Robe intemporelle. Timeless dress. French women have it all sorted out. They are leaders in je ne sais quoi style and have at hand some of the world’s best food and wine. Dotted around their towns and cities are landmarks of complete and utter architectural opulence. They are enviable with their perfectly tousled and ever so slightly unkempt hair. They have a certain bright eyed radiance about them and gravitate towards a classic no makeup beauty routine that is both subtle and glam- a walk along France’s pebbled streets will have you spot a perfectly smoked eye and marvel at the beauty of undone elegance. As always, the typical Parisian’s choice of clothing is so identifiable and yet elusive as ever. With careful attention to detail, anyone can master the much coveted French Girl Style. The good news is that it’s much easier to achieve than you’d ever hope. French women are known to invest in select clothing pieces that are simplistic, versatile and practical- what could possibly be easier to style? So, what are the mysterious qualities that make French women so stylish? Perhaps its their strict and almost religious following of self made fashion do’s and don’t. As many decades of women before me have done, I am ready to play copycat! Here are the style secrets of the french made accessible to you. Go on, take a leaf out of their book! These core rules are relevant to every age group and can easily be tweaked to suit you personally.
French women truly are in a sartorial league of their own fashion wise. Think prints gingham and houndstooth, scarves, berets, perfectly tailored blazers, well cut denim, leather booties, demure tan wedges, loafers, button downs, crisp blouses, silk shirts or camisoles, straight trousers, dainty gold jewellery, basket bags, trench coats, slip skirts, breathable linen, a little black dress, a floral maxi and more. All have inevitably found their place in the modern French Girl’s wardrobe. Their effortless stylistic fusion of classic and cool has long been emulated by women of all places and nationalities. Many of the world’s top fashion houses and icons, both classic and modern, are French. Rightly so, Paris has long been one of the world’s biggest fashion capitals and home of couture week, an industry event showcasing the latest designer and high end collections on selected runways to buyers and the media. These events influence trends for the current and upcoming fashion seasons.
Always keep in mind that the Parisians are trend setters rather than followers and this is why their wardrobes are seamless. They have their own recipe for fashion success and it is like no other. The French, first and foremost, subscribe to quality over quantity. Time and time again, they can be found wearing well made basics that are easily paired with another top or bottom, usually in elegant shades of navy, camel, cream or black. Another favourite is the striped breton shirt, a clothing piece of humble beginnings. What started as a sailor’s go-to rose in popularity when worn by designers the like of Brigitte Bardot, Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso, who frequently wore his when painting near the French Seaside. It was classed as being sporty, casual and chic. It has long been believed that a true mariniere or striped shirt must feature twenty navy stripes, each ten millimetres wide and spaced twenty millimetres apart. Whether true to this rule or otherwise, the breton shirt is gorgeous in its wear now, wear forever appeal. Points if yours is monogrammed!
French headwear is seen as the finishing touch to an outfit. Berets and broad brimmed sun hats are the epitome of class and delicate femininity. They avoid overbearing looks through refraining from adding excess colour and texture when putting together an outfit. A true French woman will never dress to extravagance, show off, appear flashy or as if she was a walking billboard. As a natural extension of this point, they do not over accessorise and retain attention to a focal point of their look. French women dress in a modest and tasteful manner, avoiding obvious brand logos. They value comfort and display grace and ease through lived in clothing looks.
A french woman’s ideal uniform will save her time, energy and take inspiration from classic feminine and masculine style. Parisian’s are familiar with a range of body types and dress to flatter and accentuate accordingly. This is part of what makes French Style so universal and yet so personal all at the same time. They believe clothes look best just fitting and with a perfect individual cut. French women don’t want to appear overly done or as if they’ve tried hard by spending too much time and effort thinking about an outfit. This is a significant irony, considering the French aim for such a controlled, well cultivated look. French women know themselves and stick to their tried and tested signature pieces.
Parisian women are often on the slimmer side and there are a few reasons apart from genetics that may be behind this. Despite being known for posing frequently and offhandedly with des croissants, longuets (breadsticks) and des patisseries (pastries) likely leave these treats for brunch and instead hydrate sufficiently and consume fresh seasonal foods in droves. To the French, mindful eating is not hard work. To them, it’s all about balance- there is no need to deprive yourself of what you love to eat! From a young age, Parisian children are taught the importance of home cooking and taking care of their bodies and skin. They know the physical and mental benefits of a stroll and opt to walk instead of taking the elevator or calling upon a taxi. French women know that wellness rituals are pointless if they make you miserable. After all, beauty is something to give you pleasure and not vice versa. When you feel good, you look good. One becomes the natural extension of the other.
The French approach to exercise is non traditional but in ways achieves better results than Western methods. Take Sophrology for example- a structured method created to ensure optimal health and wellbeing. It consists of a series of easy to do physical and mental exercises that, when practiced regularly, lead to a calm alert mind and body free of tension. The exercises are known as dynamic relaxation or relaxation in movement. This practice is known to rid you of bad moods and build confidence. Perhaps you begin by picturing your stress as a storm cloud- eventually it will float away or dissipate once rain has fallen and stopped. This type of exercise is popular in France as true beauty coming from inside is undeniable. Inner wellness can not be refuted and has immense value. A smile will always have you shining on the outside.