It’s officially spring in France and wardrobes are going winter style. But the French are not dedicating their wardrobe to a whole new season. Instead, they keep it simple: fewer layers, lots of jeans, t-shirts and white sneakers.
With warmer weather, lighter tones, less layering and lightweight pieces make for comfortable adventures. The French tend not to wear overly sexy, form-fitting or cropped outfits, and instead prefer a draped style that accentuates their body in an understated way. For example, skinny jeans are less popular in France than straight mom jeans which remain a top choice. The French also tend to avoid wearing flashy prints for spring, with the exception of classic styles like stripes, polka dots or gingham (“Gingham” in French) and simple floral motifs. Finally, they also look for neutral spring colors such as white, beige, light gray, navy blue, brown, earth tones such as beige and rust and khaki. You won’t see neon or magenta walking down the street because it’s simply corny!
We’ve compiled a list of French spring wardrobe must-haves for a contemporary man or woman:
Denim is central to all French styles, regardless of age or gender. It’s all about baggy jean styles, the worn-in vintage look, and the “don’t try too hard” attitude. To simplify dressing, the French usually have a few pairs of flattering jeans for all occasions. They’re simple to pair with just about anything and are comfortable for springtime adventures. In spring, jeans are worn with white sneakers, heels or ballet flats instead of winter boots. The French also love denim with cutout elements, distressed cuffs, and white jeans are always in fashion.
While the French like to wrinkle their jeans at vintage stores and second-hand institutions, they also love a good quality pair of jeans from French brands like Rouje Paris, Sezanne, and on sites like Le Redoute. (which contains organic cotton denim).
Oversized Button Down Shirt
There is a certain element of “chic” when you wear office clothes as casual clothes – with jeans or a midi skirt. French women have mastered the art of wearing an oversized button-down shirt, especially if they have borrowed it from their guy. In fact, it is very popular to wear men’s clothing and women there revel in oversized and tailored pieces. The button-up shirt is a spring staple. While in winter it would have been paired with a shoot, today it can shine on its own. It’s also one of those items you don’t necessarily need to wear a jacket with if it’s warm enough, making it a spring staple.
Almost every French label offers button-up shirts by Sandro, adding pops of pastel colors this spring with its light pink and blue shirts, to the funky Zadig & Voltaire proving that black is still in style. Not French, but popular in France, London-based brand COS also offers mid-priced shirts, both traditional in style and asymmetrically cut as well.
I remember my Parisian friend once buying a vintage Balmain blazer in Brooklyn as her spring “jacket,” she said. I didn’t understand then, but I would see her wearing it for the next two years, layering the snug piece with tees, dresses and even crop tops. She wore it with jumpsuits and even shorts sometimes. I realized that it was a worthwhile investment, indeed. The French blazer is a staple in any spring wardrobe, for both men and women, especially when the air gets a little chilly or you plan to hang out by the Seine. It’s the perfect piece that can style any outfit and keep you cozy and warm. Ideally, keep two blazers in your closet: one tailored and one oversized.
A designer vintage blazer like my friend’s Balmain or an Isabel Marant is the epitome of French style, but it either takes a wad of cash or a good eye for vintage finds. A plaid blazer is a perfect spring find, like this one from & Other Stories. You also can’t go wrong with a black double-breasted blazer from Maje. Looking for a bargain? A simple beige Zara blazer will do and no one will notice the difference.
Sunglasses are necessary in all seasons, but especially in the spring when they add a touch to any outfit. While French women wear less makeup, they love to show off their face with a perfectly fitted 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 I do not know what to see. Men also love a good pair of sunglasses to make their style a little more Gainsbourg.
Although there are many 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 among the favorite stores to pick up a pair of sunglasses for around $100.
White sneakers and funny socks
And what would we be without a good pair of sustainably produced Vejas? French men and women love a good white sneaker, and Veja is a favorite. The French also prefer a pair of adidas by Stan Smith or a Nike Air Force 1. The trainers are comfortable and stylish for any outing and definitely a staple item for a contemporary Frenchman of any age and/or gender.
The French also like to make their sneaker game a little more fun with some cool socks. Tabio in the Marais is a real destination for socks and tights – you will find pretty transparent models and chic cuts there. Bleuforêt is a “Made in France” brand offering attractive models for men and women. Finally, even Monoprix, the grocery store, has impeccable sock styles because this is France after all, and cool socks are of the utmost importance.