Summer in France – A Wardrobe for Timeless Seasonal Style

Aug 11, 2020

A summer spent in France, whether in the city of Paris or, and most likely, spent away from Paris and out in the country whether under the Provençal blue skies, amongst the fields of flax and wheat in the north, along the seaside, surrounded by vineyards in the Northeastern or Western and Southwestern portions of the country or wandering under the plane trees, is a summer spent leisurely going about one’s days.

Over the past 10 months I have created seasonal wardrobe lists for autumn, winter and spring should one be spending time in Paris, but I specifically chose to title today’s post for summer’s seasonal style for France, rather than solely Paris for the reasons I shared above.

While my first few visits to France were solely to Paris, both of the images above and below were captured during the summer in Paris while I was walking about the city. A handful of people kindly let me take their photograph to capture their chic summer style.

In large part, July and especially August, the city is deserted by the locals as they escape to vacation rentals and/or family homes in the country. And personally, while yes, I adore Paris, the more time I spend in the French countryside, the more time I want to spend outside of Paris. So today, we are going to dress for just that.

Two summers ago I had the opportunity to spend a month in France and spending only two days at the beginning and end of my itinerary in Paris, the rest was spent in three of the corners in France – Provence, the Loire Valley and Normandy. With only one suitcase for my clothes, I was determined to thoughtfully pack so as to be appropriately attired for the activities I hoped to enjoy, as well as look casually stylish and the hope was effortlessly so as well.

The temperatures in France during the summer months are particularly comfortable except for the rare (although becoming more common to happen at least once each summer) heatwave. Most homes do not have air conditioning as a result. While there are a variety of different regional climates, on average highs range around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), so dressing to suit the weather is imperative as much of the day is spent in some way, outside.

Provence will soar into the high eighties and nineties during July and early August, which is why linen is extremely popular as well as loose clothing. The mistral winds do whip through from Siberia nearly every day in Provence to move the air and clear the sky, so something of a thin breathable layer is nice. Of course, if you are up in the mountains, the temperatures will be lower, and the average low in France is 55 Fahrenheit, 13 Celsius (June) to 59-60, 15 Celsius (July-August).

Now, let’s take a look at the list:

1.Sleeveless dresses or light-weight long-sleeve/sleeved dresses

Choose the length you feel most comfortable in (for me, it is the midi), and choose a dress that isn’t tight, but silhouttes or swings with your body well. I prefer sleeveless because you will want to be able to layer the dress in the morning or evenings, but you won’t need the jacket or sweater during the day and sleeved dresses (unless they are loose fitting) will only become ruined with sweat stains if it happens repeatedly.

~La Ligne Katherine Dress~
~Luxe-Provence Anäis Linen Wrap Dress (more colors)~
~La Ligne Spaghetti dress~
~Luxe-Provence Cassis linen weekend dress~

2. Linen for anything – pants, shirts, dresses, scarves

Live in linen from your clothing to your sheets to your table linens. Okay, maybe the last one is not necessary as it has nothing to do with one’s wardrobe, but linen is breathable, looks just as wonderful wrinkled as ironed and moves with you.

~Shirtini’s Frank & Eileen White Linen Hunter Dress~
~The White Company’s Linen Tie-Waist Chevron dress (on sale)~

3. Tropiezenne sandals (or something equivalent)

Shared in this week’s Outfit of the Week’s post, Rondini’s Tropezienne sandals were the single most appreciated wardrobe item I wore during my trip to France in 2018 and again last year. I wore them everywhere, with everything. Both stylish, yet my feet are secure and don’t slip out while I am walking, I highly recommend welcoming a pair of these into your wardrobe.

4. A light jacket or extra fine cardigan

Mornings can still be brisk, even if that will change quickly as the day progresses, so if you are the one who is going to pick up the morning baguette or croissants, and of course if you are dining outside well into the night, make sure you have a simple, light jacket or extra fine knit cardigan to layer over your top or dress.

~Madewell denim jacket (regular and plus sizes available)~

5. Flat or heeled espadrilles

Espadrilles are comfortable, sturdy and transition well from day to evening without a thought. Wear with a skirt, dress or pants/jeans. Wear to the market and then to dinner out.

~Soludos Alix Classic sandal~

~Castañer espadrilles

~wedge espadrilles, Casta

6. A Tunic or Shift Dress

Absolute comfort and still quite stylish, a shift dress (hitting just above the knees with a loose waist) or a tunic is a must-have for remaining cool and still effortlessly chic.

~The White Company’s Linen Tunic Dress~
~Boden Kelsey Linen tunic, more prints and colors available~

6. Slightly heeled/wedge sandals

If you want something beyond your flat tropiezienne sandals and your espadrilles, find a sandal that has a bit of lift, but is also comfortable and sturdy. In this post, I shared four shoes I purchased for my trip in 2018, and I wore the black sandals quite frequently (#2 in frequency behind only to my Tropieziennes).

~similar sandal here~

7. Summer Straw Tote

To have just one will do, but having a few collected over the years, in different sizes and colors is fun to do as well. I wrote a post two years ago on how to find your perfect Provençal, or Simply French, Market Tote.

8. Swimsuit, one-piece, vintage inspired

It is summer after all . . . 🙂

9. A pair of comfortable jeans

I will admit, I did not wear my jeans but maybe once for the flight home, but I always pack a pair just in case. Choose a pair that will go with the tops you have brought along – white or light denim would be a preference, but dark denim is okay as well. Especially for walking in the evening in cooler regions, a pair of boyfriend jeans worn with sandals or closed toed espadrilles and a long-sleeve linen shirt is a comfortable and timeless outfit.

