French Ladies: Style, aura, what is it?

  1. Love this.
  2. Well said. It's quite a turn off to come here and see insults disguised as comparisons. No need to compliment the French at the Americans' expense. Both have admirable qualities and it's completely unnecessary to be so offensive toward a culture. Just say what you like and leave it at that.


    Size 2, well dressed, healthy eating, exercising American ;)

    Ps. And god forbid we use a coupon. I live in a popular US city for tourism and often see foreigners buying LOADS of sale clothes to take home. Guess our clothes here can't be that awful.
  3. #678 Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    absolutely! I know lots of super health conscious American yogis! I dont think its fair to insult whole nations as this is not what the thread was about. Lots of people of various nationalities are overweight and insist on guzzling buckets of soda drinks, so sorry if this has offended specific americans. ( plenty of english folk do that as well; and I am english myself.) And as for US coupons - well they are the envy of the civilized world.:biggrin:
  4. You have summarised well here.
  5. So true. And when Kate Middleton and the Spanish royal family shop at Zara they are praised for being smart stylish shoppers!
    I think the French brands Sandro and Maje make really cute clothes too but they are hardly exclusive and high quality . They make most of their things in China and are a chain like all the others.
  6. well the EU, is the EU is not France or Paris. For example the British and the Germans tend to look quite different clothes wise. It is true though that a lot of French people buy from Zara. I had a really good friend from Paris who lived here for a while and she says oh how she misses TOP SHOP !;) Zara, Top Shop and the like have a huge selection of items from different manufacturers, so again it does depend what you buy and HOW its put together... I am actually in France at the moment and yes - the French do look distinctive and I can spot the tourists...:cool: mostly
  7. Paris is my hometown and while I agree people there dress different from people in Germany or Italy I never quite understood all the hoopla about French style. I know just as many women there who dress poorly as those who dress well.
  8. #683 Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
    My 2 cents: I was born and raised in Paris and I agree that most women (and men!) have a particular sense of style that differentiate them from other countries. However I don't necessarily think it's better or anything. At 17 I moved to London for my studies and I realised that I felt much better "fashion-wise" there cause I could dress just the way I wanted to. In Paris, dressing is a way of life and somehow, you have to follow rules if you want other Parisians to think you're well dressed: basic colours (black, greys, nude...), not too feminine (especially if you have curves, it's not acceptable to wear skirts that are too short or cleavage or things like that) Earlier this year I spent a semester in Milan and I was almost shocked to see soooo many women wearing high heels and stuff like that. In Paris you really don't see that often and when you do it's mostly with jeans.
    Also, another thing that I really don't like in Paris is how women tend to look at you in a bad way if you have a nice bag or if you're feminine (and I'm not talking about provocative clothes or anything, just heels or something like that) whereas in London or Milan I didn't feel that way at all, it's really refreshing to have a compliment like "I like this" instead of a look that means "who does she think she is?" I'm exaggerating of course but you get the point.
    Now, I have to admit that I have kept most of my French style cause I still don't feel comfortable wearing bold colours or short skirts or anything like that but I try to keep the best of both worlds. From Paris I have kept the neutral colours, the scarves and above all the very good quality pieces of clothing. It's true that Maje, Sandro, Bel Air etc... are very overpriced but still it's good quality and we like to invest in pieces that will last instead of fast fashion (even though I do enjoy shopping at Topshop from time to to time but even there I always choose the most classic / quality items) but you can find the same things in non-French boutiques (the Brits do it very well, I'm obsessed with Whistles!)
    My everyday "uniform" would be a silk blouse with dark or black jeans, flats, tweed jacket and nice bag or dress with black tights, scarf, ankle boots and a leather jacket. I never wear very obvious logos.
    But I still enjoy jeans to death and jeans are American!!! (I've invested in 2 pairs of Jbrand skinnies in bright blue and dark purple that I only wear in London but I love them).
    Honestly, my best friend is American and I think she dresses very well so I will never say American women don't dress well.
    And as for the weight comment I have to disagree, there are more and more overweight people in Paris, the only difference is that here it's really looked down upon as the ideal in France is extremely skinny (Charlotte Gainsbourg style) which is not my ideal by the way!

    Just one more thing: when I say Parisians I mean the fashionable ones (and obvisoulsly those with more money...) because obviously not everybody dresses the same!
  9. I may have posted this before - but I think its funny so here it goes:

    It was published in the UK's Guardian - us Brits can have a laugh....sorry no pics though....

    HOW TO ACHIEVE PARISIAN CHIC in 10 easy steps

    Ever wondered just why the French look so good? After her people-watching expedition to the style capital Hadley Freeman offers a DIY guide

    So, are the French still chic? It is a question that does niggle. Well, it occasionally niggles the French, because they have constructed their national identity around it (that, and smelly cheese, which might explain why they are so keen to defend the chic element). And it often niggles the rest of the world which, from time to time, has said unkind things about the cheese- eating surrender monkeys, and their much-vaunted sense of style.

