Years ago, I spent a summer living in Paris. While there, I aimed to live like a local, so I rented an apartment in the Marais, made frequent stops to the boulangerie around the corner, and posted up at Café Charlot on the regular for a café crème. I ducked into unnamed vintage shops to hunt for past-season Chanel and Dior and spent a good chunk of time studying what, exactly, made all of the French women I encountered just so stylish.
After months of seeing endlessly chic women in the Tuileries and on the streets of St. Germain, it occurred to me that they largely followed the same styles guidelines. With a penchant for Parisian style, I adopted many of these fashion rules for myself. Ahead, I’m breaking down my fashion learnings from the French that I’ve been following ever since I lived in Paris.
SKIP: IT PATTERNS
WEAR: SEASONLESS PRINTS
You won’t often see French women wearing It patterns snapped from recent runway shows, and here’s why. They’re very recognizable, and after a season, those It pieces often look dated. I’ve adopted this approach, so when it comes to prints, I tend to wear seasonless patterns like leopard.
SKIP: LOUD COLORS
While I wear color on occasion, my regular wardrobe consists of neutrals like black, navy, and white—the shades you’ll most often spot French women wearing.
SKIP: UNCOMFORTABLE SHOES
WEAR: LOW HEELS AND ANKLE BOOTS
Paris is a walking city, so comfortable shoes are essential. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone walking around in sky-high heels. Instead, comfortable heels and ankle boots are the styles to stick with.
SKIP: RIPPED DENIM
WEAR: TAILORED JEANS
As a general rule, I now stick with tailored jeans in straight-leg cuts that don’t have any rips or frayed hems. Vintage or vintage-inspired denim is definitely a must—as long as there aren’t any major tears or holes.
SKIP: OVERLY CASUAL OR DRESSY OUTFITS
WEAR: A HIGH-LOW MIX
The French are masters at making one outfit work from day to night. The secret involves layering casual elements like a trench coat with dressier pieces like statement earrings.
SKIP: BUYING ONLY NEW ITEMS
While I'm often buying new pieces to drop from brands, I'm also constantly scouring vintage shops and consignment stores for hidden gems. Not only is this French way of shopping a way to have unique pieces that stand out, it's also how you can score designer items at a discount.