That “Je ne sais quoi”
(also see Dinner Party Dressing)
In my not so humble opinion, style is one of the most used and abused words in the English language. Style is an elusive quality. No amount of money is able to buy it, although millions have been spent trying to do so.
A myriad of books and the media have wanted to demystify the allure of French women’s style. The old clichés abound. But, in essence, style is about attitude.
“Etre bien dans sa peau” (feeling good in your own skin).
French women know that the secret is not beauty, but style. And style is an attitude which permeates every aspect of life, from the decor of their homes to their cooking and, of course, the way they dress.
Ever since Brigitte Macron arrived on the arm of her much younger husband, she became a style icon and a role model to women everywhere. The lady has allure, a great smile, along with a sense of style.
So, what is it about French women? And what is their secret?
My 10 tips to get the French look:
1. Keep it simple – As Coco Chanel once said “Le Luxe c’est la Simplicité”
(Luxury equals Simplicity)
2. In order to create the right impression, French women know they have to invest in three things: a good hairstyle, a good pair of shoes and a good handbag. Everything else is about attitude.
3. French women wear simple clothes, often classical, always with expensive accessories.
4. Less is more in every way. This may not be breaking news, but it’s sound advice. Choose quality over quantity. Invest in quality basics. They will form the base of your wardrobe.
5. French women are often prudent with money. After all, they invented the capsule wardrobe, where one jacket will go with several different skirts or trousers. Instead of spending money on a glitzy dress you might only wear a couple of times, create your own capsule collection. It will serve you well on different occasions.
As Karl Lagerfeld said: “Some things never go out of fashion – jeans, the white shirt, and the Chanel jacket“. I would add a pair of well-cut black trousers.
6. Beware of this season’s “must haves”. They are not necessarily going to be your best friends. That’s when French women make the most of using good quality accessories to jazz up an old outfit. Last year’s outfit will look “right on the money” with this season’s shoes. This season’s outfit with last year’s shoes definitely won’t!
9. Do not let your clothes wear you. The maxim of another couturier from the thirties, Molyneux, was that you should never notice what a woman is wearing, only how wonderful she looks. Once again, it’s all about the attitude.
10. Dress for yourself, not for others. It will make you feel, and therefore look good.
7. Don’t underestimate the importance of being comfortable. Tottering around in high heels is never a good look and you are certainly not going to relax. Elegant flats, brogues, and loafers won’t cause any pain and can be worn day or night.
8. Clothes are often used by French women as a tool for seduction – the opening of a button allowing a glimpse of cleavage… but be aware, one wants to see less, not more. Subtlety is key.