    Certainly Paris fashion week beats the bejesus out of everyone else (New York, too furry; London, too silly; Milan, too Footballers' Wives), but what of the French themselves? Stereotypes and gentle xenophobia aside, yes, they are a cut above the rest of us. From my exhaustive research into the matter - standing on a street corner in the city for two hours - I bring you the secrets behind Parisian chic. But remember, as Mulder and Scully told us all along, just because the truth is out does not guarantee you acceptance among the aliens.

    1: Always wear sunglasses
    A Parisienne without her big, chunky sunglasses would be like Chris Moyles without his team of flunkies - a sad and lost specimen, divested of the props against which to bounce her personality. Ditch any fears about what others will think - a true Parisienne would rarely bother with such worries (see 10). Sunglasses make even Johnny Halliday look cool (sort of) and cover up puffy eyes caused by too many Gauloises. But, please, no coloured lenses. These are only excusable if you are in Atomic Kitten and then only out of pity

    2: Your bag should be no bigger than your dog
    And your dog, obviously, is one of those yappy little things (currently being popularised by various American heiresses on TV, although you, of course, pay no attention to the Americans). They are perfect for sitting on your lap while you sit decorously in a cafe, sipping your cappuccino, arguing with Bernard-Henri Lévy about how the 21st-century soul has lost its passion. Or something.

    Bags should be hand-held, quilted if you are over 50 (that's right, we are talking Chanel, and we are talking lots of) or plain for the younger ones. Absolutely no rucksacks - such slobbiness is reminiscent of French exchanges, which is one facet of the country that probably did not inspire you to exalt Gallic chic.

    3: Coordination is a beautiful thing
    An English woman sees a skirt with a big floral pattern and thinks, "How sweet! I'd love to have that pattern on my new sofa, but, in the interim, I'll wear it on my legs. Sod the fact that I've got nothing that goes with it." A French woman would not even notice the skirt. A French woman coordinates her entire outfits days in advance, ensuring her socks match her hairclip, which matches her top, which matches her coat. Frightening, yes. But, dammit, they do look better than Britons dressed in loose covers.

    4: The effort is always worth it
    That means no outfits for bad-hair days/fat days/can't-be-arsed days. The irony about those outfits is that they actually make you look worse: no matter how fat you feel, wearing a big kaftan is going to make you look 10 times bigger. So, instead, slip into your little cropped trousers and pair them with ballet pumps. Yes, you will probably feel so miserable that you may have to crawl into a loo and break a mirror but, hey, at least you look good.

    5: Pancake or au naturel
    If you are over 35, slap on the full face of makeup, including lippy, before even your husband sees you in the mornings; if you are under 35, just keep it plain, with lipgloss. As in so many areas of life, boys have it even easier. Theirs is a choice between the shabby, unshaven man who resembles an extra from Jean de Florette and who, perhaps, is an occasional friend of absinthe, and his more groomed, handsome-to-the-point-of-silliness counterpart, best epitomised by Mr Kylie Minogue, Olivier Martinez. Happily, for any boys after the true Parisian look, both make one look like a character in a Truffaut film.

    6: Think helmet hair
    Not only in shape (although you should definitely bear this in mind after you blow out the candles on your 50th birthday cake), but colour. Parisian ladies favour the solid block of colour, not the streaky-bacon look that Americans prefer, with highlights strewn about, party streamer-like.

    This epitomises the differences between the two countries: both are equally high-maintenance and arrogant, but whereas one revels in its nature, the other denies it is so and gives off the impression of chic simplicity. Ultimately, both are just as fussy as an uptown Manhattanite with extensive food allergies and a fondness for Egyptian sheets with a threadcount of 240.

    7: Men wear scarves
    There must be some law about this in Paris. Of the 37 males I counted in 15 minutes, 35 were wearing scarves and the other two had polo necks. Maybe they all have mucky necks. Or maybe they are so Frrrrrrench and sexy that the women cannot control themselves and cover them in lovebites. Whatever, it is a most dashing look in a Charles Lindbergh kind of way. But, um, French, naturellement .

    8: Gold
    Silver? Pah! But gold? Ah, ma cherie, c'est bon! They are quite right. Wear too much silver and you resemble a rock star's 16-year-old Sloaney daughter, or a Hell's Angel, or both. Yes, a knuckle slathered in gold will bring back memories of Joan Collins, but may I just take this opportunity to say that Joan's style tips have heretofore been underrated? Look at how well she has done: a handsome young man called Percy, regularly featured in the Daily Mail as a "style icon" - what more could you want?

    9: Fur! Glorious fur!
    Even in the summer, you love your skins. Think mink, think fox - do not think hamster. And remember, the bulkier your coat, the better to push people out of the way (see 10).

    10: Be rude as hell
    Stereotypes aside, I think we can all agree that the French have, shall we say, a fluid concept of manners. So be sullen, pushy and never let the words excusez-moi pass your lips, except in a sarcastic tone. And why not? You look great and you damn well know it. Plus, of course, smiling causes wrinkles.

