How French Women Stay Chic When It’s Freezing Outside

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While there are places in northern France that regularly experience single digit or even negative temperatures (we’re looking at you Mouthe), Parisian winters tend to be much warmer than New York City, and definitely warmer than Chicago. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still try to emulate French winter fashion right here in the states. Here are five cold-weather wardrobe staples that are as warm as they are chic, so you can pretend you’re walking down the Champs-Élysées when you’re really just walking to the grocery store.

The 9 Items Every French Woman Has in Her Closet

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1. instead Of A Puffer Jacket, Try A Cozy Wool Coat

NYC gals wear puffers and Chicagoans opt for Canada Goose jackets, but French women wear wool. Pretty much the number one French winter fashion must-have is a long wool coat. Some women prefer old-school overcoats with a bit of a masculine edge, like double-breasted plaids or elongated peacoats. But more feminine styles, like belted wraps or puff-sleeve button-ups with Peter Pan collars are also found in abundance. So long as the coat goes to at least mid-calf and envelopes you in comfy, cozy wool (or a vegan version of the material) you’ll be looking and feeling trés magnifique.

Shop similar styles: ASOS Design ($105); ASTR the Label ($240); Lauren Ralph Lauren ($420; $275); Reformation ($328); Rouje ($450); Lamarque ($495)

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2. don’t Store Skirts And Dresses For Spring; Adjust Your Footwear

When the temperatures start to drop, rather than give up their chic midi skirts or dresses, French women simply swap their slingbacks or ankle booties for tall boots that meet the hem of their frocks. It’s an easy way to give your legs a bit more coverage without resorting to fleece-lined leggings or clunky winter boots, which, while certainly warm, aren’t always the most stylish options.

Shop similar styles: Topshop ($185; $95); Steve Madden ($190; $114); Intentionally Blank ($312; $188); Seychelles ($199); Schutz ($238); Sam Edelman ($275)

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3. when In Doubt, Add A Layer

French winter styling is all about layering so you can adjust your warmth level to fit the places you need to go. Slim turtlenecks, whether they’re cotton, cashmere or a sporty heat-tech fabric, are the ultimate cold-weather layering piece and can go under button-up shirts, crewneck sweaters, wrap dresses, blazers and more. Stick with neutral hues to make them as versatile as possible, and so you can have fun with other colors or patterns on top.

Shop similar styles: L.L.Bean ($23); Uniqlo ($25); Madewell ($32); J.Crew ($37); Halogen ($39); Splendid ($60)

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4. fancy Gloves > Bulky Mittens

No offense to Bernie Sanders, but you won’t find any chunky handknit mittens on the hands of France’s most stylish women. Instead, you’ll find posh leather or suede gloves that are long enough to reach up under their coat sleeves for maximum warmth. Some are classic black or brown, but unlike many other French staples, which are almost exclusively worn in neutral shades, these gloves are a fun way to add a special pop by way of orangey red or royal purple.

Shop similar styles: Nordstrom ($59); Barbour ($80); Nordstrom ($89); Ted Baker London ($110); Agnelle ($160); Mackage ($220)

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5. keep Your Legs Warm Without Fleece-lined Leggings

Leather and faux leather pants are surprisingly warm, making them a great winter option no matter where you live. But if you want to emulate the French take on the trend, opt for clean, wide- or straight-leg styles in classic black, brown or other dark rich hues, like forest green or burgundy. Eschew any extraneous pockets or embellishment and instead pair your simple trousers with a tucked in knit and a block heel boot (complete with warm socks) for a look that’s both cozy and supremely stylish.

Shop similar styles: Stradivarius ($46); ASOS Design ($58); 4th & Reckelss ($62); Vero Moda ($69); Wilfred Free ($148); Good American ($179); Agolde ($298); L’Academie ($528)

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Abby Hepworth


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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