From Bridgette Bardot and Jane Birkin, to Clemence Poesy and Vanessa Paredis, French women have been slaying the style game for decades. When most people think of Parisian style they usually use words like effortless, feminine, eye-catching, and chic; so how do they achieve such a cool "it" girl vibe and how do we non-French women achieve their natural je nais sais quois? Let us break down what makes the style so cool, who's style you should be emulating, and what to say "oui" to when shopping your own local boutiques, including our very own store.
You could say French style has kept the world entranced for centuries--look at Marie Antoinette and all her lovely pastel frivolity, Coco Chanel and her minimalist grace, and Bridget Bardot's inescapable desirability. French women, like the ones above and below, have the innate ability to be both incredibly feminine and playfully natural--a far cry from what we see stateside with the likes of Kim K. Neither style is right or wrong and either is effectively enchanting in their own right, but the difference is huge. Parisian style is effortless and timeless, you could wear both Bridget and Jane's looks today and not feel out of place. There is a reason why Jane has a bag named after her after all, her timeless, classic style captivated the likes of Hermes so much that he was inspired to create the most lux bag--The Birkin.
The Key to French style is finding timeless pieces and utilizing trends minimally--you won't likely see many French women wearing tight body-con dresses or dramatic makeup. The confidence that seems to radiate in waves comes from being authentically, naturally themselves--a focus on what makes them look their best and not necessarily perfect. French women usually stick to a more neutral color palette; they use color sparingly--like an after thought in their accessories or makeup. Think a crisp white collared shirt, black trousers or skirt, and a red lip. They have also become masters of pairing menswear inspired pieces with high heels and feminine accessories--its a cool juxtaposition that makes the look interesting. There is also a focus on quality over quantity, and finding pieces that are cohesive and will pair with anything in an existing wardrobe. Luckily, you don't necessarily need to travel to France to achieve such a look. It is easy to find understated, timeless pieces shopping in your local boutique--our online store and physical boutique offer a wide range of pieces for the perfectly curated French inspired closet. One of our current staff favorites currently in store is the feminine little wrap dress shown below--timeless style and chic simplicity.
So what garments do you need in your closet to emulate French style? If we are starting from the top down, you'll want some classic outerwear like a khaki trench, a black leather moto jacket, and a neutral colored blazer--any of these options can be paired with countless outfits. You will also want to think about finding your holy grail basic tee and buying it in a few colors to pair with your favorite jeans. Definitely don't forget about adding some stripes, they are as Parisian as you can get. Dress-wise, you'll want to go feminine but understated, in classic patterns like gingham or soft prints like fresh florals--no intricate cutouts or sparkly details. Of course you'll want to get a signature black dress, a la Chanel's wise words, that you can bring out for any occasion. Bottom-wise, think wide leg trousers, leather leggings, the perfect pair of jeans you wear way too often without washing, and A-line or pencil skirts. You'll want to find shoes in classic shapes like a round toe bootie, a good pair of high heeled shoes that pair with anything, especially jeans (no self respecting French fashionista would dare to pair jeans with anything less than a heel), and naturally, ballet flats to explore the city. Of course an outfit is never complete without it's accessories, so find dainty pieces and classic bags that you can pair with everything in your closet. We particularly love the clutches and cross-body bags we stock from Hobo--they're a perfect example of form meets function!
French women seem to be perpetually Instagram filtered and it is because they use makeup not to hide their imperfections, but to effectively enhance their natural beauty. There is no dramatic contouring or heavy base, instead clean skin showing through foundation, a your-lips-but-better lipstick shade or red lip, and either minimal eye makeup or a very undone smoky eye complete any French look. Nothing is too perfected or sculpted, instead they opt for softness with a bit of an edge. There is a French makeup artist named Violette who does tutorials for YouTube on how to achieve the perfectly done, but undone French makeup aesthetic. Hair is also naturally textured and slightly unkempt--soft waves or naturally straight hair dominate, with an emphasis on as little product and styling as possible. Everything is easy, light, and fresh.
If you think about it, dressing French is pretty simple, it is all about good basics and being naturally imperfect--after all, why would you want to look like anyone other than the best, polished version of yourself. It is also easily achievable--you can find pieces throughout our store that exemplify the French aesthetic; including the perfect pair of jeans, gorgeous outerwear, the best basic tee you will ever try, and enough classically printed dresses to fulfill your French dressing dreams.
What French women really have is confidence in the way they walk, stand, and talk--they know how fabulous they are without anyone telling them so. Looking at French women kind of makes you want to wear a black dress, strap on some heels, grab a baguette, and hit the pavement! We should all embrace that joie de vivre they innately possess--for those non-French speakers, that means enjoyment of life.