    One last thought: yes, the French do look good, but at least our music is way cooler than their Eurocheese stuff, right? Enjoy Mysterious Girl at number one this weekend, everyone!
    this is funny - not 100% true - (certainly no fur or helmet hair) but it is funny. And at least we do not buy our two year olds chanel wocs as some americans do. that would be considered tacky and nouveau
  10. ^^^:roflmfao:
  11. Fabulous post, I laughed out loud :smile: .... whilst on a train with lots of other people on :smile:
  12. Great input! I like your idea of including the best of all worlds into a style all your own. :smile:
  13. that sounds like a nice start. Looking at several Parisian friends I ve got, one thing in common is that they all have good table manners. Excellent table manners, even if they eat alone and good deportment. Manners I think create an 'aura' much more than the clothes...
  14. yeah - great article. Liz Jones is a scream.
    Why French ladies NEVER match their shoes and handbags

    A trip to Paris always brings out mixed feelings. While I love the architecture, the parks, the shops and the Marais district, whenever I board the Eurostar, the butterflies in my stomach return and I start to hate everything I’m wearing.
    This trepidation mostly stems from the years when I was the editor of Marie Claire and had to travel to Paris four times a year to attend board meetings.
    The female company directors wielded beautiful ink pens, and always had a scarf knotted effortlessly in a way I was never quite able to master.
    They were pencil-slim, but always took hours over a three-course lunch washed down with red wine. They never dyed their hair or tried to look younger than they were. They made me feel terribly small and provincial.
    Perhaps if, in those days, I had been armed with this brand-new style book, I would have stuck the job a little longer.
    Ines de la Fressange, a former model and muse to the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, has written the ultimate guide to getting dressed the French way.
    Unlike most style books, which can be terribly vague, Parisian Chic scores because it is hugely, arrogantly (but in a helpful way) detailed and dictatorial, as well as containing all those secret Parisian addresses for the wonderful shops you can never find on your own.
    But where Ines is really helpful is with her advice on how to look chic and timeless once you reach middle age. Unashamedly 53, she is super-useful on the thorny topic of what to wear once you pass that half-century milestone.
    French women evolve their style as they get older, she says, rather than clinging desperately to what worked when they were 30. Her advice is to pay attention to trends, cherry-pick something that might suit, but never to be a slave to fashion: nothing ages a woman more than adopting every passing fad.

    She says you should auction any crocodile bags on eBay and never wear top-to-toe luxury labels, but instead mix designer with lots of High Street.
    Converse sneakers are great for the over-50s, rather than staggering around in platforms. A round-neck cashmere sweater is a must, too: it looks great for the evening with a pencil skirt, covering up your arms and decolletage.
    But most important of all is to drop in the odd surprise. It is all very well adopting a uniform that suits, but this can become a little tired and boring.
    Instead of always wearing a predictable crisp white shirt to work, try a bright fuchsia one instead. Ines is a big fan of floaty print scarves, too, which are a great way, even in summer, to cover a crepey neck.
    THE DOs
    Buy the best trench coat you can afford and scrunch up the sleeves. Never belt it properly or add anything military.
    Always wear a bra.
    Wear pearls with a rock ’n’ roll T-shirt.
    Wear black with navy.
    Roll the sleeves of your cotton shirt over the sleeve of your sweater. Very Parisian!
    Wear a full skirt with a tight top; or a pillowy top with skinny trousers or a pencil skirt.
    Shop in the menswear departments, especially if you are not petite. M&S and H&M have great blazers, knitwear, white shirts and scarves.
    THE DON'Ts
    Never wear a necklace AND earrings.
    Matching bags and shoes after the age of 30 adds ten years.
    Backpacks and bumbags — no!
    Never wear jeans with trainers.
    Don't wear heels with a pencil skirt.
    Avoid anything nude, particularly if you are older as you will look washed out and even more invisible.
    AND LIZ'S DON'Ts: No vintage if you're over 50. It will age you.
    Don't feel you have to stick to only flats if you're short. Those with model figures look fine, the rest of us tend to look stumpy.

    However, I beg to differ on some points. Ines is a fan of flats at all times, and while they look wonderful on someone who is 5ft 9in-plus, the rest of us can look dachshund-like (long body, stumpy, chunky legs).
    A good compromise are black biker boots with chunky heels or kitten heels with pointy toes.
    I would add another don’t: if you are over 50, avoid vintage. Those retro bags, swing coats, Fifties prom dresses, twinsets, ropes of pearls and giant clip-on earrings will age you.
    I’d sum up Ines’s take on French style as meaning it must look effortless. Make your clothes suit your lifestyle and personality, not the other way round.
    French women seem to get better with age, and I think this is all about attitude. Never mind scarves and blazers, this is the book’s biggest lesson.
    The most beautiful woman is the one who oozes confidence, happy in her own skin — which is Ines de la Fressange down to a crisp white T.
    Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange (Flammarion, £19.95). To order, tel: 01903 828 503.