The Parisian Woman’s Guide to Style: 5 exciting tips to liven up your wardrobe

Parisian woman in the street, cobble street, tree-lined Paris street, bicycles on the bicycle rack. Leaves on the trees turning yellow. Woman in belted coat with black tote bag and black sunglesses

The Parisian Woman’s Guide to Style

or, 5 items you need in your wardrobe to guarantee summer styling success.

Your essential 5 items (plus one vital style attitude) in your Parisian woman’s guide to style are:

  1. Trouser suit or dress suit
  2. Get your classic colour palette right
  3. Snakeskin
  4. White
    Elegance is refusal (This is the style attitude)
  5. A lightweight coat

Streamline your summer wardrobe following our Parisian woman’s guide to style

Parisian women are renowned the world over for the chic, classic approach to life and dressing.  If you want to look stylish all summer and are slightly at a loss how to go about it, then take a leaf out of every Parisian woman’s guide to style.

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We all know how well dressed Parisian women are.  Having spent a year living in Paris and travelling throughout the country, I can vouch for the fact that French women’s legendary style is no myth.  They revel in being women and are proud to dress up and wear clothes well.

Parisian woman in the street, cobble street, tree-lined Paris street, bicycles on the bicycle rack. Leaves on the trees turning yellow. Woman in belted coat with black tote bag and black sunglesses

Parisian women can be quite reserved in their dress, tending towards classic styles and pieces more so than us Londoners across the channel.  In other ways they are very open and frank about their femaleness and womanliness, and not coy about expressing that womanliness unapologetically.

Their screen actors are legendary for their style: Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, are remembered as much for their style as for their acting ability and the breakthrough roles they played.  Marion Cotillard is an intelligent actor with an innate style. Emanuelle Béart, Audrey Tatou.  Now that I’ve started, it’s hard to stop.  Léa Sedoux.  Juliette Binoche, Carole Bouquet, Eva Green.  I’ll stop there but could easily go on.  All talented women with an innate style which their less famous, less thespian Parisian sisters share in abundance.

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The Parisian woman’s guide to style – take 5

If you need to take a leaf out of our Gallic style icons’ book and channel your inner Marianne, read on for a round up of 5 ways you can quickly and easily update your wardrobe (plus one indispensable style attitude).  Take a leaf out of every Parisian woman’s guide to style and stay chic all summer long.

You may not need to buy any more clothes in order to put these looks and ideas together.  A lightweight coat would be a good investment if you don’t already have one.  A non matching / or matching trouser suit would also be a great investment purchase.  Both of these items can be bought in the sales which are starting or already on right now.


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Summer Style a la Parisiènne

Here then is a 5 item list of easy ways to look stylish all summer.  Weave these items around items you already own and you will soon be channelling your inner Chanel.

1. Trouser Suit or dress suit

A beige, non matching suit. French women, and Parisians in particular, are in love with their trouser suit.  It takes them from morning to night with no loss of pace or style.  At Working Frocks we say go with the trouser suit, or dress suit.  The jacket and trousers/dress shouldn’t match, but they should be the same shade.

If you can’t find a jacket and bottoms which match but aren’t a set, then go for the matching set.  Don’t get hung up on sticking to the rules, get the general idea and then make it your own.
Wear your suit with a white tee-shirt or lightweight blouse for day, and a silk shirt or camisole top for evening.

2. Get your classic colour palette right

Go for classic colours: black and white, navy and white or cream, beige with white. Unusual colours, colours which are currently in fashion, and printed fabrics, can and do look amazing, but when it comes to channelling your inner Gallic chic, less is more in terms of colour.

Unusual and fashionable colours can be introduced as a contrast colour among the classic colour combinations.  Outside of base colours (black, navy, beige, white, cream) bright colours are often reserved for evening wear.

If you want to use these colours in the daytime, then incorporate them in shirts, tee shirts and scarves.  Similarly with printed fabrics, use them in blouses, shirts and scarves. Of course you can wear unusual fabric colours and prints, although the purpose of this blog post is to introduce your wardrobe to classic French style ideas.  If you do want to use unusual colours there are two ways you can do this, and both involve using colour to make a statement.

