Chic Parisians have come to depend on an elite group of consistently reliable, top-quality fashion chains for their wardrobe essentials, including shoes and accessories. An indispensable alternative to the exclusive designer boutiques and the catwalk copy shops, these chains can be found in the city's most fashionable neighborhoods, or as outlets in the better French department stores. For that ineffable French style, the choices listed below are the best of the bunch, each with its own particular character and appeal to satisfy shoppers of every stripe.
Antik Batik: Romantic Standouts
The original "bobo" (bourgeois bohemian) boutique, Antik Batik earned its accolades with a slew of free-spirited dresses in soft, hand-dyed cotton prints and exotic silk-chiffon kaftans, with different variations appearing each season. Best described as flower-child-meets-rock-star chic, seasonal collections contain plenty of luxe fabrics, beading, and intricate embroidery.
Buy It: Don't miss the adorable mini-versions for girls ages 2 to 12.
More Info: www.antikbatik.fr
Comptoir des Cotonniers: Timeless Trends
This design's mother-daughter ad campaign, cast with actual Parisians, reflects the philosophy behind the brand: timeless chic for real women and girls. The classic clothes at Comptoir des Cotonniers are made of natural fibers in a range of winsome colors and are so comfortable and versatile you'll want one of everything, including the jaunty bags and shoes.
Buy It: Stylish neutrals and flattering basics from their Tendance Aqua spring collection work for fashionable ladies of every age.
More Info: www.comptoirdescotonniers.com
Majestic: Second-Skin Wear
Having perfected the T-shirt, Majestic took on every other wardrobe essential: casual dresses, leggings, cardigans, tunics, and tank tops. As comfortable and sensual as a second skin, these elegant cotton-cashmere-blend basics are so addictive—and so chic—they've become fundamental to every well-dressed Parisian's wardrobe. Made only in Europe, the quality and cut far exceed the norm, but prices remain moderate.
Buy It: Their boat-neck, v-neck and scooped T-shirt styles provide variety to flatter every figure.
More Info: www.majestic-paris.com
Sandro: Flaunt-It Fashions
Sandro reinvents up-to-the-minute trends with an emphasis on sex appeal: lots of minis, hot pants, skinny jeans, and cropped jackets in a range of forward fabrics, including metallic leather, flowered denim, and diaphanous silk. Looks from Sandro might be sultry, glam, sporty, or casual, but they're always au courant. For spring, guest designer Dree Hemingway (yes, Ernest's great-granddaughter) conjures up the "bohème-romantique" for her new capsule collection.
Buy It: Their flirtatious periwinkle-blue lace minidress goes seamlessly from day to night.
More Info: www.sandro-paris.com
Swildens: Urban Hipster Looks
The Marais-based boutique Swildens is the hippest of the group, with a down-to-earth cool that resonates with a younger crowd. Separates have a casual lived-in look, with plenty of slouchy pants and shorts, full-length skirts, oversize cardigans, and chunky knits. Standouts for spring include a soft striped silk poncho and a cinch-waist polka-dot dress in featherweight cotton voile.
Buy It: Pick up a superb cropped leather jacket or a fabulous suede boyfriend blazer.
More Info: www.swildens.fr
Maje: High-Style Threads
Maje has cornered the market on sophisticated designer-influenced threads aimed at the modern city-dweller. Clothes for all occasions have polish and panache to spare: savvy street wear, elegant suiting, and sultry evening outfits. This spring at Maje, look for coordinated separates, like a leopard minidress with matching blazer, and peg leg trousers with sleek cropped jackets in eye-catching prints.
Buy It: The orange lamb-suede minidress with suede macramé sleeves is a dream.
More Info: maje.com
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Photo Credit: courtesy Majestic