When I think about French style, the words classic, sophisticated, feminine, minimalistic, and confident instantly come to mind. Achieving that je ne sais quoi covetable French girl style has been a pursuit of American women for ages.
As the home of amazing design houses, like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Louboutin, etc., it’s no wonder that the French have nailed down such an iconic style. While it might seem odd to generalize an entire culture of women and their fashion, (after all, not everyone is impeccably dressed in France) I think what truly separates French style is the philosophy behind it.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on all things Français, but I have noticed some overarching themes after browsing many French blogs and studying abroad in Paris. Whether or not you love French style as much as I do, there are a few lessons to be learned from our fellow fashionistas across the Atlantic. Read on for seven secrets of French girl style:
1. Less is more.
Keep accessories minimal and choose fewer patterns (stripes are always a classic) and colors. The key is to never look overdone or overly styled. This also applies to makeup. Think subtle eye makeup and natural looking foundation and lip colors.
It’s amazing how stylish simple outfits can be sometimes. For example, a black knit turtleneck and a leather skater skirt are both basic items, but the play with texture would create a chic outfit.
2. Two words: leather jackets.
I could give a lot of reasons why I think every girl should own at least one leather jacket. They’re incredibly versatile, they can be dressed up or down, they’re super easy to clean, they are warm without being bulky… I could go on.
If you don’t take my word for it, than surely you’ll take the French’s word for it. When I was in Paris, the one article of clothing I saw the most was, by far, a black leather jacket. Invest in one. You won’t regret it.
3. Focus on the basics.
Although the French don’t ignore trends, they tend to focus on buying quality pieces that are timeless. Usually this means that they are more basic, such as dark skinny jeans, white button-downs, and solid-colored tees.
This advice is ideal for a college budget, because you won’t be as tempted to spend money on items that will only be wearable for a short time. Focus on versatility rather than trendiness when you shop.
4. Dark colors are chic.
Some people may think dark colors are boring, but I respectfully disagree. There’s a reason black is always in style. It looks good on everyone, matches essentially anything, and is inherently stylish. Other neutrals, like camel, brown, gray, and navy blue, are also great and contrary to popular belief, they do match each other.
A wardrobe built from these colors (with some pops of color in between) makes it easy to create outfits because everything already matches.
5. Get creative with accessories.
While a French girl’s closet may consist of more simple basics, the creativity lies in how she accessorizes her outfits. Since accessories are usually cheaper than buying an entirely new outfit, this is especially handy for a college budget.
As a key ingredient in French girl style, scarves can take a boring outfit from blah to fashion-forward. I recommend checking out this tutorial if you’re interested in learning how they achieve that perfectly disheveled yet put-together look with scarves.
6. Quality over quantity.
Because closet space is more limited (and expensive) in France, French woman invest in fewer pieces of quality clothing that will last far longer than many cheap pieces of clothing. This idea goes hand in hand with my article on creating capsule wardrobe.
French women have such an enviable style because they wear their clothes with confidence. They walk down the streets with their heads held high. French designer Yves Saint Laurent, is famously quoted as saying:
“Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.”
In other words, it’s not what you’re wearing, but how you’re wearing it.
If you are interested in learning more about French style, I encourage you to read this book by Isabelle Thomas, or this book by Jennifer L. Scott. You can also check out some of my favorite French fashion blogs (most are in French, but you can use Google’s translator) here, here, here, and here.
What do you think?
Do you envy French girl style as much as I do? What will you take away from this article? Looking forward to reading all of your lovely comments!