It is a universally acknowledged truth that the French understand fashion like no one else. And little wonder. With muses like Brigitte Bardot, Carine Roitfeld and Charlotte Gainsbourg, how can the rest of us not become style Francophiles? These women ooze effortless chic.
Keen to capture the cool je ne sais quoi of a perfectly poised Parisian? Start with Coco Chanel. The iconic designer revolutionised women’s clothing by having the audacity to pair exceptional fit with comfort, sparking a “less is more” philosophy. She knew that you could never go wrong with a little black dress, a string of pearls and a quilted bag.
French women love fashion but are never a slave to short-lived fads. For them, it’s all about timeless tailoring – snug jeans, blazers and cashmere sweaters. They also obsess over fabric – it has to feel expensive (even if it’s not).
For an edgier French look, try teaming breton stripes with leather skinnies rather than denim. And voila – you’ll never look a mess again.
Invest in a classic Breton top now and you’ll be wearing it for years to come. La Redoute’s version is cut from cotton-jersey and features a fun slogan for a modern twist. Style it with denim or leather. From RO21
Isabel Marant’s “Patsha” ankle boots are immaculately crafted from soft black suede and will never go out of style. Elasticated inserts ensure a flexible, non-restricting fit and the sturdy block heel offers day-long comfort. The slim profile works well both with high hemlines or skinny pants. RO188
We love this illustrated top by Clément Dezelus, exclusively available from Promod. Prices start from RO16
M&S’s classic trench coat is tailored for a flattering fit and finished with traditional features including a storm flap, buttoned epaulettes, and a belt. Layering for Muscat’s chillier nights has never been simpler. From RO165
These faux leather pants from Get The Label are a wardrobe essential. They’re racier than denim and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. A bargain online buy from RO9
Add a sophisticated finish to your look with Eugenia Kim’s timeless black beret. Crafted from tactile wool-blend bouclé, it’s fitted with an internal grosgrain headband and is fully lined in satin so it sits smoothly. RO68 from Net-a-Porter
Penny’s tips on how to get it right:
1. Want the easy elegance of actresses Clémence Poésy or Lou Doillon? Try simple masculine silhouettes like an oversized shirt under a shrunken waistcoat with a selective scattering of bohemian accessories.
2. It’s all about polish. And we’re not just talking about a French manicure here. Parisians do not wear anything badly cut with creases or flaws. Instead they focus on the finer details – and as a result their whole look appears effortlessly sophisticated.
3. Make these three words your beauty mantra – “rich, red lipstick”. Gallic glamour gets easy.