It’s no secret – the French have mastered the art of casual-chic dressing. What’s more difficult to nail down is how they pull off their famed je ne sais quoi, and more importantly, how to infuse some effortlessness into our own wardrobes. On a recent trip to Paris, I was not-so-covertly analyzing my bar-mate’s impeccable outfit, when I realized French girls go to the same place we do for style inspo: Instagram.
In an attempt to mimic the “I woke up like this” aesthetic, I tracked down the Instagram accounts of Paris’ most fashionable women, in hopes of distilling some of their sartorial knowledge for us mere mortals. Grab a glass of red and some stinky cheese, and get ready for some French sartorial savoir-faire.
Find Your Perfect Jeans
If you haven’t heard of Jeanne Damas before, you’re welcome. The French model and designer is best friends with the likes of Jaquemus, and knows a thing or two about the power of a chunky sweater with some flattering jeans. You’ll always see Jeanne in high-waisted cropped jeans with a slight flare at the ankle, which make her legs look crazy long. She found the silhouette that works for her, and stuck with it. This is a situation where it’s ok to stock up on multiples.
P.S. – For an easy way to steal her style, check out her online shop Rouje.
Suits Aren’t Just for Businessmen
The French celebrate the “woman of a certain age” – the woman who has experienced life, knows herself, and knows what she wants – as the most desirable woman. No one embodies this idea better than the actress, model, author, and Chanel ambassador Caroline de Maigret. And while de Maigret has literally written the book on French style, I admire her most for her impeccable suiting. She manages to make everything from a Chanel tweed suit skirt to a pinstripe menswear suit seem rocker-chic. Don’t be afraid to borrow from the boys. It’s all in the attitude, ladies! The bangs don’t hurt, either.
Leave ‘Em Guessing
Sabina Socol is my go-to for date night inspiration. The French journalist and model has been trading secrets to Francophiles via her column in Who What Wear for years, and last year she debuted a small clothing line of her own on her website Ask a French Girl. The Parisian takes a more laid-back approach to dressing “sexy,” and will usually reach for a jumpsuit over a mini, bodycon dress. Sabina says she prefers something “not that revealing – apart from its plunging neckline.” Drawing inspiration from the ’90s, she is never one to shy away from a simple slip dress or a cami-and-trousers combo – all the better to pair with chunky gold jewelry and a statement bag!
Invest in Quality Basics
Maybe you know her from the Madewell catalog: model and Jane Birkin look-alike Louise Follain makes even a plain t-shirt look stunning. It’s just not fair. Judging by her Instagram, she is rarely actually in Paris, but she has her travel wardrobe down pat. The takeaway: keep it simple. Comfortable, well-fitting pieces in mostly neutral colors make for a small wardrobe you can re-use over and over. And every woman needs a flowy, floral blouse for summer getaways. Wear it with classic sunnies and a pair of go-anywhere sandals, and wash, rinse, repeat.
Mix It Up with Layers
She may have played a student from the wizarding school Beauxbatons in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but actress, director, and writer Clémence Poésy is taking us to school when it comes to layering.
Lesson 1: Play with pattern and texture by pairing a silky, geometric pajama top with a marled blazer in a sweater-weight fabric. Bring some continuity to your look by staying in the same color family, and keep the rest of the outfit simple with a flattering pair of jeans and a matching bag and boot.
Lesson 2: How do you spice up a classic black pants, white button-down, and camel trench combo? Add some cool-factor by rolling your trench and shirtsleeves, leave half your shirt untucked, and bump up the glam with a messy pony, geometric shades, and giant hoops.
Take it from some of the coolest girls in fashion – a Parisian look doesn’t require a beret and a striped shirt. Just incorporate some of these tips into your everyday style, and you’ll be humming “La Vie en Rose” in no time!