If I could sum up their style in one word, it would be RESTRAINT.
Everything is understated, held back, and one item less than what you think you might need.
Coco Chanel has famously stated to look in the mirror every morning before you leave, and remove one accessory.
That is the epitome of what French chic is.
The piece that is showcased is exactly that – the piece that is showcased; it can be complemented by other pieces but the star is never outshone.
For instance, if you have a dress, wear just the dress without any accessories and a simple pair of sandals.
Feel uncomfortably under-accessorized? Now you’ve hit on French Chic.
Maybe you have this great graphic t-shirt you want to wear. Wear it just with jeans and ballet flats with your hair up in a chignon. Throw a blazer over it if you feel like you need to be a little more dressed up, and stop.
I personally would add a ring to the entire look but earrings in this case, would be too much, as it’d take away from your focus piece: your t-shirt.
Other things that would describe being French chic (and not necessarily what I ascribe to in dressing)?
Minimal colour popping (even a red handbag or red flats would be too much, think smaller. MUCH SMALLER.).. but I have seen French girls wear a really brightly coloured dress, and some simple sandals. No accessories except some shades.
Everything in neutrals: black, dark brown, ivory, cream, white, navy blue, beige, taupe and grey being their staples.
No prints (if you have printed anything, it better be a tiny, TINY print)
No mixing and matching of prints or colours. Keep it to a monochromatic scheme.
Nothing too literally French: Red flats, jeans and a stripe top with a *gasp* beret? You might as well scream “poseur”.
Minimal makeup is also the key. Either the lips, or the eyes but never both, and even better if you do neither and just wear a BIT of blush.
This is the reason why many French wardrobes are so spare and if they buy things, it has to go with the ONE jacket in their wardrobe, or the ONE pair of fabulous pants that they own and wear to death.
So, do I follow all of the above?
It depends on my mood. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I don’t really like black THAT much (I’m warming back up to wearing it), but I’ve noticed that my colour palette as I have aged into Mommy territory has started toning down a bit.
I still do things like match yellow with teal, but less often. Nowadays, I am more apt to wear ivory with grey and navy blue with my necklace as the bright colour pop.
I can’t help but be influenced by what I see, but I’ve also noticed that my colour palette is very strongly in the territory of: navy / cobalt / midnight blues, greys of all flattering shades for my skintone, and all sorts of creams and whites. Those are my three staple colours and I never veer too far off the mark.