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Heads up, ladies. For this article we’ll be talking about… French fashion and style. It’s impossible to talk about French culture without discussing fashion. In fact, I knew it was only a matter of time before we have to tackle the pink elephant in this website: French women’s fashion.
It has been discussed in numerous magazines, books, fashion websites, personal blogs, and dissected everywhere else, and the world just oohs and aahs over how classy and elegant French women are. Words like chic and couture and je ne sais quoi are thrown around and everyone is left scratching their heads and wondering how French women, regardless of age, can pull off a timeless and effortless glamour.
BUT HEY, what if I tell you that anyone – any lady in any part of the world – can dress stylishly like French women do?
No it’s not.
In this article, we will once and for all cut to the chase and crack how French women have seemed to master effortless chic. Here we will take a page off the French dress code and break it down into little digestible, easy-to-do action items. If you come out of this article looking like a stylishly chic lady, hats off to you!
But first, to give you some background reading, check out a previous article on stereotypes about French women. It should give you a better picture of what’s real and what’s not about the much-talked about French females.
Now for the list.
First and foremost…
French women’s style is not rocket science and it doesn’t have to break the bank either. They simply know how to invest in good, high-quality and well-selected pieces that could last for years. The result? An elegant look that is both timeless and expensive-looking.
How you can make it work for you:
Here’s what Carine Roitfeld, Former Vogue Paris Editor-in-Chief and model has to say about this topic:
There are some misconceptions that the French woman’s style is ultra-fashionable, but in reality it veers towards the classic and not on the momentary trends. It’s okay to take a cue from fashion trends every once in a while and infuse a few select en vogue items, but French women never become slave to short-lived fads.
Make this strategy work for you:
Here’s what one of the greatest names in fashion history has to say about the matter
Q: Why do French women look so effortless in the way they dress?
A: It’s because they have a go-to look that never fails to impress.
My rhymes may suck but this advice sure doesn’t. French women have perfected a personal style that they know looks good on them. Not only does this make you look classy and well put together, it also makes shopping a no-brainer for you.
Think of Coco Chanel’s tweed suit and pearls, Brigitte Bardot’s coquettish full skirt and signature cat-eye, Audrey Tautou’s feminine pixie cut or Charlotte Gainsbourg’s edgy yet relaxed style. All four French women have something in common: they’ve got their personal signature style down pat.
You don’t have to be a French fashion icon to make it work for you, too. Simply heed the following:
French designer Isabel Marant gives this advice about letting your personality shine through.
One thing you will never find any French woman wearing is clothing that doesn’t properly fit. Dowdy tops, ill-fitting dresses, clothes not meant for your body type — a big NO-NO! The right fit will make you look soigné, will accentuate your curves and even make you several pounds lighter.
So take a cue from the French women and own this style strategy:
Here is Mr. Hubert de Givenchy’s two cents on the matter:
Most French women stay away from colourful ensembles and prefer to stick to neutral shades. Black, gray, white, beige, tan, and navy blue are all staples and when mixed with rule number one above, you can easily create a high quality wardrobe that you can mix-and-match.
Some reasons why neutrals rule:
Here’s how to copy this style technique:
You’ve heard it being said over and over again but brace yourself because I’m going to say it once again: shoes can make or break your outfit.
But what does that even mean?
Simply put, shoes have the capacity to elevate an otherwise drab outfit into a level of fabulousness and elegance, while it can also make an expensive outfit look cheap and tacky.
Shoes are like the superheroes of style and have the power to ruin an otherwise serviceable ensemble.
Here’s how to make sure you take a page off the French women’s fashion code using the shoe strategy:
Iconic fashion designer Christian Dior reiterates this advice with one of his own:
You’ll never see a French woman in something too skimpy that borders on tacky, too high to walk in, or too small that it’s bursting at the seams. But on the other end of the spectrum, neither will you see one dressed down in hoodies or picking up groceries wearing yoga pants. There’s a sweet spot between style and comfort, and French women have learned to master — and revel in it.
Cop that style advice with the following how-tos:
In the words of Ines de la Fressange, model, fashion designer, aristocrat, and quintessential chic French woman:
Elegance is never bedecked with all sorts of embellishments. As French women (and stylish women all over the world) know, anything too outlandish can be conceived as tacky. So keep it simple, never overwhelm your face with makeup, and put some thought into your accessories. If it feels too much, it most likely is.
The iconic Coco Chanel has a couple of things to say on the matter:
The devil is in the details, it’s true. And so is looking impeccably fabulous. To look seamless and sophisticated, mind the finer details.
Here are some ways on how to:
No matter what you’re wearing, it all boils down to your confidence. French women carry themselves with good posture, confidence, and the knowledge that they are looking effortlessly classy. And all those, combined with all the items listed above, create that elusive je ne sais quoi that the rest of the world are so intrigued about.
So sit up straighter, hold your head higher, and dress for yourself in clothing that makes you feel good. Like I said earlier, the French women’s style is hardly rocket science, and anyone – no special gene required – can pull it off with some effort, a bit of study, and loads of practice.
What about you? Any other style tips to add? Feel free to add in the comments section.
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Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +