French style tips

Style Tricks You Can Borrow From The French

September 26, 2023
Style from the French
Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

23 and Me says I’m 12% French! This was a news flash to me, but I have to say, I am just a little bit excited about it! Ever since I read Jennifer L. Scott’s book “Lessons From Madame Chic,” I’ll admit to being a little obsessed by the effortless style of French women. They can seemingly turn a 10 piece capsule wardrobe into 1000 different chic outfits. Everything French women wear seems unplanned and elegant. Of course, this is a GIANT generalization and I’m sure there are a fair number of French women who don’t give a darn about fashion or dress in sweats and pajama pants in public, but those are not MY French women! 

A quick scan of the internet will show you that I am not alone in this Francophile fascination. There are literally hundreds of links about French style on Pinterest alone, and that’s just one site. Today I’ve culled down the volumes and I’m happy to share with you a few of my favorite style tricks from the French.

French style
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The First of My Favorite Style Tricks From The French: Create a Capsule Wardrobe

French homes, especially in the cities, do not have big, Texas-sized closets. Many bedrooms in France have no closets at all. Everything that needs to be stored, clothes-wise, needs to fit in the oft-tiny wardrobe. I don’t know if this is why French men and women tend to focus on owning just a few key pieces (the capsule wardrobe concept) but I would guess so.

With a capsule wardrobe you own just a few, quality pieces that work well together. The pieces interchange and can be put together in a large number of combinations. I, myself, strive for this French, wardrobe perfection, but I must admit that I am nowhere close. It has, however, gotten me to skinny-down my closet to the most important and oft-worn pieces.

Ideally, capsule wardrobes should consist of 10-12 main pieces for each season and do not include shoes and accessories (we’re not crazy yet!) Key pieces to any capsule wardrobe include:

  • Crisp White Shirt/Blouse
  • Dark Blazer
  • Dark Jeans
  • Cardigan
  • Pullover
  • Neutral Tee-shirt
  • Classic Wrap Dress for Women, Classic Suit for Men
  • Patterned Top or Blouse
  • Blue Jeans
  • Neutral Blouse or Shirt
  • Classic A-Line Skirt for Women, Khakis for Men

Still in the dark? There’s a great article on the topic on Pinch of Yum.com. At the very least, let this style trick from the French inspire you to skinny-down that bulging closet and make dressing in the morning that much simpler.

French style tips
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Define Your Look. It’s Another Style Trick From The French

To get the capsule wardrobe right, it’s kind of important to have a defined look. What exactly does this mean? Well, I find that giving your style a name or term can really help. That way, when you consider purchasing something new you say to yourself: does this fit with the style I have defined for myself and feel comfortable with? Less bad choices yields less crowded closets. I call my own style “Classic with An Edge.” It means that I tend to choose fairly traditional clothing, but I choose items that have something memorable about them. For example: my classic tank-style watch is rose gold and my tried-and-true skinny jeans have a frayed cuff. They are classics – with an edge.

French tricks on style
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The French Treat Exercise As A Way of Life…Not a Chore

A lot of French men and women do not go to the gym. They don’t need to… because their lives are full of physical activity. The French walk to the market – daily. They bike to the park. They walk to work, the café and the cinema. Their lives are full of movement, so they don’t need to take Pilates three times a week. We can learn a lot from their lifestyle because it (and all the red wine) keeps them healthy and trim. This physical activity also has the added benefit of keeping them at a relatively constant weight. No yo-yo scale – no need to buy new skinny/fat pants. It’s a pattern truly worth emulating.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels

The French Say: Quality Is The Key Ingredient When Choosing Clothing

Bruce has more clothing than any guy I know, and yet I have rarely known him to buy clothes. It’s because he has the same philosophy that a lot of the French have. If you buy quality clothing, the best you can afford, that fits well, you will buy it once and keep it forever. This is something that we can truly learn from our French friends: quality over quantity is the answer. It’s an earth-friendly approach that is also a friend of your wallet.

Insider Tip: If your looking for those quality pieces on a budget, check out your local thrift and consignment shops like Consignments Ltd.. And for more on that, check out: Consignment Shop Best Buys: Fashion.

French style tips
Photo by Esra Korkmaz on Pexels

Take Care of Your Skin… It Will Thank You For It

No matter how much make-up you wear and no matter how expensive said make-up is, you can’t beat good skin as the best accessory. Good skin is sometimes genetic – thank you, Mom. And sometimes good skin is a product of good habits like lots of water, lots of sun screen and lots of rest. The French know this, and we, as Americans, would be well-served by joining them in the pursuit of better skin.

For more on skin care, see my previous blog: Three Easy Tips For Great Skin.

I hope you have enjoyed my take on the style tricks from the French. And I hope that your day is très magnifique!

All the best. Marianne

And Now For A Little Music Before We Go…

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