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French cool girl style is epitomised through French New Wave cinema of the 1950s. Since French style icons François Hardy and Chantal Goya arrived on the scene, merging friendships with Bob Dylan and the like with style pieces, the remnants of the 50s lingers in French style. Parisian style hasn’t changed much in terms of the effortless and half-undone style that paints the city of love. This romantic era of filmmaking ended with vibrant colour, but French style has transcended all this. There is still the mysterious and compelling attitudes towards French style, and it is a fascinating way to tell the ambiguous story of French style.

This notorious style is based on high-end staple wardrobe items which are poised and elegant. French style works between the elements of timeless and classic. There is the juxtaposition between looking put together but with the I just got out of bed dressed like this.

THE BASICS

White Shirt
A clean-cut, crisp, white shirt is a versatile item that makes you look sharp and ready even if it’s six a.m. and you’re not completely sure how you’re going to stumble out of the door looking half decent. It is also versatile – you can wear it for any occasion whether it is a work event or a night out. It’s a classic look and an item that everyone should have in their wardrobe, regardless if they want to dress like a Parisian or not. Do not be intimidated by its inherent masculine quality as this style is simple and clean, yet daring in quality.

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Jeans
Cited by both Clemence Poesy and Garance Dore as staples in every cool French girl wardrobe, denim tessellates perfectly with other staples in a Parisian wardrobe, like shirts and blazers. It gives that coveted effortless yet effort look. According to Camille Charriere, a pair of good quality denims are the “ultimate cool girl staple” as it makes any outfit look good. It’s a win-win.

Blazer
Timeless and charming. Wearing a blazer makes any outfit appear well-groomed with a touch of masculine style. Although not everyone feels comfortable wearing a blazer, it’s like a leather jacket staple, only more dapper. If the blazer looks like one that Jean-Pierre Léaud would wear, then all the better.

Fitted Trousers
A pair of black trousers really make any outfit look modern, professional, and can be paired with almost anything!

Flat Shoes
A relief for everyone who hates high-heeled shoes, with the French cool girl look, you don’t have to. It’s very rare within French style for one to wear high heels. Instead opt for short-heeled shoes like ankle boots or the more masculine Oxfords. Although high heels are worn sporadically, you won’t be seeing it on Parisian streets very often!

Oxfords
Shoes, again. This hybrid between masculinity and femininity in the French New wave style mix so seamlessly that it creates a gender neutral look. Do not be afraid to wear more typically masculine clothes, like brogues which give a sense of authority and confidence. Luckily, a decent pair of Brogues can last years and worn with almost anything to make an outfit look more dressed up.

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Trench/Classic Coats
A must-have for the rainy and windy days. A simple and timeless pieces if you find the right one for your shape and personal style. It’s elegant and simple, and always manages to make you look put together. Since it is outerwear, it makes sense to spend more money here than on all the other items as you will probably be wearing it more often.

Sunglasses
They are really popular as an accessory in France over jewellery, so while stepping back with the amount of jewellery you wear on a daily basis, invest in a nice pair of sunglasses.

THE ESSENTIALS

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TAILORED CLOTHING
It is important and vital that your clothing items are tailored and cut to fit your body shape. While Parisians are known to be sexy, this is not because of how much skin they are displaying, but rather due to the cut and seaming of their clothing, which ensures that it extenuates their body shape through well-fitted clothing. You won’t see a Parisian in ill-fitted clothing that is too big or too small, but instead in shapes that adhere to the silhouette of the body. This is commonly created through tailoring and seam-stressing, which adheres to the sense of uniform style dressing in Parisian style.

COLOUR
Notorious with Parisian style is a neutral colour scheme. This usually entails black, white, grey and beige clothing as opposed to more vibrant colours. While in recent years there has been a surge in bright colours being worn in moderation, such as bright blazers or skirts, for the majority,  black clothing is essential to Parisians as it creates a sophisticated look. The black and white era ended with art forms that are in vibrant colour, but there is still something mysterious and compelling about the colours that create Parisian style, it breeds of power and strength.

