Lately, I wrote an article about how it is so different to be a woman in France compare to be a woman in Mexico. I talked a bit of style, stating that the fashion conception is distinctive between both countries and this is what naturally gave me the idea of an article about the French style. Here, I tell you more about French spirit regarding fashion.
1 – The French woman is falsely neglected.
As a French woman, I can say that we do give importance to our appearance and to our look but we keep it simple. We do the minimum to be pretty, we try to be elegant with a maximum of discretion. We are “chic and relaxed”. No elaborated hairstyle: a light make-up (to preserve our skin), a touch of lipstick and a bit of eye-liner are enough. We follow the credo: “less is more”.
2 – The French woman avoids eccentricity.
You will barely see a French woman wearing 12 cm heels, pink nail polish, garish colors, and sequins. We do wear high heels but in certain circumstances. We will easily privilege sneakers, ballerinas, derbies, because we walk! This is especially the case in big cities and in Paris: we have to take the subway, we take the bicycle, we run after the bus, so we need to feel comfortable. Moreover, we don’t look for attract the attention on us: we mainly wear black, blue, grey, white. Of course, we also wear other colors but only by little touch. For instance, we are very different than Italians who have a more ostentatious style by wearing more visible clothes. Paris is not Milan!
3 – The French woman is tomboy.
We pinch some pieces to the male wardrobe: sweater, shirt…Then we only have to add a necklace or some strass for the feminine touch. Actually, French women like minimalistic style, such as Scandinavian or Nordic women who wear long flowing trenches with jeans and white sneakers.
4 – But the French woman can also be “preppy”.
Technically, the preppy style comes from Ivy League universities in US and was a social identity marker. The preppy style was reflecting success, conformism, education, decorum, rules of conduct, good taste, and distinction. Today the style evolved and in France we have the tendency to connect it to the BCBG style: “bon chic bon genre”: pupil look, claudine collar (or Peter Pan collar), blazer and varnish derbies. It’s traditional, feminine and elegant.
5 – The French woman doesn’t follow trends.
Mexican women, such as American women, are aware of fashion in the sense that they shop more, get their nails and their hair done and seem more concerned by appearance than French women. Moreover, they do the maximum to harmonize their look by matching the different pieces respecting colors. On the contrary, French women are both more classical and disturbing. We use timeless clothes, not giving any importance to the current trend, and twist our look with a disturbing piece. We are fashionable in a disturbing way by putting a touch of originality in the natural. As an example, we mix street clothes (found in a flea market) with luxurious ones. A Mexican woman who can afford clothes from luxury brands will never think about buying a tee-shirt from a ready-to-wear brand. The French woman is relaxed and gives an elegant touch to her look with little details (handbag, jewels…): she dares to mix Chanel and H&M.
I share here some masterpieces of the French women dressing:
We wear it in daylight as well as at night: this is the indispensable accessory which gives the elegant touch to any look.
The little black dress
Every woman has a little black dress in her wardrobe. This is the most “basic” to go out at night.
The skinny blue jean
The jean is a simple piece, easy to match with everything. You can wear it in a “comfort” way with a pair of sneakers, or in a more “dressed-up” way with pumps and a blazer, or in a “preppy” way with ballerinas…In a word you can do anything you want with it.
The white shirt
Such as the blazer, it allows you to give an elegant touch to your look and you can wear it with almost everything: blue jean, trouser suit, skirt…
We have long winters in France so we wear a lot of sweaters. The cashmere is the ideal one because it’s hot but thin and elegant at the same time and we can match it with everything too.
We wear it in both autumn and spring: it’s the “mid-season” coat. It’s comfortable and elegant and again, it matches with everything: blue jean/sneakers and suit trousers/ballerinas.
The maxi coat
For winter, we love maxi-size coats. They protect us from the cold and they can be super fashionable.
It’s probably one of the strongest cliché but I have to admit that many people in France have this piece in their wardrobe. If you want to get one, I advise to buy it in a “Petit Bateau” store where you will find the “authentic” one. Otherwise you can find one almost anywhere because many brands copied it.
