Paris boutiques where “French Girl Style” won’t blow out your budget
Paris may be synonymous with high-fashion but chic doesn’t have to be expensive; affordable French clothing brands are plentiful and waiting to be discovered. So on my recent 10-day Paris trip I happily explored the smaller boutiques scattered among Paris’s charming arrondissements (neighbourhoods). A few I was familiar with, but many were delightful discoveries. And although they vary in style and approach, they all reflect that Parisian “Je ne sais quoi” – the ability to look effortlessly chic and casual at the same.
Affordable French Girl Style - Less is More
Exploring affordable but high-quality fashion in Paris was not just fun, it was a useful exercise in changing how I think about what I buy. In recent years I’ve tried to embrace that less can be more. This seems to be the way French women approach style: they invest in great quality pieces and put them together with French flare and chic accents. Parisian women don’t flutter in the winds of the latest fashion trends the way many of us do. They learn the styles that work best for them and stick to them.
Of course affordable is a subjective term. I recognize that even being in Paris is a luxury. Because the spirit of Parisian style is investing in quality rather than something you wear for a season, there is nothing here that compares to cheaper US brands like Old Navy. Monoprix (included below) is the least expensive and since its a department store many people compare it to Target, although the clothes are more curated and not as cheap.
The way I look at it is if I am buying less clothes, I can spend a little more when I find something I love. For anyone else moving away from fast fashion, Paris will inspire you.
Affordable French Clothing & Seasonal Sales
If you are serious about Paris shopping and keeping it affordable, consider visiting during the months of January or July when the entire city goes on sale. For four weeks French clothing is progressively marked down and you’ll have the chance to buy beautiful things at up to 70% off.
On this trip I noticed that unlike in the US where back-of-the-store sale racks wait for bargain hunters year-round, the affordable French clothing boutiques I visited either didn’t have sale racks at all, or had very limited items remaining.
Affordable French Clothing Brands
I am starting our tour with Soeur which I already knew because I had purchased a pair of pants here on my previous trip to Paris. They are wide-leg trousers with a subtle pattern that hints at tweed, but the fabric is a mix of cotton and linen. Without overstating things, they are perfect. I bought them on sale and believe they were 100€ – an investment but it felt reasonable for great quality pants.
Soeur was started by sisters Domitille and Angélique Brion with a mission to dress all women, regardless of age, and to simplify style. Soeur clothing feel classic but also original.
I think Soeur would appeal to many women, midlife and younger, and with more than a dozen locations in Paris you will likely have an opportunity to visit one of their stores – and I definitely think you should! I didn’t purchase anything from Soeur on this trip but loved their clothes just as much. And I wore my pants again, on a lovely Seine dinner cruise.
Beyond Paris they have locations in other European cities including Madrid and Berlin.
Online Shopping: You can purchase from Soeur online – they ship worldwide (free in France and Belgium). The website is priced in Euros and it costs 26€ to ship to the US and Canada.
Stepping into Claudie Pierlot felt familiar even though it was my first visit. The clothes are fun and whimsical but still feel chic. It was new to me, but Claudie Pierlot has been dressing Parisian women since 1984. Claudie Pierlot, the founder, created her company “for the women of Paris.” Today it is a part of the SMCP group which encompasses other affordable French clothing brands Sandro, Maje, and Fursac, the latter is menswear.
I had so much fun trying things on in Claudie Pierlot. The clothes felt like items I would wear often and were affordable. They did have some sale items remaining when I visited in September. I was very taken with a navy Moto jacket but I had recently invested in a Moto jacket at home – I hadn’t worn it yet but was unsure if I could still return it. The Claudie Moto jacket was on sale for 200€ – a great price and I sort of regret not buying it. But I did buy a wide brown suede belt for wearing with some of my flowy dresses; I will post a photo here once I wear it!
SMCP is expanding fast and Claudie Pierlot boutiques are everywhere in Paris (there are close to 20 locations with new ones opening regularly).
