By Anne Healey
If you’ve noticed a shift in fashion towards a more minimalistic, feminine, understated kind of chic, you’re not imagining things. Recently, the French way of doing things has been trickling “across the pond” and American women are eating it up, one high-waisted pair of jeans at a time.
The French have always been staples of fashion. Marie Antoinette started a penchant for pastels. Coco Chanel created the “little black dress” and Brigitte Bardot’s famous mane led to a fury of back-combing, as women everywhere hoped to achieve the actress’s signature tousled look. Today, France’s newest “It” girl, Jeanne Damas, founder of Rouje clothing company, is setting the standard for how every woman – French or otherwise – dresses.
And the change couldn’t come at a better time. For the past few years, American fashion has been floundering in an odd mashup of athleisure day wear and ostentatious high lux “club” attire. Luckily, cold-shoulder blouses, bandage dresses, and jeggings are giving way to a more relaxed, breathable, sophisticated look. Romantic, midi-length floral dresses, loose-fitting men’s button downs, and wide-leg cropped pants are now swarming mainstream big box stores like Target, Old Navy and Nordstrom’s. And if you haven’t tried any of these looks yet, it’s only a matter of time.
What’s the look exactly? It’s clean lines, simplicity, and a nod to vintage 70s “au naturel” greatness. Earthy espadrilles, whimsical basket bags, plain white t-shirts, hair tied up in soft scarves, and lived-in, relax-fit boyfriend jeans, or a simple, no-nonsense block heel. The French are about comfort without sacrificing style. Most of all, you’ll never catch them trying too hard. They keep their pieces minimal, with few frills, and follow Chanel’s adage of “surveying yourself in the mirror and always removing one item or accessory before walking out the door.” They don’t fuss with highlighting and contouring. They skip the straightener and allow their hair to air dry and embrace its natural wave. Most French woman go bare-skinned with nothing but a bold red lip or a winged cat eye (never both) for makeup. The resulting effect is a big sister coolness that’s achingly stylish.
Best of all is the accessibility. The key items can easily be thrifted, and the outfits are simple enough to try for even the most fashion-timid of souls. So the next time you’re heading out on the town, or just meeting someone for lunch, channel some Parisian and don’t be surprised if you get a few “Ooh la las!” from your friends!