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french girl style

wardrobe staple: black blazer

wardrobe staple: black blazer

I'm feeling a post about wardrobe basics everyone should have coming on, but in the meantime, here's one of my staples. This blazer (from the French label ba&sh) was a splurge for me. I was lucky enough to play on the St. Louis Symphony's last European tour, and with a little extra income and a few days in Paris tacked on at the end, I decided I wanted to buy a "have-it-forever" kind of item. 

When I'm not pregnant, the blazer actually fastens in the front ;) and creates a lovely waist-defining (again, you have to take my word for it) little peplum. There is a tiny bit of structure in the shoulders, but in general, it's more feminine than your typical sharp blazer, which I love. 

Like anything that I'm spending a significant amount of money on, I want it to be very versatile. Whenever I feel like I need to look dressed up, but don't want to wear a dress, I always reach for this blazer with black pants or jeans and a great necklace. If I'm in the mood for a dress, it adds a little structure and an extra layer. I get compliments every time I wear it, another sign of a good investment! This jacket definitely has the feeling of a piece that a French woman would have in her (tiny) wardrobe.

Do you have a go-to blazer or jacket? What's the last thing you splurged on?

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style icon(s): french vogue editors

style icon(s): french vogue editors

Do you have dark skinny jeans or pants? Do you have a blazer? How about a scarf? Boots? Congrats, you have the wardrobe of a French fashion editor! It's been a while since we've had a style icon post - and this one is a really a package deal, starting with the queen bee of French fashion editors: Carine Roitfeld.

carine roitfeld.png

Carine was editor-in-chief of French Vogue until she left in 2011, when she was succeeded by her fashion director, Emanuelle Alt, below.


Alt and her team (she's most often seen with Geraldine Saglio and Capucine Safyurtlu) have a very similar style and seem to travel in a pack.

The hallmarks of the French Vogue editor style are: skinny pants (and apparently legs to match!), navy, black, neutrals, blazers and jackets, scarves, and high-heeled boots or pumps. Nothing too trendy, nothing too colorful.

What I also find interesting is that although many people attending these shows take the opportunity to dress to the nines (read: outlandishly), these women wear what appears to be a daily uniform and manage to look more chic than the rest put together. How very French of them! Apparently, not even pregnancy can keep them from their favorite silhouette!

geraldine saglio via

geraldine saglio via

A wardrobe of mostly neutrals is not for everyone, but it does make getting dressed a lot easier. I just had a conversation with a friend who had recently traveled to Europe for 10 days. She said she only brought neutrals and never worried about what to wear.

What do you think - do these French girls look boring or chic?  

For more mindful closet style icons, click here.

french wardrobe perfection

 I was a senior in high school the year the movie Before Sunrise came out. The story of a guy and a girl meeting on a train in Europe and spending the night wandering around Vienna together was pretty much what I was hoping would happen to me once I was out on my own (yeah, no). I loved that movie and I loved its sequel, Before Sunset, which caught up with Jessie and Celine nine years later. The third movie in the set, Before Midnight, was just released this summer.

Before Sunrise  (image)

Before Sunrise (image)

I loved the first two movies and can't wait to see the third, but what's relevant for this blog is Celine's wardrobe in each movie. In each one, she only wears one outfit, and each one is stunningly simple and French and chic and timeless and able to hold up under any circumstances.

Before Sunset  (image)

Before Sunset (image)

Before Sunset  (image)

Before Sunset (image)

Even though we know the films take place over one 24 hour period, the wardrobe illustrates perfectly that French concept of sticking with a few perfect pieces and wearing them repeatedly.

Before Midnight  (image)

Before Midnight (image)

book review: lessons from madame chic

book review: lessons from madame chic

I first went to Europe when I was 16, on a Portland Youth Philharmonic tour, after which I met up with my (stylish) grandma, my sister Miranda, and my cousin Amy for more sight-seeing. This was in the days before everyone had internet (wow, I'm old), so it was my first experience outside of movies and magazines seeing European style. I spent the entire trip trying to dissect what made the women there look so different and so much more sophisticated than American women. Here's what I came up with: they wore mostly neutrals - no hot pink here, they wore nice shoes ALL the time - no "walking" shoes, and they looked beautiful but didn't seem to be wearing any makeup.


My obsession with (specifically) French style hasn't abated since then, and I recently picked up a book that does the job I was trying to do - Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott

The author did a semester abroad in Paris living with the "Chic" family and assimilated all of her experiences into this book, which truly is a reference to keep on hand. This is real, practical, every-day advice for living the French life.

I won't give away all of the secrets, but there were a few points that I had to share.

The overarching philosophy of the book and of French culture is quality over quantity in everything: a philosophy I try hard to implement, but always need reminders here and there to bring me back to it. It's worth it to spend mindfully for quality food and clothing rather than on mindless eating and shopping. (BTW - this is the same argument used in Overdressed about ethical fashion - notice a theme?) The French would rather spend on these things than a fancy car or more square footage. This also applies to how you spend your your free time. Get out and explore your city instead of watching reality tv (guilty).

A major part of the book focuses on refining your wardrobe - down to 10 core items. I am so inspired to try this. The author notes how French people repeat items multiple times per week, which is a faux pas in America. I say get over it - people should have more to worry about than how many times you wore a particular item of clothing. For the most part, I wear 1 pair of black skinny pants, 1 pair of black bootcut pants, and one pair of dark skinny denim. I wouldn't miss the rest of it. Jennifer (yep, we're on a first name basis now) has a great list of "Wardrobe Assessment Questions" for helping weed out the excess.

One of my favorite chapters is about how French women are "bien dans sa peau", or comfortable in their own skin. It's something I couldn't put my finger on, but is so well described in the book. Try to imagine a French woman saying disparaging things about herself - it wouldn't happen! They seem to accept that their "flaws" make them who they are and are comfortable with them. Pointing them out to others only calls attention to them. I think about Charlotte Gainsbourg or my icon Sofia Coppola (yes, she's American, but pretty much an honorary French girl) - neither are conventionally beautiful, but they've embraced their uniqueness. I have a few friends (who will know who they are) who are absolutely gorgeous, yet don't allow themselves to see this because they are comparing themselves to others instead of recognizing their own beauty. I am certainly guilty of this sometimes (aren't we all?) but try to remind myself life is too short to spend energy on this. Most people are similarly focused on themselves and don't notice what I might consider to be a glaring flaw. Jennifer points out (and I've similarly made the point on this blog) that knowing your personal style makes this easier, that when you're confident in what works for you and what you love, you feel and look better.

There's much, much more inspiration (about makeup and exercise and entertaining) in the book. I'm inspired to make June my month of living well the French way. If you'd like more, Jennifer has a lovely blog full of wisdom, I started a "french girl style" board on Pinterest, and you can read my post about refining your personal style here

À bientôt