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9 Items Every French Woman Has in Her Closet

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French women and their enviable style have long been a source of fascination for anyone interested in fashion. At any age, they always appear to have an air of sophistication without seeming like they’re trying that hard…or at all for that matter. Indeed, French fashion is all about finding pieces that look polished and chic, but are also comfortable. Rather than stock up on berets and Breton-stripe tops, we talked to a few French experts to find out exactly which items are worth investing in.

Ahead, nine items every French woman has in her closet that are wonderfully easy to incorporate into just about any wardrobe.

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Meet the Experts:

  • Camille Yolaine is the founder of French beauty brand, Yolaine, previous beauty writer for The Little Paris, and a model, actor and influencer
  • Pauline Argenson is a Marketing, Events and VIP Influencer Relations Consultant and resident ‘French It-Girl’ for The Kooples, a luxury French fashion brand breaking the rules of conventional fashion
  • Bryn Taylor is a personal stylist and founder of French-inspired clothing brand Ouisa
classic denim french woman wardrobe staples
Kristin Sinclair/Getty Images

1. A Vintage Pair of Denim

We’re talking not too loose, not too skinny, but the ultimate straight-leg vintage jean in classic blue or black washes with no distressing (though a raw hem is OK). “When you find a pair that looks good on you, you’ll wear it ‘til you die,” says Yolaine. Her tip: Opt for a classic silhouette in raw denim or fabrics with very little stretch, which will never go out of style. Choose whatever rise you like best, but make sure the length hits within an inch of your ankles.

Shop Vintage Jeans

French wardrobe essentials REDONE High Rise Stove Pipe

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French wardrobe essentials Levis Wedgie Icon Fit Jeans

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knee high boots french woman wardrobe staples
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

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. Seen on the likes of content creator Emmanuelle Koffi and model Anouchka Gauthier, knee-high boots are super sexy—especially when paired with black stockings. And it doesn’t matter whether you prefer a riding style, pointy-toe stilettos or a 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.

Shop Knee-High Boots

French wardrobe essentials IRIS INK Parker Boots

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French wardrobe essentials Schutz Maryana Knee High Boots

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trench coat french woman wardrobe staples

3. A Classic Long Coat

Whether it’s a sharp peacoat, classic trench coat or slimming belted duster, long coats help to lengthen your frame—even for the most petite among us—and almost always looks more polished than a cropped cut. “Oftentimes this is a trench coat, but it doesn't have to be,” notes Taylor. “A mid-weight coat in a sturdy cotton or structured wool is the perfect anchor for a French woman's effortless, ‘I'm just walking around Paris’ look.” And when it comes to colorways, Taylor adds that most French women prefer solid patterns and muted tones so they have more versatile styling options (like adding a bold bag or a statement scarf). Think: navy, black and, of course, the beloved tan.

Shop Coats

French wardrobe essentials A Classic Long Coat

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French wardrobe essentials Sezane Mederick Coat

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French wardrobe essentials A Black Dress
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

4. A Black Dress You Can Throw on For Any Occasion

The little black dress is the bread and butter of any French woman’s wardrobe. “It will make you feel confident and chic in any situation,” says Argenson, “And you can wear it during any time of the year.” 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 or midi shirtdress. If you want to wear your LBD like the French would, Argenson recommends throwing on your favorite pair of flats, donning a casual jean jacket or sporting a statement handbag.

Shop Black Dresses

French wardrobe essentials Ouisa the Dress

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French wardrobe essentials Banana Republic Ribbed Wrap Dres

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tailored trousers french woman wardrobe staples
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

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. Our French fashion heavy social feeds don’t lie, trousers are always très chic. (We’re looking at you, Ines de la Fressange.) Whether you prefer pressed chinos or plaid wool, so long as they have an impeccable fit, you’re golden. Tuck in your blouse or sweater to emphasize your waist and lend a posh vibe to your ensemble.

Shop Trousers

French wardrobe essentials NONchalant Page Pant

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French wardrobe essentials J. Crew Sydney Pant

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walkable heels french woman wardrobe staples
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

6. Walkable Heels

One of our absolute favorite combinations of fashion and function we often see on Parisians like Léna Fari 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 a few hours. This is doubly true if you sport a pointy toe or strappy style for an ultra-chic finish.

Shop Kitten Heels

French wardrobe essentials Sam Edelman Brit Tour Kitten Heels

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French wardrobe essentials Anine Bing Rooney Mules

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blazer jacket french woman wardrobe staples
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

7. A Blazer That Doubles as A Jacket

Swap your all-American denim jacket for one with a Parisian twist—a sharp, slightly oversized 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. But as French femmes like Alice Pilate and Sylvie Mus have shown us, you can also swap in those neutrals for a checkered or houndstooth blazer. (Bonus points if it’s vintage.)

Shop Blazers

french wardrobe staples Everlane The ReWool® 80s Blazer

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french wardrobe staples Bardot The Oversized Blazer

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French wardrobe staples Cardigans Worn as Shirts
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8. Cardigans Worn as Shirts

Yes, cardigans are a nice way to add some warmth to your outfit, but for French women, they also function as tops. Scroll through any Parisian influencer’s Instagram and you’ll see lots of them buttoning up their cardigans and tucking them into jeans or knotted over a midi skirt like a blouse. Like a cozy cashmere sweater, finding a signature cardigan to add to your wardrobe is a must in Yolaine’s handbook. According to her, the key is to 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. (Her go-to? A classic Agnès B cardigan.)

Shop Cardigans

french wardrobe staples Sezane Gaspard Cardigan

Size Range: XXS to XXXL

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french wardrobe staples bash Purrl. Cardigan

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flowy midi skirt french woman wardrobe staples
Rouje

9. Easy Midi Skirts

Think less pleated A-line and more floaty shapes or even a pencil slip skirt or denim number. 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” little black dress, wrinkle-resistant fabrics are best. And while we love a solid hue for mixing and matching, floral patterned and textured skirts are a great way to add a little pop between basic separates, as Jeanne Damas and Zoé Derian show us.

Shop Midi Skirts

french wardrobe staples Reformation Bea Skirt

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french wardrobe staples Paige Jenette Skirt

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...

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