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—and in the summer heat no less.
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 last week. I’ve saved them all here so we can refer to them for inspiration when we’re feeling particularly stumped on these late-summer mornings. I’ve also shopped them out if, like me, you want to attempt to copy them. Keep scrolling to see.
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.
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 wearing them 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.
It might be somewhat of a stereotype, but this one’s true. 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 miniskirts, midi skirts, and shorts. If you’re considering wearing them right now, one of those options is the way to go, but as we transition from summer to autumn, I’ll definitely be trying them with a classic blazer, jeans, and ballet pumps.
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 Chloé Faye bags, and they didn’t look anywhere near dated. That’s style for you.
Tube, backless, cropped, halter, stringy—you name it. As long as there’s some skin on show, Parisians are wearing it as a top. To be fair to them, less material on top perfectly balances out other, more covered-up trends like baggy trousers and midi skirts. Plus, it must be how they’re staying so cool in the heat.
Cargo trousers may be a favourite of Gen Z these days, but Parisians know how to do them best—and in the most elevated way too. Opt for The Frankie Shop’s smart tailored version or Reformation’s more relaxed pair—either way, wear with a simple white T-shirt, shirt, or crop top and some strappy sandals, and you have yourself a very modern yet low-key outfit that actually works for so many occasions.
This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK.