How to Style Your Workout Clothes Like a French Woman

Photo: Corinne Stoll for Inside/Out

It’s a pretty exciting time to be a healthy gal in Paris, according to Jessica Boukris, co-founder of Inside/Out, a holistic-living site that operates out of the City of Lights. “We're experiencing a new era of sports and wellness right now with studios and health-centric establishments opening all over,” she says.

In particular, HIIT and cycling classes are gaining popularity. And, as it becomes chic to sweat, the city's stylish women are embracing athleisure to a greater extent. So, what are Parisiennes wearing to the studio? Turns out, there are (unsurprisingly) some cool, French girl-approved brands to put on your radar—plus, chic styling habits to crib.

"We keep it simple with colorblocks, tone on tone, and discreet mesh inserts."

For starters, French women favor grey and black separates for working out the same way they do for more quotidien (AKA everyday) fashion pursuits. Cool sports bras, like those with halter-neck and cut-out detailing, are being embraced big-time, too. “We keep it simple with colorblocks, tone on tone, and discreet mesh inserts,” Boukris says. “[But] women are slowly getting used to edgy performance products, [as they] extend their workouts to several hours a week, and add in more cardio activities to complement yoga, swimming, and classical dance.”

In general, “long leggings are more popular than shorter ones,” says Elodie Garamond, founder of Le Tigre Yoga Club, one of Paris’ go-to yoga and Pilates studios. (Lululemon Wunder Unders are the standard bearer, says Inside/Out co-founder Alison Beckner.)

Aside from Lulu, another brand making a name for itself in Paris is Outdoor Voices—despite the fact that the New York City-based line isn’t available in France yet, says Beckner. Other popular activewear labels include Alo Yoga, Live the Process, Heroine Sport, and Lilybod, sportswear OGs like Nike and Adidas, and fast-fashion names like Forever 21, Muji, and Oysho, an activewear and lingerie label owned by Zara’s parent company. 

The one thing missing from France's fitness fashion landscape? A solid selection of high-quality apparel—Paris is still extremely limited compared to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and London, according to Boukris and Beckner. (They’re eagerly awaiting a Bandier outpost in France, BTW.)

It's worth noting, though, that not all of France's fitness fashion inspo is being sourced from other countries. For example, Le Tigre's created a private label with a cult following similar to the ones found at places like New York Pilates and Y7 in the US—its tiger tank sells particularly well. And the studio's activewear vibe can easily be summed up as "comfortable but elegant yogawear, with simple mono or bi-color patterns—not too flashy," says Garamond. In addition to its own designs, the studio stocks, Yoga Searcher, Be Parisian’s cheeky sweatshirts, Anaheart, Electric & Rose, and Lucas Hugh. 

Parisian workout-bound women opt for an old, large Céline bag or a simple tote bag.

Styling-wise, Beckner, who isn’t French but has lived in Paris for 15 years, has it down to a science: "a slightly cropped legging from Lululemon or Outdoor Voices, with bare ankles and Lanvin ballet shoes—or Martin Margiela or Lanvin tall boots when it’s raining, which is often; a boyfriend-style shirt or loose, tunic-y, high-quality-top from Acne or Cos over my sports bra—usually a Nike, Outdoor Voices, or Lululemon style—belted with an A.P.C. or Burberry trench.” (Phew!) For Boukris, black leggings, Nike Roshes, and an oversized coat or cashmere sweater comprise her signature look.

And despite have very different approaches to their activewear games, there's one thing both the women agree on: “Sports [gym] bags are definitely a no-go!” Boukris stresses that Parisian workout-bound women instead opt for “an old, large Céline bag or a simple tote.”

Beauty-wise, to finish off the look, they opt for clean skin, minimal makeup, and “fresh-ish hair; no blowouts, but not sweaty and oily, either,” Beckner says. Time to master that messy updo, non?

Also big on the Parisian fitness scene: this unique skateboard workoutplus, this breakfast fit for a French woman.

Loading More Posts...