flatlay of chanel bag and black coffee on a marble bistro table

Stock Your Purse Like a Parisian: French Girl Purse Essentials

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As you very well may already know, the quintessential French girl look is defined by an effortlessly chic style. This style aesthetic carries over to a well-curated purse! From timeless necessities to high-end essentials, French girl purse essentials are the perfect way to complete your handbag and make sure you always have what you need. And though every woman despite the perceived culture is different, there are some go-tos that French women rely on again and again. Whether you’re traveling, running errands, or attending a special event, keep reading to discover the French girl purse essentials you need to stay chic on the go!

french girl purse essentials

1. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an essential part of any girl’s purse, let’s be real. Not only do they shield your eyes from the glaring sun, but they also add a touch of sophistication to any outfit.

The French especially love classic and timeless styles (just like their wardrobe), so you’ll often see them wearing oversized or cat-eye sunglasses. Though some of their favorite designer sunglass brands include Chanel, Celine, and Le Specs, thankfully, you can easily get the look with a much more affordable pair. This $20 pair from Amazon is a favorite of mine and looks more expensive than it really is!

Tortoiseshell frames are also a popular choice among French girls, as they’re versatile and add a touch of vintage charm to any look. Next time you’re out and about, don’t forget to grab your favorite pair of shades before you head out the door. Better yet, have a backup pair of sunglasses that you keep in your purse so you’re never without.

2. Lip Balm

No French girl’s purse is complete without a trusty lip balm. Whether you’re battling the cold winter winds or just need to touch up your pout, lip balm is an essential part of any French girl’s routine.

French girls prefer natural and subtle makeup, and lip balm is the perfect way to achieve this look. A tinted balm can add just the right amount of color to your lips without looking overdone.

Brands like L’Occitane, Bioderma, Nuxe, and Caudalie offer fantastic lip balms that are both hydrating and affordable. And for those willing to splurge a bit more, the classic French brand, La Mer, has a luxurious lip balm that is a cult favorite. Another French girl favorite is the French pharmacy brand, Avène.

With so many fantastic options available, there’s no excuse not to have a lip balm in your purse at all times! And if you’re like me, you don’t feel ready for the day if your lips don’t have a swipe of something moisturizing. Not only will it keep your lips looking (and feeling) their best, but it’s also a quick and subtle way to add a touch of effortless chic to any outfit.

3. Mascara

Mascara is that must-have beauty essential that can instantly make your eyes look brighter and more awake. One of the most popular mascara brands among French women is Dior. Chanel also has a cult-favorite mascara, Le Volume de Chanel, that gives you a beautiful result with a glossy finish.

French girls tend to keep their mascara application simple and elegant. They avoid going for the dramatic and over-the-top lash look and instead, focus on defining their lashes and adding just the right amount of volume. This is why many French women use a lash curler before applying mascara to lift and separate their lashes.

If you’re looking to achieve that effortless French girl look, investing in quality mascara is a must. Choose a formula that suits your lash needs and stick to a simple application technique for chic, everyday beauty.

Related: 7 Key Differences Between American and French Beauty

4. Blush Compact

One of the secrets to achieving that effortless French girl look is a perfectly flushed face. A compact mirror and blush are essential purse items to achieve that glowing, rosy-cheeked look.

A small, portable mirror can be used for quick touch-ups on the go, whether you need to reapply lipstick or make sure there are no croissant crumbs stuck in your teeth.

When it comes to blush, the key is to find a shade that complements your natural skin tone. French girls tend to opt for a subtle, pink-hued blush to achieve that fresh and youthful glow.

Having a compact mirror and blush in your purse ensures you can maintain that radiant French girl look throughout the day. Plus, it’s a quick and easy way to freshen up before an impromptu meet-up with friends or a last-minute date.

5. Hand Sanitizer

From public transportation to the ever so crowded yet iconic Café de Flore, one of the most important items in your French girl purse essentials kit is definitely a hand sanitizer.

The best hand sanitizers are those that are gentle on the skin but still highly effective at killing germs, with at least 60% alcohol. A moisturizing hand sanitizer with natural ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile can also help to soothe and nourish your skin while you cleanse it.

French girls often prefer to carry a travel-sized hand sanitizer that fits perfectly into their chic purse or handbag. They also love to choose unique packaging to keep this essential item both practical and stylish.

6. Lipstick

One of the most iconic items that every French girl has in her purse is a perfect tube of lipstick. The right shade can add instant chicness to any outfit, and French women have mastered the art of finding their signature shade.

When it comes to choosing a lipstick, French girls prefer a bold, classic color such as red or burgundy. They believe that lipstick is an essential element of their beauty routine and not just for special occasions.

