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5 Simple Tips from The French Women’s Style Playbook

By Susan Cox May 21, 2022 Makeup and Fashion

Style! It’s so personal, which is why I love working with women to define, develop and perfect their unique and distinct looks. And I especially love working with women 60 and older! Whether you’re retired, working, or somewhere in-between, how you feel and look matters!

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.

Coco Chanel

Simple and comfortable are key when curating looks, and nobody does this better than the French. The French woman invests in quality over quantity and isn’t afraid to mix casual with dressy. Her looks are timeless and versatile.

Style shouldn’t be difficult, ever. Let’s take a page or two from the French woman’s style playbook and discover the five simple tips that you can weave into your wardrobe!

French Style History Lesson

French style history

But first, let’s take a quick look into how the French became (and still are) known as one the fashion capitals of the world.

Going back to the 17th Century, King Louis XIV, reigning from 1643 to 1715, is largely responsible for creating the business of fashion. It was well known that King Louis revered fashion, and he expected all classes, from nobility to the lower class to share his passion for dressing well. He used his power to establish strict dress codes for his special events.

During his reign, not only did King Louis XIV set the standard for France’s style status, but he also established criteria for food, drink, and even interior design. His lavish taste was quite evident in the Palace of Versailles.

Fast forward to the 19th century and the birth of haute couture – the French word for dressmaking was born. Started by Charles Frederick Worth, he opened the first courtier house in Paris, creating custom outfits for clients.

Enter the soon-to-be style superstar Coco Chanel, who removed the traditional women’s undergarment, the extremely uncomfortable corset that forced women’s upper body to fit into a particular shape. She replaced this constricted style with free-flowing, loose and comfortable designs that defined the flapper era in the roaring 20s.

Following Chanel, many style icons emerged in Paris, the likes of Hubert de Givenchy and Yves St. Laurent. As you can see, the roots of style run deep in France.

Let’s get started with the five simple tips!

Quality Over Quantity

quality vs. quantity

Of course, buy what your budget allows. Quality over quantity is key to a functional wardrobe. Whatever you spend, making the investment in quality clothing is smart for several reasons. Creating a closet of quality pieces serves as your style foundation because of the quality fabrics and detailed construction. You’ll enjoy not only the quality but the versatility of these pieces for many years.

More is not always better when it comes to clothing. A closet full of clothes that you don’t wear can be stressful. We certainly don’t want stress to be any part of our style. You’ll be amazed at how many great outfits you can create when you have the right pieces.

Try a new perspective about how you view your clothes. Your clothes should make you feel happy on or off the hanger. Think of them as a treasured commodity such as a favorite artwork or a piece of furniture you love.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Casual with Dressy

Put an interesting twist on your style. Get creative and weave fancy with sporty. This is a great way to shake up your look.

For example, the iconic trench coat (a definite must-have in the French woman’s wardrobe) can be worn over a simple t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Or opt for flats instead of heels with your dress and add a denim jacket to finish off the look.

Combining fancy and casual gets your creative juices flowing and you can really have fun with how to put them together. I encourage you to try this and see how you too can create simple and elegant looks with what you have in your closet!

Layering Image

Layering for the Win

There’s so much to love about layering. The simple addition of a third piece to an outfit can make your look effortless and timeless. You can easily remove or put the piece back on depending on varying temperatures.

Layering when done using vertical lines can add length. When selecting your layering pieces, make sure they have vertical lines as these lines lead the eye upward for a more slimming effect. Look for seams and even creases that are vertical in your pants, opt for vertical stripe tops and V-necklines and lines of buttons. All these help with the illusion of elongating.

Keep It Neutral

As part of the simple style that French women embrace, neutrals play a significant role in their wardrobe. While this may sound boring, it really isn’t because you can easily add pops of color with a brightly colored scarf, nail polish, or a bold lipstick.

Think of neutrals as your canvas and you can add any color you wish. The beauty of owning neutrals is they match so much, and this versatility creates so many outfit options. As we know, accessories can instantly change an outfit.

Your Go-To Essentials

The final tip is to keep your wardrobe simple with these must-haves:

  • a great pair of jeans
  • a tailored blouse
  • flats
  • a colorful scarf
  • a trench coat

A shout-out to the French for making these pieces so versatile on their own and worn together. Your options are endless for putting different looks together. You can add more bling to these essentials with accessories, top it off with a hat, don some sunglasses. You can also add some style elements simply by cuffing your sleeves, sporting a French tuck (half tuck).

I want you to get the absolute most out of your clothes. I’ll let you in on a tip I share with my clients – each piece of clothing you own or purchase should be able to create three outfits. The go-to essentials certainly pass this test.

You’re Ready

There you have it – the five simple tips from the French women’s style playbook. These are smart, simple, and easy ways to refresh and renew your style.

And speaking of style, if you’re not sure about yours, I’d love for you to take my style quiz and find out! You could also join my upcoming workshop: Love Your Reflection.

Do you love who you see in the mirror? Whom do you look up to when it comes to style? Which clothes in your wardrobe stress you?

Let's Have a Conversation!

The Author

Meet Susan Cox, Confidence Creator and Founder of Fiercely50ish where she has the privilege of helping Midlife women get visible with their style. Her mission is to show women just how magnetic they are and let their confidence shine through by what they wear today and forever.

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