If you know me, you know how much I love my trips to France. Trust me, the three weeks we spend in the South of France during the summer aren’t’ enough for me. The trips to Paris? As a city girl, I would move there tomorrow if possible. New York and Paris are my two favorite cities on earth.
I’m very much relaxed when I’m in France during the summer.
And in the 13 years I’ve been visiting Paris and other parts of France, one of my favorite activities is people watching and observing how the French dress.
That’s right. Let me pull up a chair. Sit down. And get ready for people-watching!
I love looking at the men in their slim suits—so well-fitted and a hair away from being too small.
Frenchmen are guy chic. So effortlessly pulled together. I should be so pulled together!
I love the way the French dress their children. Reminds me of the care I took into making sure my own kids were well-dressed at all times.
Look how cute I dressed my little doll–Oops, I mean, my daughter Oona when she was little. I even made sure her Halloween costumes put her up in the best-dressed list! ( I made that costume, btw. It remains one of my favorites!
And I especially love studying how French women dress.
It may be an ad, but Catherine Deneuve remains iconic.
I’m also fascinated by the overabundance of magazine articles, blog posts, and internet publications obsessive writings on French style.
This is what articles never show. Normal French people on the way to their normal jobs in the middle of Paris during the weekday. I snapped this pic last year. Can you spot the chic one? No. Neither can I. This is normal.
“How to Dress Like a French Girl”. “How to Dress Like A Parisian” headline the many essays from self-proclaimed experts on the subject, some of whom have probably been to Paris only through watching Amelie thirty or so times, to those who write about fashion for a living.
You don’t profess to be an expert on French style by repeatedly watching Amelie. Although I must admit, I’ve seen this film at least 50 times. It’s my favorite film of all time. And YES. I love how Audrey Tautou was transformed into the most adorable gamine of all time. And this hairstyle IS one of the best bobs of all time. But it belongs to Tautou and Amelie. I’ve never seen any woman or girl in France wearing this hairstyle the way she wears it. End. Of. Story.
I’ve read articles about secrets and tips to turn yourself into a version of the quintessential French woman. The epitome of “Chic”. Chic is an over-used word!!!
They have it all wrong. Not the French women, those who pontificate have it all wrong.
This is a costume. Unfortunately, I’ve seen bloggers throughout the internet dress very similar thinking that they look French when in fact, they look foolish because they lack personal style!
You simply cannot imitate chic. Either you got it or you ain’t.
The late Jeanne Moreau had it. She was chic. It was inbred. Notice the simplicity. Notice that she has bruises on her legs and she is still elegant. No accessories. No jewelry. She ozzes chic from her topknot down to her simple heels!
And believe me, sometimes there is a very thin line between chic and trashy. I’ve seen the over-the-top looks in Cannes. It isn’t chic to try too hard.
Alright. So I haven’t run into Victoria or David Beckham in Cannes. But this is not chic. And I’m a bit surprised because Victoria Beckham’s clothing line has some pretty classy items. Did I say classy? Yes. I did. Classy does not necessarily mean chic and boy did she miss the boat on chic in this getup!
Chic is: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.
Ines de la Fressange. A study in chic. The outfit on the left and middle = total chic. And even iconic Ines can miss the mark. The outfit in the photo on the right. Overkill. Too fussy. Not chic. Not elegant. If she lost the beret and didn’t have the jacket belted, she would be on the road to chic…
I have a blogger friend. Elizabeth, she of The Vintage Contessa blog. She is naturally chic. It is innate. She can wear anything and it automatically morphs into a degree of chic. And she isn’t French. She is an American married to an Italian. Her style is one of a kind and she always remains chic elegance. Her style isn’t simple chic. It’s elegant chic with an edge—and that is the beauty of having one’s own personal style. Take a look at her blog, I linked it and you will love it. Study her style.
This is Elizabeth. She is chic in a bold way. I admire her and am in awe of her because she’s got “it”. That “thang”. That intangible quality . Not only is she great to observe but she’s an incredibly kind and generous woman! Read her blog. You will know what I mean!
I, on the other hand, am not chic. In the almost 14 years Bonaparte and I have been together, I can honestly tell you Le homme has used the word chic to describe what I’m wearing maybe five or six times. And all six times, we were going out to dinner. I wore what he practically begged me to wear.
I am not chic. But over the years, I’ve honed in on what I love and am comfortable in. It’s my personal style.
Bonaparte is chic. Yeah. He’s a guy but he is guy chic. Guys can be chic too
And even though the ability to truly be chic is that certain something that a small percentage of the population has, most of us are not chic. Most of us do not have that certain je ne sais quoi, a quality that cannot be described or named easily Are you following me?
What I’m saying is that we should find our own style. You can carry a chic bag or a wear a chic pair of shoes, but it isn’t going to make you chic. And that’s ok! It’s fine, in fact.
