Less is more.
A friend of mine worked as an au pair for a French family in Paris once. And I still remember vividly her telling me about the mum in the family, how she was the most beautiful, elegant creature my friend had ever seen, always immaculately dressed, always stylish, always so perfectly French in every way.
The most incredible thing about this, my friend argued, was that this woman managed this with pretty much the smallest wardrobe thinkable.
“She literally has just 20 items of clothing!” I remember my friend telling me. “A pair of jeans, a crisp t-shirt, slacks, a blazer, a cashmere jumper, and yet she always, always looks so perfectly put together, and always manages to make what she is wearing look brand new and fresh and different. How does she do it?!”
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My friend also said that in her entire year with the family, she has only witnessed the mum going shopping for clothes once, and when she returned, she has pretty much just replaced a couple of items she already had in her wardrobe – a new pair of dark pants and a striped t-shirt.
“Maybe the ones she had was starting to look worn and she just replaced them?” my friend reckoned. We were fascinated.
And to this day, I still have a complete fascination with that effortless, elegant, low-key French girl look. It must be amazing to never have to dig through a mountain of clothes you don’t know if you really love just to pull an outfit together. No wasting money on sales buys you will never wear. No dreaded fashion faux pas. Just a beautiful, timeless wardrobe with that certain je ne sais quoi care-free quality every French girl seems to have.
Fancy dressing more like a Parisienne? Here are 12 French-girl basics that will simplify your life, wardrobe and style:
1. A classic trench coat
A true classic, the trench will never go out of style, and will add some French Girl chic to your outfit every time.
I love this timeless cotton trench coat from Jaeger, with a long fit, collared neckline and button fastening. The buckle belt is ideal for a flattering silhouette. Dress down with jeans or opt for a smarter look by pairing it with trousers or a skirt.
2. Classic black loafers
Classy, comfy and never out of style, these loafers will save the day every time.
3. Oversized white button-down shirt
A white shirt is a versatile classic that will unify your wardrobe; and the best bit? When it comes to styling, the answer is as simple as it gets: Anything goes.
We love this linen and cotton blend shirt with dropped shoulders, long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, an open chest pocket and a rounded hem. Bonus: It is slightly longer at the back, meaning it is perfect for that slouchy, undone look.
4. Basket bag
Nothing says laid-back warm-weather style like a basket bag, and nobody does them better than Rae Feather.
With leather handles, this basket is handwoven from palm straw; and should you wish to, you can have your chosen initials painted on in a range of colour ways.
For those overachievers, add a baguette and flowers for the ultimate Parisian vibe.
£165, Rae Feather
5. Midi denim skirt
Sexy and demure all rolled up in one, this classic blue midi-length skirt will be your go-to over and over again. Pair with a white tee for summer, or throw on a blazer or cashmere knit for cooler days.
6. A striped top or tee
Yes, it may seem like a cliche, but trust me, a classic French Girl wardrobe needs a Breton – or sailor-style – t-shirt, whether long- or short-sleeved.
It will go with jeans, a denim skirt, slacks, shorts – pretty much everything else in your wardrobe.
7. A little black dress
A must, of course, and style it correctly, and you can wear it both morning and night.
This Zara version features a ruffled V-neckline, and short pleated sleeves and lining – perfect for your French Girl wardrobe.
8. Slouchy cashmere jumper
Another must for that classic, timeless French-Girl look.
This chunky cashmere crew sweater has ribbed detail on collar and cuffs, and will no doubt be your favourite slip-on-and-go to piece for the spring – and forevermore.
€245, Lucy Nagle
9. Ballet flats
Another staple no French Girl wardrobe should be without. These nude patent ballerina flats will always look smart, and the best bit? They could not be comfier!
10. Classic denim jeans
Stick to a classic straight-cut version in a classic blue hue, and you will have jeans you can pretty much wear with anything, to anything, forevermore.
11. Checkered blazer
When paired with the jeans above or the denim skirt – or even shorts in the summer, this blazer will make you instantly feel that little bit more dressed up and pulled together.
Wrap it with a belt if you want to change things up a bit.
€149, And Other Stories
12. Crossbody bag
The everyday bag that is simple and classic enough for your new French Girl wardrobe.