Flat shoes are a long-standing style staple for French women. Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel ballerina dates back to 1984. It pioneered the flat footwear innovation, with plenty of ballet flats following in its wake. The swoon-worthy shoe set the precedent for flush-to-the-ground variations and struck an appreciation for elegant and understated styles.
The creation was worn by many, from Bridget Bardot to modern-day style mavens—including French editors and influencers. The two-toned flat swiftly became synonymous with Parisian flair and it engineered the appeal of easy-wearing styles. The popularity of ballet pumps is prevalent on the cobbled streets of France. Brands from Repetto to French Sole have long-produced chic almond toe flats and retailers continue to fuel that demand and churn out classics.
Quintessentially French designers have cornered the footwear market and it doesn't stop at ballet flats either. The variety of flats extends to buckled loafers, slingbacks, open-back flats, sandals and jute espadrilles. Following the lead of Chanel, the Hermes Oran sandal has also proven to be a popular style with French natives.
It's the way French women wear flats that give the down-to-earth renditions that much more flavour. Comfort is pivotal, as is the art of subtle mark-ups—like contrast colour toe caps and horse-bit adornments.
French women experiment most with accessories, so it's no surprise to see modern footwear updates trickling onto the streets of France. Ruched ballet flats, chunky loafers and low platform flip-flops are among some of the latest introductions. Although they aren't the minimalist styles we're accustomed to seeing on French women, they complement feminine silhouettes and are equally suited to straight-leg jeans and blouses.
If you're looking for some chic fashion inspiration, or need reminding that flats are indeed cool, keep scrolling for eight French-inspired outfits. When experimental accessories adhere to comfort, there's no getting in the way of French women!
Head-to-toe Neutrals With Slip-On Sandals
Style Notes: Knit dresses are my go-to. As demonstrated by Chloé, you can extend the wear of sleeveless styles during the summer months. I'm particularly fond of the discreet panelling used to elongate the maxi shape even further. Pair with slip-on sandals and the matching handbag for a refined look.
Oversized Blue Shirt and White Skirt With Nude Ballet Flats
Style Notes: This outfit is evidence that basics are the building blocks for an understated look. Tuck the T-shirt into the skirt and wear it with an overshirt and classic basket to emulate the ultimate (and fuss-free) French style. The magic is in the accessories. The raffia bag and nude flats soften the look through the use of subdued colours, supple textiles, and natural fibres.
Denim Midi Dress and Platform Loafers
Style Notes: Denim dresses are a staple piece for French women. The recent popularity of heavy-soled footwear works wonderfully with juxtaposing feminine styles. It's also an elevated flat, quite literally. A supple bag rounds the entire look off.
Suede Jacket Tailored Trousers and Scrunched Flats
Style Notes: At first, scrunched ballet flats were associated with the minimalist Scandi aesthetic but as seen on Sylvie, French women are now embracing this unique shoe shape. It's only right the pioneers of ballet pumps don the expansive style offerings.
Cutout LBD With Two-Toned Ballet Flats
Style Notes: The LBD is a classic, but the cutouts offer a fresh update. Team with two-tone ballerinas because two classics are better than one.
Tweed Jacket, Jeans, a White T-Shirt and Loafers
Style Notes: The perennial loafer is a Parisian footwear staple. Paired with jeans, a tweed jacket and a fresh white T-shirt, it makes the ultimate transeasonal outfit. J'adore!
Slip Dress and a Basket Bag With Flatforms
Style Notes: I love how Tamara takes the figure-skimming slip dress and adds a subtle hint of androgyny with the flatform sandal. French women have donned the thong slipper for quite some time, so it's not surprising that the inched-up version is also gaining traction.
Shirt, Wrap Skirt and Ankle-Tie Sandals
Style Notes: This outfit comprises head-to-toe basics which look great together and interchanged. Each element can be worn in a multitude of ways. The strappy sandal is a seasonal update that compliments paired-back looks. Tie the straps high or low, depending on your preference.