How to give the humble cardigan a sexy French Girl vibe

Last Updated: June 9, 2024By
How to Dress Like a Charming French Girl

Dressing “like a French girl” isn’t just about looking chic; it’s about looking effortlessly charming too. Let me break it down for you (I’m better at dressing French than speaking it). The “girl” part is key because it adds a touch of youthfulness. Our French girl isn’t a formal Parisian lady in a Chanel suit. Her hair might be a little messy (but her bangs are always perfect), and her clothes aren’t brand new (but never shabby). She doesn’t overdo her outfit (unlike Emily in Paris), but her accessories – a piece of jewelry, a unique scarf, or a vintage bag – make her interesting. You might find her doing something ordinary, like reading on the metro or buying bread, but she does it in a way that’s irresistibly charming.


The French Girl and Her Cardigan

The latest ordinary thing the French girl makes surprisingly stylish? Wearing a cardigan. When an English woman wears a cardigan, it’s practical but not exactly stylish. On the internet, it’s called the “frazzled English woman” look. Her cardigan is part of a mix of layers for warmth. She grabs it from the back of a chair and throws it on with the grace of hanging up a dish towel.


But the French Girl Cardigan is a whole different story. It’s elegant, effortless, and sexy. And funny enough, the cardigan itself is probably something you already own. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be that simple crewneck one that might have been part of a twinset. The magic is in how you wear it and the attitude you bring.


Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

The French Girl Cardigan isn’t about the cardigan itself. It’s about how you style it. Think of it almost like a pashmina, draped over your shoulders for warmth. This looks especially good as a surprise top layer over a T-shirt and a blazer. It softens a tailored jacket, making it more relaxed and adding an extra layer when it’s chilly. Look to Alexa Chung for inspiration – she’s the honorary French Girl here.


Or wear it like a T-shirt – tucked into high-waisted jeans or belted trousers. It’s best with just a bra underneath, leaving the top buttons undone, and maybe adding a necklace.

Different Ways to Wear It

The French Girl Cardigan can also be worn unbuttoned, like a jacket, especially if it’s straight and boxy with pockets or chunky buttons. Try it with jeans, a shirt, and loafers – it can be as essential as a denim jacket was in the ’90s.

Last time I was in Paris, I saw cardigans styled in so many cool ways. Some had just one button done up at chest height, sometimes with a crop top (or no top) underneath, showing a bit of tummy. Others wore it backward, with buttons down the back – this always looks a bit cheeky. Or you could unbutton it to create a deep V-neck, letting it fall off one shoulder.

Where to Shop for the Look

For those who want to embrace the French Girl style, Sézane is your go-to brand. It’s affordable luxury and a favorite in Paris. Their Gaspard cardigan (£95) is a classic crew neck, the Barry (£95) is a versatile V-neck, and the Betty (£130) is a mix between a cardigan and a jacket. Pair it with a Chanel bag if you have one, but if not, a baguette will do just fine.

Styling credits go to Melanie Wilkinson, with assistance from Sam Deaman. Hair and makeup by Sophie Higginson, featuring hair by Sam McKnight and skincare by Osmosis. Cardigans by Sézane, jeans from Topshop via ASOS, loafers and earrings by Jigsaw, and modeled by Els Wright from Milk.

Embrace the Effortless Elegance: The French Girl Cardigan

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