When I was 18 I lived in the South of France, in a town called Limoux in the Languedoc region, for an entire summer. I worked as an Au Pair for a chic and elegant French mother and adored taking care of her equally stylish children. Working for this family was not only an eye-opening life experience—cuisine, language, and culture—it was a true lesson in style.
I traveled with my employer (and new style mentor), to Toulouse and Paris and loved observing and learning what she bought and how she wore it to create her personal style. By spending time with her and her fashionable friends, I picked up 7 key tips along the way that changed my opinion of style for
French women love fashion but are not a slave to short-lived, high-frequency fads. I never met a French woman wearing anything super flashy or too tight/small/high to walk in. It is all about the timeless, well-cut, and classic look – snug jeans, tailored blazers, classic trench coat, cashmere sweaters and little black dresses. They obsess over fabric too—it has to feel expensive (even if it’s not)!
French women love black, white, navy, and nude, tonal colors. Not only are these very easy to wear regularly and mix-and-match with other neutrals, they are simple and versatile. One outfit my employer wore a lot over the summer were white, well-tailored cropped pants and an array of simple (but deceivingly expensive) navy and white blouses. With some fun changes in jewelry, sunglasses, and ballet flats, this look is multipurpose, functional, and almost always appropriate no matter the occasion.
Focus on Fit
French women obsess over cut. No dowdy jackets, too tight pants, or ill-fitting dresses allowed. They dress for their body type and ensure clothes hug in all the right areas. French women have mastered slim-fitting clothing that creates and accentuates curves and tailor the slightest details for perfect measure. Many of the boutiques tailor on the spot in store and if they don’t, they have a tailor they swear by.
Less is More
Coco Chanel once said, “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Do not over accessorize. Do not show too much cleavage or leg. French women love to be feminine without being overly sexy or entertaining excessive extras. It’s all about one fabulous piece and a dramatic red lip is also always appropriate.
It’s all about polish! Not just nail polish (but that too, on short, well-manicured nails). I loved observing how women do not wear anything with creases, flaws, or chips. They focus on the finer details and as a result the whole appears seamless and effortlessly sophisticated.
Spend on the Staples
This is in tune with less is more rule. They own less but better quality clothing. Their attention is not based on price but on value. Which is better: a coat for $1,000 coat you’ll wear for 5 years or an $85 sweater you wear twice? They invest smarter in fashion.
It’s All About Attitude!
It is as if French women know they are the best-dressed breed on the planet and so carry themselves that way. They don’t dress down, own hoodies, or go to the bakery/coffee shop in yoga pants. They do not ask for opinions or second-guess their style choices (as they are naturally less risky anyway). They dress for themselves, aim to feel good and as a result do a great job looking fresh and flawless!
Not a bad crowd to learn a thing or two from, really. Now I am off to justify a one thousand dollar fall purchase. Merci, Veronique!