10 essentials of french girl style

leather jacket and french graphic tee with ruffled wrap polka dot midi skirt
Not exactly French girl style, but at least I’m wearing a French graphic tee!
Black tie front blouse with pink corduroy mini skirt and snakeskin boots and quilted leather purse
I took this photo of Krista right after I got home from my trip. With the French name on the shop and her solid color outfit, it reminded me of a scene from the streets of Paris!

We’ve all heard about French girl style…it’s made to sound SO mysterious…maybe it’s a marketing gimmick (for what I don’t know!) because I fall for it every time, unable to tear my eyes away from anything that says “French girl style” as though it’s something I’ve always desired to achieve! On a recent trip to Paris, I was curious to find out for myself what exactly IS this elusive style…would it even be obvious? Is it just something drummed up for glossy pics and #PFW? My people-watching/fashion radar for our long weekend in Paris was dialed to ULTRA MAX, believe me!

I was able to slyly take a few street style photos of trends I was seeing over and over again on Paris women (the men are very fashionable too, btw!), and also find other images to show basic things that they all seemed to have in common. There really IS a unique French girl style that’s different from what I saw in other countries we visited–England and Italy in particular. I’ve boiled down the ESSENTIALS of French girl style and here’s what I’ve found!

my observations:

#1: solids rule

Everywhere I looked, it was outfits comprised of solids! Sometimes pops of color, but mainly it was a combination of neutrals in black, white, brown, and denim.

#2: white foundation pieces

Granted it was warm weather, but most outfits included some element of white–a blouse, tee, or pants. I’ve since read that Parisians are famous for breaking the “don’t wear white after summer” rule!

#3: scarves

Scarves are sooo French…were they invented here? I don’t know, but it’s a definite “look” because it was 80 degrees, hot, and there were still French girls (and men!) persistently wearing their debonair scarves!

#4: low-heeled fashionable shoes

French people walk…a lot. I would too if I lived in a city so beautiful! Between cobblestone streets and the practicality of needing to get places, French girls wear sensible shoes. They never sacrifice on style, however! With summer dresses I observed lots of cute flat sandals and cool sneakers. Anything higher than a low 2″ heel would be asking for a sprained ankle! I don’t want to cover up the pictures below with a caption, so I’ll just say that low heels, loafers, and trendy sneakers were the staple on the streets of Paris.

#5: minimal makeup, red lip

I told our booking.com host that we had just arrived from England and were visiting both Paris and Italy. She told me we were about to see the difference between the Anglo-Saxon culture and a Latin-influenced culture. Once we started walking the streets, I quickly figured out what she was talking about. I was surprised to see a definite “look” of French people. They have a natural beauty that doesn’t need to be covered up or enhanced by a lot of makeup!

#6: tailored paired with loose & flowy

You might be thinking, neutrals in solid colors? How boring! And you would be right, except for the way the outfits are put together. French girls have mastered the art of pairing the unexpected and combining opposites. Structured with unstructured, simple with one statement piece, dark colors with a pop of white, natural makeup with a strong lip.

#7: simple hairstyle, natural waves

I had to wear my hair straight when we were in Paris because I didn’t bring a curling iron, but I quickly realized that I would’ve felt like a tourist with my typical head full of American-style curls! I’m not sure how they achieve it, but Paris women wear their hair in what looks like a natural state–like they just let it air dry–it has a slight wave, but nothing too uniform or “styled”. My hair is wavy but frizzy, and I would have to work hard to make it look as “unstyled” as a French girl does!

#8: prints or patterns on dresses and skirts

Like I said above, most outfits were made up of solids, with nary a graphic tee in sight! But the French girl rules are different for skirts and dresses. Lots of color and patterns–so fun!

#9: structured statement coats

I was in Paris in the pleasant month of September, but I still spotted a wool coat or two. Any jackets or coats I saw were not an afterthought. They were an extension of the overall fashion statement of the outfit. No misshapen fleece or drab raincoat here; any outwear was collared, smart, and sophisticated.

#10: perfectly tan, glowy skin

Ok, I shouldn’t even include this one because for many of us (myself included!) this is impossible to achieve. But I couldn’t help but notice everywhere I looked, women of all ages with beautiful bronzed skin! It was September of course, so summer tans were at their height, but it also made me realize that part of the French girl mystique is that they are well…French! That’s something I will never be, but I can certainly appreciate their beautiful olive complexions, dark hair, and be amazed by the many who are blessed with the added striking feature of blue eyes! So not only am I inspired to emulate their fashion, but now I also want to discover their skincare secrets!

The few days we had in Paris only made me hungry for more! Someday I hope to go back and spend more time discovering French culture and fashion. I didn’t come home with souvenirs, but I did come back inspired to wear more dresses and not be apologetic about dressing fashionably in my suburban world. French girl style is not only for the French! It’s a way to live effortlessly stylish in your everyday life!

Have you ever been inspired by fashion when visiting a different city or country? Tell me more in the comments below!

—Julie

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