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LACK OF EMBELLISHMENTS
That means keeping jewellery minimal. It is unlikely that you’ll see a Parisian walking down the beautiful streets with lots of embellishments. Instead opt for more delicate, simple pieces that complement the outfit you are wearing. It has been quoted by Chanel that  “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

SLOW FASHION
Do not follow trends that will be over by next Summer or winter. Look for timeless, well-cut pieces that can be worn year round and won’t go out of style. These pieces are listed further down, and are essentials which never go out of style and are a staple in every Parisians wardrobe!

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAIL
Ripped, creased, chipped nail polish will not do. Look at the finer details, and make sure you are well- groomed and pay attention to how clean and fresh your clothing looks. It is important that you look well polished. Meanwhile, Mariner stripes are a very popular pattern in France, if not the most worn pattern. A striped t-shirt is perfect for warmer days, yet is a very simple style that does not look overdone.

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DEFER GRATIFICATION
Invest now, save later. It is common and preferable as a general rule to invest in higher end pieces that you spend more money on instead of cheaper clothing. While this may not make sense originally, or you may be unwilling to fork out that much money on good-quality clothing, think in the long term. In the long term, those clothing items will last you longer, they won’t tear as easily or lose their shape, and this means that you won’t have to keep re-buying outfits.

JE NE SAIS QUOI 

NO LABELS
Just because it is high end, doesn’t mean you need to flaunt it to everyone. While France has been the country to house some of the greatest known and admirable fashion designers like Chanel and Luis Vuitton, they are bought for the effortless and durable style, not the label per se.

CONFIDENCE
The most important rules with any wardrobe is exuberating confidence. Without it, the clothing will drown you instead of you wearing the outfit. Being poised and confident in what you’re wearing is the most important rule, it is the one item you should always hold that revolutionises an outfit.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stella Berkovsky

28 thoughts on “How to Dress like a French Cool Girl”

    1. What are you waiting for Gabby? You’d wear Parisian style so beautifully. Although, I also only wear rings and small earrings! Bracelets tend to irritate me throughout the day, haha. If you understand what I mean? Thanks for the lovely comment. x

    1. There certainly are a lot of etiquettes and the confidence you have to master! Well, I guess we can all dress a little Parisian style every now and again, even if we never do master the art. x

  1. I love love love this so much. My wardrobe faves are ripped denim, good tailored blazer, a well fitted biker jacket, good heels, an IT bag, sunnies – aviators!, and relaxed tees. Love a good LBD. I prefer a neutral palette and minimal dewy makeup. And you’re spot on – confidence is the absolute key! Adore the Balmain tee with blazer!

    1. Thank you so much, Cynthiahia! I think you just listed my style down to the tee. Confidence definitely is life-changing. I also love the Ray-ban club masters because the style just reminds me of Malcolm x, haha!

  2. I love this guide. Parisians really seem to have the best style, don’t they? A big part of it is totally cinfidence but there’s definitely a little bit more that goes to it. My favorite tip for dressing Parisian comes form How to Be Parisian, “Leave one thing undone” whether that’s a killer look with a messy bun, or less than stellar nails. It gives that air of couldn’t care less without ACTUALLY caring less. Beautiful post.

    xoxo,
    Dannie
    http://www.stilefotocibo.com

    1. That quote is so relatable to Parisian style! Honestly, a messy bun looks so pretty with a killer look so that everything doesn’t look overly polished or “try hard.” Thank you for the lovely comment.

  3. I definitely agree with the no-labels thing! Every time I’ve been to Paris I can pick out designer brands on chic women – because the quality is impeccable! – but never because the label is showing!

    1. Right!? It’s the best way to know if you’re paying an extortionate price for the quality or the brand name (though the two are expected to coalesce they don’t always, unfortunately) so it’s beautiful to see such high quality goods on the streets of Paris.

    1. Ahw, thank you. You definitely don’t need them, your style is so pretty already, and you look gorgeous. x

    1. You should. They’re a classic and yet interesting staple to have because they’re not popular with everyone. x

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