The Mystique of French Style
The fascination with French style has been around forever, but before I start off I want to make clear what I mean when I say “French style.” There are definitely different interpretations around. This is what I mean:
For me what is the decisive factor with the style of these women is that it’s subtle, yet it makes an unapologetic statement about being a woman. Just like sometimes a statement that is said quietly has much more impact than if it is yelled. It’s like a relaxed confidence that comes from knowing that we are most attractive when we are most ourselves. I love that!
So here my thoughts on how to introduce some of this attitude into your own wardrobe and life:
1. It's attractive to be a bit undone
With this I mean that these ladies purvey a sense of ease with authenticity. Realness, or things that make us not fit the mold are not things to be grudgingly accepted but actually the reason why we are attractive. Or at least they don't get in our way of being attractive. There’s messy hair, a shirt might be a bit wrinkly, the purse might not match the belt and shoes. The blouse is unbuttoned one button more than is proper so that the bra is showing. Or maybe you are not wearing a bra. You’re wearing silver and gold jewelry at the same time, the slit in your skirt is just a bit higher than politically correct (the rest of the outfit is casual though, not skintight and sexy). It's about not looking completely orchestrated, but allowing a bit of life to trickle in.
2. Keep make-up simple but if you do something, do one thing
For me the red lip and the eyeliner represent the French style perfectly. What makes the difference is that the rest of the face should be pretty bare. The level of bare we are comfortable with is different for each of us. I think it's about being boldly feminine, and not needing to wear a mask. Playing to my strengths vs hiding my weaknesses. In this context – just do the eyeliner without anything else on. Put on the red lipstick with your fingers, without a liner, and put it on with jeans and a tee, not necessarily when you're dressing up.
3. Same concept goes for the jewelry
In regards to jewelry – simple, of course. Classic - yes. But not conservartive. For example a single strand necklace with a pendant that reaches just to the middle of your breasts. It’s the opposite of a statement piece, but still brings the message across. Or hoops – which of course are “classics” but also sexy (unless you take the really small ones). So it’s not about being proper or being safe (like for example a string of pearls, which is also very classic and very French). It’s more about being boldly feminine in the subtle details. So: hoops or pendant necklace are the pieces that work for me, but for you it might be bangles or studs or a choker. Which feature do you find most sexy about yourself and how can you subtly accentuate it?
4. a little retro
I am so focused on being a modern woman, that the thought of 50s/60s femininity makes me shrink back a little sometimes. I love the look of these ladies, but it seems like something that is difficult to translate into how I see myself as a woman. However, recently I’ve become curiously interested in embracing a bit of retro from that period – started to try out a couple of pieces that I usually would reject – like ruffles or flower patterns – and to my surprise it not only added a new facet to my style, but also I found it quite empowering to embrace a softer, playful femininity as part of who I am as a woman (as far as fashion can contribute to that sense of self).
Maybe set some time aside and scroll through images of the following ladies: Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Anna Karina.
5. search for your version of the classics
French women do look timeless, but they look the opposite of generic, even if they wear “classics.” Unfortunately, I think that does require a bit of work to get right, or call it exploration, because it’s about finding the version of the classic that resonates with you (the white tee that resonates with you, the jeans style that resonates with you, the blazer style that resonates with you, etc.) Making it your own… or also rejecting the classics that don't work for you. For example - I have the hardest time with blazers. I own a few, because every woman should, but I rarely wear them. Last year I actually had a bit of a turning point - I finally found a blazer that I have worn quite regularly, it's a very relaxed summer style. But it took ages for me to get there. I don’t know if there is a shortcut here. But going on that journey in my opinion is something that these French women whose style I admire definitely embarkeded on.
I don’t want to give a list of must-haves to achieve the French style, but some brands that have frenchified my wardrobe are the following:
Rouje – for the dresses and shoes
Sezane - shoes and denim
Louise Damas - necklaces
Kinn Studio - hoops
Bite Beauty - red lipstick
Stila - eyeliner
What's French style for you? What are you going to try out for yourself? Let me know in the comments!