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  11. I think you look quite French in your engagement photos. Especially the one with you alone jumping with the balloon – I think this one looks especially French because the dress looks like an jumpsuit and therefore a bit more of a ‘fashion’ piece(maybe you should get one of those in the same style!).

  12. Please DO DEODORANT!!! (that was before the war ;-))

    Key ideas:
    1) Natural: make up, hair, clothes,..
    and simplicity
    2) colors: many neutrals (easy to combine)and a little touch of bright color
    3)Clothes: many classic pieces (+ masculine/feminine clothes, natural fabrics like cotton, silk, wool, linnen) mixed with fashionable items (clothes or accessories)
    4)Lots of scarves (quiete true)
    5) Not being overdressed but also, no loungewear (eg. sportwear is for sport, no sneakers! Confort isn’t a priority!
    6) Be confident and watch your manners!
    7) Not all french women are thin but food portions in France are 1/4 of food portions in USA… Just try to eat healty and exercice a little (French don’t do a lot of sport). And you can dress nicely at any size.

    ps: sorry for the spelling

  13. Hi there! I know of a book you’ll love! It’s called : All You Need To Be Impossibly French by Helena Frith Powell… it’s by a woman you does all the research on how to be french, it’s really good! I picked it up when i started researching more of a french style… i’ve been trying to collect more french pieces for my wardrobe ever since…. you shoudl pick it up! ps. your blog is very cute.

  14. I swear by A.P.C. for that certain look. I recently looked at my wardrobe and realized I have A.P.C.ed myself out. (I’m quietly pleased about this).

  15. nicole, the brand Hue and Urban Outfitters both have lots of colors of tights. you could probably find that mustard color. you could also google “mustard color wool tights” and see if anything came up, just in case. good luck! xoxo

  16. Nicole says...

    I really love the tights on that last girl. Anybody know where I can find a pair like that?

  17. Did you see that Garance blogged about you today regarding this topic?!!!

  18. _ says...

    i know the feeling… these photos can displace me from dreary new jersey and make me think maybe i’ll be surrounded by this style soon. maybe! love the grays, and love the first girl. garance dore is one of my favorite street style sites without question.

    lovely blog, lovely engagement photos, i love the pink balloon, so much hope and love in thatb alloon and that pink sky!

  19. Bonjour ! Je suis française (I’m french), I live in south of France. I’ve read some true things… and some rally wrong… ;-)
    It’s true that french women have big scarves, but we use deodorant (thank you my God !) And for ending with strange rumors about us, we have a shower every day, and we don’t have hairs under our arms, on our legs, and… smowhere else ! Our skin is sweet.
    French women don’t wear sporty clothes in the streets, they only wears joggings and sporty shoes for sport.
    We don’t use lots of make up, it’s only often mascara and gloss. But our perfumes are more sexual, more orientalist than the ones by Kiehl’s or Clinique. French women smell Shalimar de Guerlain, Chanel perfumes, Angel de Thierry Mugler, Opium de Yves Saint Laurent… We walk on high heels, even if we have footaches (sorry for my english vocabulary), we wear trench from spring to autumn, our hair is long and free, we don’t do brushings very often, we try to stop smoking, and slim and bootcut jeans à la Charlotte Gainsbourg are our faves. We have big city bags like Balenciaga’s or Gererd Darel’s 24 heures (the name of a french it bag). We speak aloud but a lot.
    Very often, french women seem snobbish, even if it’s only a reserve, shyness, a kind of observation, as if we were examinating our interlocutor. It’s a way to preserve ourselves and to be polite. French women put a distance, and it’s the reason why we seem so cold…
    I hope you will understand my english, sorry for my mistakes.

  20. I just randomly bought a book called “Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl”!!! We’ll see what that leads to!

  21. i think it’s something like…be born 5’10”, 0% body fat, with a perfect mouth. I could never do it, no matter how many grey scarves or pairs of black leggings i tried to wear.

  22. every single one of these photos make me want to go shopping, throw away my current clothing and start over. i am in love with each look.

  23. I was in Paris a few months ago, and ooozed jealousy of these women. Effortless wavey bed head hair, skinny pants, leather jackets, dark sunglasses, and their purse always falls in between their wrist and elbow. NEVER on the shoulder. It’s a great resolution.

  24. You can’t ignore that French women are all thin. It’s nearly impossible to out-sexy cellulite. Slap a bunch of tight black clothes on a thin woman with long hair and hand her a scarf, a great pair of boots and a giant bag et voila… very French… very sexy.

  25. Long hair ? Black boots and dark leggings ? Neutral colors, lots of layers ??? Argh ! I thought I was french but….
    PS : Oh “of course, a scarf” ?! I have à scarf ! I’m french ! ;)

  26. seriously, I think every french blogger i’ve come across is impeccable, and the streetstyle is also fabulous.

