Do You Speak French?
France and French style has always been close to my heart ever since I picked up a copy of French Vogue as a nine year old on holiday. What was it that was so FAB about that image of a tanned young woman with a short brown bob in white, flowing 80s garb and leggings that spoke to me in that moment? Was it because I was looking for something and someone to identify with at that tender age? Part of me wanted to look like that girl and inhabit her carefree, apparently dazzling world for sure. Another part of me thought it could well be possible one day, being a brunette myself, with a bob (albeit a curlier one) and a Mediterranean look. But looking back, it was so much more than this. In that very moment this image was a powerful visual semaphore of how I thought life could be for a young, independent woman and the insouciant, slightly daring style that went with it. I was hooked.
Social media and especially InstaGram is awash with French and Parisian styling. From the real Parisian ‘It Girls’ such as Jeanne Damas, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Josephine De La Baume, to big fashion blogging names and their take on French chic. There’s the pared-back grey t-shirt, blazer, jeans and converse brigade complete with bed hair and a cigarette to match. And then the more feminine ditties of patterned dresses with bare legs and ballet shoes posing with a glass of red in an unknown bistro – it’s all there for inspiration and it’s certainly fun to look at.
Though this kind of styling is my favourite and appeals big time, I was initially hesitant to do this on MY blog. Firstly, it’s January and after Christmas I’m currently a healthy, curvy (slightly out of shape due to lack of vigorous exercise) size 10 with a tummy to boot. I hesitated in bringing up weight and size in this piece (so easily misconstrued a subject) but there’s no skirting the issue and I’m talking honestly about myself and no one else here. As a 44 year old with curves, I just didn’t think I could do the waifish Parisian look and in some respects I can’t. Well not the one that’s done so frequently on Social Media. And anyway, why would I try to replicate what everyone is doing already, and well? Flats don’t really do me justice at all (even when I’m at my slimmest) and wrap dresses with a lot of material (a bit like the trench dress you’ll see later) look wonderful on a bird-like frame but not as flattering on someone with a bust and athletic shoulders, like me.
Oui, C’est Moi
So this post is my version of Oooh La La la. I’m channelling a little bit of Isabelle Huppert here and also Catherine Deneuve in their many brilliant films – both screen Goddesses who still look incredible well into their 60s and 70s. This is certainly more Rive Droite (Right Bank Paris) than Rive Gauche (Left Bank), more ‘done’ than ‘undone’. Smart, rather than bohemian. Rive Droite is Haute Bourgeoisie, primped and well-groomed as opposed to studenty and carefree, which I’ll be bringing you next week…So DIT MOI what you think?
Rive Droite – The Neutral French Palette – Black, Charcoal, Taupe and Navy
I’ve covered these lovely colour combinations before on Sashdujour – see my previous post Wearing the Trousers. I’m a big fan of colour therapy. Yes navy, blacks and camel colours are more conservative and sober but are infinitely easy on the eye when you want something more soothing to wear.
So the black knitted skirt from Zara in the picture above, reminds me of late designer’s Azzedine Alaia’s gorgeous designs. They were timeless in many respects and truly celebrated the female form. May he RIP. I never thought a short skirt and top combo would suit me but the nipped in waist is flattering and form-fitting top creates more shape, avoiding bulk. Black and charcoal is always a chic match to my mind and slimming too of course. The lace on the top alludes to lingerie but the bow keeps it demure and balances out the length of the mini skirt. I love…
Nude, patent shoes are a stylist’s ultimate tool for leg lengthening and these are my current faves from Kurt Geiger – the black ombre heel is just the business, don’t you think?. Now I wouldn’t normally go bare-legged with this get-up but as we were inside for the photos it worked well. Bare legs is also a ‘thing’ on Insta currently and particularly on the French feeds, so I thought I’d try it. The French make it look oh SO sexy as if it were a sartorial middle finger to those judging them. And I kinda like that. As women we need MORE of that, especially in the current climate where women of all backgrounds and ages are finding their voices, facilitated by social media.
The Parisian Trench
I instantly fell in love with this dress on the Zara website. It’s an obvious homage to the classic beige trench coat but it’s resolutely a DRESS and not a coat! I think it’s cute and would be perfect for a smart lunch out or a work drinks or a blog photoshoot! 😉 Throughout, I’ve worn the gold hooped earrings and Cesar pendant from the Lucy Williams x Missoma range. I treated myself to these last year as I don’t have much proper, ‘grown up’ jewellery and wanted something I could wear with everything. They really do match most outfits and I’ve had lots of comments on them. They’re great quality too – I’m a fan.
Trench Dress | Zara (sold out but similar here ) Shoes & Jewellery | As before Leather Bag | Pre-owned Gap at Ebay
The French Navy Silk Shirt
I’ve come to realise that every woman should have a silk shirt in their wardrobe. It’s so EASY to wear, especially if it’s well cut and fluid like this H&M premium one I’m wearing here. I bought it in the Autumn sale for some ridiculously bargainous price on their website and was thrilled when I put it on. I think it’s the colour more than anything. A deep navy which is far more flattering than black near the face area and looks very chic Parisian mother to my mind. I’ll be wearing this lots with leather leggings, jeans and maybe even a pencil skirt come spring.
Thanks for stopping by friends. Look forward to bringing you a more patterned, bohemian palette of dresses next week in Part Two of French Dressing. Tune in mes amies. xxx
Many thanks to the fabulous Katie Knight-Adams for the photos and brilliant make up artist Becky Kempton on this shoot
Silk Shirt | H&M (sold out but similar here ) Earrings & Necklace | As before