Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How come the French are so chic?

It starts right at the beginning...that French sense of style.

In the bassinet.

Is it any wonder they have a leg up on us (and a very thin leg).

This little girl, walking with her mom, is smartly dressed in a chic dark navy 'sheer' pleated skirt.

Take her a few years forward. Add a tan belt and tan bag et voila. The classic navy schoolgirl dress is the epitome of simple chic.

I love the independence and confidence of this four(?) year old walking down the street on her own.

But never crossing the street on her own by the way. *Note the scarf treatment.

My mom didn't bother tying my scarf correctly as a toddler. No wonder it's still a mess.

French grownups love copying their kid's pigtails.

The braid, no matter how thin or scraggly will always be IN.

The French take US motifs and make them look chic not tacky.

Why is that?

They love their hats. A mom with two kids in Office Depot school shopping was wearing a Michael Jackson black fedora hat. I wish I'd shot that picture. The H and M posters around town are Michael Jackson poses btw.

The day after 'Labor Day' all-white plus straw hat. Why not?

Across the street all-black on this rail-thin older French woman.

This French woman isn't giving up her Summer clothes just yet.

This satchel is for kids or grownups?

An homme d'affair (business man) carrys almost the same bag. Not so chic but a continuation of school days gear. As far as taste buds go the French are light years ahead from the get-go. Pierre Hermé has a 'new kid on the block' to try - the Dépaysé. A green macaron 'sandwich' flavored with thé vert Matcha, gingimbre, aduki beans and citron vert. Miam maim
At least we can eat chic.


  1. Augh! You are right. It's so not fair. I worked as an au pair in France and my two little charges regularly wore dresses that needed to be hand washed. I just about fainted every time they dribbled yaourt down the front of their embroidered blouses. As an American I had never seen such beautiful children's clothing worn on a daily basis. Yep. They're born that way.

    1. Close up and personal. Love this story Connie!
      I do marvel at the kids clothing stores especially on rue Vavin.

  2. Isn't it because of the way they are brought up?

    With an almost "duty," to always keep themselves presentable, to the world...

    _Never_ having it be "ok," to not put their best-foot-forward..

    And because of this over-riding way-of-life, always being able to carry themselves with confidence... Never having to slink around, to do an errand, "without being seen"...

    A habit begun in childhood, can carry them through a life time.



    1. No I don't think it's that.
      It's a matter of aesthetics as I see it.
      Beauty counts.

  3. Tinny2:15 PM

    Ohhhh... This is a tricky question! If we could answer it, wouldn't we all look as awesome as the French?

    I think you are right in saying thta beauty counts, but I also think that there needs to be the absence of a feeling of frivolousness. Personally, I come from a place where just a couple of generations ago a lot of people _seriously_ frowned upon caring about your looks and how you dressed. There's even a saying that pretty much goes "only ugly people need to wear pretty clothes"! So I think there needs to be the space for dressing nicely without others thinking it weird or basically reacting to it in any way as out of the ordinary. And as the cherry on top of all that chicness, you yourself have to be a bit nonchalant about it all, not seem like you have made an effort or spend hours thinking about what you're going to wear.

    1. Yes being effortless is key. That's why the white T and jeans works so well here.
      Add a name bag or shoes et voila.

  4. It does count. Life is more attractive overall when we try to appreciate the aesthetic, n'est ce pas?

    1. It doesn't hurt a bit to be surrounded by beauty either like in Paris...the architecture...patterns...colors. All influence.

  5. Yup, they are chic, and sadly the Brits and the Yanks are very rarely so.
    I am not chic - I went to St Tropez when I was 17 and nearly died of mortification. In Florence we used to guess the nationalities of the tourists before we heard them speak....
    English dowdy, FRENCH CHIC, Americans comfortably clad in too loud colors and sneakers..... and therefore embarrassing.
    I buy Gretchen absurdly expensive French clothes which her mother puts on her when I go there...I think they hang in the cupboard the rest of the time!
    I still long to be chic but fear those days are long past.....ox luckily Buster doesn't care!

