Summer is officially underway and that also means adapting our wardrobes to the change of season. The French, however, have a uniform that they rarely steer away from, even in summer. Instead, they adapt looser styles and lighter materials to accommodate the rising temperatures outside. When it comes to the summer wardrobe, French men and women stick to classic shades like navy, white, red, beige, and khaki as well as earthy tones like tan and rust.
1. Don’t make it too obvious that it’s summer (unless you’re on vacation, then feel free to take your bikini top off.)
2. It’s still not time to wear shorts (unless on vacation, see the previous point.)
3. Do not make it seem that you’re hot.
4. Embody the confident “French” attitude.
5. The ultimate hairstyle is disheveled, as if sea-sprayed, even if you’re not on vacation.
6. Sunglasses are a must at all times.
But what are some French summer staples? “The perfect pair of denim cut-offs, which are short but not too short. Then there’s a simple pair of tan sandals – nothing too fussy. Everyone owns a basket bag and a relaxed summer dress that can be worn day and night – French women don’t like to look overly done. A white silk shirt is good too, but it should be loose to keep cool,” says Morgane Sezalory, founder of Sezane, in an interview with Harper’s Baazar.
In essence, the French focus on effortlessness in everything that they do, be it a summer vacation in Juan-les-Pins or the red carpet in Cannes. Be it a simple upcycled T-shirt or a studded, Channel dress at a movie premiere, it’s all about looking comfortable in your own skin and the garment. We’ve compiled some of our favorite French summer staples for both men and women.
Denim is Aseasonal
French men and women wear jeans year-round. And who could blame them? This comfortable choice of attire is comfortable at work, in social situations and even for a night out on the town. They’re great for a picnic, for travel, for walks, and just about everything. And everyone has their favorite pair that they wear with loose shirts or maybe even a tank top when it gets extra hot. It’s an excellent staple look to keep in mind for the summer when you just don’t know what to wear and need something simple and elegant. You can never go wrong with jeans!
French women do love to take out their summer footwear and let their feet enjoy the fresh air. In particular, you will see French women wear tan sandals. These are usually called Les Tropéziennes, the iconic leather sandals made in Saint-Tropez! They usually last a maximum of one season, but they’re lovely and sometimes even possible to purchase as cheaply as €20. If you’re really thinking of making an effort, perhaps a pair of heeled sandals is an option, too, for an evening or a fancy brunch. French men tend to wear closed-toe shoes during the summer (see espadrilles.)
Shop at Sezane & Les Tropeziennes
It’s all about giving off a breezy and easy look, and an oversized men’s style shirt does an excellent job. Men and women both wear these shirts with jeans or dress them up with a blazers for a fun style. These aren’t meant to overcomplicate your life but rather to make it easy to pick an outfit in the morning. They also double as great swimsuit coverups for women.
Shop at & Other Stories & H&M
The one-piece swimsuit is one of the staples of a woman’s French summer wardrobe. The shape of the swimsuit suits all body types. Lean into Parisian chic by wearing it as a bodysuit and pairing it with white pants and a pair of chic sandals. You can wear it as an actual swimsuit when you head for a vacation in August. Until then, it’s an excellent, perfectly-fitted top. Voilà!
Shop at Eres & Pain du Sucre
Espadrilles are an excellent step up from a sandal and a step down from a stiletto (when on a platform.) They’re basically the perfect shoe and French women know it because they love wearing espadrilles all throughout the summer. They will usually wear a cheap pair bought somewhere in the South of France. Men should stick to simple, cozy espadrille flats for the summer too, a perfect look as if transplanted directly from St.Tropez.
For plenty of sexist reasons, summer shorts, especially for women, aren’t quite a hit in France. However, both French men and women still love to channel the ’80s with a pair of cool Bermuda shorts. And we’re in luck as they are super in style this year and you can grab a pair for a few bucks at just about any thrift or vintage store. Pair your Bermudas with a white tank or T-shirt, and a fun belt, and you’ve got a look.
Shop vintage and second-hand shorts from the ’70s and ’80s.
Similar to the slip dress, the slip silk skirt is a staple for every French woman. Falling right below the knee, it easily translates from day to night and elevates any look. You can pair it with sneakers to make it more casual or with a pair of espadrilles to make it more feminine and enjoy a summer afternoon. The elegant look is quite striking and sure to reel in the compliments.
Forget regular pants and wear chinos. French men, and women, too, love to wear a shortened pant silhouette for a summer style. These can also be made more fun with additional color variations like tan, navy and more. Chinos are great to pair with white sneakers, or perhaps even espadrilles. Spend the day out and about in a casual and laidback manner!
Available at Sandro.
Perhaps no one has justified the mini-flower print grandma dress as much as French women. French women don’t like to be obviously sexy, and instead prefer an understated kind of look. A light, flower-print dress is the absolute must-have in every closet. Consider several options from short to midi and full-length dresses.