Women dress like women
Sometimes when I look in the mirror at my hoodie, ripped jeans and Converse, I wonder, what exactly sets me apart sartorially form the 12 year old boy I sat across from on the bus yesterday? I get it, it’s comfy. The weeks that I was traveling, staying in towns, villages and cities of France, traveling by bicycle, metro and on foot, there was something that struck me. Regardless of age, women dressed like adults. The styles varied wildly, it could be feminine, masculine, edgy, sophisticated.. but, I got a clear sense they were not trying to dress like a teenager. They did not dress like a 12 year old walking home from school. Their clothes spoke of a personal standard.
Your clothes and make up should be flexible enough to do anything
Not just one thing (like sit in an office). You should be able to bicycle through traffic, run to catch the bus or have spontaneous afternoon drinks (Did I mentioned it was France?)
Tight isn’t always right
The coolest looking women I saw were wearing loose, semi-structured, skimming togs – snug was less common; tight, rare Surprising? If one were to hypothetically get sucked into the infinity scroll of Instagram, and see beautiful women of note, e.g. your friends on a night out, models, magazine spreads and influencers, you’d logically deduce that sexy = tight. This is not the rule in France. See #2.
Leggings are mostly not a thing
Sure they’re in every store you can name and Millennials are stockpiling them. They are much harder to find on the streets of Paris than you’d think. At least on their own, passing as outerwear. My conclusion, French women are better than me.
Shape is Embraced not Hidden
The shape of your body (or your age for that matter) need not stop you from rocking the fashions. The confidence of the French woman, combined with an innate style and knowing means that large small, lopsided, flat chested, big-booty – they manage to make it all look good. (Side note: Our friends at Smithery are rockstars at dressing for your shape.)
Skinny jeans and booties are everywhere
In the words of one my most fashionista friends “skinny jeans aren’t going anywhere,” and France is proof positive (Nantes in particular, what’s up ladies of Nantes?). The skinny jean trend has been with us well over a decade and it refuses to die. It will be the embarrassing fashion flashback of the future. Booties became the go-to skinny jean combo and now it’s an endless parade of skinny-jeans-and-booties-wearing soldiers everywhere. Even guys. Perhaps we’re about to reach our saturation point?
The secret is in the shoes
Having said that, booties are not everything. This might be my favourite observation, not least of all because I love shoes. Fancy shoes can change everything- fancy sparkly tennis shoes with a shift dress; silver flats with ankle jeans, high-heels, biker boots with a skirt. And obviously, #6. The French woman’s shoe game is on fire.
Less is more
Edit, edit, edit.. When I was casually stalking the street style of French women, young and old, it was easy to take it all in with a glance. It’s a simple aesthetic. A great scarf, a cute overcoat or sparkly flats – just one of these items was enough to elevate a look. Make-up was the same. Barefaced with a pop of colour and easy hair is their MO.
Cold weather is just another fashion season
I was there when the temperature was starting to get chilly. All the same fashion rules applied, just in chic layers with nary a puffy coat to be seen.