French Riviera style has always piqued my interest, so when Matt and I decided to vacation in St. Tropez, I went all in on my outfits. Whether you’re taking a trip to the Côte d’Azur, or you just want to embrace the breezy, but chic looks of the region, here’s my French Riviera style guide.
Located in the south of France, the French Riviera has grown into a notorious vacation locale for the rich and famous. First a fisherman’s town, it gained star power after Brigette Bardot shot the film And God Created Woman. (To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly also takes place in the French Riviera.) From St. Tropez to Monaco, these harbors and the Mediterranean Sea serves as a home base to super yachts and celebrities, but much like the Hamptons in New York, anyone can visit, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a summer holiday in Europe.
Anyway, I digress. French Riviera style is timeless, with crisp whites, nautical influences, and brighter colors than most Parisian chic wardrobes. Breton stripes, head scarves, and basket bags are a plenty, and it’s casual vacation elegance at its best.
Maybe you’re heading to the South of France this summer. Maybe you just want to embrace that effortless European holiday je ne sais quoi while running errands. Either way, keep scrolling for my French Riviera style guide featuring 9 must-have pieces for simple summer sophistication.
French Riviera Style Guide
Quintessential French Riviera style is anything white. Not only does white reflect the sun (which helps keep you cooler than darker shades), but it’ll also look great with your new Mediterranean tan.
Summer in the South of France is hot, so airy pieces like flowy dresses should be your go-to pieces to pack. Look for cotton, linen, and even lightweight silk to keep you cool. Lean into the St. Tropez glitz with fun prints and colors that you maybe wouldn’t see in Paris or Provence.
Dresses take up minimal space in suitcases, and they’re highly versatile for whatever you may have planned. Wear your dresses with flat sandals when you’re in town shopping, then swap out your shoes for espadrilles or heels for dinner.
To get a little more mileage out of your pieces, you can also opt for a printed skirt and matching printed top set (like the one above that I wore). When worn together, they look like a dress, but you can also pair the skirt with another top for another day.
Espadrilles were some of the most common shoes, other than sandals, women wear in the French Riviera. You can wear flat espadrilles for daytime or a heel version for wine tasting or dinner. The cities in the South of France are mostly cobblestone, and espadrilles are easy to walk in.
Castaner wedge espadrilles are perfect if you’re looking for a classic wedge espadrille. For flat espadrilles, I always love Soludos. I have these tan leather flat espadrilles (under $100!), but they also have a bunch of fabric options in a variety of colors and prints.
Like I mentioned in the section above, the South of France is filled with cobblestone streets, so flat sandals are a must.
Make sure you stop by one of the K. Jacques boutiques in St. Tropez; the brand started in 1933 and the sandals are still made there today. Although you can find a few styles from the brand on Shopbop or at Bloomingdale’s, there’s a much wider selection of sandals at the boutiques, and you can even customize your own pair.
If you want to pack a heel, go for a block heel. I have these heeled sandals from Sezane; the gold automatically dresses them up, and there’s no chance of your heel getting caught between the cobblestones.
A Straw Bag
When it comes to accessories, a straw bag of any sort is the perfect complement to French Riviera style. We’re talking raffia, straw, jute, rattan, or any kind of natural, woven material.
A larger basket bag (like this one from Sezane) acts as a chic beach tote, but you can also wear it around town to carry any things you may pick up along the way. There are also fresh markets there, and this is a great bag to hold your yummy finds!
As with any summer vacation, sunglasses are a must. For the French Riviera, opt for classic colors like black or tortoise and timeless shapes. Cat eye-shaped sunglasses are always chic, and they add a little bit of a retro flair. If you want to try something a little more fashion-forward, try a more rectangular shape.
I also discovered Jimmy Fairly, a French sunglasses brand, while in Paris. He has stores all over France, including Nice and Cannes in the French Riviera. I highly recommend you stop into a store to pick up an affordable French souvenir that that can’t find in the US.
A Chic Cover Up
Even swimsuit cover ups are chic in the French Riviera. You may find yourself going from beach club to lunch, so be sure to invest in something stylish to throw over your swimsuit.
A Striped Shirt
Breton stripes will always be associated with France and French Riviera style. Originally, Breton stripes, characterized by navy and white horizontal linens, were the uniforms of the French seamen. In 1917, Coco Chanel used Breton stripes in a nautical collection, and now, Breton stripes can be found in most closets throughout the world, even outside of France.
For a more traditional look, pair a striped tee or tank with lightweight cropped trousers. For a more modern interpretation, try a button up shirt or even vertical stripes. I love this striped oversized button up shirt and these matching striped shorts from Banana Republic.
WHAT I’M WEARING:
J.CREW CUTOUT MAXI DRESS // MADEWELL CROSSBODY BAG // SEZANE GOLD SANDALS // HERMES HEADSCARF (BUY SECONDHAND HERE OR A MORE AFFORDABLE OPTION HERE)
A Straw Hat or Head Scarf
Other than sunglasses, you don’t really need any other accessories in the French Riviera than a straw hat or a head scarf.
Straw hats protect you from the sun on the beach, and a fabulous head scarf will have you looking like you just walked off a luxurious yacht for a day in town. (Don’t worry, it’ll be our little secret.)
I love my Gigi Pip straw hat, but for the sake of saving precious suitcase space, I packed a straw visor for my trip. If your budget allows, you can invest in a silk Hermes scarf; you can find a bunch secondhand at The RealReal.
As you pack, here are a few things you won’t need in the French Riviera:
- Graphic tees
- Casual flip flips
- Jeans (it’s way too hot for any kind of denim)
- Sweatpants or loungewear (except for a travel outfit)
Hopefully this French Riviera style guide gives you some summer outfit inspiration! Au revoir!