French Chic - The Myth Explained
This week I was asked to contribute to an article in Grazia Magazine about 'French Girl' Style and why we find it so appealing. Here's the full piece that I submitted. Enjoy..
To some extent it’s worth remembering that our impressions of everything in this world are not only made up of our own experience but equally influenced by what we hear. As Brits, growing up we hear people speaking of Romantic trips to Paris, delicious French cuisine and Parisian Style. The concept of French Chic is a cultural phenomenon bred by our society so that those who have never even been to France believe that all French Women possess an ‘other-worldly’ ability to look effortlessly stylish. This ‘rumour’ as we may refer to it must however, have come from somewhere.
Having been on numerous Buying and Fashion related trips to Paris, it’s fair to say that the city has it’s spectrum of good to poor dressers. Now that that’s out of the way, it’s also important to note that even the plain-Jane dressers of the French world look stylish compared to the average Brits. (Please don’t throw any tomatoes!) The question is, ‘Is good taste in their DNA or is Style a learnt behaviour?’
Let’s think of it like this, a French girl growing up is taught the value of perfect fit and how to tell the difference between good and bad quality fabrics from when she first visits the shops with ‘Maman’. They may not buy many items but they will take their time browsing and re-visiting until they are sure they have found the perfect piece.
A French woman will typically think of her wardrobe as a collection that she will build over time. They must meet the following criteria:
They must bring out her best attributes whether it be a perfect blue fine knit wool jumper to complement the blue of her eyes to the perfectly cut pair of trousers that elongates and slims her legs
The pieces must be of great quality as they are expected to last since she invests in ‘forever’ pieces
They must complement the rest of her wardrobe
They must suit her character
Interestingly, it’s this final point that may be the most salient in explaining what it is about French Style that is so alluring. French girls are brought up to know who they are, to understand what type of character she has and to develop a sense of self-appreciation coupled with a routine of self-care and good grooming. As a result their heightened sense of self-esteem allows them to dress authentically for the person that they really are on the inside. This gives way to a natural and authentic style so greatly coveted and known as ‘French Chic’.
This sense of self-esteem also allows French Women to need less ‘stuff’ to enhance them. For example they will typically choose between ‘done’ hair or makeup but never both. They have less need for flashiness or things that will mask their natural beauty from showing through. Hence we have the ‘less is more’, understated look that the French Girl is famous for.
It may not be that we want to wear her exact pair of jeans or her Gerard Darel Handbag but what we do want is her confidence and her ability to look so natural. This is why the French Girl look is so eternally appealing
Perhaps what we really need to be working on before we next hit the shops is working out exactly what type of woman we are and what do we love about her.
The full Grazia feature can be found here