There's a certain something about French fashion, especially as an American. There's a split view when it comes to most people’s perception of it. Some people will picture a striped shirt, a beret, red lipstick, and all of this accompanied with a latte or a baguette. (Spoiler alert: this isn't the most accurate portrayal of French women.)
However, there are also the people who feel like French fashion is so effortless and feminine. It's classic yet bold. How do they do it?
That's the focus of many of today’s articles. Whether it's discussing the essential pieces you need in your closet to emulate the look or the chicest handbags, it seems as though French influence is everywhere. Why?
Historians can trace the answer back all the way to the 16th century... with a bit of an unlikely trendsetter. When King Louis XIV came into power, he had an obvious love of the more lavish things life had to offer. He helped France become one of the biggest textile industries in the world. If you wanted the finest fabrics for a new coat, you knew exactly where to go to.
By the 20th century, designers found themselves in France because it simply made sense to go there. That's where you had access to the newest trends and could curate them before they became known internationally. Fashion houses also began to become popular, one of which was Coco Chanel.
Coco Chanel is a prime example of how influential a French trend can become. She popularized loose-fitting garments over those that were overly complicated and feminine, such as the corset. This trend became a statement for flappers in the 1920s. So I suppose you could say she made an impact. The popular names you can associate with France have only grown since then. Whether it's Christian Dior or Balmain, France has earned its right as a fashion capital.
Now that we understand how French fashion became so influential, we can dive into the modern glorification of it. Every major magazine you can think of has contributed in some way or another to this romanticism. Articles boast about how they know how you can get your hair like a French woman. They know how you can dress like one. They'll list every detail from the midi rings you need this fall to the belt that'll tie your look together.
Yet there is one thing magazines are forgetting to tell you about French fashion- it's all about the attitude. Many locals have stated this as the most important part of your outfit. Yes, there are certain standards for a French outfit. It's often more dressed up than a typical American outfit, but never flashy. The outfit is often made up of neutral shades with a bold pop of color occasionally. The only universal standard, however, is that whatever a French woman is wearing, she's wearing it with confidence. Will it always show off her figure? No, but the pieces paired together will create a unique look. Will your favorite French blogger’s OOTD sometimes just be a white shirt and jeans? Yes, and they'll still look amazing.
Confidence is the accessory you need to dress like a French girl.
To me, it's interesting how articles never mention this. They always advise you to buy a certain shampoo or handbag, but often fail to mention the most vital part. Perhaps it's because it doesn't make any profit, and there's no magic secret to achieving confidence. It's something that develops over time.
This is why French fashion seems so unattainable for the rest of the world. We are told how to “dress like a French woman” but rarely are we taught how to be confident no matter what we look like. One cannot exist without the other. There is no French fashion without confidence in oneself. This is why France has remained so iconique and will continue to do so. ✉
piece by: yasmine duncan
visual by: the dreamers