If there is one culture that’s continually revered more than any other for its style, it’s the French. And if there’s one city, it’s Paris. Fashion-forward individuals have been trying to emulate Parisian style for decades, which is renowned for being timeless, seemingly effortless, and chic. For lack of a better word, French style is just plain cool, and the it-factor only doubles when you’re talking about the famed city of love.
But you don’t have to live in view of the Eiffel Tower to achieve Parisian style; instead, a little know-how can go a long way. Keep reading for tips and inspiration for mastering the class and aesthetic of the world’s most stylish city.
What Is Parisian Style?
Part of what makes Parisian style so appealing is its ability to withstand the test of time. It’s not about keeping up with the latest fashion trend; instead, it’s classic and the purest definition of chic. It’s understated and versatile. It’s about always looking put-together and “expensive” without ever having tried.
When it comes to Parisian fashion, common elements include tailored bottoms, ballet flats (duh), striped tops, baskets, airy dresses and skirts, and hair ribbons. Fabrics and materials are fairly wide ranging (part of what adds so much visual interest to Parisian looks), but with common themes including wool, lace, denim, tweed, and leather. Bold accessories and fearless footwear also nod to the comfort Parisians have for treating fashion as a creative outlet.
How To Dress Like a Parisian
If you’ve ever wondered how to dress like a Parisian, the following tips can help you wrap your head around the repeating themes. Use these points as inspiration when putting outfits together using items you already own or while shopping for new wardrobe additions.
Choose quality over quantity
If there’s one fashion “rule” we can all learn from Parisians, it’s the value of choosing your wardrobe items with intention. If you’ve ever shopped French clothing brands, you’ve probably realized they tend to ring in at a higher price point. More often than not, this isn’t just the brand name talking. Rather, it’s a testament to quality. Filling your wardrobe with pieces that are works of art that have been purchased with intention (read: you can think of countless ways to style them) will instantly elevate any look you pull from it. Plus, higher quality pieces have a tendency to stick around longer, making their cost-per-wear palatable. Parisian-inspired pieces are enduring and tasteful. And Parisian style is the antithesis of fast fashion.
When it comes to making a look feel timeless, reaching for a pair of tailored trousers or denim is a no-fail place to start—their structured and flattering silhouettes instantly elevate an entire outfit. Choose high-quality items when shopping for this closet essential, knowing that you’ll be wearing them on repeat and will need them to hold up through wear and wash.
Play with texture
When it comes to the Parisian style of dressing, consider that the French don’t limit themselves to an all-cotton fabric pallet. Instead, they dress beyond the basics. Wool, tweed, rattan, linen, and more are all fair game when creating classic Parisian looks. In other words, don’t be afraid of pieces that aren’t so easily crammed into the washing machine with the rest of your laundry. Undoubtedly, the pieces that require a little extra love are the ones you’ll love the most.
Opt for neutral tones
The simplest, most accessible way to instantly start dressing more chic is by opting for neutral tones. These subtle colors are understated and—when channeled through clothing—sets the outfit stage for adding a statement piece, such as a pair of eye-catching shoes or a designer handbag. Parisian girls incorporate neutral tones in every aspect of their wardrobe—don’t hesitate to go monochrome.
Invest in a basket bag
When it comes to bags, baskets are a quintessential Parisian fashion item. During the warmer months, they can also be an entirely practical accessory, suiting themselves well to different occasions and backdrops—from city stroll, to weekend brunch, to the farmer’s market, to the seaside, and more. In the wintertime, swap your basket out for a classic leather bag that can compliment many-an-outfit.
Add elements of the unexpected
If you want to dress like a French girl, learn to keep others on their toes by adding exciting or unexpected elements to your looks. An easy way to do this is by trying your hand at the wrong-shoe theory—a fashion methodology popularized by stylist Allison Bornstein—which encourages wearers to go against instinct when choosing an outfit’s shoe and, instead, lean into juxtaposition. For example, pair a feminine dress with sneakers or a pair of jeans styled with a blazer with embellished boots. Another way to channel the unexpected is by pairing clothing items that don’t necessarily “match,” but just innately “go together.” Don’t be afraid to subtly clash patterns. For example, a floral skirt with a striped tee.
Create your own fashion story
Parisians exude a sophisticated sense of confidence—particularly when it comes to fashion. So stop saving that cashmere sweater for holiday get-togethers. Be brave—wear it to the grocery store or to brunch with friends. Life is short and you can’t take it with you. Additionally, stop trudging through the task of putting your outfits together. Chances are, if you’re reading this post, you probably don’t think of getting dressed as a “chore,” but you probably also have days that find you staring down your closet uninspired. Be creative, have fun, and—above all else—be confident. Others will love your look as much as you sell them on it.
Parisian Outfit Inspiration
A Striped Cardigan + Tailored Shorts
There’s something so inexplicably French about a striped top. For a chic summer look, style a pair of airy linen shorts with a white tank, and black-and-white striped cardigan. A basket provides a striking color and textural contrast.
A Plaid Coat + Turtleneck + Trousers
In the winter, consider layering a wool blazer over a turtleneck and trousers. Leather handbags are true to Parisian style and—when purchased with quality top of mind—can last a lifetime. Loafers are the most versatile pair of shoes you could ever own and are fashionable year-round.
A Midi Dress + Basket Bag + Sandals
During the summer, a midi sundress can be a comfortable and versatile Parisian-style outfit building block. Pair the dress with a basket or straw bag, and finish the look with a comfortable pair of flat leather sandals with an understated silhouette.
A Matching Tweed Set
Every fall, I have an overwhelming urge to wear tweed. If you’re like me, then channeling French fashion can be a fun way to style the tweed pieces in your closet. A skirt set worn with a pair of tall leather boots is an unexpected look you can take with you to the office.
A Striped Top + Jeans + Ballet Flats
Parisian fashion doesn’t have to be complicated. As much as striped tops are insanely Parisian, so are ballet flats. Style them both with a pair of jeans and grab a trench coat in the case of rain or cooler temperatures.
More Parisian-Inspired Staples We Love
4 colors available
Short Sleeve Sweater
2 colors available
Bubble Skirt Mini Dress
Flutter Sleeve Midi Dress
7 colors available
Maxi Shirt Dress
4 colors available
3 colors available
Bouclé Sweater Jacket
5 colors available
8 colors available
Bouclé Cropped Jacket
Leather Ballet Flats
3 colors available
5 colors available
3 colors available