The entire world has been fascinated with French fashion since as early as the 1700’s. Even wayyyyy back when, the French were already creating an international buzz surrounding their chic sense of style and let’s be honest, not that much has changed today. France and more specifically Paris, are synonymous with images of too cool for school, gorgeous, French women parading down the street in oversized trench coats, leather ankle boots and baguettes tucked sexily under one arm (who manages to make holding bread look sexy?… THE FRENCH I TELL YOU). So it’s no real surprise that I wanted to dig in and get a better understanding about what actually makes up a typical Parisian woman’s wardrobe.
For this fun task, I invited a real fashion expert, to help me expose the 8 Fashion Tips to get that mysterious French girl look. Kelly is my sister-in law, but don’t be fooled by her basic American name and the fact that she’s my sister in law. She is 100% French, but was born in the US and spent her high school years there. So even though her parents gave her a pretty typical American name and she speaks English like the innocent midwest girl next door, you can’t deny her Parisian influence on everything she does and most certainly wears. She’s also spent 5 years working in the luxury industry with a focus on fashion and jewellery, so, BIM! We’ve got a faboosh expert to round out my personal opinion based on living in Paris for 7 years now.
If you prefer the video version, you can check it out here. Otherwise, keep reading to see how to transform your wardrobe into a modern day Brigitte Bardot! And if you want to get the one pager with the 10 essential pieces to add to your French wardrobe, you can download it here!
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Americans over consume. This is fact, so don’t get sensitive people. We tend to prefer buying a lot of inexpensive things than a couple of really great, expensive pieces. But this is exactly the opposite of the French way of styling. If you want to dress more French, you need to invest in your classic pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for years. Think a great blazer, a white button down shirt, a pair of slim fit jeans, etc.. These are pieces that you will wear all the time. They need to be good quality and they need to fit you properly. Don’t hesitate to take them to a tailor to get that perfect fit. Did you hesitate about getting that bridesmaid dress you’ll never wear again tailored? When you are investing in a piece that you will wear for at least 5 years, you shouldn’t overthink it if you need it.
MATCHING INEXPENSIVE AND EXPENSIVE PIECES
I know you are wondering, ok if my wardrobe is made up of 10 or 15 investment pieces, how do I not wear the same thing over and over? This is where you have to learn to pair your investment pieces with trendy, inexpensive additions to your wardrobe. Seasonal pieces (think scarves, shoes, certain tops, light jackets) and accessories are best bought in high street fashion brands. They do the perfect job of jazzing up an outfit with whatever is trendy at the moment, even though you start with the same pair of jeans and blazer as yesterday.
If everyone is investing in the same pieces for their wardrobe, how do you stand out from the other girl with the baguette storming past you? It’s all in the details. Check out 6:36 in the video to see a real example of a white button up shirt that Kelly has with some really unique details that make it stand out from the white button up shirt that the girl next to her is wearing. You don’t have to change it up as much as the example in the video. Even some extra lace on the cuffs or some ruffles at the collar of a shirt will give it something extra special. This will help you stand apart from the crowd and let you put your own unique twist on the French girl look.
I’m a huge fan of color, so I hate to write this, but Parisians really shy away from color in their INVESTMENT PIECES. I am not telling you that the French never wear color. That’s would be a bold faced lie. But a pop of color will come from the inexpensive pieces I was just writing about rather than the investment pieces. They tend to stick to white, black, grey and brown for a majority of their outfit and then the shout of color is in the scarf, or the beautiful pair of earrings or maybe that fun summer flat. Neon colors are pretty much a no-no at any time though, no matter what you’re wearing. Parisians tend to wear dark jewel tones and lighter fade colors if they are going to go for a green, pink, purple etc…
Another one I have a hard time writing because I want to walk around with a sign saying FREE THE CLEAVAGE! French women tend to leave a lot more to the imagination than my American neighbours. They hint at the sexiest parts of their body, but there is never a lot on display. Say goodbye to plunging necklines and body con dresses IF you want to dress more French. If you are really dying for something a bit sexier, but you want to stay with the French look, go for some short leather shorts with sheer tights and a flowy top. Women tend to show off their legs more if they are going to show something.
In general, the French tend to wear pretty dainty jewellery. Think small link bracelets, tiny diamond studs, chain necklaces with a small charm and a couple of thin rings to round out an outfit. They do tend to layer though, so you can go to town with 3 chain necklaces or 10 small rings on one finger if you want. If you are dying to make a statement and go big with your jewellery, but want to still stay on the French side, try it out with the earrings. This is where I see women going outside the box the most.
Contouring is not your friend in France, unless you are heading out to a nightclub where the smoky room and flashing lights will hide the fact that you’re not sporting the au natural look. Parisians love looking like they have made no effort and are wearing no makeup. This is absolutely not true though. They’ve probably put on some tinted moisturiser, a dash of mascara and a hint of blush for their day look. Nighttime might get a bit of lipstick and some eye liner added to the mix, but the day to night difference is not that huge. I think the French do a better job of trying to highlight their best features, but letting their natural beauty shine through. Even on those days when blemishes are getting you down, a drop of concealer is the maximum they will do. No cacky foundation everywhere. They prefer to let their skin breathe and cross their fingers that its gets better over the next couple of days.
The natural look for makeup extends into the hair category too. The typical Parisian woman has shoulder length hair that falls naturally around her face in waves or curls. The important thing being naturally. It doesn’t look like they went to a blow out, spent an hour curling their hair with 3/4 curling iron (I still LOVE doing this) or grabbed a straightener and went to town. They let their hair live “naturally.” I say this with quotes because I know that not all French women naturally have hair like this, so they must put some product or effort into it, but I have yet to figure out how they do it. I will report back when I have some more concrete info 🙂
I hope you guys enjoyed getting some insights into the mysterious Parisian fashion trend that is examined, picked apart and applauded worldwide. Don’t hesitate to download the one pager with the 10 essential pieces to make your wardrobe more Parisian! And I’d love to hear any feedback about what you think makes a wardrobe oh so French!