The Parisian Style Guide: How To Nail French Fashion

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When we think of Paris, we think of it as synonymous with a sense of style– effortless, elegant and distinctive. Most would agree that no other nation could contend for the title of ‘The Fashion Capital’ of the world and while women around the globe have attempted to emulate Parisian style with varied success – lacking that je ne sais quoi – we miss that certain something that makes the French, well French. Perhaps there’s something in the Parisian water?

A cut above the rest, French female fashion muses continue to set the city alight, redefining contemporary everyday styling. We have all wondered how Parisian ‘IT’ girls such as actress Clémence Poésy or fashion editor Carine Roitfeld manage to pull off that imperfect-perfect look. Undone yet polished, relaxed yet poised.

Clémence Poésy

If we had the opportunity to peruse through the rails of a Parisian wardrobe, it’s likely we’d uncover a host of timeless, expensive, well-considered investment pieces. The French tend to forgo buying into trends and indulging in one-off single-wear outfits in favour of classic luxury items – a well tailored suit, a favoured LBD, perhaps a Hermès scarf or Chanel bouclé jacket (not to be clichéd). Seeking out pieces that you fall in love with and look after for many years may mean spending a little more on specific items rather than several impulse purchases, but ultimately it will result in a wardrobe that will spread its value over time and cost per wear. Furthermore, selecting carefully chosen larger-ticket items will result in a wardrobe that is curated to your style with thought and consideration – and therefore will hopefully work together cohesively in regards to outfit building.

Keep it minimal, effortless and au naturel – like you’ve just woken up and applied some lipgloss. Unless you are over 60, in which case a full face of somewhat heavy make up before dawn is acceptable, including red lipstick.

Again, it needs to appear effortless. The tousled bed-head look is the aim. To achieve this nonchalantly cool style follow these tips:
1. Celebrate and enhance what you naturally have: no blowdries
2. Ditch the hairbrush
3. Texture is a must. Apply a leave-in conditioner to washed (semi-damp) hair and loosely twist it into a very loose knot in the back of your hair or a very loose low plait, and allow it to dry. The hair being slightly wet allows it to set with a very soft, textured wave
4. Don’t wash your hair everyday, aim for twice a week to maintain condition. Dry shampoo is your best friend.

The most admired Parisian fashion muses have developed a signature look. They may update their wardrobe with a few trends pieces, but predominantly they remain faithful to one clear aesthetic. Discover what works for you and stick with it. The upshot is that shopping becomes a lot less complicated and your wardrobe works together as a whole.

When it comes to French fashion, fit is key. Rule number one: select pieces that flatter your shape and frame, irrelevant of clothing size. Rule number two: ensure the correct fit by finding a great seamstress or tailor. Everything looks better when the fit is spot on!

You rarely see a French female wearing bold colour statements. In the most part, stick to a neutral palette of monochrome, beige and brown. Pops of colour can be added through the use of accessories such as a bag, scarf or footwear. Again this is a surefire way to ensure your wardrobe coordinates as one.

Adding a much-loved pair of sunglasses to an outfit is a French fashion favourite – the bigger the better.

The signature French style: quilted, bien sur. Think hand-held, Chanel-esque.

When investing in your wardrobe, a great coat is a good place to start. Taking style cues from the French, you can’t go wrong with a timeless trench or fabulous fur. There is a reason the trench coat is revisited time and time again by French designers… it can be worn with a tee and jeans at the weekend, belted with a great pair of boots or layered over a dress in the evening. Add a stole and gloves in the winter to adapt to all seasons. Fur (hopefully faux, or at least vintage finds) should be chunky – the bulkier the better.



Eve Brannon
Fashion + Features Editor

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