How To Wear Shorts Like A French Girl

Temperatures are rising and so are hemlines. When it comes to summer short-wearing, do it like a French girl, and you’ll be just fine. We’re rounding up the best renditions from our favorite femmes françaises to show us the way, in style.

By Julie Drake3 min read
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Everyone knows the French do it better. Doesn’t even matter what “it” is. Impressionism? Team French. Cheese? Get me a one-way ticket. Intimately affectionate greetings? You could just say, I’m on my way, en français. Whether it comes to art, pastries, or embrasser, the French have perfected la joie de vivre (“the joy of living”), and that’s exactly what they do, every single day.

The French’s mastery of “la belle vie” applies doubly when it comes to summer fashion. Have you ever seen a French woman in ripped, embellished denim and a “some of y’alls cornbread ain’t done in the middle” t-shirt? We haven’t. All you need to do is walk down any main or side street in Paris to see svelte fashionistas left and right, running – in heels – off to le ballet, or au café, or any number of fabulous things they’re surely doing at any given moment. (Certainly, none are going to work or dentist appointments or doing any of the other horrid things we Americans subject ourselves to on a daily basis. Non merci.) In this case, as in almost every other, the French lead the way.

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to take inventory of our hot weather wardrobe. Shorts, fabulous tiny pants that they are, can be a godsend in the summer heat. They can also be a major fashion fail if we’re not vigilant. So we’re taking cues from our French fashion sisters, for peak “strolling along the Seine and talking about art”-girl vibes.

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As a White Linen Dream

There is no better way to uplevel your wardrobe than to fill it with one, two, beaucoup pairs of white linen shorts. Worn casually with a matching boxy top, or dressy with a blouse and a belt, nothing screams “get me to the côte” better than this cool wardrobe staple. Worn by just about every French fashion girl on the ‘gram, white linen shorts are the ultimate French icon symbol.

Faithfull Les Deux Linen Shorts, $169

Abercrombie & Fitch Oversized Linen Blend Shirt, $60

Mango Satin Lace Top, $36

Madison West Stella Straw Satchel, $78

As Cheeky Denim Cutoffs

Denim cutoffs might not be your first thought when you think of French summer fashion, but damn, do they make ‘em look cool. Worn with a cropped top or plain white tee, they’re giving us all the “oh la la” flutters, and we’re sliding them into the rotation, stat. You can’t go wrong with the vogue mid-thigh length.

Abercrombie & Fitch Mid Rise Baggy Short, $65

Rouje Shona Top, $125

Show Me Your Mumu Tara Crop Top, $88

Rouje Siam Tee Shirt, $105

Mango Jute Basket Bag, $60

As Super Sporty Chic

Very happy to report that French women are not above sporting athleisure. Even they know that sometimes, you just gotta be comfy. Seen on many a trendy crepe-eater, consider this your permission to take a day off from “all put together.” Micro length is the chicest, and don’t forget an oversized top for extra “like a girl” sporty vibes. 

Alo Yoga Ivy League Dolphin Shorts, $68

Gap Fit High Rise Running Short, $40

Abercrombie & Fitch Oversized Boyfriend Marquet Graphic Tee, $40

Mango Leather Panel Sneakers, $100

Mango Knot Handle Shopper Bag, $50

As Black is the New Black

Black will always be the new (and old and present) black, especially when it comes to French style. The French know there is nothing sexier than a beautiful woman in a sleek black ‘fit. These trendsetters have made it hot for summer with some mod belted shorts and a fitted top or tank. For those aiming to make black belt in looking first-class, here are some surefire ways:

Maeve High-Waisted Trouser Shorts, $98

Mango Off-Shoulder Top, $60

Sam Edelman Fitzgerald Heels, $140

Mango Printed Satin Scarf, $20

Mango Flap Chain Bag, $36

Maeve Silky Striped Button-Down, $98

As a Très Chic Romper

Nothing says “I’m like, really cute” better than a shortie summer romper. Worn here to perfection by Julie Ferreri, a romper pretty much requires you to pack up the wicker basket and take your lunch break to the park with the shady spot by the creek. By no means an exhaustive list, but here are just a few ways you might channel “when in Burgundy” energy for a lazy summer soiree.

Ranna Gill V-Neck Printed Romper, $160

Hutch Bandeau Romper, $160

Mango Structured Leather Sandals, $80

As Haute Pants

If there were awards for shorts, hot pants would undoubtedly win for “the most fun.” A nod to the hippie ’n chill era of the funkadelic ‘70s, these tiny bottoms conjure images of big hair and bigger dreams. Paired with a sweet matching top or oversized button-up, they’re sure to make you want to strap on a pair of rollerblades and skate down le boulevard past the older couple dancing to “La Vie en Rose.” 

Asta Resort Lucia Shorts, $80

Free People Boss Babe Tank, $58

Jeffrey Campbell Tutu Flats, $135

By Anthropologie Double Layer Herringbone Necklace, $48

Maeve Ruffled Round Collar Gingham Tank, $78

As Je Ne Sais Quoi Perfection 

You can’t explain it, but you know it when you see it. These examples embody the French allusion to the indescribable mystery that is a beautiful woman in a 10/10 outfit. Whether it be the perfect crochet set or a lace chiffon dream, these are not your mom’s summer shorts, nor are they at risk of being worn by anyone else at the party. There’s something mystical about standing apart from the crowd sartorially. And even if it ends up being a fashion miss, you can take pride in knowing you showed real bravery and courage in the face of otherwise certain fashion homogeneity.

Free People Still The One Shorts, $38

LoveShackFancy Peyonne Short, $275

Abercrombie & Fitch Toe Strap Mule Heels, $80 

Pilcro Flowy Tank Top, $90

Closing Thoughts

When in doubt, and especially in regards to summer short-wearing, do it like a French girl. But don’t stop at shorts. Scarves, slip dresses, and a flawless red lip were all perfected by Parisians long ago, and there’s no need to reinvent an impeccably operating, aesthetically superior wheel. There’s no wonder we look to the French for inspo à la mode. But mastering the art of dressing isn’t actually about being flashy or superior, it’s about caring for your body and spirit in the way that you – as a once in history instantiation – deserve. So go ahead. Love that beautiful body. Wear those fabulous clothes. Give yourself the care and attention you deserve. Like a French girl. 

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