fall fashion recorded a 90% increase in unique visitors and a $260 million media impact value following the pandemic.
Needless to say, France knows a thing or two about dressing like an elegant woman. If you want to look your best and embody the French girl style yourself, there are eight rules you need to follow.
1. Buy Quality Pieces
“Quality over quantity” never applied to anything more than the French girl style. French fashionistas prefer to invest in a few quality pieces over cheap clothing that tear and fade after a couple of wears.
Indeed, a few quality pieces will cost you more money. However, they’re made from durable materials and manufactured in a way that ensures they last longer. You may even find that buying fine-quality clothes is cheaper than constantly replacing low-quality items.
Of course, that also means you must take special care of more expensive pieces. Always read each label’s cleaning instructions before laundering — some may require hand-washing, running the machine on a delicate setting or ironing.
2. Appear Effortlessly Stylish
What’s your current styling routine? Does it take an hour to figure out what to wear for the day? If so, it’s time to reduce that time to no more than a half hour — including putting on your makeup.
If you want to embody French girl style, you must appear as though you put little effort into your look. That doesn’t mean you look sloppy — it just means you have more important things to focus on than primping yourself to the nines for a trip to the grocery store.
Use a timer to see if you can fit your beauty routine into 30 minutes — this could be as simple as putting a comb through your hair, a little black mascara and red lipstick. With a bit of practice, you can achieve an effortless style quickly.
3. Keep it Simple
Of course, achieving an effortless look means keeping your wardrobe simple, too. French girl style adheres to basics — a simple t-shirt, fitted jeans, stylish flats and a chic blazer.
It also leans into neutral tones and subdued patterns. Black, white, nude tones and thin pinstripes are familiar in French fashions — as are different textures.
French fashionistas know how to add interest to their clothing by experimenting with satin, linen and chiffon — for example, you can dress up a pair of skinny denim jeans with a satin camisole.
4. Choose Comfort
While you’re dressing more simply, also choose comfortable clothing. Make sure that fabrics are breathable and lightweight and aren’t too constricting.
The same could be said for shoes — you’ll rarely see stylish French women walking the streets of Paris in four-inch high heels, so you shouldn’t either. Ballet or pointed-toe flats are très chic and ultra-comfortable for long-term daily wear.
5. Wear the Right Fit
Dressing your best in the French girl style requires wearing the right fit — ultimately, it helps to get properly measured at a department store or boutique to know the correct clothing size for your body.
Try different pieces to determine what cuts, styles and colors look best. You’ll want to avoid buying extra-tight clothes highlighting trouble spots you’d like to hide. Likewise, you don’t want to purchase clothes that are so big you fall out of them.
You can always buy a size bigger than your regular fit when in doubt. It’s best to wear one size up to avoid breaking all the other rules of comfort, simplicity and effortless style. However, even a size bigger should be tailored well to your shape.
6. Select Timeless Fashions
The most fabulous French designers brought styles that have endured the test of time — Chanel transformed frou-frou fashions with straight lines, while Saint Laurent revolutionized women’s clothing with a sleek tuxedo jacket.
The key to styling yourself like a French woman is to choose timeless fashions — that means steering clear of passe trends like low-rise skinny jeans, crocs, cut-out shirts and excessive accessories that have grown popular today.
Change your perspective about shopping — instead of buying what’s in, buy whatever you can wear for years to come. In some ways, filling your wardrobe with timeless pieces is a form of curation — carefully selected to be remembered and never forgotten.
7. Save Activewear for Workouts
The “soft pants” trend everyone adopted during pandemic lockdowns is a thing of the past. If you want to dress in the French girl style, you must save the activewear for the gym.
When we mentioned dressing comfortably, we didn’t mean in sweatpants and stretchy clothing. While it’s common to see college kids rock pajamas to class or spot celebrities wearing leggings on their coffee runs, you’ll never see French women wearing outfits meant for working out.
Leave the gym clothes and yoga pants at home — yes, that includes your expensive Lululemon athletic wear.
8. Be Authentic
France might boast some of the best fashion experts and designers throughout history, but French women avoid being too flashy in style and labels.
For example, Louis Vuitton is known for printing the LV logo on its handbags. Still, French women usually consider the brand vulgar — a vast difference from American women’s perspectives. Whereas women in the United States proudly showcase their designer bags while out and about, French women do their best to hide the brand name.
Authenticity also leans into how French women present themselves to the world. Rather than seek plastic surgery — unless you believe that’s the answer for self-body positivity — research how French actresses and models with smaller frames dress. There are ways to confidently highlight your best features instead of modifying your natural self.
Look Your Best in the French Girl Style
Dressing French girl style is easier than you think. Once you let go of everything you’ve come to know about trends and vanity, simple, quality fashion will become second nature to you. Look your best by dressing like the most fashionable women in the world.
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