TRENCH: Cartonnier (old), similar here (splurge), here (under $350) and here (under $150) // SWEATER: H&M // JEANS: Blank NYC (Note: I cut the hems myself for a raw-edged fringe look), also love these (already have a frayed hem!) // SILK SCARF: Ann Taylor, also love this one and this one // LOAFERS: Asos, also love these burgundy ones and these fur lined beauties // BAG: Kate Spade (old), similar here and here // WATCH: Daniel Wellington // EARRINGS: Family heirloom, similar here // SUNGLASSES: Burberry, similar here (under $80), and here (only $6!)
Hello! Welcome to Hump Day!
As promised, today I’ll be sharing with you the “secrets” behind French style — you know what I’m talking about — that little something that all French women seem to have, a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them simply irresistible.
People have been trying for decades to pin down exactly what “it” is … I think it can be summed up in just a few words — simplicity, elegance, and effortlessness (or at least the appearance of it!). All this translates into eight specific principles — follow one or all … it’s up to you!
I. Find Your Signature Look & Stick to It
French women don’t follow trends — they wear what they like and what flatters their own unique body shape. This is the foundation for several other aspects of French style, as you’ll see. For one, that effortless thing, it’s only possible when you’re comfortable in your own skin. And you won’t be comfortable if you wear what’s “cool” as opposed to what flatters you and makes you feel good. Regardless of your own personal style, this is great advice. Define your own unique style, and stick to it — this is critically important to the next principle.
II. Invest in a Few Key Pieces
Since French women don’t succumb to trends, they don’t run out and drop a paycheck’s worth of cash on the latest “it” piece. Instead, they focus on a few key investment pieces: a trench coat, flats, tailored slacks, jeans that fit like a glove, a silk scarf, and a classic handbag. Now, whether or not you like French style, this is actually really great advice for any woman. Once you’ve defined your own unique style, pick out a few key pieces you love and use them as the foundation for all your looks (ok, most of your looks). You’ll save yourself a lot of closet space and money in the long run! And, you’ll find it much easier to put together stylish outfits when you’re not overwhelmed by choices, many of which you don’t love anyhow!
III. Add Color with Accessories
If you look at pictures of French women you’ll notice a key theme — neutrals neutrals neutrals! They tend to favor neutrals over bright colors and busy prints. This helps them mix and match to create a variety of looks with just a few key pieces! If they do add color, it’s usually with an accessory — a brightly-colored scarf, a richly-colored handbag or shoe, or the famous red lip. Bottom line — they don’t go overboard with color — they keep things simple and understated. I don’t know about you, but when I see an insanely chic woman walking down the street, nine times out of ten she’s in a classic neutral — black, navy, beige, tan, ivory, or white. There’s nothing more elegant than simplicity — and neutrals get you 90% of the way there.
IV. Favor Texture Over Busy Prints
This is in the same vein as the neutrals principle — keep your look in the same color family and play with texture instead of busy prints. Nothing is more chic than a head-to-toe monochrome look with a mix of different textures: silk, chunky knits, leather, tweed, suede, etc. It adds interest and dimension to your look without the sensory overload of a wild print. But, every rule has an exception, and when it comes to the French, a striped tee is a must. Pretty florals also occasionally made a debut, so if you do decide to go with a print, stick to one of these two classics.
V. Under-Accessorize, Over-Simplify
As I said before, French women tend to favor elegant, understated pieces, and I actually think this may be the biggest key to French style. When everything is simplified, you see the woman, not her clothes. When a woman’s personality is the focal point, it can do all sorts of magic things! Think of a woman in your life who’s just “cool” … chances are you don’t think she’s cool because of her handbag. Or, if you do, it’s because that handbag is truly a reflection of who she is — she’s not carrying it because of the label or because of how much it costs, she’s carrying it because she really loves it, and it somehow communicates to the outside world what she’s all about. Everything about her style tells a story about who she is and what she loves. Her personality comes through her style choices, and she becomes the focus. THAT, I believe, is the je ne sais quoi.
VI. Aim for Perfectly Undone
And now comes the “effortless” piece of the equation. While French women always look polished and put together, there’s always some element that’s slightly “undone.” Her scarf is slightly off kilter, her top is half-tucked, her sleeve cuffs are unevenly rolled … just a subtly undone detail that leaves the viewer thinking she looks that fabulous naturally, without any effort. French women always look polished, but never overdone.
VII. Keep Hair as “Natural” as Possible
This goes hand in hand with the previous point. You’re going for effortless, not done up like a doll! The easiest way to accomplish this is to let your hair do it’s own natural thing (or at least make it look like it is 🙂 ) — if you have wavy hair, let hang loose and play up the sexy, bed-head look. If you wear it up, create texture first with some dry shampoo and backcombing, and let a few loose pieces fall around your face. But don’t go too far! Again, you want “undone polish” … not actual bedhead!
VIII. If It Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Wear It
The biggest mistake you can make is to wear clothes that don’t fit you properly — there’s few things more unflattering. The French know this rule well, and they never break it! Now, that’s not to say you can’t wear over-sized silhouettes — they’re actually quite chic (not to mention comfy!). BUT, something should only be worn oversized if it’s meant to be oversized! If an item is meant to be worn close to the body, have it tailored to hug your body! Sounds simple, I know, but I’m routinely surprised by how many women don’t follow this rule!
And there you have it ladies — the eight secrets to French style! You can shop my look below, plus a few of my favorite classic French picks!
Stay tuned for a new post on Friday — it’s a bit of a new look for me, but I’ve gotta branch out occasionally, otherwise I’d stop growing! Until Friday you guys 🙂
SHOP the POST
MY FAVORITE CLASSIC FRENCH PICKS