"It may sound very clichéd, but the main street style trend in Paris is pretty much always the same—it's that sort of effortless, sometimes lazy vibe that you find in every girl," photographer Claire Guillon tells me. And she'd know because not only is she a resident in the French capital, but she's also been documenting the fashion looks of the city for some time now. Last week, we commissioned her to take to the streets and capture what French girls are wearing in real time this summer, and their ensembles didn't disappoint, but they did surprise.
"Talking to some of them, they all told me that dressing should never be complicated, and if you have some basic pieces (shirt, blazer, silk dress, sneakers…), you’re good to go!" Guillon says. "I realised it was also reflected of the makeup. Most of the girls didn’t wear much of it!"
But there are a few differences between what's genuinely trending on the streets of Paris and what we have constructed in our minds to be the archetype of cute French style. Perpetuated by what's visible on Instagram, it's very easy to think that all cool French girls ride around on bicycles in flirty dresses with little heels on and a baguette artfully placed in a basket bag swinging from the handlebars. Mais, non! The aesthetic is a lot more casual and urban than that. Instead, you'll find baggy jeans, plenty of affordable pieces, sports jackets, relaxed tailoring, high-top sneaks ("In Paris, you walk… a lot and fast," Guillon explains) and a series of Telfar bags.
According to Guillon, "Parisiennes are, of course, very attached to basics, but… They love bold pieces, crazy jewellery or a funny mix of colours," all of which you can see and take on board as inspiration below.
Style Notes: Echo's Paloma Wool two-piece is a unique combination as it is, but add in some chunky ACNE boots and an Orseund Iris bag and you have a truly individual, grunge-tinged spin on a popular trend.
Style Notes: It's the & Other Stories dress I was so pleased I bought, and it looks like the appreciation stretches across the Channel. Tessa styled hers with Dr. Martens sandals and a vintage bag—sweet!
Style Notes: A vintage trouser suit, Adidas sneakers and a Uniqlo crossbody bag, here is a more classing look from Camille. Simple but effective.
Style Notes: Anaele's floral Topshop minidress is just the kind of style we imagine all French girls owning, but the way she's given it a casual makeover with high-top Nikes feels fun and young.
Style Notes: Looking for the perfect oversized shirt? Make like Clementine and get something from ASOS's menswear department. Vintage Celine trousers and a quirky Mango bag complete her laid-back look.
Style Notes: Cecilia's layered Uniqlo tank and Tibi shirt are a great idea for the British summertime, especially when styled with an unexpectedly sculptural pair of Ana NYC earrings. Looser-fitting jeans are definitely de rigueur in Paris, and these are from Lee.
Style Notes: Proving that Parisian girls are really into thrifting, almost the entirety of Lucie's look is second-hand. Her baggy jeans are from Monki, and the pop of red against double denim is fantastic.
Style Notes: Caroline's Ba&sh slip dress can be worn formally for a wedding, but it's also a handy little number for being out and about when you throw on a jacket, sneakers and a couple of statement accessories like her Valentino bag and Gucci sunglasses.
Style Notes: Nour's slouchy jacket and trousers provide a very cool take on a suit. Her Telfar bag is the perfect throw-everything-in style for a workday, so no wonder every version of this tote is sold out.
Style Notes: Hawa's take on streetwear is really interesting, combining deep-brown layers with a sporty white jacket and vibrant yellow Zara bag.
Style Notes: Sometimes, it's the most understated outfits that make an impact, and there's just something very lovely (and easy to copy) about Maeva's black shirt and high-waisted jeans.
Style Notes: I just adore everything about this eclectic look. It's been pulled together with confidence, including vintage (Lee Cooper top), designer (Jean Paul Gaultier pants and Telfar bag) and high street (Zara shoes). The neutral trousers and trench allow these other clashes to look relaxed.
Style Notes: Yes, Vi! I now want to wear apple green with white for a totally refreshing summer look. From her Jacquemus bucket hat to her Dior logo scarf, this casual ensemble still has so many talking points.
Style Notes: Now there's something we recognise. Cropped cardigans are definitely a thing in Paris, and this one from ASOS looks great with high-waisted jeans and trainers for a no-fuss weekend outfit.