It is officially spring in France and wardrobes are shifting from winter style. But the French don’t dedicate their wardrobes to a whole new season. Instead, they keep it simple: less layering, plenty of jeans, T-shirts, and white sneakers.
With warmer weather comes lighter tones, less layering, and light pieces that make for comfortable adventures. The French tend not to wear overly sexy, tight, or short outfits, and instead, they prefer a draped style that accentuates their body in an understated manner. For example, skinny jeans are less popular in France than straight-leg mom jeans which are still a top choice. The French also tend to avoid wearing loud prints for spring, except classic styles like stripes, polka dots or gingham (“vichy” in French), and simple floral patterns. Finally, they also seek neutral spring colors such as white, beige, light grey, navy blue, brown, earth tones like tan and rust, and khaki. You won’t be seeing any neon or magenta walking down the street because it’s simply ringarde!
We’ve compiled a list of the essential spring French wardrobe staples for a contemporary man or woman:
Denim makes up the core of all French styles, no matter the age or gender. It’s all about the slouchy jean styles, the worn-out vintage look, and the “not trying too hard” attitude. To make dressing up simpler, the French usually have a few pairs of flattering jeans for every and all occasions. These are simple to pair with just about anything and are comfortable for spring adventures. In the spring, jeans are worn with white sneakers, heels or ballet flats instead of winter boots. The French are also into denim with cut-out elements, distressed cuffing, and white jeans are always in.
While the French love to thrift their jeans in vintage stores and second-hand institutions, they also love a good-quality pair of jeans from French brands like Rouje Paris,Sezanne, and on websites like Le Redoute (which features organic cotton denim).
Oversized Button-Down Shirt
There is a certain element of “chic” when wearing office wear as casual wear –with a pair of jeans or midi skirt. French women have mastered the art of wearing an oversized button-down shirt, especially if they’ve borrowed it from their mec. In fact, it’s quite popular to wear men’s clothing and women over there revel in oversized, tailored pieces. The button-down shirt is an absolute must for spring. While in the winter it would have been paired with a pull, today it can shine on its own. It’s also one of those items that you don’t necessarily have to wear a jacket with if it’s warm enough, making it a perfect spring staple.
Just about every French brand carries button-down shirts from Sandro, adding pops of pastel colors this spring with its light pink and blue shirts, to the funky Zadig & Voltaire proving that black is always in style. Non-French, but popular in France, London brand COS also offers mid-range priced shirts, both traditional style and in an asymmetric cut as well.
I remember my Parisian friend once buying a Balmain vintage Blazer in Brooklyn as her spring “jacket,” so she said. I didn’t understand then, but I would see her sport it for the next couple of years, layering the well-tailored piece with T-shirts, dresses, and even cropped tops. She wore it with jumpsuits and even shorts at times. I came to realize it was a worthy investment, indeed. The French blazer is a must-have item in every spring wardrobe, for both men and women, especially when the air gets a little bit chilly or you plan to hang out by the Seine. It’s the perfect piece that can style up any outfit, and also keep you comfortable and warm. Ideally, keep two blazers in your closet: a tailored and an oversized one.
A brand-name vintage blazer like my friend’s Balmain or an Isabel Marant is the epitome of French style, but it requires either a wad of cash or a good eye for vintage finds. A checkered blazer is a perfect spring find — like this one from & Other Stories. You also can’t go wrong with a double-breasted black blazer from Maje. Looking for a good deal? A simple, tan Zara blazer will do the trick and nobody will know the difference.
Sunglasses are necessary during all seasons, but especially in the spring when they add edge to any outfit. While French women don’t wear as much makeup, they love to accentuate their faces with a perfectly-fitting pair of sunglasses. Nothing fancy or over the top, instead a good dark oversized pair will always do the trick and give you the French je ne sais quoi look. Men also love a good pair of shades to make their style a little more Gainsbourg.
While there are plenty of fancy sunglasses like YSL and Chloè, French women prefer smaller, local French brands when it comes to shopping. Paul Ward, Mykita, and Jimmy Fairly are amongst the favorite stores to pick up a pair of shades for about $100.
White Sneakers & Fun Socks
And where would we be without a good pair of sustainably made Vejas? French men and women love a good white sneaker, and Veja is a favorite. The French also favor an adidas pair of Stan Smiths or a Nike Air Force 1. Sneakers are comfortable and stylish for any outing and certainly a staple item for a contemporary French person of any age and/or gender.
The French also like to make their sneaker game a little bit more fun with cool socks. Tabio in Le Marais is a true destination for socks and tights –there you can find lovely transparent styles and chic fits. Bleuforêt is a “Made in France” brand offering lovely styles for men and women. Finally, even Monoprix, the grocery store, carries impeccable sock styles because it is France after all, and cool socks are of utmost importance.