It's no secret that French women love to wear denim—you need only look on the feeds of our favourite French influencers to see just how deep this love affair is. And undoubtedly, their favourite piece of denim clothing is a pair of jeans. At Who What Wear, we've spent a significant amount of time charting how French women wear jeans—the cuts they look for, the washes they prefer and what they like to style them with. But today, let's go back to basics; namely, finding out what their favourite jeans actually are.
During a recent Instagram Live between our editor in chief, Hannah Almassi, and Who What Wear's resident French-style expert, Marissa Cox, founder of French-inspired lifestyle destination Rue Rodier and author of the 2021 book, Practising Parisienne, the conversation naturally turned to French style, specifically jeans. For her book, Cox spoke to some of the country's most iconic dressers to gain an exclusive insight into their wardrobes. It didn't take her long to see a pattern was starting to form. When talking jeans, there was one pair—a specific cut by a particular brand—that kept cropping up.
"French style is really put on a pedestal, but the truth is, it's actually a lot simpler than we think it is," says Cox. "When it comes to fashion, it's a lot easier to re-create than you might think—it's a lot less try-hard than what people make it out to be. That's certainly something that came up when I interviewed some of the women for my book. One of the main things that was repeated, maybe four or five times, was that one of the core items in their wardrobe was Levi's 501s. That was four different women who said that was one of their favourite items in their wardrobe. You know, just get yourself a pair of 501s and pair it with a simple T-shirt and a blazer, and that's the more classical take on French style, and it's very, very easy."
There aren't many pieces in your wardrobe that you can date back to 1873, but for these French women, that's the case when it comes to their beloved 501s. Sort of takes their penchant for timeless staples to a whole new level, doesn't it? Cox also revealed that it was contributors Anne-Laure Mais and Deborah Reyner Sebag who sang the praises of Levi's 501s, proclaiming them the jeans they can't live without. Honestly, I don't know how I didn't realise this sooner. Looking at their most recent social media posts, Levi's 501 jeans feature in a considerable proportion of them—the tan patch on the waistband and the quintessential Levi's red tag to the right back pocket being the giveaways.
Perhaps the most iconic jeans of all time, Levi's 501s have been an integral part of the uniform of just about every generation. From '70s style icons to those who subscribe to the Y2K aesthetic today, Levi's 501 jeans are a commonality among them, though it seems as if French women have remained most loyal to the denim, as they continue to wear them on the regular. So if you're looking for a fast way to make your outfits more French, this is it. Scroll on to see how French women style their Levi's. Then choose from my favourite pairs—both new and vintage.
Deborah Reyner Sebag wears her Levi’s with a rhinestone belt, button-up shirt and black coat.
Anne-Laure Mais keeps things casual in Levi’s 501s, Converse, and a leather jacket.
Léna Farl dresses up her Levi’s 501s with a satin blouse and top-handle bag—j’adore.
Tamara Mory takes styling cues from the ’00s by tucking her Levi’s jeans into knee-high boots.
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This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.