Having visited Maje and Sandro in the US, it was interesting to notice how the brands differ. Sandro feels a little more high fashion to me and less like things I would wear regularly as I don’t have to dress up for work. It feels the most “elegant” and I believe is the most expensive. Maje calls itself “feminine, free and emotional”. When I popped into a Maje store in Saint Germain I got a little emotional over a pair of blue tweed trousers and a matching blazer. What is it with me and tweed? Claudie Pierlot calls itself “preppy, free-spirited and modern”, which might explain why it was my favourite. I had no idea those descriptors went together, but since they do, I will now also refer to myself as preppy, free-spirited and modern. And I will be shopping again at Claudie Pierlot, in Paris and hopefully in North America (apparently it’s coming soon.) Maje and Sandro have retail locations in Toronto, New York and L.A.
Online Shopping: All the brands offer free shipping and returns to the US.
Petite Mendigote Paris
Sybille Roger Vasselin started Petite Mendigote with just accessories and shoes; her goal was to make fun and stylish Parisian pieces. When she expanded into clothing she wanted to create affordable pieces women could wear to work and out afterward. Practical, effortless and charming, so very French.
Petite Mendigote has lovely pieces in gorgeous colours that feel really feminne. I am not sure you would be wearing Petite Mendigote if you worked as a lawyer or banker, but I would happily wear them every day.
I’ve been buying more feminine flowy blouses and dresses in the last few years from US brands Doen and Ulla Johnson (always the sale rack). And as I perused Petite Mendigot it reminded me of those brands, but Parisian. It is also budget-friendly, so very much what I imagined when I was researching affordable French clothing brands for my Paris trip. I loved the use of colour and the fabrics felt gorgeous.
There are 7 Petite Mendigote locations in Paris; I visited the boutique in the 6th arrondissement (23 Rue Du Dragon) and everything about it was simply charming. I didn’t try anything on, mostly because I was very hungry when I visited and was distracted by the smells wafting in from the bakery next door.
Online Shopping: I can’t quite tell if they ship internationally. I will update this when I can figure it out 🙂
Sézane was born of founder Morgane Sezalory’s love of vintage clothing and it retains that whimsical vibe. Sézane’s pieces are more colourful than many others among the Paris boutiques I saw. It feels creative and fun. They are casual yet stylish and amongst the most affordable of the French brands I looked at. The knitwear is gorgeous and affordable, there are lots of fun denim pieces as well.
I tried on a very cute suede skirt and if I lived in Paris not Denver, I would have bought it. They also have great shoes that are well priced. I already owned a grey short-sleeved sweater from Sézane which I brought with me to Paris, and have worn a lot. Sézane quality seems very good for the price.
There are 5 retail locations in Paris which they call “appartements” and the charming decor is as much a reason to drop by as the pretty clothing. There is also a Sézane appartment in New York City (254 Elizabeth Street in Nolita) as well as one in London.
Online Shopping: This is as easy as it gets for international shoppers. They offer free shipping over $200 to the US, Canada and Australia and free returns.
Tara Jarmon was one of the first Paris boutiques I visited on my recent trip and I loved – it felt very elegant, very Parisian. It was probably the most expensive of the boutiques I visited and not affordable – for me anyway. But I decided to include it because they had a large sale section and items were marked down significantly. And the pieces were beautifully made – it had a level of sophistication compared with some of the others. They are also well setup online for international shoppers. Which makes sense because Tara Jarmon is a Canadian Parisian. The 59-year-old launched her line 30 years ago.
If I wanted to splurge on something I would come back here – and look for it on sale. The store I visited in Saint Germain had a significant inventory of sale items from summer, and I fell hard for a black jumpsuit that was within my budget, but not available in my size.
Tara Jarmon retail stores are located only in Europe.
Online Shopping: Tara Jarmon has a US website with prices in US dollars.
Vanessa Bruno believes the key to feeling great is knowing what flatters us; that we are not all going to feel our best in the same outfit, it’s very individual. I love this wisdom and think it reflects that she is a midlife women, aged 54.