Lancel bags. So chic, they aren’t even sold in the USA. I covet these bags. I want one. I can’t afford one. Be still my heart if I win the lottery, I will get me on a plane, fly back to Paris and buy one of these chic little bags. You can have your Dior, LV, YSL. I’ll take Lancel!
When people ask me what my style is, I must honestly say, I don’t really know. I don’t have a particular style. I know what isn’t my style. I’m not a Boho girl. I’m not a country style dresser.
Now there’s yet another term. Boho Chic. Boho is NOT chic. It never was and never will be. The look above is nice. She is wearing a boho hat, and her bag, a Chloe, isn’t what I would call boho.
And as beautiful as these girls are–they are Boho overkill. They are NOT Boho Chic. Chic is something all ages can wear. I, at 62 years, would not look chic nor Boho in this look. I would look like I tried to hard. Fashion needs to get it’s terms straight.
Remember Meryl Streep in the movie “Ricki and the Flash”? The rocker look is definitely not my style. It isn’t Streep’s style either and I have to say, after seeing the trailer for that movie, Streep was miscast.
Streep may be the greatest actor of our generation, but even the great Streep can be miscast. Rocker girl is not her style. Ain’t mine either!
I couldn’t picture her as a rocker of any kind. Cyndi Lauper or Debbi Harry would have taken that movie in a great direction because both women personify rocker! They got rocker style and have had it for decades! They was born that way!
Why couldn’t Hollywood cast either Lauper or Harry as Riki? Both epitomize Rocker girls. Both are beautiful. Both was born that way!!! Oh yes they wuz!!! That is their style!
I’m best described as a style mutt.
A bit preppy, of which comes from years of wearing uniforms to school.
I snapped this pic yesterday (you’ll see more in my next blog post)–and it is a great example of my mutt style. Classic. Preppy. A bit odd–I love shorts with a tee and blazer, but that’s my style!
A bit classic with my love and appreciation of a great pencil skirt. And pearls.
My favorite pencil skirt is this leopard print one. Its fun but classic at the same time!
I love me a pointy-toed heel.
And skinny jeans.
Skinny jeans and pointy toes. What could be better? The torn jeans are not chic but I love the look!
And old-school sneakers
The white, low top Chuck Taylor’s by Converse are my favorite sneakers!
And my French Repetto Ballet Flats and Rondini Sandals.
Illustration by me. I love my Repetto ballet flats and Rondini sandals. Part of my style.
And scarfs—whether wooly for the winter or lighter for warmer weather.
Classic casual style. Scarf with a trench coat, cuffed jeans and loafers!
And my Bass Weejuns
Bass Weejuns. In my style life since grammar school–and traveling with me to all points. I love them and they are comfortable!
And, naturally, my leather Longchamp bags.
The Hermes scarf is chic. I lower it down a bit by tying it around the handle of my Longchamp bag. I like it that way!
I’m not much in the line for accessories—but it’s my style. I don’t like to be overloaded with bracelets and necklaces and accoutrements because it just isn’t me. Yet, I admire the woman who can accessorize like that . They have the know-how that I lack!
My hair—I try to keep my fake hair to styles similar to how I wore my bio hair before I lost most of it.
I’m not big on “Hair do’s”. I like an unstyled style–even with my wigs!
That’s why I like Bardot’s style. She was slightly messy—and not in a bad way either. She had that just-rolled-out-of-bed look.
Bardot.. In a more demure state–and she still looks perfectly tousled! Note–no jewely. The focus is on her!
Do I try to imitate her style? No—but I can add little nuances of her style into mine—like a big messy bun in honor of her messy hair or a striped Breton shirt in honor of her love for French fisherman shirts and French fishermen perhaps?
Far from Bardot–but I love her Breton striped shirts. My style likes them too!
Thanks so REX/Sipa Press I was able to find this epic pic of Carla Bruni. Another example of simple chic. The shoes. The. Shoes. I stopped breathing I love them so much! And look how simple she’s dressed. I’m jelly!
My favorite store? J. Crew—because the clothing is, for the most part, classic with a bit of an edge. Granted, some years the stuff is awful—but a great classic piece can always be found. The J. Crew brand resonates with me—and Crew has great sales!
Everyone has a style. Whether you realize it or not. You can build your personal style with basics. You can study the wardrobes of those who’s style you admire.
Go window shopping. By yourself. Some “you” time. Take a look at the clothing in different stores. Write down the names of the stores that have clothing you like. Peruse their websites. Research and study.
Don’t let anyone dictate to you what your style should be. Remember. You know you better than anyone else.
So, get under the chics. Better yet, take those chics off you and get out and have fun finding your style!
Make your own kind of style!
I’m influenced by some, but my style is personal. I’m especially fond of my fake tan style. Check it out. I missed a foot! My kinda style!
While I was writing this post, I couldn’t help but think about this great song “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by the great Cass Elliot. She had her own style. She owned her style and she was beautiful. As an aside, she’s introduced by Sammy Davis Jr. Boy does this bring back memories!