The 8 Basic Rules of Parisian Dressing

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By Joyce Chua

Ever wondered why those French girls always look so effortlessly chic and put together? Ever found yourself staring at the photos of Parisian It girls like Marion Cotillard and Clémence Poésy, trying to steal their style?

Parisian ladies don’t seem to dress outlandishly, and they never look tacky. Black is the dominant colour of their wardrobe, and they steer clear of short, skimpy dresses. They go pretty much everywhere in flats — and they look unfailingly classy in their perfectly tailored clothes. That’s pretty much Parisian dressing in a nutshell.

Read on for more secrets of those stylish mademoiselles!

Simplicity is Key

While each neighborhood in France boasts its own unique style, there are a few sartorial rules that all French women follow — one of which is to keep it simple, and make it seem like you didn’t spend more than five minutes getting ready in the morning.

Instead, focus on interesting shapes and textures for your clothes, preferably in muted colours. Avoid over-embellishing and too-short hemlines — basically anything that can seem tacky.

For Parisian women, it is all about the timeless and tailored look — snug pants, little black dresses, tailored blazers, cashmere sweaters, and the classic trench coat are fashion staples for them. It’s all about being comfortable and effortlessly stylish.

Here are some basic tips to dress like a Parisian woman:


Back in Black


Black might seem like a boring colour to wear, but French women practically live in them. Along with gray and sometimes white, black is a staple go-to colour in a Parisian woman’s wardrobe. Instead of experimenting with colour, they go for bold textures, shapes and silhouettes that can transition easily from day to nightwear.

Minimal Accessories

The legendary designer Coco Chanel once said that a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory before leaving the house. In other words, do not over-accessorize, or flaunt too much cleavage or leg. French women are after the feminine look, but without being overtly sexy or flamboyant. Instead, they put the focus on one fabulous piece. So accessorize thoughtfully with dainty bracelets or necklaces to go with the laid-back Parisian look.


Embrace Red Lipstick


French women love their red lipstick. Bold red lips can also help your outfit transition from day to evening by dialling up the glamour. Try a sleek coat with matching stockings and pumps, then finish off with sultry wine-red lips.


Go Flat

A lot of women think that they need to wear high heels to look as stylish as Parisians, but the truth is that very few French women actually wear heels for everyday occasions. In fact, flats are a Parisian woman’s best friend. Alternatively, a pair of cool buckled loafers that add an effortless touch of swag to rolled-up jeans, a simple tank top and coat.


Flat boots, classic ballet flats, sneakers or stylish brogues are the preferred footwear options. Paris is a walking city, after all.


Prioritize Comfort


French women pay close attention to cut. You’ll be hard-pressed to find them in dowdy jackets, ill-fitting dresses or too-tight pants. They dress for their body type and ensure that their clothes fit right in all areas, tailoring even the slightest details for a perfect measure head-to-toe.


Go For Neutrals


French women prefer neutral colours like, yes, black — as well as white, navy, and cream — because they are easy to wear and match with other neutrals. For instance, well-tailored cropped pants and a shirt or blouse makes a simple but versatile combination. With changes in accessories, this fail-proof look is functional, stylish, and almost always appropriate for any occasion.

Try teaming up a white t-shirt and jeans ensemble with a tan hat or a pair of ankle boots, and an over-sized beige cardigan.


Skip Trends

This rule applies not just to French women, but all stylish women. Great style is about dressing for yourself, and wearing what you’re most comfortable in. French women love couture but are not a slave to fads. Instead, they develop their own signature look and stick to it. They might update their wardrobe with a few trendy pieces, but they always stick to classic pieces that hardly ever go out of style.


Are you a fan of Parisian dressing? What are some other tenets of Parisian style? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!