If you’re headed over here and wondering what not to wear in Paris, we can help. Paris really is as fashionable as its reputation suggests. I used to work one floor below Vogue, and I can honestly say that the people who go down my street every day are just as well-dressed as those going to the Vogue floor. My sister and I were walking in my neighborhood once, and a girl passed us wearing such a casually perfect outfit that we both stopped, turned around, and stared. Everything — the fit, palette, balance, everything — was perfect.
I have loved Camille Rowe ever since seeing her in this video for Vogue:
Jeanne Damas is the alpha and omega of the whole “French Girl” thing, with over a million Instagram followers.
It’s not that hard to shop like a French girl (or woman, or child, or man.) French dressing is as sharp as it is because it represents a million tiny variations on a theme (read: uniform). This isn’t New York or London, where anything goes, and personal expression reigns supreme. Even the most spectacularly dressed women are often hewing pretty closely to some well-established ideas about fit, silhouette, texture, and palette. This is a culture with rigorous ideas about how things are done — tight edits, perfect fit, and understatement.
Jane Birkin: a master of French style even if she was born in London. I don’t even love her vibe so much. What I love about Jane Birkin as an example of the genre is that there’s not much to see here on some levels: These aren’t prom queen good looks, you know? Which in my experience is the essence of French (via London) beauty: You just do the best with what you have. It’s more mystique and attitude than anything else. And anyone can have mystique and attitude. It’s the great leveler, attitude, and thank God for that.
Françoise Hardy is the sort of French polymath I’m not sure we have in America: She sings, she writes, she provides the soundtrack for pivotal moments in Moonrise Kingdom: Part of her genius is her management of her style: When I read Edith Wharton’s immortal wisdom (“Genius is of small use to a woman who does not know who to do her hair”) and I think of her.
Today’s shopping review: Paul & Joe Sister Shopping in Paris is weird, because it tends to be both incredibly expensive and incredibly monochromatic. Well, I guess that doesn’t make it weird so much as consistent: Honestly, take the names off the shops, and I’d walk up on down the streets trying to figure out why there were five versions of Theory, all selling slightly different collections at basically the same price. (For example: Sandro, Maje, ba&sh, Claudie Pierlot, Comptoirs de Cotonniers, etc.) In my shopping experience, the French love a pricey basic—the kind of thing where you’re like, “Ugh, it’s so boring, I don’t understand why this costs $200,” but then you wear it every day for three years and it all makes sense.
The same day I realized that half the reason I like traveling is because it’s the easiest way to get rid of clutter (this book is changing my life) I realized the other half of the reason I like living in France: It’s easier to be a lady here. I should rephrase that: It’s the other half of the reason I like being an American in France: It’s easier to be an American lady here.