How To Style A Sweater The French-Girl Way

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Caroline de Maigret Sweater

If ever there were a year to embrace a relaxed attitude toward dressing, 2020 would be the one. And while you can't travel to France for the foreseeable future (le sigh) you can adopt an effortless French approach toward your wardrobe. As you're well aware, Parisians nail that whole not-trying-too-hard-but-still-looking-chic thing, and as autumn and winter's coldest months are still to come, styling your go-to cozy sweaters like a French woman is a cool way to embrace staying warm.

For decades, French women (actresses, singers, designers, and yes, even normal citizens) solidified the notion that the French reign supreme in the category of nonchalant style. Closet staples like trench coats, trousers, loafers, and sweaters are all taken up a notch merely with their easy-does-it layering and styling. Chic knits have consistently been a piece that iconic Frenchies have perfected, starting from the days of Bardot and Birkin up until present-day muses like Jeanne Damas and Caroline de Maigret. If you're stuck on how to make knitwear feel fresh for several months in a row, you might want to take a peek at how the French pull it off. Ahead, discover and shop looks inspired by Parisians past and present for an update to your cold-weather aesthetic.

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Sweater Outfit à la Françoise Hardy

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French singer Françoise Hardy (an early muse of Paco Rabanne) is a great first stop on the Parisian knitwear tour. Her slightly rock-'n'-roll approach to dressing always incorporated pieces everyone already has in their closets: jeans, jackets, boots, and — of course — sweaters. Recreate her effortless look above by simply layering a slouchy knit over straight-leg jeans, and accessorizing with a couple of pendant necklaces and ankle boots.

Sweater Outfit à la Brigitte Bardot

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Iconic actress Brigitte Bardot is an interesting style icon in the sense that her personal taste shifted dramatically throughout her career. In the '50s, her look reflected the times with A-line dresses and ultra-feminine silhouettes. In the decades following, she adopted a slicker '70s look with trench coats, thigh-high boots, suiting, and oversized sweaters. The look above is easily replicated with a slouchy knit, jeans, and OTK boots.

Sweater Outfit à la Jane Birkin

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Everyone's favorite honorary Parisian (she was born in England), Jane Birkin's effortless style is the kind that never gets old. This fall, layer a jacket over a thin knit, like Birkin, and finish the outfit with a belt and slacks. Don't forget the basket bag!

Sweater Outfit à la Jeanne Damas

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Jeanne Damas is part of the new crop of Parisians that are helping to define how French style is evolving, and her playful approach to dressing is refreshing in every sense of the term. Her fall knitwear moment incorporates a charming cardigan layered over a printed dress and topped off with a couple of brooches for a flash of sparkle. Your signature holiday look, perhaps?

Sweater Outfit à la Julia Sarr Jamois

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Fashion editor and street style regular Julia Sarr Jamois is an expert at incorporating pops of color to any outfit. Her laidback look above teams a chunky knit with a trench coat and trousers, the epitome of Parisian cool. However, with the addition of futuristic sunglasses, an animal-print sack, and bright sneakers, the outfit becomes even more elevated.

Sweater Outfit à la Caroline de Maigret

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No one does Parisian style quite like Caroline de Maigret, and for fall, her knitwear angle is chic and versatile. To try out her look, wear a Fair Isle sweater with white trousers and slip into a pair of sleek black boots. Easy enough.

Sweater Outfit à la Cindy Bruna

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French model Cindy Bruna is modernizing the Parisian uniform with edgy pieces, like punk-inspired lace-up boots and a nod to the '80s with acid wash jeans. To balance the boldness, she pairs a blazer and black turtleneck up top.

Sweater Outfit à la Emmanuelle Alt

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Vogue Paris Editor-in-Chief Emmanuelle Alt always manages to make the simplest of wardrobe staples feel fresh and polished. Her blazer, sweater, and straight-leg trousers look shown above mirrors that ease. To finish, a dash of Western-inspired fun with a pair of black cowboy boots.