The Non-Cliché Way to Dress Like a French Girl

There’s just something about the way French girls dress—like they rolled out of bed, threw something on, and dashed out the door looking effortlessly chic without so much as a glance in the mirror. Is it something in the water? A happy side effect of daily pain au chocolat? We know French girls wear certain pieces on rotation, but there’s also a certain flair when it comes to the way they put their looks together. In search of that elusive je ne sais quoi, we tapped model-turned-blogger Elizabeth Minett of Haut Appétit, who splits her time between Paris and L.A.

“French style is rooted in centuries of exposure to the details of elegance and refinement in fashion,” she notes. “I love to [look] feminine, but I keep it modern with sneakers and masculine silhouettes.” During Paris Fashion Week, for example, Minett stepped out in a pink slip dress with Chelsea boots and a vintage athletic jacket. “Less is more. I don’t over-embellish or over-accessorize,” she says of the look, explaining that French girls rely on subtle styling tricks to take an outfit from mundane to elegant.

Want to lock down French-girl style? Minett styles Parisian basics from AG’s spring collection into something extraordinary below.

A Tailored Button-Down

Photo:

Azusa Takano

In Minett’s words, “Parisian style is effortless elegance, where less is more and the details are never missed.” A not-so-typical oversize button-down perfectly hits the mark with its relaxed style, luxurious fabric, and smartly tailored construction. But hold up: Minett also notes that another rule of French-girl style is “to not make it obvious that you’re trying to look French.” With this in mind, she styled the subtly patriotic blue-and-white top and red bag (à la the French flag) with a pair of edgy black skinny jeans. 

Think beyond your work wardrobe: Button-downs are key to every French girl’s off-duty style. 

Black Skinny Jeans

Photo:

Azusa Takano

If there’s one thing French-girl style is not, it’s overtly feminine. “Classic French girls embrace subtle femininity,” Minett explains. One key piece they rely on? Black skinny jeans with a lustrous finish instantly bring a modern edge to a classic ensemble and evoke “the vintage look from the ’60s and ’70s, which French girls love,” she notes. Lastly, no French-girl outfit is complete without a quilted leather handbag.

Get the leather-skinnies look (without the uncomfortable fit) in this wax-finish pair.

A Breton Shirt

Photo:

Azusa Takano

Perhaps no piece of clothing is more quintessentially French than a classic Breton shirt with navy or red stripes. Its roots date all the way back to the mid-19th century, when it became the official uniform of French sailors. Since then, the style has been adopted by the likes of Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, and now off-duty It girls the world over. “Striped tops have always been a French staple that will never go out of style,” Minett says.

Make a classic Breton shirt look non-cliché with an unexpected pencil skirt.

Who’s your French-girl style icon? Tell us in the comments below.