If you’re a regular Who What Wear reader, you’ll probably already know how obsessed we are with French style here. There’s just something about the effortlessness of their thrown-together but polished outfits, the confidence with which they wear them and their unwillingness to pander to passing trends. Sometimes, though, sat behind a laptop scrolling through the most stylish French influencers’ IG accounts, it can be hard to get a true grasp of what the Gallic girls are really wearing IRL, not just for the ’gram. While researching, I also sometimes find myself questioning whether French girls are all that chic—whether they are in fact more stylish than Brit girls—or whether it’s a construct we’ve imagined.
But after a recent weekend jaunt to Paris, I can confidently confirm that, yes, they are all that chic (at least the Parisians are), and no, their superior elegance is not a figment of our imagination. From the moment my friend and I sat down at our first street-side bistro table (straight off the Eurostar, of course), we watched passers-by and fellow diners of all ages in what can only be described as admiration, and sometimes disbelief, at how good they all looked.
Even though I was technically on holiday, I was so impressed that I found myself making notes in my phone of the trends and outfit combinations I saw most. Partly to copy myself on my return but also to report back to you all in earnest, especially since I know you’re as obsessed as we are.
Below, you’ll find my report on the six wardrobe items I genuinely saw everywhere in Paris recently. I’ve saved them all here so we can refer to them for inspiration when we’re feeling particularly stumped on these trans-seasonal mornings. I’ve also shopped them out if, like me, you want to attempt to copy them. Keep scrolling to see.
Style Notes: If I’m honest, I thought the midi was over. That was until I took this trip to Paris and saw so many French girls wearing them in ways I hadn’t seen before. Rather than in an office-appropriate context (which is how I always think of midi skirts), Parisians were wearing slinky slip versions, denim or elevated wrap styles, mostly with some midriff on show, which made them feel particularly cool, or even just with a simple white shirt or T-shirt tucked in. And always with simple flat slides (ideally Hermès) or classic mules.
We first witnessed the popularity of denim maxi skirts this spring, and winter is another key time to feature this style.
A sleek satin midi can be dressed up or down with ease.
Parisians mix evening wear and day looks seamlessly.
Style Notes: Skinny jeans used to be the French woman’s go-to. And in true timeless Parisian style, of course, they’re still acceptable. But it was clear to see from my recent trip that wide-leg jeans have well and truly overtaken the skinny and even the straight as the most on-trend denim style. Rather than being baggy, ripped and low-slung, though, Parisians are wearing their wide-leg jeans in a more refined way: high-waisted, usually in dark denim, often with patch front pockets and always balanced out with a slimmer or cropped layer on top.
For authentic Parisian-style jeans refer to French retailers.
French women always appreciate a ’70s moment.
A permanent offering by & Other Stories.
Style Notes: I’ve always struggled to make ballet flats look chic, and I usually end up looking like a school child when I try. But Parisians have inspired me to attempt this classic shoe once again. Mostly, I saw them with blue jeans, tailoring and miniskirts as the chicest ways to style them.
Forget the Chanel flats, these are perfect.
These are so cute.
The ballet influence is clear.
Style Notes: So apparently, Parisians aren’t fazed by fleeting It bags, which doesn’t surprise me. After all, my favourite thing about French style is their approach to shopping—invest in the classics and wear them forever. While there, I saw designer bags from years ago, like the the Gucci Marmont and Saint Laurent bags, and they didn’t look anywhere near dated. That’s style for you.
This bag will never be passé.
Gucci produces many timeless shoulder bags.
I saw so many women wearing this A.P.C cross-body bag.
Style Notes: Even though the weather has shifted, sleek Parisians still take the opportunity to show a little. To be fair to them, less material on top perfectly balances out other, more covered-up trends like baggy trousers and midi skirts.
The high neck adds an elevated touch.
French women have inherited the floral corsage trend and often adhered to Bardot tops.
The low back is the moment.
Style Notes: Parisians know all about classics that can hold their own, and bouclé jackets have lived up to their iconic status. When looking to add an old money edge to your basics, simply finish with a textured jacket to play on Parisian refinement. You’ll have yourself a very chic yet low-key outfit that actually works for so many occasions.
The mélange fabric adds a vintage feel.
Tap into the trending colour of the season: red.
Here’s how to elevate a simple vest and jeans.
This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.