Beloved French designer Yves Saint Laurent once said “what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.” This notion, that style is something that cannot be named or described easily, (in which the French have coined “je ne sais quoi”), is the very essence of Parisian fashion. This, coupled with the natural charm of the French, is why Americans have been chasing after French clothing brands for nearly a decade, and will continue to do so.
I’m excited to bring you this list of must-shop French clothing brands as they are perfect for anyone seeking a Parisian aesthetic.
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What Is Parisian Style?
The term “Parisian style” has been thrown around fashion for years, but what exactly does it mean? At its core, Parisian style is founded on the principle of longevity: purchasing timeless clothing that transitions with every season, age, and occasion. However, this minimalism is supported by an attitude of elusiveness that makes it all the more compelling.
To accomplish this aura of cool, Parisian style presents staple pieces such as t-shirts, jeans, knits, and jackets in subtly different ways. For example, wearing a jacket in an oversized fit and pairing it with a form-fitting t-shirt in order to give the look dimension or pairing a sweater with a midi skirt rather than a pair of pants for a playful approach to layering. It is all about making small changes to classic ensembles.
I have laid out 11 French clothing brands that demonstrate this far better than I can. Each of these brands exudes the effortlessly elegant nature of Parisian style, while still maintaining their own point of view.
Created in Paris by designer Alexandre Mattiussi and inspired by the city ever since, AMI Paris adds subtle design elements to casual staples. The brand blurs the lines between masculine and feminine through its monogrammed hoodies, button-down shirts, and oversized pants.
AMI is for the woman who is inspired by the movement and effortlessness of menswear and seeks a comprehensive wardrobe of casual luxury staples. Mattiussi focuses on wearability first and foremost, straying from over-designed pieces and sticking to natural shapes and textures.
For those who want to exude the joyful freedom of Parisian style, ba&sh is one of the perfect French clothing brands. Created by best friends Barbara Boccara & Sharon Krief, the brand threads the theme of friendship and youthful exuberance throughout all of its collections, with a heavy emphasis on florals, lightweight fabrics, and playful design details such as ruffles.
Out of all of the brands on this list, ba&sh is the most aligned with American fashion influences, as the brand has a general sense of ease and fluidity that is familiar but still refreshing.
One of the best French clothing brands inspired by 70s rock, IRO brings edginess and elegance into one cohesive style. Founded by two brothers, Arik and Laurent Bitton, IRO is for the confident, cool girl who is always true to herself. The founders were musicians in New York at the time of IRO’s founding, and therefore, IRO is interspersed with electric and pop-rock influences, as well as a tension between New York grit and Parisian ease.
From contrast stitched denim, pointed sleeve dresses, and dual fabric leather jackets, IRO disrupts the subtle nature of classic French fashion. However, despite this street credibility, IRO still offers staple pieces, and therefore is the perfect embodiment of the modern Parisian women: someone who is both subtle and curious.
If Parisian style is elegant, then Isabel Marant made it cool. She founded her brand after being fed up with the overly formal and illustrious French fashion of the 80s. Her philosophy then is the same as it is now, to only design clothes that she herself would wear. This self-fulfillment is clear in the brand, as her fluid and bohemian attitude are threaded in every piece that she designs.
The French clothing brand’s oversized pockets, cropped vests, colorful knits, and loose trousers offer comfort and coolness all in one place and are instantly recognizable.
Jacquemus is child play at its finest. Its founder, Simon Jacquemus, skillfully takes archetypes of the French wardrobe (i.e. breton stripes, trench coat, suit jacket) and adds playful elements such as pastel colorways and wacky proportions to turn them on its head.
Perhaps the best example of this is the brand’s infamous “Le Chiquito” purse-a miniaturized sized take on the classic leather shoulder bag. Jacquemus allows women to connect with their inner child, while still presenting themselves elegantly. It is the perfect mix of street and ready-to-wear, without favoring one side over the other.
Although not founded in Paris, Luxi Jin, the creator of Lucy Paris, was born in Paris, raised in New York, and now resides in Los Angeles. This multi-city influence is evident in the brand’s laid-back yet elegant designs.
Lucy Paris is one of the most affordable French clothing brands on this list, with prices ranging from $60-$150. It is perfect for women who want elevated Parisian elegance while still staying grounded in their American roots. Here you will find a mix between California cool and Parisian refinement through sweetheart necklines, floral midi skirts, color block sweaters, and more.
Created by Judith Milgrom and founded in Paris, Maje celebrates the allure of French women. Milgrom was born in Morocco, where she discovered her love for colorful prints and playful textiles.
This ethereal quality is threaded throughout her design, finding the perfect balance between subtlety and femininity. Among Maje’s stand-out items are its tweed jackets, pleated dresses, and crochet tops. All of these styles highlight the romanticism of Parisian fashion.
If Maje is resolutely feminine, then Sandro is its androgynous counterpart. Created by Evelyne Chetrite, the sister of Judith Milgrom, Sandro is a French clothing brand that prioritizes comfort and ease above all else.
Sandro offers clothing that seamlessly transitions from a day in the office to an evening event. The result is little black dresses, silk blouses, leather biker jackets, and trench coats; all of the makings of a staple Parisian wardrobe. Sandro is one of the best French clothing brands that skillfully balances masculine and feminine energies. It’s perfect for women who do not have a specific style in mind but seek clothing that can provide them the comfort they need for their busy lives.
The first French clothing brand to launch exclusively online, Sezane is the true definition of a passion project. Its founder, Morgane Sezalory, started Sezane by selling vintage finds on eBay. In a few years, transformed it into one of the most sought-after brands in Paris.
This vintage inspiration is rooted in everything Sezane does: creating easy-to-wear, understated feminine pieces such as embroidered white t-shirts, flippy skirts, loose silk tops, and indigo-washed denim. The collection as a whole feels like exclusive access to your coolest friend’s wardrobe; the one who is thrift-savvy but still posh and elegant.
Credited with starting the “gender-fluid” style trend, The Kooples presents the French woman from the male point of view by brothers Alexandre, Laurent, and Raphaël Elicha. The Kooples (French slang for “the couples”), creates clothing that can be shared by men and women through its staple t-shirts, oversized button-downs, and embellished sweatshirts.
The brand’s easy, sportswear-inspired pieces look like items you would steal from your boyfriend’s wardrobe and pull off better than he can. The French clothing brand creates an intimate rendezvous with followers that keeps them wanting more.
A streetwise approach to Parisian style, Cecilia Bönström created French clothing brand Zadig & Voltaire for the strong and independent woman. The brand sticks to fierce staple fabrics: leather, denim, and cotton, and introduces them in an edgy, rock-inspired light.
80s themes are evident everywhere, but most notably in the brand’s dramatic sleeves, ruched cinched fabrics, and asymmetrical hems. Zadig & Voltaire takes the foundations of the French woman’s wardrobe (i.e. mini dress, midi skirt). They take it to a sexier place, all while maintaining a sense of mystery.
Although these french clothing brands offer ample inspiration towards the path to Parisian elegance, we must look within to achieve the elusive beauty that Yves Saint Laurent once described.
Above all else, it is important to contemplate which personal qualities you want to celebrate through your apparel. This sense of authenticity will make you more French than any trench ever will.