How to dress French: Discover how French women dress and how to dress like a French woman from head to toe.
French women are famous for their chic and feminine way of dressing and many women around the world would love to learn their secrets for themselves.
In this article I will share some of their secrets with you, such as:
- How to create a small French style wardrobe of clothes
- How to use the French 5 piece wardrobe technique
- Which colours and styles to choose and the importance of fit.
- How to style your hair and apply your make-up the French way.
- How to accessorise your look with typically French accessories.
- Enjoying being a woman and expressing your feminine nature.
- The importance of making an effort every day.
A small and hardworking wardrobe.
Many French women, in particular Parisians, live in small city apartments. Due to a lack of storage space, many French women are forced to create a small, hardworking wardrobe that perfectly meets her needs. There isn't much room for mistakes or items that are rarely worn. All items a French woman's wardrobe need to pull their weight.
Wear Neutral Colours
French women prefer to base their wardrobe around a handful of basic items in neutral colours that mix and match with each other.
The most popular neutral colour in France is black. Many French women, particularly those from the southern Mediterranean regions have olive skin, dark coloured eyes and almost black hair and black complements their dark colouring beautifully. Women with fairer colouring may find that black doesn't really suit them and may prefer softer and lighter neutrals such as navy, grey, charcoal, cream, khaki and camel.
Clothes in neutral colours have many advantages:
- They are naturally classy and elegant.
- They mix and match with each other.
- They are non-memorable and can be worn frequently without being noticed.
- You need less clothes.
- They act as a blank canvas to which accessories can be added for an individual look.
- You are more likely to be noticed rather than the clothes you wear.
Think more, shop less
Due to the lack of space in a typical Parisian apartment, a French woman is forced to think carefully about her wardrobe. The goal is to create a small wardrobe of versatile garments that perfectly meet their needs.
At the start of each season, many French women spend time reviewing their wardrobes.
They pare their wardrobe down to the bare essentials and make a few carefully considered purchases to fill in any gaps.
With a bit of creative mixing and matching and accessorising, less really can be more.
French 5 piece wardrobe
The French 5 piece wardrobe is a well-used method that many French women use to create their core wardrobe for the new season ahead.
The idea is to pick from your wardrobe five key items, in classic styles and neutral colours, that you are likely to wear day in day out and use them to form the basis of your wardrobe. You then add a handful of other items, such as accessories or a trendy item to make it look fresh and up to date.
An example of a 5 piece wardrobe for Autumn / Winter
A winter coat in a dark neutral colour, a pair of long winter boots, stylish but comfortable for walking, a warm black jumper, a dark denim pair of jeans, a warm black wool skirt.
The handful of items you could add to these may include a hat and glove set to go with the coat, a new handbag, beautiful tights to wear with the skirt and boots, a trendy top.
An example of a 5 piece wardrobe for Spring / Summer
A classic trench coat, black flat ballet pumps, a pair of beige chinos, a cardigan, a skirt in a plain style and lighter neutral colour .
The handful of items you could add to these may include a beautiful silk scarf to go with the trench coat, a fresh summery perfume, a new pair of sandals and pretty nail polish.
The overall idea is to only own a small wardrobe of clothes which you have carefully put together, based on your lifestyle and liven them up with a few well chosen items.
Buy better quality clothes
If you are following the French way of creating a wardrobe, you will naturally find that you are buying less clothes. As a result, you may decide over time to gradually increase the quality of clothes in your wardrobe. There are many advantages to owning a small wardrobe of good quality clothes:
- Good quality clothes should last for years
- You spend less time shopping for new clothes as your quality clothes don't wear out.
- They provide good value for money on a cost per wear basis.
- They drape and hang beautifully
- They feel nice when you wear them
- They give you a quality image
- They are comfortable to wear.
Choose quality over quantity and over time you will build up a small wardrobe of beautiful, well made clothes.
Wear clothes that fit.
Well dressed French women pay attention to the fit of their clothes and are willing to pay to have their clothes altered to ensure a good fit. Many good quality clothes shops offer an alteration service and I highly recommend having your clothes altered to achieve a good fit.
Alterations to clothes include taking up or letting down hems on sleeves, trousers and skirts, taking in or letting out at the bust, waist and hip line.
- If your clothes fit, you look good.
- You feel more comfortable in clothes that fit well.
- You forget about what you are wearing
- People notice you rather than your clothes
- If your clothes are ill-fitting, people tend to see the faults, such as the too tight top or the too baggy trousers.
- Using an alterations service save you time in the long run. Many women refuse to pay to have an item altered but will happily spend a great deal of time looking for the perfect item. Time is money.
- The time you save can be spent in more worthwhile ways.
Don't be afraid to wear the same clothes over and over again.
Because the French wardrobe is fairly small, it is quite common for outfits to be worn more than once during the same week. A change of accessories will make the outfit look new.
Clothes in simple styles and neutral colours are less memorable and likely to fly under the radar that a garment such as a bright red shirt, which draws attention to itself.
French women often wear the same outfit more than once during the same week, but with a change of accessories the outfit will appear new.
French wardrobe basics.
There are some core items that can be found in many French women's wardrobes. They include the following items, which if you acquire will help you achieve a French look:
Coats and Jackets - a classic beige trench coat, a neutral coloured wool winter coat.
