French fashion may be mysterious and masterful, but it's not entirely unattainable. The women of this highly chic country are forever at the top of the tree when it comes to effortlessness—no other nation could possibly contend for the title. But as well as adopting their relaxed attitude to getting dressed, there are style cues you can take and tweak to incorporate into your own wardrobe and bring in un petit peu of that coveted je ne sais quoi.
It's highly likely you know some major French fashion rules by heart already: For example, brushing your hair is a sacrilegious act, one should never scrimp on the day-to-day pillars of a closet and everything is best worn thrown together to encourage the perception that you've probably had a really wild time the night before.
French girls are having fun and living life to the fullest—or at least that's what their outfits tell us—but there are other, more nuanced factors that play into a Gallic woman's wardrobe as a whole. And that's where we step in. So enrol in our French style school, where you'll learn everything from the grade-one basics through seriously advanced stages of being super chic.
And yes, it's a totally normal—nay, brilliant—thing to dress similarly or even in the same outfit as your maman. Great style and wardrobe classics never fade, so why can't you wear them now and in four decades' time? It girl Jeanne Damas proved the point recently, snapping herself alongside her mother, both wearing the same blue ribbed tee (from her collection on Rouje) and high-waisted jeans.
Maybe all French girls are blessed with excellent pins like Ellie from Slip Into Style, or perhaps they just know exactly how to play out a slashed-to-there hemline and not look overdone. We love the flirty, casual ratio of a marl tee and flats with a revealing skirt.
As any well put-together French maven will tell you, there's nothing less attractive than hobbling around in high heels. It's all about looking cool and breezy. It's no wonder many French girls (like influencer Anne-Laure Mais of Adenorah) turn to classic brands for classic pieces. For example, Karl Lagerfeld never produces sky-high stilettos at Chanel—just clever ones like the toe-cap mules you can slip on and off and last in all day. Anne-Laure's simple two-strap sandals are actually from her own brand, Musier Paris.
We're not talking about waist-cinching of the extreme variety, but French women always make sure that their figure is in some way in check—even when wearing loose-fitting clothes. Blogger Aria Di Bari has is just right here with her belted tunic over wide-leg trousers. So chic, uh.
Anne-Laure Mais has a similar approach to Carine Roitfeld when it comes to sultry dressing: It's all about a 50/50 ratio. Yes, you can see she's wearing a bodiced black dress with a thigh slit (with no bra, in true Français fashion), but the rest of her look is dishevelled and relaxed. Walking this line successfully? It's all down to confidence.
From biker jackets to boho suede coats, bombers to blazers, French girls invest a heavy amount of cash into great outerwear. It means that your simple jeans, tees and shirts never have to work hard since the cover-up does all the talking for you. Let's face it: In our climate, you'll get the wear out of a well-chosen piece.
In a similar vein to the sassy/sensible ratio we mentioned earlier, there are French fashion rules that apply to the level of accessorising set against an outfit. Want to wear your new shoes, bag and hat at the same time? Then you'll need a clean, simple, super-plain outfit underneath—preferably in a neutral colour.