If I said "Parisian atelier," you'd probably think of Chanel at Rue Cambon or Dior's home on Avenue Montaigne, but there's also a growing group of what Sophia Amoruso would call #girlbosses launching labels and collections that play with the conventions of French style. So how do these women get dressed for work each day to create the clothes we all want to wear? I spoke to six of the best dressed women in the industry, from Jeanne Damas to the founder of Sézane, Morgane Sézalory, to find out their workwear dos and don'ts. Scroll to discover what France's best dressed bosses actually wear to work.
Morgane Sézalory, Founder of Sézane
Morgane Sézalory really is France's answer to Sophia Amoruso, as she started selling vintage clothing on eBay when she was 18 and now is at the helm of one of the most buzzed-about fashion companies in Paris. In 2013, she founded Sézane, aka the first French fashion label to launch online.
Her go-to work outfit: "At the moment, I'm wearing mostly dresses and sandals. Maxi dresses and spring tea dresses in soft materials are the safest options in summertime heat. When it's colder, I live in denim. The coolest pair with the perfect cut, like our 1967, paired with a pretty blouse (either all white and a bit oversized or a shirt with a cool print on it).
What she'd never wear to work: "I would never wear high heels to work or even outside the house. I prefer to keep it really natural and easy, and I hate running around town in really uncomfortable shoes."
Her Parisian workwear essentials: "Shirts are the perfect option. It can be white or black or even colorful with a nice print, and often oversized. Also, a really beautiful shaped shirt goes with everything: jeans, a skirt, or even classic trousers. I think it's both comfortable and feminine."
Annelise Michelson, Jewellery Designer
Jewellery designer Annelise Michelson had the idea to launch a jewellery brand after working on a shoot with Carine Roitfeld creating custom accessories when she worked at Vogue Paris. Quite the story. She creates statement, oversized jewellery, often playing with chains, which you might have spotted on Bella Hadid and Rihanna.
Her go-to work outfit: "It really depends on my mood. If I go to my ateliers, I play it casual and low-key, so Vans sneakers and boyfriend jeans from Christophe Lemaire paired with a well-cut Acne Studios men's shirt. If I wake up early, I overthink anything too much, so I go for my favorite tailored men's jacket from Dries Van Noten, an Acne T-shirt or a sexy body from The Row or Reformation, and a pair of April77 jeans. Then I add my everyday jewellery: my Algae pendant or a wire choker, my earrings are a mix of my Déchainée collection and Wire earrings I like to stack, the timeless Alpha bracelets that goes so well with any watch, my rings, and I'm set. Being a jewellery designer helps, as I have many options to spice up any outfit."
What she'd never wear to work: "Something too tight! I need to feel comfortable yet sophisticated."
The Parisian workwear essentials: "A good tailored jacket, a good pair of jeans that look edgy but easy to throw on, and strong shoes."
Jeanne Damas, Founder of Rouje
Who What Wear fans won't need introducing to Jeanne Damas, as she's one of the most popular style icons on the planet right now. Jeanne has managed to successfully bottle that French effortless style with her label Rouje, so it's not surprising that you'll struggle to find anything in stock on the site.
Her go-to work outfit: "I dress the same for days in the office as the weekend. These days I wear a lot of slip dresses because it's hot, with easy shoes to take off at the office, like Amelie Pichard's mules or Rouje espadrilles."
What she'd never wear to work: "A wedding dress."
Her Parisian workwear essentials: "A comfortable pair of jeans, a beautiful cashmere sweater, a white shirt and beautiful accessories all dressed up with a red lip. No other makeup on, and natural hair. That's very Parisian."
Johanna Senyk, Founder of Wanda Nylon
There's more to Paris's fashion landscape than Breton shirts and basket bags, as exemplified by Johanna Senyk, who launched one of the city's more directional brands in 2013. She's the designer and founder of cult rainwear label Wanda Nylon—a label that took vinyl out of fetish shops. Just because she designs vinyl coats doesn't mean her workwear uniform isn't about comfort too.
Her go-to work outfit: "Most of the time, I actually wear Wanda Nylon clothes or prototypes to go to the office! I love to wear them and see how they fit and what they look like when worn daily. I often wear sweaters, wide shirts, high-waisted trousers—the most comfortable clothes from the collection. It's definitely key for me to feel comfortable anywhere, any time."
What she'd never wear to work: "Definitely uncomfortable clothes and shoes such as high heels. You need to feel comfortable in your clothes to be connected with yourself and to express yourself freely, as I think they're a part of your personality. Clothes have to adjust themselves to the person who wears them, not the contrary."
Her Parisian workwear essentials: "As our Parisian studio is so multicultural, I don't really have a definitive idea of the Parisian woman, and I think I'm pretty far from the Parisian-girl stereotype—far from the girl going out with her boyfriend jeans or her boyfriend shirt. I don't think I really know this girl. I try to keep out of the clichés. My Parisian-girl idea stems from multiculturalism."
Adenorah of Adenorah x Leon and Harper
Style du Monde
Her go-to work outfit: "I don't really have a go-to work outfit. I like to be comfortable, so for meetings, I will wear a pair of jeans with a blouse or a T-shirt, espadrilles or sandals."
What she'd never wear to work: "A suit."
Her Parisian workwear essentials: "They don't have a specific work outfit. They just want to feel confident."
Lydia Bahia, Founder of La Seine et Moi
Lydia Bahia runs a faux-fur label, La Seine et Moi, from her atelier in Paris, and all of the pieces are created in the French capital.
Her go-to work outfit: "My go-to work outfit is always simple and comfortable but still chic. Lately I've enjoyed wearing jumpsuits with a pair of mules—it's a simple but efficient look. I usually wear dresses, but if I'm wearing a pair of jeans, I tend to mix it with a white lace shirt or a basic T-Shirt from Comme des Garçons. I also like to wear a belted kimono when I'm working in my clothing workshop."
What she'd never wear to work: "Real fur—my fake-fur collection is all about that alternative choice. I also would never wear a black bra under a white top. And no leggings."
Her Parisian workwear essentials: "A blazer, a pantsuit with a straight cut, white blouses with detailing and rolled-up sleeves and comfy heels for meetings."
Next up, what happened the day I went to Paris to learn how to dress like a Parisian.