Monday, July 8, 2013

7 Tips For Looking Like the Average French Woman

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When talking French fashion, it’s usually all about what’s on the Paris runways or Hollywood red carpets.  There are plenty of blogs, magazines, and style television programs to make most of us feel like abject fashion failures.  After spending enough time in Dijon (“The Midwest of France!” should be its official motto) I’ve realized it’s not that hard to be that French woman you meet on the street, as opposed to that one on the runway or in Paris.

If you thought you might like to try on a bit of French style without dieting down to size 00 or strutting through the supermarket in 4-inch stilettos, have no fear.  Just pick a couple of these tips (#5 is the most difficult) and soon you’ll be showing that certain je ne sais quoi.  Your friends will start to wonder if you have a secret second home on the Continent.

1) Comfortable doesn’t have to be dull

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The unofficial motto of Dijon is “A Pied”  (“on foot”) because it’s citizens walk everywhere, except when they take the bus or tram.  However, that doesn’t mean the women clomp around in Nikes all day.  I firmly believe that these women have feet of steel from all that walking because none of their shoes show the slightest bit of arch support.  Ouch.

2) Black is the best color

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except when it isn’t

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Black may be the go-to color in Paris or the other larger cities, but around here variations of taupe work all year round (or gray in winter).  It seems to be the favorite of women past their twenties.  Like black, everything can go with it but it’s not as depressing.  Or you can just go wild with color and pretend you’re strolling along the Mediterranean.

3) The right accessories are essential

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4) There’s never an inappropriate place to wear a wedding dress

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Most weddings in town are held on Saturday.  The official marriage takes place at the city hall, then all the couples disperse throughout the city for church ceremonies.  It can be a wonderfully festive day, what with brides filling the streets as they walk to the marriage court and bells pealing all afternoon and into the evening after the church weddings.

5) Eat this for lunch

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Not this 

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6) You don’t need high-tech moisture-wicking fabric and expensive footwear before you get up and move your body.  Or a gym membership.  You can even ride your bike in a flowing skirt.

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Sunday afternoon is the day for promenades.  Everyone gets out and walks somewhere.  Or rides their bike.  It’s a family thing.  And it doesn’t require changing clothes or heavy sweating.
 
7) Start the training young.

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What’s your favorite bit of style advice?  Or what’s your worst experience from being a slave to fashion?  Tell us in the comments box.
 
And I’d like to direct everyone’s attention over to a special post written by one of my favorite bloggers.  Start on Annette Gendler’s blog to see photos of her grandparents’ home in the Czech Republic before World War II, then click over to her essay in the Wall Street Journal to get the full story.  It’s a touching memory of a place she had never been until long after her grandparents were gone.  Well worth your time.

11 comments:

Lee I said...

Got the dusty blue top, and the grey top and pants, mostly at market. (Did pop into a shop after market closed.) Now do I have the nerve to wear them in the US? All of us on a tour went there with black sweaters. Quite a bit of sorting from the car trunk of the car at every stop.

Julie Farrar said...

Yes, Lee. Be bold! Wear them in the U.S. and sound cool when you casually say "I picked this up in France."

Nadine Feldman said...

I've never understood how French women can move so darn fast in those shoes. Whenever we've gone to Paris, I try to find a pair of comfy shoes that look chic, and I just end up tearing up my feet no matter what I do! Sigh. I will forever be style challenged!

elizabethfais said...

Great post, Julie. I especially enjoyed the insight into the French wedding customs.

4) There’s never an inappropriate place to wear a wedding dress

Priceless!

Tami Clayton said...

I love the practice of taking Sunday walks. It reminds me of the passeggiata taken every evening in Italy. I wish it were more common in the U.S. to do so.

Liv said...

I could totally live there, because I love to walk, though I would have to work on the other stuff on your list (particularly #5!).
:)

SharonStruth said...

That was great fun! European women, in general, interest me when it comes to their fashion. Each country is different but those french women are a style of their own. I always feel kind of large and clunky in their presence but learned that in Germany I fit in like a native...but my cover is blown once I open my mouth :-). enjoyed the post!

SharonStruth said...

That was great fun! European women, in general, interest me when it comes to their fashion. Each country is different but those french women are a style of their own. I always feel kind of large and clunky in their presence but learned that in Germany I fit in like a native...but my cover is blown once I open my mouth :-). enjoyed the post!

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks for reading, Sharon. In France, I'm now more or less mistaken for a native and people stop me to ask directions or start a conversation at the bus stop, but like with you the illusion is gone when I open my mouth.

And Liv, you must go there and start working on the other stuff.

MuMuGB said...

My advice would be: keep it simple. And even if you are wearing a simple T-shirt, wear it with pride ! Of, and it seems to me that you are becoming more French by the day.

Julie Farrar said...

I'm working on it, Muriel. However, I don't think I'll ever completely embrace their perspective on eating. I don't need to be as skinny as some of these French women with zero thighs or butt. But I'm coming closer.

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