How to dress with French style: 8 easy steps!
No matter where we come from, if we love France we also love how French women dress.
I see them in Paris, I see them in other parts of France and I also see them when they visit my home town of Sydney. I’ve studied them a lot, and I’ve also read some of the many books on dressing à la française.
And finally, I think I’ve cracked the code.
1. A classic colour palette
Wandering the streets of France you don’t see much lime green and fuschia pink on the françaises. What you do see though is black (in fact lots of black) and other classic colours such as navy, camel and white. Think combinations of these and you will be off to a great start.
2. Simple moccasins/ballet flats
While Louboutins may be French it is the classic moccasin or ballet flat that rules in France. Never joggers – unless you are jogging!
3. Trench coat or down jacket
A classic coat is necessary and always stylish. A chic, classic trench in a chic, classic colour is always a winner. Add in your classic colour palette and flats, and ‘ooh, la, la!’ If a trench coat just isn’t going to do the job (les françaises are chic but also practical) swap the trench for a short, belted down coat.
4. A good handbag
The classic, of course, is the Hermès Birkin or Kelly, but realistically most of us just aren’t in a position to even think about that. So instead, carry the absolute best quality you can afford.
The latest, trendy ‘it’ bag is definitely not necessary, just a classic style in a classic colour. Even old is OK. Tie a scarf on the handle for added French chic.
5. Simple statement jewelery – less is more
While Coco Chanel piled on the jewelery, then took one piece off for good measure, when I wander round Paris, what I notice is the distinct lack of jewelery. What I do notice is a single piece of statement jewelery (more often than not costume) on either the neck or at the wrist.
Again Hermès rules here, but again, not everyone can think about owning one, so buy the best quality you can afford. Or, go the complete opposite with witty cheap ethnic ones from your other journeys or from ethnic clothing shops.
My personal favourite scarves in France are the inhouse labels at Galeries Lafayettes or Au Printemps – affordable and undeniably, genuinely French.
Look carefully – French women don’t wear skirts that much. Well-cut trousers in a classic cut and classic colour rule.
8. Matching underwear
While we don’t get to see it very often, I have it on good authority that French women tend to wear matching bras and undies. I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of a chicness that only I know about!
Fill your French wardrobe without spending a fortune
Monoprix: for jewellery, and basics such as tights and scarves.
APC: younger and a bit trendier, but no less French.
Petit Bateau: for children who are just crying out for a French makeover. Gorgeous T-shirts.
Dressing à la française is something any of us can do. If only their eternal slimness came so easily!Image credits:
1. Jane Winkworth
2. The Trench, via Pinterest
3. Repetto, via Behind Ballet
4. Hermès Birkin, via Pinterest
5. Hermès scarf detail, via Pinterest
6. Matching underwear, via Pinterest
7. Galeries Lafayette, by BigPilou on Flickr