LESSONS IN FRENCH
There’s just something about the French woman’s approach to fashion that has always inspired me. The celebration of fashion as art, worship of classics yet also just a touch of frivolity and unexpectedness, to me that’s what fashion is all about. They have achieved that all illusive sense of timelessness, one that no matter what trend passes is a look that remains eternally in style.
I recently rediscovered a series on Youtube that I watched a while ago, the videos are created by British Vogue and are basically a rummage through someone’s wardrobe. Such a simple premise but I freaking LOVE it. From going through clothes like they are memories, the excitement of both the presenter and subject when they dig up a gem, and that nostalgic home catwalk trying on just for the sake of trying on. They talk about the feel of the clothes, and how they make you feel which, to me, is how we should dress.
In a sense, the French are almost the founders of the slow fashion movement. French style is built on quality classics that are worn over and over and confidently styled in many different ways. They love vintage shopping and discovering pieces that have had a prior life. This is the spin on sustainable fashion that I love, but I think people often don’t see it when they are clouded by the ‘hemp-hippie’ stereotype.
My favourite of the Vogue series is this one featuring Camille Rowe for her playfulness and quirky eclectic vintage wardrobe. The expression on her face when she tries on a fabulous pink Dior blazer (fast forward to 3:50) is just what fashion is all about to me.
It’s about honouring key pieces that are special to you in some way, whether they remind you of something, they embody what you are all about, or they are what you feel like putting on day after day to feel like yourself. It’s a personal approach, just like Camille’s addition of the bandana to the Vuitton bag, a simple gesture that puts your own flavour to it just spells ‘French chic’.
Caroline de Maigret is quintessential French je ne sais quoi, she echos this same sentiment, “you just have to learn looking at yourself in the mirror and then you go ‘ok, do this and you have this little attitude, and you feel good.’” You can tell her wardrobe has come to be through years of gathering special pieces, that all now remain along with the memories of where she has worn them.
I truly think that the first step in having a more sustainable mindset in regard to fashion is by first reinforcing your appreciation for fashion. The more you celebrate style, design and the beauty of the craft with the same sense of fun and adoration as the French you grow away from trends and throwaway pieces. Instead, fill your wardrobe like the French with pieces of quality, staples that are versatile and unique vintage finds to add flair.