    1. BUSTER is trés chic! Effortless in mud or the rain. Always chic.

  6. Maureen4:45 PM

    The French seem to be getting more casual every year but somehow their version of casual remains chic. Even when they wear runners/sneakers it is a whole different look than the US version. May I ask if there are any fat people in Paris. It's been 10 years since I was there and I wondered if that had crept in as it seems to have in the UK and Ireland Growing up over there I rarely saw a fat person but food! Our worst export!

    1. Yes malheuresuement obesity is on the rise from eating out rotten fast food exports ;(
      But they are very sportive...constantly jogging and swimming...outdoorsy activities.
      And they do eat at set times rather than snacking nonstop thru-out the day like Bear ;((

  7. Well..It's a hard call:)
    I see French programs that not everyone looks like what you regale us with:)
    They look like everyone..everywhere:)You must only shoot the best:)
    We watch French TV all the time..
    If I go downtown Montreal here..everyone seems chic to me too.
    I looked positively dowdy today out with our youngest grandson.
    I caught myself in a mirror that does not reflect as well as ours..:)
    Early September is so OFF to's September..the light has changed..the fashion should change but it's like in the 80's..full sun.If it's fall attire..September is not reflecting it:)
    I have stored my straw market bags..most whites..etc.. all looked off in the dressing room with my 5 yr old grandson that looked amazing in everything he tried on:)
    I think in how you feel.
    I do.
    Give someone a true resplendent smile.
    Or caring eyes.

    1. Of course it's all relative. And big cities...NYC or Paris or London..there's more effort put out.
      Bien sur. but the basic tenents of chic are French.
      C'est comme ça
      If you're French you can be chic in almost's about style. How you wear your clothes not what they are..hats etc.
      Look at Charlotte makeup, messy hair...but chic
      It doesn't hurt to be impossibly thin.

  8. Just don't wear that upside down flag T shirt in the USA! Not a good sign.

    1. Ha! I didn't even notice. It's turned clockwise. Is that a sin? It's the design/form silly. Not the content that counts.

  9. Oh I'm confused. The last post said never wear a hot, this post lots of hat wearers.

    1. The last post was posted by mistake. The French now do wear hats in winter And summer. The knitted bauble hat for instance last winter.

    2. Hat or no hat. do what you want.
      I'm just showing you my observations.
      They are not carved in stone and why should you copy anyway.
      We're not French.

  10. Loving this look at French style -- so chic and the kids are adorable. Why do I think that if I put on the same thing I'd just look like a dowdy Americaine trying to look French?

  11. personally i do not the french at any age have more style or look more chic than a new yorker .. it is all in my opinion about how one carries oneself ….

  12. cyndi from SD10:42 AM

    Loved your post,and all the comments.

  13. Janine1:12 PM

    Love love vos petits reportages !!!!!! Merci !

  14. I love the thin look :) The women look great in the simple fashions - jeans & Converse, - perfect!
    The kids do seem to have a sense of confidence; and it's great that they carry that over into adulthood.

  15. I love their clothes! This is a great article. When I went to Europe I loved how people dressed in complete outfits! Not like Americans who come to school in pajamas. You don't need to be a complete fashionesta but show some effort!

  16. I know the French have scarf tying genes that we were not given.

    1. It's not GENETIC. They stick a scarf on newborns 1st thing.
      Plain and simple. It ever stops from there on.

  17. YEs, they are indisputably chic! Such a shame that so few Americans give much thought to their turnout....even the work shirt and jeans can look quite chic! I, however, have the perfect excuse for failing to look chic today: It was 95 degrees with so much humidity that the "feels-like" temp was over 100. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

  18. Love these candid glimpses! It seems the French don't worry about trends - somehow they just have style - which transcends trends. I especially admire the attention paid to what their children are wearing - you are right when you say it starts early!

  19. Carol,what a wonderful post! Such great pictures!
    I love navy and it has always played a big part in my wardrobe. One of my favorite recollections in Paris -- its fashions --were blue jeans,white tee, blazer(and scarf)!
    Needless to say(!)Now (of course) Pierre Herme! Miam is right!

  20. Can you believe now that you had to think hard before deciding to move to Paris?

  21. Wonderful post, lovely photos! :)


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