Don't Mind Her, She's French

I've always admired the way many French women dress. They have such a distinct, sophisticated style and a carefree attitude about fashion that is so chic. Of course, there are many other stylish women around the world, but today I am going to focus on the French. My own personal style is a mix of preppy, classic New England and edgy Parisian, with a hint of vintage flair. Lately I've been studying the blogs of such stylish French femmes like The Cherry Blossom Girl and Punky B, hoping to emulate their timeless, yet modern looks.

One thing I have noticed about French style is that there are two distinct categories: Parisian and Provencal. This by no means exhausts the endless creative talents of French fashion lovers. There is so much more to it than what I cover here, because every individual has their own style. I am just choosing to highlight two types that I believe embody the essence of what foreigners like me see as French style.
The Parisian look is slick and clean, with touches of nautical inspiration. The starkness of black and white can be tempered by a soft, cloud-like scarf thrown just so around the neck, or by the ruggedness of equestrian accessories. The simplicity of a Parisian outfit seems like it took no time at all to put together, but careful attention has been paid to the shapes, silhouettes, colors, and materials. Casual basics mix with more "designed" pieces to emphasize that idea of balance. Once and a while a bright color interrupts the subdued palette.
Provence is a region in southern France known for it's lively, colorful prints, beautiful countryside, lavender fields, and overall easygoing atmosphere. It is an enchanting place, where life slows to a smooth rhythm, measured by the sun, the wind, and the sea. The fashion of Provence tends to be more laid back than Parisian style, with more consideration to vintage looks. Little floral prints, bright ethnic scarves, and more color in general help to exemplify the Provencal style. Silhouettes are looser, such as smock dresses, billowy tops, and a-line skirts.

This is just one girl's opinion about French style. Really, books could be written about the subject and we would still be wondering about it, because each person, regardless of nationality, has their own ideas about the way they dress. That's what makes style so fascinating: it is utterly elusive.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

first off, good work on this post. although i see no reason why the french would/could be offended by an american's take on french style you presented it in a way that not only showcased the brilliance of french fashion, but also was respectful, nice job :)

i personally, though never having been to france (i do take french, haha that isn't a very good argument, but w/e) think that you showed both provence and paris's style rather well. i adore both :) i feel though that as much as many of us love parisian style, provencal style is much more accessible.

the only other country whose style i can't get enough of is punky london, although i'm not going to get too edgy i like a random accessory throw in here or there.

January 20, 2008 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous susie_bubble said...

I can't say that I'm 100% into generalising a country or even a city's style.... though your representations of French style are by and large quite accurate.... it's the simplicity of the French that is quite true in reality. I like how they don't veer too far off the course and make things last by sticking to the basics.... however, and I speak from experience and having many friends who live in Paris who tell me this, it can be quite stifling when experimentation is often not really tolerated.....
I guess that's why I don't really admire/rate one particular country/city's style as I think it all comes down to the individual anyway....
In the same way that London is not really just about being 'punky', it's hard to pin down all the elements to really generalise and say 'I like this country over that country's style'.

January 20, 2008 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger The Clothes Horse said...

I like french style in its simplistic and elegance. But there is something much more fun about so many British dressers. I suppose as an American I should be casual, but I think I err on indecisive. Great post.

January 20, 2008 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Jayne - Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate it! I do think that the "Provence" look is something quite easy to do - it seems more casual and free-spirited.

Susie- Thank you for your very thoughtful comment! I do agree that these generalizations are tricky in many ways, but I felt I made it clear in my post that I was only sharing my opinions about certain types of dressing in France. Also, I pointed out at the end of the post that to pinpoint a country's - or city's - "style" is impossible, because every individual has their own way of dressing. I do thank you for realizing that I tried to showcase just bits of the many styles in that country, rather than saying "This is exactly how the French dress and there is no other answer" Because that certainly is not what I am saying.

Clothes Horse - Thank you! I do love the simplicity of many French styles.

January 21, 2008 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I really love these two styles.The two tops you chose for "Provence" ( well, the top AND the dress ) are simply gorgeous. I loooove the red coat you chose for "Paris" and the top is fabulous as well!

March 4, 2008 at 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Coby said...

Bought very nice dress from Just My Size store at reasonable price...

March 14, 2008 at 4:49 AM  

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