Every time I travel to Paris, I find myself enthralled by the way that French women can make simple wardrobe basics feel so pulled-together. Over the summer, I sat at a café in the Marais, watching women take their lunch break dressed in jeans, sneakers, and cute miniskirts, and I began to mentally tuck away ideas that I could bring home and make use of myself. Luckily, I realised that I could easily re-create them using items I already own. It would just take some new styling to pull it all together.
What I was particularly struck by is my French counterparts’ ability to use simple pieces like a button-down or a blazer to give a sweatshirt or sneakers a dressier feel. It’s an easy trick, but it has a big impact. Looking ahead to 2024, I’m already putting aside a fresh crop of ideas centred around the two pieces I find myself always going between: jeans and a simple skirt, like a suede mini or a silky black slip skirt. On Instagram, I’ve found some French outfits I can’t wait to re-create in New York, bringing a little bit of Parisian flair over the pond. All of these outfits manage to take simple wardrobe basics and, through thoughtful styling, make them feel more elegant than they might otherwise. Here’s my breakdown of the best basics to mix and match to re-create that Parisian sensibility.
Style Notes: Give denim on denim a fresh twist by treating it like a formal suit. Layer a button-down (and perhaps a tie!) underneath a jean jacket and style with flared jeans and chunky boots.
Simple flared jeans that go with everything.
A dark-wash denim jacket is ideal for layering.
This is a white button-down you’ll wear all the time.
Chunky boots are the finishing touch.
Style Notes: Don’t be afraid to mix and match textures. A suede skirt and knit sweater balance out a sleek pair of patent-leather shoes.
A Fair Isle cardigan is sweet yet classic.
Try a miniskirt in a tactile suede or faux-suede material.
Tights help to make this ensemble cold weather–friendly.
Finish the look off with a pair of slick patent heels.
Style Notes: Monochromatic black and white is a classic combination that manages to always look good together. Mix a simple, sleek black skirt with a light button-down. If you want to add a little bit of a surprise detail, throw in a silver accessory like flats or a bag.
Wear this floaty cotton top with a sleek, silky skirt.
A black satin skirt is a wardrobe heavyweight. It can be worn in so many ways.
Silvery ballet flats pack a punch.
Khaite’s Olivia bag is just gorgeous.
Style Notes: When it comes to casual dressing, give sneakers and a sweatshirt the French twist. A blazer helps to add polish to a casual look, and if you’re feeling particularly Parisian, tuck a baguette into your tote for later.
A sleek sweatshirt is comfortable but still put-together.
Wide-leg jeans are a comfy option but any denim style works with this look.
A blazer helps to tie a casual look together.
For running errands, a casual baseball cap is a practical and low-key accessory.
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Style Notes: Layering is an easy way to make the hero pieces of your wardrobe feel fresh again. A vest, belted and worn over a stiff button-down, creates a fresh look to wear with your favourite black maxi skirt.
A vest is an underrated layering piece.
Try a belt cinched at the waist to create shape.
A long skirt adds an inherently dressy touch.
A striped button-down is a piece you’ll wear once a week or more.
Square-toe boots are a comfortable option for work or play. Next Up: I’m a Brit Living in Paris—4 Winter Dress Outfits I’m Copying From French Women. This story originally appeared on Who What Wear US.