Tag Archives: fashion

How to Dress Like A French Woman: Classic and Casual

I don’t pretend to be French, but during the five weeks I lived in Paris, I picked up quite a bit on French fashion. So I’d like to share some ways that we can all attain that “je ne sais quoi” that is both desired and way too overused.

1. Never, ever leave the house in sweats, or looking like you just woke up. If you must wear work-out clothes, go straight to the gym, and then go straight home. Better yet, just change there.

2. Wear stripes. Thin stripes. Black on white, usually. Navy on white if you’re feeling a little crazy.

3. Don’t wear shorts. They are not fashionable or classy.

4. Try a minimalist look of just bold red lipstick and (maybe) mascara.

5. If your hair is down, it should look like it was combed and then blown in a light breeze. It is never shiny and sleek. If your hair is up, it should look like it’s supposed to be that way, not a messy last-minute updo. 

6. Wear solid colors. At most you are allowed one patterned piece, and it is usually an accessory, like shoes or a scarf. Sometimes a skirt, but rarely a shirt or dress. For some reason this doesn’t apply for older women (40+). It’s as though patterned clothes detract from the natural beauty of younger women, but older women need vibrant clothing to look more attractive. 

7. Wear a good pair of shoes – preferably heels. That’s not to say that French women walk around in stilettos all day. They usually have a cute wedge heel or a stylish boot that really pulls the outfit together.

8. When in doubt, show less skin. French women dress quite conservatively, so when in doubt, show shoulders, OR back, OR thigh – never all three (though you could probably get away with two at a club).

9. Spend more money on fewer, more classic pieces. This has several advantages. One, you can mix and match more. Also, your clothes will last longer because they are more durable, and your clothes will flatter your body because they will really fit you well.

10. When in doubt, think Classic and Casual. Classic in the clothes you wear, but not casual clothes. Casual in the way you wear them. Americans (in my experience) are constantly fussing about their appearances – adjusting belts, combing their hair, reapplying mascara. French women create their appearance with care only once, in the morning, and then forget about it. 

*Tip for men: I don’t notice men’s fashion as much, because I am not a man, but I did notice that French men dress better (obviously). Buy clothes that actually fit your body. If this means that your shirt shows your shoulder outline, or your shorts are a little shorter, that’s fine, because at least you won’t look homeless from your too-loose pants. But also remember that there’s a different between fitted and too tight.

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La dernière

Last night when I was sitting on the terrace to watch the sun set on Paris one last time, thinking a dozen thoughts, I saw that the sunset was softer than it usually was. It spilled baby blue, lavender, pink, and pastel orange onto the sky, and I felt a deep sadness sweeping over me. The colors got darker and filled the sky long after the sun dipped below the horizon. My camera couldn’t capture the view, and so all I have left of that sunset is what’s remaining in my memory. It was the most beautiful sunset I had seen throughout my stay in Paris.

While here, I have learned so many things about myself, other people, and the world. Some of these things can’t be put into words eloquently enough, but those that can, I’ll detail here:

1. French people are nice – if you are nice. If you walk into a shop and don’t greet the sales representative, complain that no one speaks English, or just act entitled in general, don’t expect to be treated like royalty. And even a little French (merci, au revoir) goes a long way, because once you get through to them, French people are incredibly kind. They will go completely out of their way to help you, something I have never experienced with an American.

2. I’ve learned how to dress well (a whole post about how to dress like the French is coming up soon).

3. As famous as France is for its food, it cannot produce anything but French food. I’ve eaten two Italian meals here, and both were dismal. If they can’t even cook food from Italy right, which is a bordering country, how can they hope to attempt other, more difficult cuisines? The problem is that the French are too set in their ways. I blame Louis XIV. Him, and the dozens of foreign countries that have invaded France over the years, instilling in every French person a deep-set xenophobia that, no matter how hard you try, you will never truly rid them of.

4. Finding peace with myself means that I can be just as comfortable in a group of people as I am by myself.

5. History matters. Just look at France’s history with the arts and education, and how that is reflected in today’s society. But think about America’s beginnings. Everyone started off the same way, and everyone was in the same boat (quite literally) to begin with. To succeed, it wouldn’t matter if you were educated or talented, because that wouldn’t make you successful. Hard work made you successful, and that’s why the USA values hard work, and has such a strong work ethic. France values talent and intelligence for reasons of her own.

6. Art should make you feel something (even anger, sometimes).

7. Sometimes, it’s okay to not obsessively plan, and to be spontaneous instead. You hear this a lot, but it’s totally different coming from me, because I usually plan everything down to the tee. But while it can be helpful to try to control everything, sometimes you just need to take life as it comes.

8. People are nice. Other people are not as nice, but I’ve learned when to let it go, rather than get angry.

I am excited to see my family, but sad to leave because I don’t know when I will be back. All I know is that Paris has left an indelible mark on my soul and changed me in a way that I would have never expected. Maybe someday I will come back here and be able to share my love for this city with my family, or my dear friends. But I don’t know when I will return, and so now I must say goodbye. À la prochaine.

Until then, we’ll always have Paris.

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