French girls also understand the importance of investing in high-quality lipstick that stays on all day without smudging or fading. They prefer to splurge on luxurious brands like Chanel, Dior, or YSL. They also prefer a matte or satin finish over a glossy one.

So, if you want to achieve the effortless, chic look of a French girl, don’t forget to carry your perfect tube of lipstick in your purse at all times. It will not only add a touch of sophistication to your outfit, but it will also make you feel confident and put-together.

7. Moisturizer

Thanks to city living, every French girl knows the importance of maintaining hydrated skin, which is why moisturizer is a crucial item to have in your purse. Whether you have dry or oily skin, using a good moisturizer can help keep your skin looking healthy and radiant throughout the day.

French girls are all about keeping it simple and effortless, and the same applies to their skincare routine. Look for a lightweight formula that can be easily absorbed by your skin or hands, so it won’t feel heavy or greasy.

One of our favorite moisturizers is the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, which has been a cult favorite in France for years. This versatile cream can be used as a moisturizer, makeup remover, or even as a primer before applying makeup.

Related: The French Girl Beauty Guide for Effortlessly Beautiful Skin

8. Umbrella

Though this may not apply to you, in France, the weather can be quite unpredictable, so carrying an umbrella is a practical and stylish choice. French girls often opt for a compact and lightweight umbrella that can easily fit in their purse or handbag. This ensures that they are always prepared for a sudden rain shower or unexpected downpour.

Whether they’re running errands or attending a special event, having an umbrella on hand allows them to stay chic and dry no matter the weather.

9. Glow Stick

A multi-purpose beauty glow stick is a true game-changer for any French girl’s purse. This handy product not only illuminates your skin, but also works as a lip and cheek tint, making it perfect for those on-the-go touch-ups.

The glow stick can add a subtle shimmer to your cheeks and temples, creating a natural-looking radiance that’s perfect for any time of the day. It also helps to brighten the under-eye area, giving you a more refreshed and well-rested look.

What’s great about the multi-purpose glow stick is that it saves time and space in your purse. You won’t need to carry separate products for highlighting, blush, and lip tint, making it a convenient addition to your makeup routine. Plus, who can object to a radiant, glowing complexion wherever you go?

10. Hair Clip

Whether you need to keep your hair out of your face during a busy day, or want to quickly change up your hairstyle before a night out, a hair clip is a must-have accessory. French women often opt for minimalist hair clips in neutral colors like black, white, beige, gold, or tortoise shell.

One of the most popular ways French women use hair clips is to create a chic low bun or messy updo. Simply twist your hair into a low bun at the nape of your neck and secure it with a clip for an effortless yet sophisticated look. For a more relaxed vibe, French women also use clips to create a half-up half-down style with loose waves.

Aside from its styling benefits, a hair clip also comes in handy for practical purposes. If you’re caught in a windy situation, a clip can help keep your hair under control. It’s also great for those times when you’re running late and don’t have time to wash your hair – as a quick clip can help disguise any oily roots.

Invest in a few good-quality hair clips and keep them in your purse for whenever you need to tame your mane on the go!

11. Travel Perfume

The right scent can add the finishing touch to your outfit and leave a lasting impression wherever you go. French girls understand the power of fragrance and how it can evoke emotions and memories.

When choosing a perfume, opt for a small and compact size that fits easily in your purse. This allows you to freshen up throughout the day or add a spritz before a special occasion. French girls often gravitate towards classic scents with notes of rose, jasmine, or bergamot. These timeless fragrances exude elegance and sophistication.

Popular perfume brands among French women include Chanel, Diptyque, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Dior, and Hermès. Remember, a good perfume should complement your personality and enhance your natural scent, so take the time to find the one that speaks to you.

By carrying a travel perfume in your purse, you’ll always be ready to add a touch of luxury and allure to your day, no matter where you go.

12. Wallet

The most important items in any French girl’s purse are her wallet and keys, of course. Yes, these are essentials necessary for everyday life, but they can also be an opportunity to show off a bit of style and personality!

French girls typically opt for chic and minimalist wallets in neutral colors like black, brown, or nude leather, and keep their keys on a sleek keychain that matches their overall aesthetic.

French girl purse essentials

Keeping a streamlined color palette and leaning heavily in neutrals, is key to a sophisticated wardrobe. Need help figuring out how to create a wardrobe color palette? I created a resource for you that will help you combine your favorite colors and come up with a dream wardrobe!

And though I chose a Chanel handbag for the graphic, no, not every Parisian is going around with a designer bag! When I was in Paris, I documented all the top handbags that women wear there, from more affordable to designer: The Top Designer Bags That Are All Over Paris


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making mychicobsession.com a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.