If you want to tap into just what makes French girls, well, French, you could start with their lingerie drawers. Inside, you’ll find evidence of their easy attitude and effortlessness—that undeniable je ne sais quoi that makes them so cool. Interested to find out more about their unique take on lingerie, we chatted with four French girls about the pieces they buy and how they wear them.
For Parisians, lingerie isn’t an afterthought. It lays the foundation of a look and is as essential to their outfits as the right pair of shoes. Pieces aren’t overtly "sexy." Instead, they have a subtle hint of sensuality. Subtlety is really the key here. You won’t find push-up bras or padded pieces. Instead, Parisians focus on finding bras and underwear in flattering silhouettes that look good underneath their clothes or even as part of the outfit. A blazer or button-down shirt might be intentionally unbuttoned to show a small glimpse of a lace bra underneath.
What it really comes down to, though, is banking on the attitude of being ready for wherever the day might take you and feeling your best. As French model Clémentine Desseaux puts it, "We love to be comfortable but always cute, in case someone ends up seeing our undies, and also, really, just to feel sexy and confident."
Go on to see the three pieces every Parisian has in her lingerie drawer, and then shop the items real French girls wear.
One rule for mastering French-girl lingerie style is to buy everything in matching sets and wear them together. The trick is to get a few pairs of underwear for every bra you buy.
A European silhouette, tanga bottoms are halfway between bikini briefs and a thong style. You'll find them in every French girl's lingerie drawer.
French girls love designs with a nod to sensuality but that aren't overtly "sexy." Pretty lace pieces strike the perfect balance of romantic and subtle.
Go on to find out the lingerie real French girls wear.
"When it comes to lingerie, my rule is simple: What would you like to be wearing if you ended up at the hospital and everyone could see your panties? Haha. It might seem weird, but it's just a metaphor to say that you should just never be ashamed of your hosiery. (Don't be afraid to throw it out!) A lot of French girls are all about the petite culotte, which is simply a cotton panty. They usually buy them from Petit Bateau. I like them too, but I also enjoy sexier numbers such as tanga-shaped briefs. Oh also, the undies should always be invisible under your clothes. I also love a lace bodysuit to wear under a very deep V-neck blouse or even under a man's jacket. Very sexy!"
"Lingerie is extremely important for French girls. It reveals your femininity and sensuality. For me, it has to be subtly provocative, never too obvious or just 'sexy.'"
"French women really do think lingerie is the base of an outfit and take that very seriously. We always buy sets or at least pieces that go together. We don't wear undies with holes in them. Buying your first undies set with mum is a big deal. It means you're a woman and you have to be conscious of the way you carry yourself, starting with what's underneath. I know my U.S. girls are not as into underwear. We don't play with that under-layer. Here are some good basics you'll see in pretty much any French girl's drawers."
French girls tend to buy matching sets, like these high-waist panties and bra.
"In terms of lingerie, I love basics, and I buy them in 100 copies. I don't know if we really can say that French girls have rules, but for me, the most important is the comfort. I usually do not wear a bra, but if it's necessary, I don't want to feel it. I like nude and black. For bottoms, I only wear cotton tanga."
This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear where she oversees luxury content and Who What Wear Weddings, and covers fashion content including the designer market, runway reporting, and seasonal trends. She also writes columns including The Luxury List, Investment Portfolio, and What’s Good. Prior to Who What Wear, Kristen held positions at Allure and Rodarte. She studied Art History and Business at the University of Southern California and currently resides in New York.
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