5 Fashion Rules All French Women Live By

They’ve got that je ne sais quoi

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From Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy to Léa Seydoux and Clémence Poésy, French women are—and always have been—the epitome of style. There’s something so effortless in the way they style and wear even the most basic of outfits that screams understated elegance and chic. But while we’re unlikely to acquire dual citizenship at this point, we can learn from our Parisian sœurs and follow these five fashion rules all of the most fabulous French women seem to live by, from skipping logos to—gasp—wearing athleisure (very intentionally, of course).

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french fashion rules logos
Christian Vierig/getty images

1. When It Comes to Logos, Less Is More

French women have been doing the whole quiet luxury thing before that was what it was called. Even when logomania was at its peak (the all-over logo trend has died down but is certainly still around), fashion icons like supremely stylish editor Emmanuelle Alt were eschewing in-your-face displays of branding in favor of subtler touches. Take the outfit above: Alt wears a simple sweater, blazer and trousers combo, but elevates things with a designer belt—in this case from Celine. When it comes to logos, opt for a more ‘if you know, you know’ approach.

french fashion rules tailor
Arnold Jerocki/getty images

2. Your Tailor Is Your Best Friend

The difference between a good outfit and a great outfit is how it fits, and French women like model and music producer Caroline de Maigret understand the power of tailoring. From the impeccable cut of her blazer to the perfect spot at which her pants hit her shoes, her look proves that the effort it takes to bring a new purchase to be hemmed and tweaked just so is totally worth it.

french fashion rules vneck
Christian Vierig/getty images

3. Sexy Doesn’t Have to Mean Short and Tight

When it comes to exuding sex appeal, French women typically take a less is more approach, preferring to whisper ‘look at me’ than shout it. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional overtly sexy ‘fit, of course.) But just look at how effortlessly cool French model Leia Sfez looks in this loose-yet-plunging tuxedo-inspired getup. If you’re going for sexy, keep balance in mind; a low-cut neckline is way more unexpected and chic paired with a looser fitting trouser than with a bodycon mini.

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Jacopo Raule/gettty images

4. Invest in Staple Pieces, Not Trends

French women keep sustainability in mind when shopping. Back in 2019, stats via Fashion Revolution showed that French women wore each piece of clothing at least 30 times before considering an upgrade or new purchase. In comparison, women in the U.K. wore a piece an average of 14 times. (Americans were not included, but based on those massive shopping hauls on TikTok, we’re scared to know the truth.) French women see the value in purchasing high-quality, timeless and long-lasting pieces—think: blazers, straight-leg jeans and heeled boots—instead of flash-in-the-pan micro trends that we’ll forget about in two months. Note that ‘investment piece’ means something different to everyone; it’s not about spending $600 on a cashmere sweater, the point is to be mindful about how much wear you’re going to get out of a piece before committing to it.  

french fashion rules leggings
Christian Vierig/getty images

5. Athleisure Isn’t Off Limits…but Should Be Paired with Elevated Pieces

While some French traditionalists might prefer to go out naked than in leggings or sweats, others prove that just because it can be worn to the gym doesn’t mean it can’t also be appropriate for every day. But—and it’s a big but—it’s crucial to think about how you’re wearing athleisure. Leggings can look a little too HIIT class-ready with a sweatshirt and sneakers, but the same comfy pants take on an elevated vibe when worn with a leather blazer, luxe bag and knee-high boots.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...