Friday, 8 January 2010

Une Question De Style

Just why are the French so chic? Or should I ask instead, are the French really so chic? Because, and maybe this was just a ‘90’s teenager trend, every French exchange student (male or female) that passed through our school wore the same snowflake-print fleece and red/blue Kickers booties. 

Even my friends and I dressed better than that, and we wore hoodies and Carhart jeans for two years solid during Sixth Form. I didn’t see one trenchcoat-wearing girl with slippy caramel-coloured hair and sunglasses. The cool gene obviously doesn’t kick in until the early twenties, or never if you live in the suburbs.

Reading FabSugar’s imaginatively named 10 Fashion Observations, Straight from Paris I caught myself doubting whether our London lovelies really could hold a Diptyque candle to their Parisian sisters. There's just something about the French. For a start they stick to classic colours: black, white, nude, beige, red, navy.  But, if you’re mixing a wardrobe comprised of only six colours, surely it’s easy to look stylish? Nil points.

The British are more eclectic; we don’t raise a perfectly arched brow of disgust if a girl’s patterned coat clashes with her skirt. I am deliberately distrustful of the matchy-matchy brigade. But somehow the French manage to do it without looking twee. I think it’s something to do with the plate-glass shine to their hair, and the conspicuous lack of jewellery. The girls all seem to have perfect skin as well: they do say the French take their grooming very seriously.

Where the Parisians have us beat is their demand for quality. There’s no Primark in France (although there is a Facebook group, ‘We want Primark in France!’). They have that nonchalant attitude that whispers ‘Oui, I’ve had this cashmere coat for YEARS; I don’t even REMEMBER where I got it. Oh yah, look, c'est Chanel.’ Whereas my clothes are cheap and they’re old. If I was saving for Chanel I’d be naked, unable to have ever bought any other item of clothing. 

It’s part innate style, part attitude. You’d never hear a Parisian bragging, ‘You like? It cost 10 euros!’ But l I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pride in bagging a bargain, and I’m definitely not throwing away my H&M. 


  1. I demand that you petition the government for a grant so that you may spend 5 years in Paris, researching this intriguing question. I must have the results of said study so that I may too become the epitome of chic. And of course, the American populous SORELY needs to know the answers to this, so please, for all the good in the world, go research this and get that nobel prize :)

  2. Done. You have a word with Obama, I'll go speak to... Gordon Brown? Second thoughts, maybe I'll leave it! *skin crawls*

  3. There is a store called Tati in France which is basically their equivalent of Primark, I think it even sells wedding dresses!


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