How to dress your children the French way

Wat dragen kinderen in Parijs?

I always love to see how French children are dressed for school.  They look as if they are all taking part in a photoshoot for the Cyrillus catalog. It might not be the most child-friendly way of dressing your little mini-me’s, so give it a try before they decide for themselves. Here are some tips on how to turn your kid into a French style icon.

French children are supposed to adapt to the world of adults. The same goes for their clothing, have a closer look and you will see they actually wear the same clothes as their parents but just a few sizes smaller. A family tradition which is beautifully illustrated in the mother-daughter collection from Tartine & Chocolat in this post’s picture. In this way the French transmit taste and style from generation to generation, leaving us foreigners with only one option: observe and copy.   Many golden-rules-in-style that exist for adults are also very much true for children.

This is what I keep in mind while shopping for my sons Mathis and Jim:

#1 No primary colours. Of course, it would not be French without an exception, some primary colors are “allowed”. To make it easy stick to those used by Le Petit Bateau. (e.g. the  yellow color of their iconic raincoat)

#2 Unisex clothes are very common for the younger ones. Especially baby boys wear things like cute collars, girly colors, shirts with smock. Some even make their baby boys wear dresses, out of tradition though, not yet for gender neutrality reasons.

#3 Avoid trends and hypes. As it goes for yourself, make sure you buy clothes that will not be outdated 6 months later. Go for classics instead of fashion items. I always ask myself, would I have bought this a few years ago? The ideal places to find these for a reasonable price are the second-hand shops, especially in the 15th and 16th arrondissements. I personally buy clothes on this beautiful second-hand webshop: Il était plusieurs fois

#4 Choose quality fabrics over basic ones. Like linen, wool or sometimes even cashmere. No don’t even start about clothes not being easy to wash, this is not the priority at all.  (Honestly, I only get these un-washable cute clothes as a gift but I love them.)

#5 No dominant prints, texts or logos.  They make it difficult to combine and after three generations you might get fed up with the “my Daddy’s the best” slogan. (Of course, do allow for one horrible Spiderman or Elsa shirt which your children can wear as a treat)

#6 The accessories count as much as they do for adults: bags, hairpins, shoes, socks…make sure they match, but also, use them to make the look more personal.

#7 Share and transmit clothes.  The first day of his life, Mathis was wearing a beautiful little grey gilet I borrowed from a friend, Jim just left for school wearing an Aigle coat from a cousin. It might feel strange in the beginning but really do ask friends and family if you are looking for a specific piece of clothing. Clothes with history and a story to tell are so much more valuable. My son Jim is so proud to wear his older cousin’s jacket, and so is my wallet.

If you would like to get to know a selection of so-very-French children clothes brands, please leave a comment and send me your email, I will send you a list of my favorites.

In need for inspiration ? Check out my Pinterest board with French children clothes which I regularly update

Text by Renée Koudstaal

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Comments 10

  1. Riley Smith says on 12th March 2018

    You made a great point about choosing fabrics that higher quality. I have been looking for ways to dress my son. It would be smart to use more wool because he feels more comfortable in it anyway.

  2. renee says on 15th March 2018

    Thank you for your message! Wool is comfortable for your son but it will also last longer. Which is like a win-win situation. I also like the idea of spending less time and money buying new clothes and taking good care of them, the environment will be grateful. Great to hear from you!

  3. Dorian Tsai says on 6th April 2018

    Thanks for sharing the french way for dressing children. I will use them for reference while shopping for my toddler boy 😀

  4. The Wee Bean says on 12th April 2018

    I read your blog its very interesting and useful. Your products are really very nice and comfortable. I really appreciate this blog as it contains useful information.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. renee says on 16th April 2018

    Thank you. So great to read this, thanks for following my blog! Renee

  6. Aurora Royle says on 19th July 2018

    I really appreciate your blog as it contains very useful information. You made a great point about choosing fabrics that higher quality. I’ll contact you when i want to buy french style clothes for my child

  7. renee says on 19th July 2018

    thanks aurora, yes just drop me an email or contact me through instagram @lestyleparisien, I have a whole list of french children brands I can share!

  8. Jenny Johnson says on 16th September 2019

    I’d love to know more about specific brands you recommend, will be spending next summer there with four boys.

  9. renee says on 18th September 2019

    Dear Jenny, thanks so much for your comment! wow 4 boys, I thought I was a champion with “only” two:) What age are they? I will send you a list of my favorite brands which you can find online. And some of these brands also have stores… Depending on their age I would definitely try the following shops when you are there: my absolute favorite is Monoprix (yes, a supermarket chain, with the brand Boutchou…only in the bigger stores), Cyrillus, Bonton, Jacadi, Bonpoint, Sergent Major and DPAM (the two latter one are not classical enough for my taste but many people love them). Let me know whether I can be of any further help!

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