STYLE: Secrets of French Style

By Susan "Honey" Good

French photographer Garance Doré understands Parisian panache. And, she expertly chronicles it in her book, Love Style Life.  So, what's the secret of French style? Garance sums up French style to in three words: "Elegance is refusal."

What does that mean? It means that attitude not attire is the key differentiator in the often imitated, seldom replicated style of the chicest Parisian women. 

I have been to Paris many times and it is a city that I truly love. 

Paris is a woman’s city, glamorous and amorous! It is champagne and foie gras, couture and fragrances, French nighties mixed with music and love, beautiful parks and stunning historic buildings, museums, the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, outdoor parks and markets filled with fresh beautiful flowers and fresh delicious fruits, the Seine, and the Louvre housed with many of my favorite French artists. Paris is the OOH LA LA, the frosting on the cake…a city that takes your breath away! (Read my story about the 5 places you must visit in Paris here.)

And its women have a style all of their own, often described as "French Style," the secrets of which are rather simple to emulate with these tips...

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Black and White "Breton Stripes" are an absolute hallmark of French style. Did you know that the the Breton stripe was first introduced by French Law in 1858 to locate overboard sailors?

My outfit above is a colorful take on the Breton Stripe, purchased in France on a recent visit to Nice! (The not so "nice" details of my air travel ordeal on that journey are here.)

Keep it Simple

Minimal accessories and streamlined pieces are keys to French style.

Flats + Moderate Heels

Running around cobblestone streets requires chic but low-heeled shoes. Dear readers, my love for heels is well-chronicled and even I must admit that French women seem to wear flats everywhere, never looking frumpy.

How do they do it? They often pair flats with a cropped pant that is slim, such as a cigarette pant. Slim cuffs on pants also elongate legs and flatter flats. Finally, wearing flats that are simple and minimal in neutral tones (minus all the American fluff), is a lovely way to look chic. 

Would you embrace French style?  On special days, I do. Why not? In the wise words of Coco Chanel, "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."