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. French women invest in great quality pieces and put them together with chic accents and their own flare. Rather than flutter in the winds of the latest fashion trends as many of us do, they learn the styles that work best for them and stick with those. (I’ve also written about creating a French Wardrobe.)
Of course, affordable is a subjective term. I recognize that even shopping 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 U.S. brands like Old Navy. Monoprix (included below) is the least expensive, and since it’s a department store many people compare it to Target, although I found the clothes are more curated and more expensive when I visited on my recent Paris trip.
I look at shopping in Paris like this: if I am buying fewer clothes overall, 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. These biannual sales are known in France as “Les Soldes”.
On my trip in September, I noticed that unlike in the U.S., 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 Stores
I am starting our tour with Soeur, which I already knew of because I had purchased a pair of pants here on a previous trip to Paris.
Soeur, which means sisters, was started by sisters Domitille and Angélique Brion. Their vision is to dress all women, regardless of age, and to simplify style. Soeur clothing feel classic but also original. I always find something I love when I visit a Soeur store. The knitwear and blouses are lovely and they also sell very stylish shoes and boots.
I can vouch for the quality as I regularly wear the wide-leg trousers I purchased there a few years ago. They have a subtle tweed pattern, and 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€ — which felt reasonable for great quality pants.
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 U.S. and Canada.
Claudie Pierlot is one of the more affordable French brands on this list. The clothes are fun and whimsical, but still feel chic. Claudie Pierlot, the founder, has been dressing Parisian women since 1984 and says she 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 very 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. The Claudie Moto jacket was on sale for 200€ — a great price. I sort of regret not buying it. But I did buy a lovely brown suede belt to wear with 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). As mentioned, its sister brands are Maje and Sandro. Here’s how they differ.
Claudie Pierlot, Maje and Sandro - Three style stories
Having visited Maje and Sandro in the U.S., it was interesting to notice how the brands differ. Sandro feels more high fashion to me and less like things I would wear regularly as I don’t have to dress up for work. It also feels the most “dressy” of the three brands and I believe it is the most expensive.
Maje calls itself “feminine, free and emotional”. When I popped into a Maje store in the Saint Germain area of Paris, I got a little emotional over a pair of blue tweed trousers and a matching blazer. What is it with me and tweed? I think Maje is the perfect intersection of casual yet stylish and put together. I highly recommend it as I think their pieces appeal to many women.
Claudie Pierlot calls itself “preppy, free-spirited and modern”, which might explain why it was my favorite of the three. 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 U.S.
Petite Mendigote Paris
Sybille Roger Vasselin started Petite Mendigote with just accessories and shoes; her goal was to make fun, stylish pieces that felt distinctly Parisian. 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 essential pieces in gorgeous colors that feel feminine. 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 U.S. brands Doen and Ulla Johnson (always on sale). As I perused Petite Mendigot, it reminded me of those brands, yet distinctly French. It is also budget-friendly, and I love the use of color and gorgeous fabrics. I really love their shoe collection as well, and they are well-priced.
There are six Petite Mendigote boutiques 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: they do ship internationally for a fee and returns are at your expense. To the U.S. and Canada it’s 25 euros and takes about 10 days.
Sézane was born of founder Morgane Sézalory’s love of vintage clothing and it retains that whimsical vibe. Sézane’s pieces are more colorful than many other French clothing brands I saw. It feels creative, feminine and fun. Probably the most similar to Claudie Pierlot of those mentioned here. Casual yet stylish, just like Parisian women. It’s also amongst the most affordable of the French brands I saw on my Paris trip. The knitwear is especially gorgeous, and there are lots of fun denim pieces and gorgeous shoes and handbags.
I tried on a very cute suede skirt, and if I lived in Paris, not Denver, I would have bought it. I own several Sézane sweaters, shirts, and a blazer. The quality is excellent for the price. For more on this popular French brand, read my story: Sézane Paris Stores.
There are six stand-alone Sézane stores in Paris, or “appartements” as they are called, as well as a Sézane boutique in the iconic French department store, Le Bon Marché.
Online Shopping: Sézane’s online shopping is as easy as it gets for international shoppers. They offer free shipping over $200 to the U.S., Canada and Australia and free returns, regardless the amount of your order. I have ordered several things online and done returns; the service is seamless.
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 at full price — for me anyway. But I decided to include it because they had a large sale section and items were marked down significantly. The pieces were beautifully made, and it had a level of sophistication that set it apart from some of the others. The founder, Tara Jarmon, is a Canadian Parisian and midlife woman. The 60-year-old launched her line 30 years ago!
If I wanted to splurge on something, I would come back here. 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 U.S. website with prices in U.S. dollars. Free shipping over $400.
Vanessa Bruno believes the key to feeling great is knowing what flatters us. We are not all going to feel our best in the same outfit; it’s very individual. I love this wisdom, trés French.
Her clothes felt very sophisticated, yet still casual and a 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. 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 have the chance.
Online Shopping: She has a US website that 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. They aim 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 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 that based on the state of my 15-year-old jeans, these are pieces made to last. Until you make it to their Paris Saint Germain store, pop into 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. I also 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 with their pretty 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 favorite boutiques in Paris I will know exactly where to shop on my next trip, in October 2023. These beautiful, inspiring (and almost all women) designers are just another reason to J’adore Paris!
If you enjoyed this story about French clothing stores, you might also enjoy my story, Creating a French Wardrobe. French women have inspired me to prioritize investing in classic pieces rather than following trends.
And if you’re interested in learning more about Sézane, I’ve written a separate story about shopping at Sézane Paris stores.