Trousers - dark jeans, black trousers, light coloured neutral capris for the summer.
Skirts - a black pencil skirt
Tops - A breton stripe t-shirt (short sleeve and long sleeve), black cardigan, white shirt.
Dresses - A little black evening dress for parties. A little black day dress for the daytime.
Shoes and boots - For walking around Paris - Black ballet flats, flat sandals, flat long leather winter boots.
Accessories - Scarves - a key item in creating a French look.
What styles to choose
The typically French look is based on clothes that are:
- Simple and Classic - either traditional or contemporary / updated classic styles. Classic clothes are typically very simple in cut and style. As a result, they are highly versatile and unlikely to quickly look dated.
- Moderate - another word I would use is respectable. A chic French woman is unlikely to look tarty. She will avoid very short mini-skirts and low cut tops, and will choose styles that cover her up more, such as a pencil skirt that ends on or near the knee, or a round neck jumper that comes high enough not to show off any cleavage.
- Feminine - The classic chic French look is essentially a feminine one.
How to dress French - More articles
If you are enjoying reading this article so far, you may enjoy others that I have written:
How to dress French - Accessories
You can often spot a French woman a mile off as she is the woman wearing a beautiful scarf tied in such a way that, as hard as you try, you are unable to replicate. French women (and men) seem to have a special relationship with scarves that I have never seen anywhere else. There is something about the way that they wear them that is so relaxed and so French.
If you would like to dress French, you may be interested in these articles, with videos, which show you how to tie scarves:
Shoes and Boots
Paris is a fairly small city, and it is easy to get from A to B as it is pedestrian friendly with an extensive Metro system. As a result, many French women choose to walk to their destinations and invest in good quality flat shoes suitable for walking around the cities streets - many of which are cobbled. Many Parisians enjoy walking as a form of exercise and who can blame them for choosing to walk through the cities beautiful streets rather than using equipment in a gym. In the winter, they invest in good quality boots to go with their winter coats. In the Spring and Summer, they may wear ballet flats and sandals.
France is home to some of the greatest perfume houses in the world. In the daytime, you can wear perfume that is classic fresh or floral, classy and elegant, or something a little bit quirky. For the daytime, many French women like perfumes with chypre notes, these perfumes are known as green perfumes and are reminiscent of fresh smelling mosses and greenery. For the evening, you may like to wear a perfume that that is heavier, more sultry and sexy or mysterious and alluring.
Hats - The beret is an obvious choice of hat if you are hoping to emulate a French look. It is surprisingly versatile and can be worn in lots of different ways. I think berets look great when they are given a softer look, worn tilted to the side of the head, or towards the back, like a beanie hat. Berets are inexpensive and come in a variety of colours. They are very warm and when rolled up, take up little space in a handbag.
Hosiery - Stockings and tights are an easy and inexpensive way to add interest and feminity to your look.
How to dress French - Hair, skin-care, make-up and nails
Hair - French hairstyles are natural in both cut and colour and easy to care for. A shoulder length bob is favoured by many women as it is feminine and can be worn up in chic up-do styles or down for a more casual look. If hair is dyed, it is usually in a natural colour rather than with fake blond highlights.
Skin-care - A good skin-care routine is important to many women who choose a moisturiser with sun protection and regular facials to keep their skin looking its best.
Make-up - The French make-up look is a natural, barely there look. It doesn't mean no make-up, it means just enough make-up to hide flaws and enhance your best features. Emphasise your eyes with a mascara and a smokey eye-liner or your lips with the classic French red lipstick.
Hands and Nails - Treat your hands to a hand cream to keep them soft and your nails to a classic French Manicure for a chic French look. french manicure sets are available in most chemists and are easy to do yourself at home.
Enjoy being a woman and being feminine.
Chic French women enjoying being a woman and expressing their feminine nature. They enjoy such things as wearing feminine perfumes and treating themselves to a beautiful set of silk lingerie.
Some women have a natural Tom Boy style and the thought of expressing their feminine side is difficult for them. But if you start to make an effort, you will soon get the hang of it.
The real secret of how to dress like a French woman.
the secret is to make a conscious decision every day to dress like a French woman and to make an effort to look your best. It is often a gradual process with changes and improvemnts made over time.
For example, at home, many women prefer to wear jogging bottoms and t-shirts or sweatshirts These are neither chic or feminine. There are alternatives however, that are just as comfortable. If you enjoy wearing dresses, try a jersey wrap dress or knitted dress, or if you prefer trousers, a pair in a chic style and soft fabric will work well. Pair them with a feminine blouse or sweater.
Get in touch with your feminine side - add a dash of perfume, a light touch of make-up and put your hair up in a Chic French style - et voila! You will be amazed how by making a few changes and a little bit of effort, how feminine and French you feel.
Other articles related to dressing like a French woman
If you found this article useful, you may enjoy others that I have written:
More by this Author
Learn which items are French wardrobe basics. If you admire the style of chic French women and would like to learn their secrets, read on to discover the wardrobe essentials of French women.
How to create a minimalist wardrobe for women using the secrets of chic French Parisian women. Learn which basic clothing items are essential and how to accessorise to make your minimalist wardrobe stylish.
Choosing to become a lady is empowering and the benefits are numerous. Learn how to be a lady, how to act like a lady, how to dress like a lady, how to be ladylike, how to act proper, and the benefits