How to Dress Like a French Woman

January 3, 2014

In a time of perma-tan, Crayola brows and Jersey Shore, effortless style is the perfect antidote. And no you don’t have to parle francais to pull-off the fashion, just ditch the vajazzle and don some Dior (knock-offs or otherwise). The French design has become internationally synonymous with timelessness and relaxed sophistication, and with benefits from bigger wardrobes to five-minute makeup, it’s not hard to see the undeniable Je nais c’est quoi of it all.

Under-primped locks and perfectly cut clothes are the ideal combination that just oozes French flavour without having to spend hours labouring for the look. Don’t stress if you don’t know your Repetto from your Nina Riccis. After all, British it-girl Alexa Chung, as the current face of French fashion proves, you don’t have to be French to have the style.

The essence of French chic is one of true, understated glamour. Built upon the principals of quality cuts and a classic colour scheme, you can create that simplistic chicness by focusing on cuts that suit your shape. Knowing how to dress your proportions and having an eye for which contours suit you best means you’ll look stunning with minimal effort – and that’s what it’s all about.

Train your eye to know where the hemline of your chino’s should sit (mine work best just skimming my ankles) and where your cuff goes; it’s all about balance and these little details like this make a world of difference. Quality basics are your best friend; teaming a t-shirt, jeans and ballet flats may seems like the average street style – but getting the right pieces is key.

Tip: Blend your aesthetics – team tailored trousers with a billowy blouse and a soft-cut blazer to create a timeless silhouette; and remember the higher the hemline, the lower the heel.

The subdued palette of the French wardrobe is a fundamental element of the relaxed, yet refined style. Sticking to neutral beiges, navy blue, and of course blacks and whites creates a sophisticated feel, which rather than becoming bland is perfected by the emphasis on cut and quality. If you look at French brands (like A.P.C. – the country’s quintessential ready-to-wear favourite) you’ll notice the tailored detail and classic colour schemes. Best thing about it is, your wardrobe practically triples as you’re able to mix and match (which means less time hunting for that one skirt that goes with your top).

Hair and makeup is fresh and low-key. Gone are the days of Bardot’s caked on cat eyes, now minimalist sophistication reigns supreme. Focus on creams for healthy skin, rather than cover-up. A natural glow is the perfect accessory, and if you’re out for coffee add a slick of rouge to your lips for a polished hint of colour.

Ditch your fancy lotions and potions and wear your hair au naturel  – think bed hair and ditch the brush. Perfectly coiffed locks undermine the simple grace of the style, so tousle and go.

The wonderful thing about the French approach is its sense of feminine individuality. By embracing your natural features you craft your wardrobe  – not yourself. Being a style bred in the home of romance, it makes sense that you should love yourself, too.

Kate Jones blogs about writing and pop culture at Calvicle Capitalism.

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