All in the details…

French-inspired fashion basics. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

There’s lots to love about what we’ve come to think of as “French” style. When done well, it’s simple, chic, and more sustainable than perpetually chasing trends.

French-inspired fashion details

Simple, good quality basics that can easily be remixed are an essential foundation. But “simple” can be deceptive; it doesn’t necessarily mean plain or generic.

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One of the hallmarks of French style is attention to detail, specifically subtle details that make a piece more unique. Think: piping on a blazer, an oversized buckle on a loafer, multi-colored buttons on a blouse, fringe on a bag. But nothing so flashy or over-the-top that it makes the piece hard to style multiple ways.

It’s not always easy to find pieces with those “little extra” design details. For one thing, they add to the production price of a garment, so can be difficult to find done well at lower price points. And right now, so many retailers seem to be playing it safe with very generic styles and colors.

When I want to find some pieces with interesting but not overwhelming details, I look first at French and French-inspired fashion brands.

French brands

Sezane Colette Mariniere. Details and more French-inspired fashion at une femme d'un certain age.

It’s a small detail, but the shoulder buttons take this up a notch from “just another striped tee.” Also available in Ecru/Navy, sizes XXS-XXXL

This organic cotton fabric is substantial but not stiff, and Sézane is committed to sustainability and transparency.

Sezane Phillipe sweater in textured cotton. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Texture is another way to add detail and visual interest.

This cardigan sweater is also made from organic cotton. (Wool-free!) It’s offered in Black as well, sizes XS-XXL.

Maje Vinie contrast trim cardigan. Details and more French-inspired styles at une femme d'un certain age.

Looks like a classic Little Tweed Jacket, wears like a cardigan. Maje Paris is more spendy than Sézane, but if you can find items on sale (or shop in France where the prices are lower), there are some decent values.

I’ve purchased a couple of sweaters from this brand over the last few seasons, and found the quality to be quite good. This one’s currently 50% off.

Maje M bag in black. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This fringed bag was quite popular in Paris when I last visited. It also has a shoulder/crossbody strap. It’s a cute day-to-evening option.


Amour Vert Madera silk blouse. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Amour Vert is a US brand with a French POV that was founded with sustainability in mind. What they do best, IMO, are printed tops (in silk and other fabrics) and sweaters.

While this silk blouse isn’t something you’d wear every day, it’s the kind of piece you could pull out season after season when you want to dress up a bit. Wear on its own or layer under a jacket.

Amour Vert Jaya cloud sweatshirt. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This top is described as a sweatshirt, but it’s certainly more elegant than most with the ribbed fabric, boatneck, and button detail on the shoulder. I’d wear this as a lightweight sweater with jeans or other casual pants.

The fabric is an organic cotton and Modal blend. It’s offered in sizes XS-XL and looks to be generously-sized. (Also in “Dove,” a light gray.)

Madewell herringbone sweater coat. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Ok, so maybe Madewell isn’t specifically French-inspired, but this herringbone pattern sweater coat is something I could easily see being worn in Paris. The stand collar, bone button and trim on the cuffs and hem are all nice details.

Clare V Arabelle bag in navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Clare V is another US brand that channels a certain French sensibility. This navy bag has fun grommet details. Carry with the shorter handle, or add a shoulder or crossbody strap in an accent color.

I’ll keep my eyes open as the Spring styles start to roll in, and update.

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  1. What a fun post! Love all these and the details that make them special! Thank you for putting the post together.

  2. Merci beaucoup, I would wear everything thing you just featured! And, when I’m finished writing, I’m gonna scroll up and go shopping.
    Great selections. You definitely know the look…

  3. I love French brands! I have a few pieces, and they’re my favorites. I also like comptior des cotonniers, and Avec des filles ( not sure if it’s French?). Love!

    1. I love comptoir des cotonniers too, and always shop there when I’m in Paris! Wish they were available in the US.

  4. Do the shoulder buttons have a placket, and button that works?
    Those are the details that stand out, not just an extra button sewn on.

  5. You’ve put the finger on the sore spot… now I know why I am, contrary to you, never really drawn to the French style. It is too subtle for me. I am anything but subtle, wouldn’t you say haha? Ostentatious would be a better word to describe me.