This is the leather jacket which twists your look but be careful: don’t make the mistake to fall into the trap of the total rock style. The idea is to give a rebel touch while remaining chic.
Some basics: tee-shirts and tops.
No prints, no patterns: just one color. French women always have a stock of “basics” which match with everything. As I told you, we keep it simple.
A pair of ballerinas
The most iconic are the ones of the Repetto brand but they are crazily expensive. No worries: every shoe store make ballerinas in France. They are classic, elegant and comfortable: this is why we like them so much. Recently, ballerinas have the tendency to be replaced by loafers but they are still timeless.
Black opaque tights
As the winter is long and as we want to still wear dresses and skirts we consume a lot of tights. But one thing: we generally chose them opaque. It means that there’s no transparency at all. Why? Because it erases imperfections (orange peel, cellulite…) and it simply looks better!
A fringe scarf
We all have one, eventually in cashmere, to accessorize our look.
A pair of sneakers
French women, and this is especially true in big cities, walk! So, there’s a real need to feel comfortable. This is why a pair of sneakers is the ideal shoe option.
The leather pouch
Simple and practicle to go out at night. You have the most luxury ones from Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. You have the vintage ones found on internet or in flea markets. And you have the really cheap ones which imitate leather from H&M, Mango, Zara…
It’s a big handbag. Generally, we use it to go to work and we privilege a simple pouch for week-ends. Why? Because during the week, in the subway for instance, we carry a lot of things: book, make-up, wallet, bottle of water, lunch box and so on…
And if you want to know more about French style, here are some French style figures:
Inès de la Fressange
She began her career as a model in 1975 and quickly became Karl Lagerfeld's ultimate muse and Chanel's star model for over seven years. Still a regular on the fashion circuit, she recently relaunched her namesake label, where she acts as creative director–at-large, and has collaborated on a lower-priced line with the Japanese brand Uniqlo.
She is the daughter of the famous writer and singer Serge Gainsbourg and the British model Jane Birkin. Comedian and singer, she has been especially noticed in the movies of Lars Von Trier (Antichrist, Melancholia, Nymphomaniac).
Half-sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of the film director Jacques Doillon and Jane Birkin, she is herself a model, acts and sings.
Caroline de Maigret
Model with an international career, she is the daughter of the swimming champion Isabelle Poniatowski and Bertrand de Maigret, former vice-president of the Council of Paris and depute of the Sarthe. In 2006, she created her own music label with her partner, Yarol Poupaud.
Born in 1954, she pursued a career of model, fashion designer and fashion journalist. She has especially been editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris for 10 years. In 2012, she launched her own bi-annual magazine, CR Fashion Book.
She is the “it girl” of the moment. She is not a singer, she is not a comedian and she is not a model neither, even if some brands start to ask her to be part of their campaigns. She started with a blog, an Instagram and a Tumblr. L’Obs wrote about her: “Inès de La Fressange is the Parisian of the left bank, unbeatable on dress codes. Caroline de Maigret is her counterpart on the right bank, in a rock’n’roll version. A face was missing for the 20 years-old Parisian”. She embodies the Frenchy style: tousled hair, ultra-red lips, blue jean, “marinière” and trench. She launched in 2016 her own brand: Rouje.
Young French comedian, she has been noticed in La Vie d’Adèle (Palme d’Or in Cannes), Les Adieux à la Reine, La Belle et la Bête, Midnight in Paris…She has also been the James Bond girl of Spectra on the side of Daniel Craig. She is the granddaughter of Jérôme Seydoux, president of Pathé and the great-niece of Nicolas Seydoux, president of Gaumont (Pathé and Gaumont are both production companies and cinemas).
At last those two are not French but they definitely embody the French style:
She is a British model and collaborator of the Vogue London.
American born in the Connecticut and living in New York City, such as Jeanne Damas in France, Olivia Palermo is a “it-girl”.
For the ones who liked this article and want to adopt the French style, go to visit those brands: they are 100% French!