Personal Style

Confession: I’m not fascinated by French style

Outfit #8 French Style

AND I’M FRENCH!

Don’t get me wrong though, I like French style. But what I don’t get is that exaggerated glamorization surrounding it. Living in the UK, you don’t know how many articles I’ve come across  inviting people to dress like [name that French girl]. To confirm my point, watch British Vogue video ‘Inside The Wardrobe of Caroline de Maigret’. While I’m not particularly fond of her style, I like her wit and the fact that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her book How To Be Parisian is the best proof to see it. But coming back to fashion, here is what she has to say on French Parisian style:

“What I understand from what people think what Parisian is and how I find myself to wear clothes. Yes, they’re basics that I put all the time again and again.”

“You just have to learn to looking at yourself in the mirror and then you go, you do this and you have this little attitude that is you. And you feel good.”

For me those two quotes sum up perfectly what French style is: being and knowing yourself. Now this said, the French style myth bores me because:

  • It’s only about Paris
  • It doesn’t represent what France is nowadays: a mixed country.

Yes I’m French and I know how to dress for my body and what flatters it. I’m also not that influenced by trends and like to invest in pieces that I will keep and wear again and again. But I’m not only that. If French style is all about neutral tones, I’m all about colours. If French style is all about understated jewellery, I’m all about big jewellery. If French style is all about France, I’m all about what makes me feel myself. Born in Cameroon, I spent my childhood there and it definitely has influenced the way I dress today. Same can be said about the years I spent in Italy, Germany and now in the UK. While I’ve integrated elements of style of each country I’ve lived in, this experience also helped me see how French style is considered in France and abroad.

Magazines want us to believe there are only two French women. The rock’n’roll Caroline de Maigret and, the classic editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Emmanuelle Alt. Thing is even within those two stereotypes, you can be sure that the French woman is Parisian, wears Isabel Marant, Saint Laurent, and shops at Le Bon Marché. Needless to say it’s a woman I’m absolutely not. I’m certainly French but I’ve grown up in Bordeaux and above all I’m black. And it does make a huge difference.

The concept of French style which by extension also desbribes the French woman annoys me because it is alienating. It doesn’t take in account the diversity existing in France. Discussing with other black friends, I’ve realized how conscious they are about not having a fro’, wearing a headscarf or, even worse just being black. As if it diminished the fact they were French. And society actually makes you feel so. While I’ve had my interview with my natural hair here in the UK, I’m not sure that would be the case in France.

I believe this kind of issue wouldn’t exist if French style was inclusive and evolved with time. Now the French woman is not only anymore a Caroline de Maigret or an Emmanuelle Alt. She can be black, oriental, from South America etc…Because style is cultural, you will have people like me with a different vision of what French style is simply because I have another cultural background. That’s why I find the idea of French style ironic. It’s about being and knowing yourself and yet because it’s so attached to Paris and a certain kind of woman it prevents women having different backgrounds to be themselves through style.

 

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

You Might Also Like

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Adrianna
    6th February 2017 at 7:25 pm

    I do think you raised some very interesting points and I what I thoroughly enjoyed most was hearing your personal experiences regarding the topic. It is very refreshing reading such an intelligently thought out piece and a differing opinion, rather than the generic blog posts I see mostly.

    I am not very well traveled (yet) and lack the experience to agree or disagree with your points regarding French style, so I read with an open mind. In relation to Caroline de Maigret, I think she always looks sophisticated polished but the way she dresses does not excite me. It wouldn’t have me turning heads as compared to other fashion icons she is quite boring (hello Miroslava Duma).

    Adrianna xx

    MimaMochi.com

    • Reply
      Emmanuelle
      6th February 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Hello Adrianna,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I’m glad you found the post well thought, it’s such a compliment for me!

      As for French style, I wanted to write something different about it because it has become such a trademark rather than a representation of French women… Well, Caroline de Maigret is the perfect stereotype of the French woman and just like you I find her style good but I’m not impressed. If I had to talk about French fashion icons I’d think about Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon. I love both their style though tbh it’s really hard to consider them models as they do not look like me. So again, it’s a problem of representation…

      Again thanks for stopping by,
      Emmanuelle xx

  • Reply
    Aria Di Bari
    8th February 2017 at 11:32 am

    Ce post est juste tellement vrai, j’avais aussi envie de parler de ce sujet depuis un moment sur mon blog, mais tu as fait la chose bien mieux que je ne l’aurais fait! A l’étranger, on m’a souvent parlé de l’élégance à la française ou du caractère des français, j’ai toujours tenté tant bien que mal d’expliquer qu’il ne s’agissait que de clichés parisiens. Il suffit d’aller dans le sud de la France pour voir à quel point le style peut changer. La France d’aujourd’hui est multiculturelle et étant moi même issu d’une famille multiculturelle, et tout comme toi, je ne m’associe pas du tout au style “français” dont tout les magazines étrangers parlent.

    • Reply
      Emmanuelle
      10th February 2017 at 1:24 am

      Bonsoie Aria,

      Merci beaucoup de ton commentaire.

      Ca me fait plaisir de savoir que je ne suis pas la seule française à penser ça ! Je suis tellement fatiguée de ces clichés parisiens. Je ne l’ai pas mentionné dans le post mais je note aussi que cette réputation du style français nous rend très prétentieux et peu ouverts à d’autres styles. Quand tu vois comment fonctionnent les ventes dans l’e-commerce pour les françaises, la majeure partie du temps elles n’achètent que du Isabel Marant et du Saint-Laurent, mais vraiment statistiquement c’est impressionnant ! Pour les femmes d’autres nationalités, ce n’est pas aussi marqué.

      J’ai tout de suite pensé que tu avais un background multiculturel à cause du nom de ton blog et, quand j’ai vu tes tenues ça m’a juste conforté dans mon idée.

    Leave a Reply