Photographed outside Hotel Providence, Paris.
I've held off writing a post like this as I've always thought it a little clichéd. Yet the fascination with the way French women dress (and what they eat, how they rear their children and look after their skin…) continues to endure. So I put on my new favourite top, donned a trench and bought a baguette! (Because no French cliché is complete without one.) And what with Paris Fashion Week a few days behind us, I thought there was no better time than now to address a style that I’ve become more accustomed to wearing. This particular outfit is what I want to be wearing when Spring finally shows up. I’ve already worn a variation of it which you might have seen already, if you follow me on Instagram.
Having now lived in Paris for just over four years, I feel a little more in tune with what French women wear. I can confirm that compared to Dalston, East London anyway, where I used to live and where it wouldn’t be unusual for someone to walk down the high street clad in a technicolour dream coat, with hair to match - they do tend to wear less colour. But it’s not the lack of colour that has struck a cord with me over the years, but the simplicity and ease with which they dress. You’ve probably heard of the French laissez-faire attitude – meaning to let people do as they choose or as they want. It's a nonchalant attitude - the same that shows up in French style. It’s this sense of effortlessness that people often elude to when describing the way women dress. It's as much about the attitude as the items they wear. There is not a mishmash of colour, fabrics and textures etc.. but rather a curated or pared back outfit that because it’s simple, looks effortless.
Look at classic French women such as Caroline de Maigret, Jeanne Damas, Ines de la Fressange and Anne-Laure of Adenorah – their style isn't fussy, with mainly neutral colours, jeans, white shirts, a blue blazer, beige trench, stripes, a pop of colour and leopard print here and there, and all together seemingly effortless – their clothes don’t over-power but rather complement their natural beauty. It's timeless. French style is talked about over and over again because it looks by far the easiest way to dress stylishly, but ironically it's the hardest to emulate as you also need the right attitude, you can't look too try-hard.
Admittedly when I first moved to Paris, my personal style went from less colour to almost predominantly navy, grey and black because I wanted to blend in. I already felt different being a Brit in Paris - something that more recently I've embraced. Only in the last year or two, as I feel more comfortable living here (I now have my career, my circle of friends and I can speak French - it's home!), have I begun re-introducing more colour into my wardrobe and started having a lot more fun with what I wear. I probably look more British, with what I like to think a French twist. Note pink coat I wore during Paris Fashion Week - a first for me - yet I styled it simply over a striped top and jeans.
What do you think about French style? Do you try to emulate it?
Below I’ve listed high and low end versions of what I’m wearing in the hope that you might also find some style inspiration not only from French women, but also for spring!
The Striped Top:
The Trench Coat:
The White Shoe:
The Shoulder Bag:
Photos of me by Dimitra Sereti, edited by me.