Style Notes: How to Dress Like a French Girl

March 19, 2018

Bonne Journée internationale des francophiles!
And for those who can’t parle français, that’s Happy International Francophile Day!

French is a language worth celebrating. Not only is it spoken by an estimated 274 million people, but it’s also widely considered to be the world’s most romantic language, and, of course, it’s the native tongue of our long-time muse: the French woman.

Defined by effortless sophistication, French women have a certain je ne sais quoisthat lends an inherently chic edge to their demeanor – and their wardrobes. You need only glimpse a few of our favorites – Jane Birkin, Caroline De Maigret, Mélanie Laurent, and Marion Cotillard – to see what we mean.

So today, we’re celebrating Francophile Day our way, and it’s okay if your French vocab consists only of bonjour and baguette. Because the only thing more enviable than speaking like a French girl is dressing like one.

Here, Anthro stylist Christy Michal shares her tips and tricks to add timeless French flair to your closet.

You might think mixing hard with soft wouldn’t work, but that’s au contraire when it comes to French dressing. This white fit-and-flare dress is undeniably feminine, but layering a moto-inspired jacket on top keeps it from seeming too delicate. “A black structured jacket and engineer cap toughen up the dress bit,” says Christy. “France is an inherently romantic place, no need to add extra frills and ruffles with the clothing,” she says. “Masculine accents help keep a balance on styles that are naturally feminine.”

To perfect the look, Christy suggests studying Charlotte Gainsbourg’s style. “She doesn’t really wear embellishments and lace, but when she does, it’s almost always polished with a blazer or leather jacket.”

A classic French wardrobe is just that – classic. Stick to functional silhouettes in strong neutral shades for a look that’s always of-the-moment. “French style is incredibly well-edited,” says Christy. “Find pieces you can use and reuse in many ways throughout the season, like perfectly tailored skinnies.”

“I love this brown trench, because it’s a practical third layer you can drape over anything when it’s chilly,” says Christy. “This one is belted with vents in the front and back, so it’s utilizing details that have been stylish for decades – an investment every curated closet should consider.” And of course, what’s a French closet without a versatile striped shirt?

Ballet flats are pretty and practical,” says Christy, “But don’t go for black. Lighten the look with muted shades of pink.” When choosing a pair that suits you, go for pared-back details with subtle and surprising silhouettes. Interesting toe shapes, cutouts, and materials can make the difference between feeling French or falling flat.

When you consider a city like Paris, it’s clear why flats epitomize French style – walking from place to place is part of the lifestyle. Reserve your heels for date nights and occasions; you don’t want to stroll along the Seine in pumps.

French women don’t do fuss. So when putting the finishing touches on an outfit, choose just one group of accessories to focus on. Here, Christy layers a dainty gold necklace with a printed black and white scarf to chic effect. “The trick when adding an unexpected print or accessory is to keep jewelry very simple and minimal,” she says. “Try to make use of the same pieces in new ways.”

French style is effortless, so too many accessories can seem like an outfit has been over-thought. “When it comes to jewelry, always err on the side of less-is-more,” cautions Christy.

A French girl’s final flourishes? Her signature scent. Her red lips. Her just-so bedhead. “Find something that makes you feel confident and make that thing a signature of your style,” says Christy. “That’s the key to dressing like a French girl – finding something that gives you a seemingly undone look, but it’s a look that you do incredibly well.”

Feeling French? Shop more of our favorite Francophile styles here.