  27. My Parisian coworker seems to wear a lot of classic, chic and simple black layers. And of course rumor has it that she was a model. It seems like the Brooklyn “hipsters” I see achieve the same kind of effortless and natural beauty.

  28. they always have the attitude and the sense of proportion that is clever and looks great. A lot about scarfs too :-)

  29. Sweet Joanna,

    I’m french. I don’t know is my/our style is that great but I might be able to give a few tips based on my own observations(my boyfriend is American). The thing that always stroke me about “American style” was to notice the difference between “going out style” and “every day style”. I seriously believe that you should be able to fit any kind of event at any time of the day (or almost all of them at least), which means not too much but no street wear either. Which bring us to the second point. To achieve that kind of dressing ubiquity you need to stick to some simple clothes, dark and neutral colors with a zest. Bright, shiny, loud shoes or nice big jewelry. Simple but sophisticated at the same time. It’s sounds like an oxymoron but when you really think about it, it works. No fuss (easy on the hairdo, simple make up but always carry a bright lip stick to sass things up when needed…). You have to look like you haven’t done anything special even if you spent 2 hours in front of your mirror. You don’t want to be “the pathetic girl that needs all the attention on her” because you’ll surprise everyone around you with your wit and fun behavior. I hope this helps, but by the look of your engagement pictures, I don’t thing you need to work that much on your French attitude. You look lovely.
    Ps : this shouldn’t be taken too seriously either.
    Ps : masculine clothes are a must (men’s shirts, jumpers, cardigans, shoes, strait dark jeans, anything loose but it has to remain sexy, no librarian look here).

  30. I’ve been trying to figure that our for years…everytime I go to Europe I try to pack so I don’t stand out…but unfortunately French style is so hard to capture!

  31. Perhaps one of your new years resolutions should be to infiltrate their natural habitat and study those illusive creatures up close and in Paris. I know its one of mine!

  32. PS – not that I think there’s anything wrong with J.Crew preppyness. I love it too, I just think it’s a different look!

  33. I love this post! I’ve been admiring the slouchy, sexy look of french women lately…love love love scarves! It always seems like they take such good care of their skin too…

    great ny resolution!

  34. Anonymous says...

    I agree that many Parisian women look fab, but sometimes I think that people think that the styles are fab BECAUSE the people are French.

    Go with your own style. I am one of those JCrew-prepster types, but I love it, so there you go. :)

  35. Anonymous says...

    Yes, Jean Seberg was both “French” and American and her personal style seems both timely and timeless.


  36. My French host mother told me that real French women seldom wear more than two colors, and never more than three!
    And scarves. Always scarves.
    She also had a funny nickname for snooty upper middle class women who put on airs – “une bleu marine et vert” – because of the colors they supposedly always wore!

  37. I think there’s a certain abandon too, be it scuffed shoes or tousled hair or some careful mismatching. Definitely not the preppy perfection of JCrew catalogues…

  38. Anonymous says...

    You’re welcome, hope you’ll like the others too.
    Try Princesse Tam-Tam for your underwear ;)

    Je t’embrasse,
    Eglantine (or E.)

  39. ahh! I have the same new years resolution!!!!
    Since I wrote that, I’ve been also wondering myself.
    Maybe coco chanel can help advise us?

  40. thank you so much for these tips, everyone! E., i LOVE maje, great tip!!!!

  41. Have you heard that song “French style, French style” by Jonathan Richman? You should. It’s funny :-) I love French style too.

  42. Definitely need the scarf! Also need to learn how to tie and/or drape the scarf in about 86 different and interesting ways. ((BTW–congratulations to you both, the engagement photos show that you’re perfect for each other!))

  43. Oh visit Paris Street Style, It’s a blog, it’s in my blogroll.

    You will be amazed of how many incredible french outfits are posted there.

    Wanna hear something funny? Her last post was about how much she loved newyorker’s style :)

  44. seriously, look at your engagement photos, you look amazing, you’ve got such an adorable smile !
    no need to dress like “french women”, i really think …

    from a french johanna ;)

  45. Two French friends & I touched on your resolution (which we like in the abstract). But as they said (loose translation): “But what kind of French woman?” I know what you mean, I think. (But they were saying: bobo, BCBG, soignée, etc.) I think perhaps you were talking philosophy?

    It is knowing what is right for you. What suits you. (Your engagement photos show that you already know. Lovely.)

    It is knowing how to alter clothes, someone who does, or a good tailor (not as expensive as many people think).

    It is knowing the difference between fashion & style. They can intersect but quite often do not. Oh, yes, & scarves:)

    It is being faithful to old favorites in new ways. (Not just scarves but accessories, objets, people, anything applies, I think.)

    It is borrowing from others one admires but not copying; it is subtle.

