Fanatical about French style? Sew your way to that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ with my top pattern picks
From Breton tees to the versatile silk scarf, no one masters timeless style quite like the French. Seemingly simple silhouettes and minimalist ensembles have become the sartorial status quo of our lissom neighbours and one that many of us are eager to replicate. Yet, while this laissez-faire demeanour can seem like an innate trait of typical Parisian dressing, there is a range of patterns out there to help you curate fashionable and functional pieces at home.
Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m an aficionado of French style, I am definitely someone who has always been steered by my inner fashion compass as opposed to fleeting high-street trends. Many of the clothes in my wardrobe are older than my parents’ treasured Labrador and I have an unwavering penchant for classic, understated pieces that are comfortable and easily mixed and matched with other items in my wardrobe.
Sewing sustainable garments doesn’t have to mean expensive, I advise you to buy the best quality fabric that you can afford to make your garments last longer and feel good against your skin.
Below I have listed some of my favourite sewing patterns for emanating typical French style. Complete your look with a bold red lip, tuck a baguette under your arm and you’re good to go.
Of course, this post would be incomplete without reference to the Breton tee. The Milor pattern by I AM features a subtle boat neckline and a short and long sleeve variation which pairs effortlessly with your favourite jeans or tucked into a colour-block skirt.
Another stripey staple is the Coco top by Tilly and the Buttons; this is a great pattern for confident beginners looking to boost their familiarity with knit fabric and includes hem and sleeve variations so you can whip up a range of tops and dresses to suit your style.
When we think of timeless Parisian outerwear it’s likely that we’ll jump straight to the beige trench coat but the pieces above are also worth noting. The Sienna maker jacket by Closet Case patterns was inspired by vintage French workwear and is both practical and stylish. The neat, notched collar and waist-cinching belt, teamed with multiple pockets, offers a modern take on utilitarian wear that appeals to creatives and chic city dwellers alike.
A classic wool coat is also a great option for building your sewing repertoire and will be something you’ll have for years to come. Expand your skills with the Halla coat by Named patterns which offers a streamlined silhouette but adds texture with large patch pockets and clever top stitching.
For a shorter, tailored jacket I have a soft spot for the oversized blazer. The fully-lined Richmond blazer by Nina Lee includes traditional features like notched lapels and double welt pockets. It’s oh so easy to wear and a season-spanning winner.
Comfort and practicality are key signposts to consider en route to a sustainable Parisian wardrobe. These cropped Tyyni cigarette trousers by Named patterns’ makes these high-waisted beauties a firm favourite for the summer months and for those wanting to show off their fetching footwear. The pattern includes figure flattering side seams at the hip and waist, finished with a fly zip fastening.
Full length trouser more your thing? Try the loose-fitting, wide-leg Ester pattern by Victory patterns. These beautifully pleated trousers feature eye-catching overlapping pleats below a simplistically stylish waistband, fastened at the back with an invisible zipper. The pattern also includes a cropped version with an optional waistband sash.
Wrap dresses scream riviera chic and there are plenty of options to flatter any figure. Some of my favourites include the Vogue 9251 wrap dress that offers plenty of movement with its high-low hem and fluttering butterfly sleeves. Choose lightweight fabrics such as rayon or crepe for a winning summer dress.
For something a little more structured, the Vienna dress by Fibre Mood is a great beginner pattern that’s easy to throw on and looks great worn casually with trainers as it would do dressed up with heels.
Finally, nothing says quintessential wrap dress quite like the Étoile pattern by French Poetry. This dress feels timelessly stylish and is a great transitional piece to take you from day to night during the balmy summer months.
Of all the garments I regularly reach for, nothing is more reliable than a simple T-shirt. Pair it with skirts, trousers or shorts, this is a wardrobe staple you cannot be without and trust me, it’ll make getting ready in the morning a whole lot quicker. I recently made the Ruska T-shirt by Named patterns in a firmer knit fabric giving it greater recovery and structure reminiscent of the classic tee. However, it does have some subtle variations on the traditional shape including a centre seam and a high neckline.
For a more boxy silhouette, try the Kabuki tee by Paper Theory Patterns. This garment is suitable for woven fabrics and features floaty, oversized sleeves.
If you prefer more of a boyfriend cut tee the Jeanne T-shirt by Ready to Sew offers a relaxed fit with four different garments in one.
Another key piece in the Parisian wardrobe is a classic shirt. Many will cite the Oxford shirt as this category’s quintessential staple and as much as I love and wear this traditional garment I think pieces with a little more texture and movement can look just as smart and timeless.
First up is the Liseron shirt by Atelier Scammit. At first glance it reflects the looser, masculine-cut silhouette but also includes subtle details such as flounced cuffs and an optional frill collar to give it a feminine edge.
For an ostensibly romantic and feminine blouse, Ana by Apolline Patterns ticks every box. Beautifully finished with a vintage-shaped neckline and plenty of fabric options to choose from, to me this pattern is the archetype of a chic Parisian blouse.
Another firm favourite is the Frances shirt by DG Patterns. Every angle of this garment offers up an exciting detail: the traditional cowboy cut is juxtaposed with modern, cut out cuffs while the relaxed dropped sleeves and loose-fitting silhouette make this shirt really easy to pair up with a myriad of pieces.
I hope you like my pattern picks for channeling your inner Chanel. Although French style is predominantly founded on the clothes you wear, listening to your gut instinct when it comes to your own style preferences and feeling confident in the clothes you create is one of the best trends you can follow.