Our Parisian style icon is not averse to making a statement but will do so in an uncluttered way which pares away all but the essentials in what you are wearing. The first way to make a statement, channelling your inner Parisian woman’s guide to style,  is as I’ve described above by using the unusual colour as a contrast, in a smaller amount, such as a scarf or tee shirt or cardigan.

The second way is by wearing the unusual colour or printed fabric as a dress or as a pair of trousers, in which case everything else that you are wearing needs to be from the classic colour palette.  So, if you have a dress in hot pink or orange red, make sure that your cardigan or jacket is white, beige, navy, black. In both cases don’t add extra detail or colour which is unnecessary.  One extra colour only.  Pare down jewellery.  Keep hair sleek and stylish.

3. Snakeskin

Although mostly very traditional, the Parisian woman’s  guide to style involves dressing with a twist: Jeans and gold trainers; an all black ensemble with vivid red hair. Parisian women are fond of animal print and use it in many ways.  From Leopard print ballerina pumps, to hair accessories, and onto all types of clothing.

Animal print is regarded almost as a base colour by stylish Parisian women. While leopard skin printed fabrics can be worn in the summer snakeskin is a great alternative for the summer months.  Pep up your wardrobe with a dash of snakeskin print instead.  Snakeskin print is lighter in colour than other animal skin prints.  I am thinking particularly of the grey, beige snake skin colours rather than red or green.

How to wear it:
Wear a snakeskin print skirt and style it with classic accessories, such as white trainers and a white tee-shirt
Try snakeskin cropped trousers with ballerina flats and the same white tee.
Or try a snakeskin print short above-the-knee coat with an all beige or cream ensemble.


4. All-white, allright?

Accessorise your all-white ensemble with belts/bags/shoes in gold or bronze.

One all white ensemble
Summer is the one time where you can go for an all-white outfit.
Keep the silhouette either sleek or shaped.

By sleek I mean without unnecessary bulk – pleats, gathers, too much volume.
By shaped I mean if you are going to wear a skirt or shirt with volume make sure you wear a belt that gives a shape to your silhouette.  If you wear a big, white shirt, tailor it with slim shorts or sleek trousers or capri pants.  Otherwise you will look like a cloud.

How to wear it:
Here are some all-white ensemble options:
wide legged linen trousers, teeshirt, worn with white shirt worn open as a jacket, or, if you are pear shaped, a cropped cardigan or shirt tied at the waist;
summer strappy dress in cotton or linen, cotton or silk cardigan;
straight, knee length skirt, cardigan and either tee shirt or camisole top

Elegance is refusal

Parisian women are known for their ability to stick to rules. An unspoken mantras from the Parisian woman’s guide to style is, “Elegance is refusal”.  Don’t be tempted to pile on all types of accessories and all different colours.

To rock your inner Parisian woman’s guide to style you need to be strict with your accessory colour choices.  The best summer statement colours with white are bronze/gold/burnished silver.  Black comes a close second.  Be careful with red accessories on white outfits as you can look quite dated quick quickly.

Top it with a straw hat.  Small brimmed in town, wide brimmed in country.

5. A lightweight coat

Northern France can be grey and drizzly.  Parisian women have a stylish light-weight coat that seems them through the inclement days.  Needless to say, choose it in navy, beige or white.

Other options include: gingham, snakeskin and khaki (only if the fabric is very lightweight) or pale grey.  Your summer coat doesn’t need to provide warmth, just protection from the odd rainy day.  Accessorise with a carefully chosen umbrella. How to wear it:

Wear your coat either, open with the belt tied behind you or:
wrap the front around and tie the belt over, without buttoning the coat.
If the coat is single breasted you may need to belt it, but the open or wrapped option are more stylish.

The Parisian Woman’s guide to style encompasses much more than the 5 tips listed above.  However those 5 tips are a great start to streamlining and taking your wardrobe style to the next level.  Why not pick one today and go to your wardrobe and take action on it now.

Have a great day!


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