How To Wear French Girl Dresses

French girl dresses

French girl dresses are definitely a thing. Sit for just two seconds on any Parisian terrace when the weather is just a touch warmer and you will see examples of them everywhere.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Who What Wear recently featured The Cool Dresses French Girls Always Wear. 

So what are the style elements of these particular dresses? 

The most common features include a print (think floral or stripes), a belted or nipped in waist and a flowing or floaty skirt. Wrap styles also make regular appearances . Sleeves can be any length, although I have to tell you that my favourite versions are long sleeved.

Oh, and as a general rule, they are incredibly comfortable and easy to wear.

French girl dresses sound almost perfect, don’t they? 

And in my opinion, they are. 

But for so many women they seem like an item of clothing that only offers limited wear. French girl dresses are absolutely a statement piece. 

And, as one reader shared in an email recently, there is a chance that they will make too much of an impression. Which leads them to passing over their version of the French girl dress, even if they love everything about it.

Her comment immediately piqued my curiosity, and I felt compelled to share my view about the versatility of French girl dresses. (As an aside, I’ve been thinking about it some more, and it has occurred to me that perhaps we’ve carried over that thinking from a different era. I’m sure that women who lived through the Great Depression or World War Two got very, very tired of wearing the same pieces over and over again. I wonder if wearing something often by choice rather than necessity makes any difference?)

How To Get More Wear From Your French Girl Dress

Play With Footwear

Team your dress with tights and boots in winter. Try it with sandals in the warmer weather. Add sneakers and a denim jacket for shopping or visiting galleries. You get the picture – changing your shoes can dramatically change the look and feel of your dress.

Accessorise Creatively

If your dress is belted, accessorise with different belts. If your dress was never belted in the first place, check out how it looks with a belt. And don’t forget scarves and necklaces. Depending on the neckline of your chosen dress, experimentation with these accessories can create a whole new look. Oh, and choosing your jewellery like a French woman, can really complement your outfit.

Try Different Toppers

I’ve wear my own dresses with blazers, cardigans and my cropped leather jacket. And light-weight jumpers can work too, assuming your dress your dress is not too voluminous. 

Get Creative About Where You Wear It

If you are worried about someone saying “Here she comes in that blooming dress again!”, take note of who you wore it with. The reality is, if you buy a quality, excellent fitting frock, it will last for years. People really won’t remember how many times you’ve worn it – they’ll likely just compliment you on how good it looks.

One Final Thought

My style coaching manuals suggest that petite women should go for smaller prints and that those of us with heavier frames can get away with more dramatic, larger shapes. And, as a generalisation, that suggestion probably deserves some consideration. 

But honestly, if there was one rule in that whole series of text books that I think you can break, it is probably this one. Keep it in mind if you like, but my best recommendation when it comes to choosing a print, is to go with one you adore. Remember, dressing is meant to be both creative and fun.

How do you feel about wearing French girl dresses? Are you a fan? Or do you worry that you won’t get the return on your investment? Whatever your thoughts, I’d love for you to share them in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


P.S. A big thank you to one of my favourite DF readers – she knows who she is! – for her inspiration and input to this post.


Photo Credit: Haute Stock

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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4 thoughts on “How To Wear French Girl Dresses

  • Alisa

    I am one of those who looks at a floral dress and sees a one-trick pony. OK, now I am inspired. I loved your bulleted checklist. So I identified a ‘French girl dress’ and have stared at my closet with your list in hand. Here it goes!
    Here is the dress: mid-length floral print soft dress with button front, seamed waist with flared but not gathered skirt, 3/4 sleeves, self belt. Navy background with mid-sized scattered printed posies in orangey-red, cream, shades of blue and green and yellow.
    Look #1: espadrilles, raffia tote, woven sash in one of the solid colors from the print.
    Look #2: navy ballerinas, solid color neck wrap that picks up one of the colors, belt in navy or one of the other colors
    Look #3: denim jean jacket and converse flats (too easy), roll up the sleeves together to show the print. Relatively delicate jewelry for this.
    Look #4: boyfriend cardigan in navy or one of the colors with flats in one of the colors and chunky jewelry
    Look #5: weathered medium brown leather zip jacket, brown leather belt, brown kitten heels with buckles, silk scarf in a small geometric print with brown and navy that will coordinate with the dress print, wrapped and tied at the neck
    Look #6: wool or cotton sleeveless pullover v-neck vest over the dress in one of the colors. Belt the sweater with a thin navy belt. Ballerinas.
    Look #7: long sleeve v-neck pullover, roll up the sleeves with the dress sleeves, substantial floral brooch, kitten heels or flats.
    Look #8: dress open to the waist over a colored camisole that picks up a color, self-sash, flats in the color
    Look #9: tights in navy to match the dress, short kitten heel booties or knee-high boots, bulky pullover crewneck sweater
    Look #10: dress with a surplice wrap sweater, sleeves rolled, delicate jewelry, ballerinas or converse flats or even knee high boots
    Suddenly that dress that seemed overpriced for the few times that I would wear it has become a staple of my wardrobe!
    Great post – thank you!

    • Janelle Post author

      You’ve made me smile Alisa. A little bit of creative thinking can go a very long way – I simply love how you’ve come up with 10 very different outfits from one dress. And at the same time you have breathed life into other items in your wardrobe because you have a alternative way to wear them too. Enjoy styling that dress – I think it going to bring you a stack of joy.