We’ve all seen the cartoons of a man dressed in a striped Breton jumper, with onions and garlic round his neck, wearing a black beret set at a jaunty angle and usually riding a bike. By the clothes he’s dressed in, we automatically identify him as a Frenchman.
But what about French women? The cartoonist doesn’t simply add red lippy to her face and some sultry black locks. Why is that?
French women do seem to possess a style all of their own and it’s not something that can be easily defined. It really is just a case of ‘je ne sais quoi’, that is, ‘I do not know what’. So what gives them the allure of ‘Parisenne chic’ and how do they achieve it?
The simple answer is – they keep it simple. Classic French chic is simple, yet classy and in every French woman’s wardrobe, you will find key fashion pieces that all work together, to create the desired effect. There is no reason why you cannot replicate this look, no matter where you live!
The white shirt is a wardrobe staple. Everyone has, at some time or another, teamed a simple white shirt with a pair of jeans, but when going for a more chic look, add a very simple necklace or bracelet. Make sure the shirt is whiter than white. No washed-out greys will do.
White shirts are available everywhere. You don’t have to pay the earth. Nobody will know whether it’s from H&M or Massimo Dutti.
STRAIGHT LEG JEANS
Definitely no skinny jeggings with rips in, from Primarni, can be considered. They will not work for this look. A good pair of jeans will take you anywhere when teamed with the right wardrobe staples. A high-waisted style will balance out larger hips and make your legs look longer as well as enhance your middle and behind. It’s a win-win!
Again, choose your favourite brand, such as Levi’s or Gap. Jeans don’t have to carry a designer price label to look good.
This is one item that I think you should spend a bit extra on – if only for its flexibility and wearability. A black jacket can work hard for you. You can wear it with jeans and a white shirt, but also, casually over a lightweight dress on chilly evenings, or layer up over jumpers during cold spells.
Invest in the best you can afford. If it looks great on the hanger, chances are it’ll look great on you! My go-to place for a good quality, affordable blazer would be Zara or Next. Remember nobody but you will know where you bought it. You might even find a great designer one in a charity shop. Who knows…
BEIGE TRENCH COAT
Again, this is an item that will be a wardrobe investment. Throw it on over your jeans and white shirt for an instant ‘femme fatale’, yet understated look. Seek out one with nice detailing. A belt buckle and leather-covered buttons beat fabric-covered ones, all day long.
It doesn’t have to be Burberry, but how fabulous if it was!
Hopefully, a picture is coming together in your mind, about the simplicity of this capsule wardrobe.
A classic, neutral-coloured, button-up, v-neck cardigan, will add a classic layer to your white shirt/jeans outfit. French ‘chic’ rarely includes any patterned fabric. Colours are basic, no frills, no flounces.
Here’s where you can cut a financial corner, yes it’ll be great if you can buy a pure wool or a cashmere mix, but H&M can still do you proud for a simple button-up cardi.
It’s leather boots all the way. Simple, elegant, low heeled and black, tight around the ankle and always kept spotless. When opting for a simple sundress on warm days, slip on a pair of white flat pumps to maintain your stylish look. French women prefer to steer clear of wearing bling. Certainly, not on their skin, nor on their feet!
Keep it discreet. Low-key jewellery goes with everything.
Low heel boots in the winter. Loafers or espadrilles at any other time of year.
Less is more in a French woman’s dress code. Keep it simple.
A Chanel-style jacket will take you anywhere and go with anything.
Paris fashion style is an effortless way of dressing, almost laid back.
So you don’t have to live beneath the Eiffel Tower to adopt the French woman’s chic way of dressing. You can achieve this look no matter where you live, and really, no matter the size of your budget. Virtually, every high street store will have all of these fashion items on their rails.
The trick is to purchase key pieces that all go with each other, by so doing you can effortlessly nail the ‘je ne sais quoi’ look!