The 9 Items Every French Woman Has in Her Closet
French women and their enviable style have long been a source of fascination for anyone interested in fashion. They always seem to have an air of sophistication without seeming to try that hard. Indeed, French fashion is all about finding pieces that look polished, chic and dressy but that are also comfortable. Rather than stock up on berets and Breton-stripe tops, here are nine items every French woman has in her closet that are wonderfully easy to incorporate into just about any wardrobe.
1. Timeless Denim
We’re talking not too loose, not too skinny, but the ultimate straight-leg (maybe with a small kick at the hem) in classic blue or black washes with no distressing (though a raw hem is OK). This classic denim silhouette has a vintage vibe that will never go out of style, especially if you opt for raw denim or fabrics with very little stretch. Choose whatever rise you like best, but make sure the length hits within an inch of your ankle bone.
2. Leather Knee-High Boots in Neutral Hues
Another classic style, structured knee-high boots of just about any variety are an absolute must-have for copying French style. It doesn’t much matter whether you prefer a riding style, pointy-toe stiletto or croc-embossed block heel so long as you stick to neutral hues (black, brown or tan). And be sure to store them correctly so they don’t start to slouch or crease over time—this look is all about that sharp, structured silhouette.
3. A Trench or Long Overcoat
Long coats help to lengthen your frame, even for the most petite among us, and almost always look more polished than a cropped cut. While a traditional tan trench is definitely the most popular option for French women, colorful options (like brown, pink or even bright red) also work, as do slim wool peacoats and belted dusters.
4. Dresses You Can Throw On For Any Occasion
The bread and butter of any French woman’s wardrobe is definitely the easy, wear-anywhere dress. These frocks are pieces that work for weekend errands, drinks with friends, dinner parties and even days at the office (it’s all about finding the right accessories). Opt for fabrics that won’t wrinkle easily, patterns and colors that aren’t too trendy or too season-specific and choose more modest silhouettes over skimpy minis, like a jersey wrap dress in a burgundy floral print or midi shirtdress in millennial pink.
5. Tailored Wide-Leg Trousers
If she’s not wearing jeans or a dress, your French alter ego should opt for tailored pants in a flattering wide-leg cut. It doesn’t much matter whether you prefer pressed chinos or plaid wool, so long as they have an impeccable fit. Tuck in your blouse or sweater to really emphasize your waist and lend a posh vibe to your ensemble.
6. Walkable Heels
One of our absolute favorite combinations of fashion and function is the stiletto kitten heel. Shoes with a slim, one- to two-inch heel have the same leg lengthening effect as a four-inch style, but won’t have you hobbling after just a few hours wear. This is doubly true if you sport a pointy toe or strappy style for an ultra-chic finish.
7. A Blazer That Doubles as a Jacket
Swap your all-American denim jacket for one with a Parisian twist—a sharp, slightly oversize blazer. The best versions are those in solid, neutral hues, like a beige linen number for summer or black wool for winter, rather than funky patterns or super-bright shades. That said, sometimes a violet blazer is exactly what your outfit calls for.
8. Cardigans to Be Worn as Shirts
Yes, cardigans are a pretty way to add some warmth to your outfit without totally covering up your top, but for French women, they are also tops in and of themselves. Scroll through any Parisian influencer’s Instagram and you’ll see lots of instances of women buttoning up their cardigans to be tucked into jeans or knotted over a midi skirt like a button-up blouse. Invest in a few cardigans that hit right at your hips or the waistband of your pants and that can be buttoned up without buckling or pulling.
9. Easy Midi Skirts
Think less pleated A-line and more floaty slip skirt. These “go with anything” skirts should hit somewhere between just below the knee to mid-calf and are loose enough to have some movement. Just like the “throw on and go” dresses, wrinkle-resistant fabrics are best. And while we love a good solid hue for mixing and matching, patterned and textured skirts are a great way to add a little pop between basic separates.