Her clothes felt very sophisticated to me, yet still casual and a little fun. These are investment pieces for someone who knows what works on them. Vanessa Bruno was on the more expensive end of those listed here, so I didn’t try anything on. But I thought her items were beautiful and would look again during sale season. I loved her adorable sequin-trimmed canvas totes.
Vanessa Bruno has a boutique in L.A. on Melrose Avenue, so check it out if you get the chance.
Online Shopping: She has a US website so this is very accessible for international shoppers.
I finally got to Monoprix on this trip. This French department store has a long history and many locations in Paris. Much of the clothing is “nicer” essentials, perhaps comparable to Uniqlo, but with some fun French-themed tops and tote bags. And the essentials were of the French chic variety: cashmere sweaters and trés cute beige trench coats. The cashmere was very soft and well priced; I don’t know firsthand about the quality but Monoprix is very popular so it must be quite good. I also liked the shoes, so much I bought a pair.
This actually goes against my policy to buy great quality shoes that will last – these were 59. But they were the “Gucci-style” loafers I had been admiring on stylish French women and I was never going to buy the very pricey real thing. These seemed like a good enough quality (made in India) Gucci-inspired look alike, so I bought them.
I am told that in the summer and spring instead of cashmere you’ll find lots of very nice linen clothing at Monoprix. I would definitely return for that on another visit. Monoprix was the most affordable of the French brands, so if the others are not a good fit for your budget, head straight to Monoprix. I visited the Champs-Élysées location but there are a dozen stores in central Paris.
Online shopping: Monoprix has partnered with Amazon to deliver its cosmetics and skincare products within France and abroad. That does not seem to be available on the US Amazon site. (If you know otherwise, please leave in the comments below and I will confirm and update this info.)
A.P.C. (Atelier de Production et de Création)
I already knew about A.P.C. because they are in New York and I own a pair of jeans I’ve had for fifteen years. Their aim is to “perfect unostentatious clothes”. We might call them basics that are anything but basic. They would call it minimalist style. I loved an adorable denim skirt and also tried on a pair of jeans I was very tempted by. I always think of A.P.C. as a place for denim but walking by the lovely windows in Paris I was reminded what a gem it is for other classic pieces as well. You won’t find frilly blouses here. And it’s probably a bit too “hipster” for me at this point, but there may be not be a better example of French casual cool, which is why it’s been so successful in New York.
It’s not cheap but I can tell you from my 15-year old jeans, these are pieces made to last. Until you make it to their Paris Saint Germain store, pop in to one of their beautiful stores if you visit New York City.
Shopping Online: widely available internationally.
Affordable Shoes in Paris - Bobbies
Cute and affordable Bobbies is a gem for classic shoes and boots. And the gentlemen who helped me were a delight. They wanted to practice their English, I wanted to practice French and a fun Franglish conversation was had. And I tried on some very cute shoes. I didn’t need flats but if I did I would have bought the Beryl loafers or the Poppy flats. The prices were great between 130€ and 150€ for the ones I looked at. I was also very tempted by the sneakers – I loved the satin laces.
Online shopping: They ship worldwide – free over US$200 and offer free returns
I hope this petit voyage to some affordable French clothing brands has been fun. I think the most important thing we can learn from French women is that we all deserve to feel good about ourselves. At its best any fashion is an extension of who we are.
In all honesty, I didn’t intend to do a lot of buying on this trip. Because it was three weeks long, I was using my budget for other things. But I enjoyed this experience so much and every one of these French boutiques had multiple things I would have happily purchased if I had the budget allocated for shopping – and room in my luggage.
Now that I’ve made this list of favourite boutiques in Paris I will know exactly where to shop on my next trip. These beautiful, inspiring (and almost all women) designers are just another reason to j’adore Paris!
I have just returned from Paris in September 2021 so there is lots more Paris content coming – please check back or subscribe to the Midlife Globetrotter newsletter to be alerted to new Paris content.