~See this week’s Outfit of the Week for a couple of jean ideas.

In 2019 in Paris during late June, I tried to capture the style of the woman who walked past me (left). White jeans, an oversized blue & white stripe top, black kitten heels, black sunglasses, a chignon and a black hobo bag.

10. A white loose shirt – tee or tank or button-up

If your linen shirts are packed, you may want to pack a few tees or camisoles for layering and/or wearing with skirts and your pair of jeans.

~The White Company’s Linen Sleeveless Top (blue also available), on sale~
~Shirtini’s Frank and Eileen White Linen Shirt, on sale~
~Emma Willis Blue Jermyn Street linen shirt~

11. A summer straw brimmed hat

I quickly discovered the one item I didn’t pack and needed to pack upon arriving in Provence and spending time outside with the sun was a sun hat. Choose the width of brim you prefer or need (I chose one that almost covers most of my shoulders as well as my face), and a version of straw so that your hat is breathable. I finally found one in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue while perusing the Brocante market one Sunday, and it has now become my gardening hat here at home. For fewer than 40 Euros, it was a great buy.

~Janessa Leone raffia straw boater hat~
~COS Broderie-Anglais pattern hat~

12. Skirt or jumpsuit (or 1-2 more dress)

Depending upon what you prefer to wear, as shorts are not something you will see much of in France, choose shirts (younger generations often choose minis) that can be paired with your tops, jackets and cardigans.

A great alternative to wearing shorts is to pack a jumpsuit or romper.

~L’Agence Joslyn Stripe jumpsuit – shop here and here~
~Luxe-Provence Camille Striped Linen jumpsuit (solid colors available)~

13. Scarves – linen or cotton (breathable)

Even in the summer, you will want a couple of scarves. Often they act as the jacket or cardigan to keep you warm in the morning and/or evening. Simply choose breathable fabric, a color or print you love and voila!

~Brunello Cucinelli brick frayed striped cotton-blend gauze scarf, 70% off~
~Brunello Cucinelli green frayed linen-gauze scarf, 70% off (more colors)~

14. Sunglasses

For when you are not wearing a sun hat or when you need both.

~Gucci sunglasses, 30% off~
~Ray Ban Standard Classic Wayfarer sunglasses~
~Ray-Ban 54mm Square Sunglasses~

15. Little or no make-up (instead, give the attention to intentional skincare, moisturizer and sunscreen)

Keep it simple. Keep your skin hydrated, add Sisley Instant Éclat – instant glow primer along with some concealer if needed, a swipe of mascara and lip balm (along with sunscreen), and you are set. click below to discover the 13 French Beauty Products I Love and Recommend.

It takes time to build a capsule wardrobe no matter what the season is, but as long as you buy timeless items that will forever be in style and fit you signature style, made of quality fabric and care for the items well, you will have them for years to come. Gradually, as you keep adding one or two items a year, you will have a wardrobe that works perfectly for the summer season, and if you have the opportunity to spend the summer in France, all the better. 🙂

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9 thoughts on “Summer in France – A Wardrobe for Timeless Seasonal Style

  1. your posts are a art of my morning ritual with a great cup of tea. I just discovered the White company and really like their clothes, etc. Thank you so much for your pleasant, informative and delightful posts.

  2. I’ve completely noticed my style has changed from reading your blog. looking at my closet now I pretty much only wear linen dresses and simple sandals. Of course a stripped shirt or two.

  3. Yes, linen, linen, linen! When I was in Berlin during a heatwave two years ago, I picked up two skirts, two sleeveless shifts, and two pairs of pants that saved my life the rest of the trip. Stateside, I’ve added four buttondowns from Uniqlo, which is a great place for affordable linen, plus a lightweight linen-cotton army-style jacket (Uniqlo). With my new Rondinis and lots and lots of spritzes with Bastide fragrances, I’ve had an easier time with summer this year. (Well, only in terms of physical comfort and style. Everything outside the four walls of my home is not “easy” at all. Argh!)

  4. So many beautiful choices! I think I wil be spending some time today clicking and perusing the above links! Thanks so much! I am in AZ and in the part that has cooler weather. Our summers are around 90s, despite being a dry heat (yes, it actually does matter, we tend to whine when the humidity is at 40%..and I am from the east coast originally, I know worse!) but the linen may be just the thing to revisit. I gave up on it years ago because of wrinkling but may be time to give it a second chance! n

  5. Thanks for such a great post. I have added more linen to my wardrobe to get through our hot, humid SC summers, and I love all your suggestions. J Crew also has great linen basics. Their Irish linen shirt is one of my favorites. Definitely tempted by the Rondini sandals. They look like a great investment piece. Loving French week so far!

    1. Sherri, thank you for sharing what you have been enjoying wearing this summer and for the reminded to check out J.Crew. Yes, there are having some great sales and the linen tops and other items are worth picking up. 🙂

  6. Absolutely loving the style posts this week! The Maree II sweater in navy posted yesterday is so chic as are the espadrilles, baskets, hats, & sunglasses shared—all of it, really. I’ve been coveting the Luxe-Provence jumpsuit since it debuted & I definitely need to check out Shirtini.
    Thank you for the fantasy French vacation…off to adorn myself in linen & inhale some lavender 😉

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