French style is a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers and influencers alike. Last month, when I made my first trip to Paris, I had planned to sit in quaint cafes, sip my expresso, and take notes about the Parisiennes strolling by in their perfect outfits. Alas, I was traveling with a coffee-averse husband and three energetic kids, so I had to do most note taking in my head while running between tourist attractions! Here are some of the gorgeous sights that we saw, and the French style that I observed while people-watching…
Musée d’Orsay: The Classics Are Always In Style
If you are traveling with kids or just have limited time, I recommend Musée d’Orsay, one of the smaller art museums. Since our kids had little knowledge of European art and history, we knew they couldn’t fully appreciate larger collections. (They mostly commented on the abundance of naked statues.) They did enjoy seeing the small-scale Statue of Liberty, while I could not get enough of the breathtaking architecture. The museum is housed in a former railway station built in 1900 and is a work of art in itself.
Most of the museum-goers were international tourists but there were also many French families. One mom caught my eye, as she scolded her toddler and young daughter to be quiet. Though obviously flustered, she looked so chic in her classic, tailored wide-leg cropped pants, white printed t-shirt, and leather tote. I cringed as I had a flashback to when my children were pre-schoolers, and I lived in black leggings and oversized t-shirts.
Outfit 1: Wide-leg Pants + White T-shirt + Leather Tote
For an American version, Athleta’s Tribeca cropped pant is affordable, washable and available in regular, petite and tall.
Maje’s TIAO t-shirt is more stylish than just a basic white t-shirt. As the weather cools down, throw a long cardigan on top and keep it unbuttoned so that you don’t cover up the embroidery.
The Kooples (also French) has a similar floral embroidered t-shirt.
For your French style handbag, take a look at Sézanne (another French brand available in the U.S.) They have a gorgeous roomy bucket bag in soft leather that should fit all of your essentials as well as a few things for your kids. If you prefer nylon to leather, Longchamp makes this hands-free crossbody bag, ideal for the busy mom. If you can handle a smaller handbag, one of my favorite French handbags is See by Chloé’s Hana handbag.
Louvre: It’s All In The Details
We did visit the Louvre but spent our time outside admiring the architecture rather than going in to see the exhibits. There was so much detail to admire, from the stone carvings, to the glass Louvre Pyramid.
In fashion, the French are known for their impeccable details. If you remember my post on spring prints, you know how much work and artistry goes into creating an Hèrmes scarf. Even though Hèrmes is available in the U.S., I couldn’t resist going into one of their stores in Paris. I bought this lovely scarf pendant/bracelet. It’s just a little bit more distinct than a basic velvet ribbon or cord choker because of the beautiful scarf print and unique charm. It isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but I’ll let you know if I find something similar.
Outfit 2: Jacket + Silk Scarf + Dark Jeans/Pants + Knit top
My jacket is from Banana Republic (purchased a few years ago.) This Karl Lagerfeld Paris tweed jacket is a current style and goes with everything from tailored pants to a sheath dress to jeans. Add a knit tank, a silk scarf, and dark jeans or black pants.
If scarves are a bit intimidating for you, look for the smaller bandana style or ribbon style (long and skinny) both of which can be tied in a simple knot and won’t add bulk to your neck. For affordable American brands, try Ann Taylor or Banana Republic for their small silk scarves. They’ll still give you that polished French style without a trip to Paris.
Helmut New Cake: Casual Elegance
If you are gluten-free, you have to stop at Helmut New Cake either on rue Saint-Honoré or rue Vignon. We went for lunch, both of the days that we were in Paris, and enjoyed their delicious sandwiches (on the best gluten-free baguettes I have ever tasted). Their pastries were divine!
At Helmut New Cake and the other restaurants in which we ate, the staff was friendly, polite and extremely patient with my rudimentary French. When I struggled to find the words, they switched to English without judgment. They had a relaxed, casual elegance about their appearance and manners.
I noticed many versions of casual outfits in the staff and local customers, but what stood out to me was that everyone seemed have ironed their shirts and washed their jeans. There was nothing sloppy, ripped or stained.
Outfit 3: Button-down Shirt + Straight/Flared Leg Jeans + Flat Shoes
I didn’t see a lot of skinny jeans in Paris. Most were straight-leg or flared jeans without rips or holes. These Maje Popsem cropped flared jeans are reminiscent of the French style that I saw. The Kooples’ Lizy cropped straight jeans are also classic, clean jeans.
I love this Sézane Julie espadrille sneaker style as it is casual but so elegant.
More French Style…
Other French style pieces that you may want to add to your wardrobe are the:
- Button front floral dress such as this Rosa Rosa floral wrap midi dress.
- The Breton (striped t-shirt) such as these St. James ones.
- The romantic, feminine blouse such as this See by Chloe balloon sleeve blouse.
My Spring/Summer Buy Now! Pinterest Board has lots of options for French brands that you can buy in the U.S. If you’d like to see more of my travel photos or flatlay outfits, I’ll be posting them on Instagram.
Until next time, when I’ll be talking about New York Fashion Week, au revoir!