3 "French Girl" Style Essentials (feat. Everlane)
As I write this, my laptop and I are nestled in a newly opened French cafe and patisserie. Not actually in France, sadly, but if I avert my eyes from the snow-lined streets of Calgary, I can almost believe it.
The fragrance of eclairs and croissants is like something out of a novel, and the cafe owner has just served me a cup of white rose petal tea. Real French tea. It’s fantastic, he says, his musical French accent unmistakable. But don’t be expecting anything like David’s Tea down the street. This flavour is much more subtle.
The staff are speaking French to each other, flitting back and forth between the kitchen (which I’m sitting right next to — he’s just passed me with a tray of fresh pastries) and the front counter. We begin talking about the space. We wanted to be different, he says, coming to stand next to me. The other cafes in Calgary — they’re lovely, but they all look the same. So I designed this myself. He gestures towards the white moulding on the walls, his eyes crinkling. Very Parisian.
As you’ll read below, I’m a woman of phases, of seasons. A year ago, I wanted to be a Parisian cool-girl more than anything. While that phase has slowly ebbed, sitting here in this cafe — which I did not even realize was French before I walked in — I remember why I was so captivated by the culture.
Whether or not you are also intrigued by this people and their sense of style, I hope you enjoy this blog post. I believe we can each take something away from the ideals of French style, even if the end result does not look at all like Jean Damas’s Instgram (which, admittedly, is fabulous).
Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to reading each one xx
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret: the witty, poetic book that single-handedly made me want to become French girl.
I remember the first time I picked out the book among a stack of others and flipped through the pages. The short, lyrical paragraphs. The artfully grainy photos of red-lipped women, of rain on a window, summer dresses and navy sweaters. My heartbeat quickened, my thoughts began to race. I felt the first prickling of the itch, the flighty internal desire to once again shed my skin and take on a new one.
You see, every so often, I become a different person. In a manner of speaking.
I am fascinated by lifestyles, by fashion subcultures, by different and idyllic ways of being in this world. I observe them, try them on, walk around in them for a while, see if they fit. Then move on to the next one.
For a while, I felt guilty about this. I thought it made me disingenuous, or that I didn’t truly know who I was. Then it dawned on me one day: this is something I have so little control over, that this inner chameleon of mine — this aesthetic shape shifter — is who I am. And perhaps embracing my phases is the only truly authentic thing to do.
To illustrate: there was a time not so long ago when I was a complete slow living muse — I dressed in shapeless linens, artfully styled tabletops, and always had expensive arrangements of fresh flowers in my home. Soon after, a time when I became a minimalist both in practice and aesthetic, and refused to wear any colour (including beige), painting my world monochrome (perhaps 2016 did that to everyone, though). Next, it was warm, deserty vibes with succulents and shades of terra cotta and chunky, earth-coloured necklaces.
And then came the Parisian phase.
Yes, this would be my new costume. I wanted to be a French girl.
I found freedom in their attitude toward beauty. The French philosophy about embracing your natural looks, your ‘flaws,’ gave me a newfound confidence in my pale skin and asymmetrical face that I hadn’t known before. I wore less makeup (but more red lipstick). Listened to French music. Watched Amelie and fell in love. I let my hair air-dry more and used less heat on it. Even tried a couple different “French girl” hair cuts (some of which were more flattering than others). I even happened to befriend a woman who recently moved to Calgary from France, and it took everything within me not to seem like an overly enthusiastic fangirl. But above all, I longed to visit Paris. Not to see the sights, really. Not to take a tour bus or see the Louvre or anything like that. Just to be there, with the people. To sit on a patio, sipping tea and studying the kind of life they live. To wear a flowery dress and hold a straw handbag and pretend I was one of them, at least for a day.
Today, it seems that this phase is mostly past (as they all do, in time). Not completely perhaps, but it’s certainly no longer an obsession. I never made it to Paris (though I’d still like to see it someday)… and Japan is now at the top of my travel list. I am not entirely sure what phase I’m in now; it’s less clear. Lots of beige and vintage blazers, obviously. But also Japanese pop music. And anime movies. So maybe a Japanese phase? While I won’t be embracing Kawaii anytime soon, I’m enjoying this odd concoction of influences I’ve mixed for myself. Going with the flow, one might say.
But there are a few ideals of “French Girl” living and style that I am not quite ready to let go of, because I do believe that they have value. Especially in terms of one’s wardrobe. The French girl was the original woman of slow fashion, in a way. She values vintage items, items that are passed down from mothers and grandmothers. She prefers quality over quantity in most cases, a small wardrobe that she wears and re-wears. Versatile basics, with a few fun accent pieces. The French version of a capsule wardrobe.
I am by no means an expert on French living, style, or culture. I’ve read the books, the blogs, seen the YouTube videos, but I realize that much of it is perhaps idealized and exaggerated. Certainly fast fashion plays a large role in Parisian street style. And yet, I think the books and articles are all saying the same message — that the French woman, the one we all want to be and love, wears high-quality, classic pieces on repeat (without looking overly put together — think effortless chic). And a slash of red lipstick, of course. Always.
While everyone will have their own idea of French style “essentials” (read: trench coat, an item I’m coveting right now), these three items in particular kept popping up in my research. So, here are 3 “French Girl” basics that you can find at Everlane.
The 3-piece french girl capsule
A Cashmere Sweater
If you only own one sweater, darling, let it be cashmere.
I’m not sure if a French woman has ever said that to her granddaughter, but I could imagine it. Timeless, versatile, and warm, a cashmere sweater is the ideal cool-weather top. While they require a bit more TLC than your cotton sweatshirt, the efforts are worth it when you’re wrapped in its soft, luxurious embrace. Wear it oversized and slouchy or close-fitting and slim. It’s thin enough to wear to work without looking frumpy, and natural fibres breath better than artificial blends like acrylic.
Shop Everlane’s cashmere collection here.
I’m wearing the Oversized Cashmere V-Neck in oatmeal, size small.
2. a pair of little black jeans
Slim black jeans may just be the most versatile denim. They work hard for you and look classy while doing it. Try a high-waisted cigarette jean for an Audrey-Hepburn inspired look (like these) or a long skinny jean for a flattering, date-night ready outfit (like these).
Shop Everlane’s denim collection here.
I’m wearing the Authentic Stretch High-Rise Skinny Button Fly in size 27 (fits true to size).
3. a pair of comfy block heels
A French girl is never complete without a pair of trusty heels that can carry her over the cobblestone streets to work and back. Among her other shoe favourites — espadrilles, white sneakers, and ballet flats — the block heel adds a touch of class and professionalism to an otherwise casual outfit. She’s more likely to wear these with a sweater and jeans than a flowery dress.
These Day Heels from Everlane are the epitome of comfort. The elastic heel backing means no more painful blisters, and the shorter heel ensures you can walk for hours with happy feet. Shop Everlane’s heel collection here.
I’m wearing the Day Heel in natural suede, size 8 (fits true to size).
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this fun little post! Let me know if you agree or disagree with these essentials, and if you’ll be trying any of them. Until the next post, take care!
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