The Truth About French Fashion Clichés

The Truth About French Fashion Clichés

It’s no secret that the fashion world is a fan of French-girl style. The effortless yet timelessly chic vibes associated with Parisian fashion are envied by many—just check the internet. While many websites suggest buying certain pieces that are French-girl favorites, there are often many clichés involved. After completing some extensive research, I’ve compiled a list of items that I wanted to review with  Anna McLaughlin, a College Fashionista community member studying fashion in Paris. In an effort to find out what Parisians actually wear, she’s breaking down eight of the most well-known clichés of French style.

PHOTO: @rahmahly

Cliché #1:

The Trench Coat

The first wardrobe staple I asked Anna about was the trench coat, and she was quick to inform me that it truly is a French-girl staple. “This one is totally accurate,’” Anna said. “You see it on girls in the business schools as well as artsy bohemian ladies in the streets. I often see it worn as a go-to jacket on casual days.”

PHOTO: @jillruder

Cliché #2:

A White Button-Down

One of the items that kept recurring as I scanned through French-girl style articles were white button-down shirts. While this piece was popular on the lists, Anna noted that it actually isn’t that popular in day-to-day Parisian life. “I see this one in business-casual settings, not as much in the metro or on the streets,” she explained.

PHOTO: @itsdemib

Cliché #3:

The Leather Jacket

Another piece on my list was a black leather jacket, which Anna explained was definitely not a cliché. “Leather jackets are very popular. The styling of the jacket varies, but it’s a staple for French ladies,” she said. “Many women I see around Paris love the combo of skinnies, a tee, and a moto jacket. It’s perfect for brunch at a little café.”

Cliché #4:

A Striped Shirt

When I think of classic French fashion, stripes are the first thing that comes to mind. However, Anna let me know that, while they are an essential, they’re not a popular as I believed them to be. “Striped shirts have been a staple, but it’s one I see less and less. It seems like full-on neutral tees or even understated graphic tees are way more popular,” Anna noted. She also explained that when she does see stripes, they’re often styled in a different way than most would expect. “French girls style striped tees in a streetwear way. I often seem then with skinny jeans and Nike Huaraches or Adidas sneakers.”

PHOTO: @kayleehorn

Cliché #5:

Red Lipstick

Red lipstick was something I believed must be a cliché after everything I’d read about French women’s favored no-fuss makeup routines, but Anna proved me wrong. “I see red lipstick everywhere. People wear it all the time,” She said, “Even in my classes (which, granted, it is fashion school), girls come in with red lipstick every day.”

PHOTO: @lizbreuer

Cliché #6:

The Beret

This is easily the biggest cliché regarding French girl style—ask anyone what they think of when they hear “French fashion” and they’ll reference a beret. While berets are trending everywhere right now, Anna believes that’s the only reason she’s seeing them around Paris at the moment. “Otherwise, they’re just a stereotype that’s not really true,” she said. “They are really great for a bad hair day, though.”

Cliché #7:

The Silk Scarf

Up next? The silk scarf, which is seen around Paris constantly. Anna credits this to the piece’s versatility. “The silk scarf is such a godsend. It works in both summer and winter and immediately steps up any outfit that may have been basic before. Parisians wear them around their necks, on their bags, and in their hair,” she says.

Cliché #8:

The Basket Bag

In the U.S., this past summer was the season of the basket bag—a trend we claimed to have borrowed from the trendsetters across the Atlantic. Anna admits that basket bags are easily spotted around the city, but not in the way Americans have been sporting them. “They’re definitely popular, but usually for groceries. I see a lot of basket tote bag styles used for running errands, but I rarely see the small ones that have taken over the U.S.,” she says.

How are you wearing these French fashion clichés? Tag @cfashionista in your next Parisian-inspired #OOTD on Instagram!

Featured photo by @lizbreuer.