When I first got to Paris for a six-month internship, it was the middle of August. I was prepared enough for the language difference (thanks to studying French in college and my trusty pocket dictionary) and the food (bread and cheese were already key food groups for me too). What I was not prepared for? The 90-degree heat. After all, I desperately wanted to fit in with the stylish French girls and packed three (!!) suitcases full of cozy sweaters, perfectly fitting jeans, stylish booties, and classic trench coats. But alas, I had failed to plan for sunny afternoons, brutal humidity, and lack of an air conditioner in my tiny apartment.
While I was forced to opt for cut-off shorts and sandals my first few weeks in Paris (trop américain!), I quickly learned how Parisians look stylish and fashion-magazine-worthy, even when the weather gets hot. IMO, Parisians are known for their outerwear and boots, but their style really shines come summer. Read on for the best tips I learned to dress for warmer weather like a French girl, whether you’re starting to style for spring or are prepping for 90-degree weather.
Opt for layers
French women love their outerwear and would never think to pack away their precious trenches and blazers until September. Especially since mornings can still be cool and summer weather in Paris can be temperamental, a trench is the obvious choice to pair with shorts and a button-up to not only upgrade the outfit but also to stay comfortable throughout the changing temperatures during the day (and the freezing air conditioning at cafés). Whether your layering of choice is a duster, a blazer, or a leather jacket, you can still rock it as the weather gets warmer. Pair with shorts or a mini skirt and simply drape over your shoulders or forearm when it gets too warm (PS: This tip is best for mild days and spring weather. Even French women leave their outerwear at home when the weather is sweltering!).
Wear basic tees with everything
Classic workwear is never reserved just for the office (or Zoom meetings) in France. Parisians love their trousers, button-ups, and blazers for any occasion year-round. They make their favorite basics bearable through warmer weather by wearing a neutral tee with everything from April until September. Whether it’s your favorite work trousers, a stylish slip skirt, or a trusty pair of oversized jeans, a high-quality T-shirt is the Parisian’s most understated essential.
Pair elegant shoes with your denim shorts
While sandals or sneakers might be the obvious choice with a pair of denim cut-offs, French women know that the secret to staying très chic when the temps are too hot for pants is wearing elegant footwear like ballet flats or chunky kitten heels. Pair with a sweater or a tee and blazer during warm days or just throw on your favorite tank or T-shirt when it’s too hot—the shoes make any pairing more stylish, timeless, and elegant.
Channel retro vibes
The summer trend that will never go out of style for Parisians: retro. There’s something quintessentially française about channeling the 1940s and 1950s in bathing suits, dresses, sunglasses, and even makeup (no one does a cat eye and red lipstick like the French). Think: gingham prints, slip dresses, sweetheart necklines, and cat-eye sunglasses. Channel your inner Brigitte Bardot on the French Riviera, but make it more modern with trendy accessories and just-woke-up-like-this hair.
Don’t be afraid of color
While Parisians are famous for their neutral colors and timeless style, the warmer weather provides the perfect time to express themselves in playful prints or accessories with a pop of color. Avoid making the outfit too busy by limiting prints to one statement item and pair with neutral basics (like a white tee) to keep the focus on the eye-catching piece. Channel your inner Parisian with one statement piece or keep the outfit neutral (a tank and denim) to pair with a pop of color in the accessories.
…But black can also be summery too
Yes, Parisians play with color in the summertime and white or beige are go-to colors year-round, but French women aren’t afraid to rock their signature black through summer months either. If you’re thinking black is only for fall or winter, you’re missing out on some seriously stylish OOTDs. Wear your favorite LBD, black button-up, or that two-piece set you normally save for autumn and pair with summery accessories like a straw bag and light-colored sandals to make it work for the season.
Wear peasant blouses with everything
Peasant blouses seriously had their moment in the U.S. the last few years, but they’ve been a staple in the warm-weather wardrobes of Parisians for decades. They’re lightweight, super pretty, and go with almost anything. Look for white blouses with intricate details like lace, puffy sleeves, or ruching, and pair with everything from denim to midi skirts to work trousers for a weather-appropriate outfit that’s as pretty as it is practical.
Have a few go-to midi dresses
I’m a fan of the minidress as much as the next girl, but if there’s one Parisian staple item from the beginning of spring until the end of summer, it’s the midi dress. Whether it’s a flowy A-line style or fitted through the ankles, French women love their midi dresses for any occasion or weather. The best part? It’s worth the investment because you can wear it through most seasons—it’s breezy enough to keep you cool paired with sneakers for the hottest weather but can also be worn over a turtleneck or under a jacket with boots to keep you warm in cooler months. French women are all about easy fashion, and the midi dress is quintessential.