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10 Staple items for your French kids wardrobe

french kids - fashion - www.MyFrenchLife.orgWhen in France, don’t be surprised to find yourself out-dressed by a mademoiselle de cinq ans. Sometimes it seems fashion is something that courses through the veins of les français…  

Fashion for French kids is a big deal. Most trends are derived from adult fashion and there are many brands that design purely for les enfants.

On her first day as an au pair, My French Life™ correspondent Zoë Bradley described the French school pick-up as being akin to “walking onto the set of a Vogue Bambini shoot.”

“A hundred little heads in fancy felt bonnets, lithesome bodies wrapped up against the winter wind in pea coats, and scarves that make the girls look like miniature versions of their mothers.”

So for the francophiles out there trying to teach vos filles et garçons about la mode, we’ve put together a list of ten essential items to make your child’s wardrobe look truly français.

“French fashion is timeless because it’s simple. The French focus on basics and build their wardrobes around the foundations of black, white and neutral colours.”

The French may have an innate sense of style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your kids a ‘How-to look French 101’ lesson.

Let’s find out how to dress like the French…

1)   Trench coat

Traditionally British, the trench coat can be found tucked away in wardrobes all over France.

Ines de la Fressange – the queen of Parisian chic – might be the trench coat’s number one French fan. “With jeans, dinner-suit pants, over a little black dress – is there any occasion when a trench coat will not do? It goes over everything and with everything!”

This coat is the perfect winter staple: your little one will never be cold and always be cool in their black, beige or navy trench.

2)    Scarves

Worn before they can even walk, the French are never far from their scarves. Les écharpes are not just essential; they are fundamental.

french kids - fashion - www.MyFrenchLife.org

Mireille Guiliano has shared many French secrets with the world – namely how French women don’t get fat – and she says scarves are a French woman’s greatest accessory.

“The ones that we wear tend to be long, rectangular ones because you can play with it in a very modern and practical way,” says Mireille.

They’ll also keep your French kids warm in winter, and are the perfect accessory for a printemps outfit.

3)   Jeans

Forget track pants, jeans are the go-to pantalons of the French. Toujours à la mode and always comfortable. The best thing about jeans is they’re easy to clean, especially after the kids have had too much fun with their pains au chocolat.

Even French fashion royalty love them: French Vogue editor-in-chief – Emmanuelle Alt – is never far from her trusty jeans. Hilary Alexander of Telegraph Fashion says skinny jeans are Alt’s “uniform”, while her favourite labels are J-Brand, Acne and – surprisingly – Topshop.

4)   Black pants or jeans

A style essential, black pants or jeans can be dressed up or down for any and every occasion. They are perfect for hiding mess too (not that any French kids would ever be guilty of this!)

Vicky Archer of French Essence says black pants are “the holiest of holies when it comes to essentials in the French woman’s wardrobe.”

“It seems fashion is something that courses through the veins of les français…

Call it preparation: black pants are a staple for French men and women alike. Get your kids into them sooner rather than later!

5)   Neutral colours

French fashion is timeless because it’s simple. The French focus on basics and build their wardrobes around the foundations of black, white and neutral colours.

Emily Grossman from Goutaste says, “As your tastes or seasons change, those bright colors will transition in and out of your closet while the rest of your wardrobe remains the same.”

This is a great fashion lesson for your kids and could save them years of awkward colour clashing (we’ve all been there).

Look for long sleeved tops, jumpers and pants in neutral colours to build the basis of your kid’s wardrobe.

6)   Cardigan or gilet

A cardigan may seem relatively simple, but when paired with the right outfit, it can really stand out.

French fashion blogger, Garance Doré says that this is “a very French thing. I like it on top of light layers and soft fabrics.”

Always look for a gilet in a versatile color, so it can be worn with anything. This simple staple instantly adds French style to their ensemble.

7)   Converse sneakers

You could almost say that Converse sneakers are the shoes of a nation. Nearly everyone in France owns a pair, or something similar. Even Ines de la Fressange approves: “Converse for me, of course.”

french kids - fashion - www.MyFrenchLife.org

They will go well with most outfits, and best of all: your kids can still run around as much as they please.

8)   Cashmere jumpers

A little piece of luxury, a cashmere pullover can top off any outfit.

Vick Archer says the allure of cashmere “is all about feeling the luxury, the warmth and the comfort.”

It looks just as good on the young as the old and is just another stylish way the French keep warm and stay à la mode.

9)   White pants

The French love a pair of white pants. No matter their age, les pantalons blanc are an essential item in any French wardrobe.

Ada Polla of Le Huffington Post compiled a list of 11 fashion rules inspired by Emmanuelle Alt. “White pants look great year-round. Especially when paired with a black top,” says Polla.

They may not be the safest choice for kids but are always a winner in summer and on special occasions.

10)  Breton stripes or marinère

It may be a stereotype, cited in many articles on how to look French, but Breton stripes are a classic. The flattering style suits anyone. We love this look for its versatility – and of course for the cliché…

Judy MacMahon - 03.04.14

My French Life™ contributor Christelle Faux puts it well: “the biggest names in French fashion have succumbed to the charm of this stripy tee-shirt.”

What do you think the staple items of French fashion are? Do you think it’s appropriate to dress children in adult styles? This conversation is missing your voice, share your opinions in the comments box below.

Image Credits
1. gap.kids • display.origami by Don Shall, via Flickr. 
2. Kid cashmere blend cowl by 190.arch (aka mamma190), via Flickr. 
3. Converse_JohnVarvatos_ProLeather_SS2011_ 02 by Schröder+Schömbs PR _…, via Flickr.


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