    It is, as a few people wrote, confidence.

    Oh, & I’m sure you are not like this but I cannot stop myself (so when I write “you” here, I mean “people”). I cannot understand this American thing of running about in public in what appear to be pajamas (Julian Schnabel is not a fashion icon!). Remember Diana Vreeland’s dictum: Other people have to look at you! So be pulled together for politeness (just how much, ultra-soignée or in artful dishabille–your choice.)

    I’m sure you will do beautifully, Jo, because, really, how far do you have to go? I really mean that–what are you doing or not doing that this became a resolution if you don’t mind telling. If you do mind, understood. That was the question posed by French friends.

    bisou to Mlle. Joanna

    Susan (& her friends Isa & Magali)

  46. Anonymous says...


    Have you ever looked at the blog:
    It’s so beautiful! French, amazing clothes, amazing photos! I think you will love it.
    And PS, I love your blogs!

  47. I once took an art class with a French woman who was probably 20. This was back in 1985. She always wore charcoal grey and a scarf. She looked so chic. Her name was Christel Feret. I went clothes shopping with her once and she called the store keeper ‘Madam’. it was so neat!

  48. not chic yet! says...

    Buy a few very good pieces. Keep your hair low key and makeup natural. I don’t know how to do it. I lived in France for a long time and still don’t have “the style” of a French woman. I’m going to try this year, too. Great post, Joanna. euhhh!

  49. scarves scarves scarves… i want to dress like french women, too! :;)

  50. Hey Joanna,
    This style is very pretty, I love it!! It’s so you…

    My favorite season is fall and merely because of the fashion; ie layering and scarfs.

  51. it’s easy to be french. smoke cigarettes, wear black, fluff your hair and pout your lips. then when you take a sip of warm sparkling water to relax, don’t say “ahhh” say “euhhhh” wa-la!

  52. Funnily enough, I was just flipping through old Real Simple magazine and they had a whole section on buying clothing and shoes and bags from other countries via online shopping. In their cheap and chic section? This french gem: “laredoute.com – Good for: looks that will satisfy your inner francophile without breaking la banque. Insider info: venture onto the French version of the site to see kids’ clothes. It is easy to navigate even if you don’t speak the language. Real Simple Bought: Polyester dress, $50.”
    Hope this helps :-)

  53. I want to jump on board with you on this one. It’s so cool. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it though. My hair has never been long, but I can get the scarves and own tons of black. Now for the effortless style…

  54. love the last one :)

  55. Hello, I’m a french girl following your blog since quite a long time. I quite agree with the comments saying that the style you like is more a Parisian style…That might be easy to find out how to find the perfect outfit as the parisian style is to my opinion a subtil melt of the NY style with a french touch ! Try those links :
    However, I can’t help you with your definition of the french style.

  56. I’ve tried to figure it out aswell when i was in pari last fall. what i also can add they do not try too hard… know what i mean? combine a leather jacket to a cute/flower dress etc.
    plus: beautiful skin + hair. I heard the average french woman has a beauty appointment once a weak! (must be cheap over there;-))

  57. I am moving to Paris in a few days, and I entertain visions of fostering my inner Emmanuelle Alt. But dammit, I have blonde hair. And my butt is not as tight. And I look silly in leggings. And, well …

  58. I hear your engaged..? Bridal buds is a cool blog, kinda like Weddingbee, both are helpful. as is weddingaces (advice from the pros) and weddingwire is a good resource.martha stewart knows her stuff. you already dress kinda french. chic.:)

  59. I’ve always believed French gals are totally different breed when it comes to fashion..

    Their style is so effortless and yet, just amazingly put together..
    I envy their attitude…

  60. Longchamps Bag is a MUST if u want to look french, side bangs, and maybe a Gerard Darel bag if your in your teens/tweens, and for that age group Ben Simon flats are really important too! And Black, White and Grey, and sometimes Brown..

    Altho the french ladies seem to have a carefree natural style, don’t be fooled, they take GREAT care in what they wear, especially the parisians, they know very well that their city is a haven for photographers!

  61. I think it has something to do with an ability to wear giant 1980’s style glasses and still look gorgeous. A scarf helps, for sure. The two together? Irresistible…

    And I think you’ll totally appreciate a post over at Just FAD today—she found an old fashion manual from 1925 and the things is says about french women are exactly the things we say today!


  62. The women at Garance Dore drive me insane. Their skin! Their faces are always so flawless, their makeup so nonchalant and perfect! It drives me to maddness.

  63. I like the glasses in the first photo.That’s style to me.

  64. Always high-quality classic as a foundation, usually black and white, with trendier pieces in brighter colors and you must have scarves, tons of scarves!

  65. All of them look absolutely lovely. I think the main thread running through all of them is to choose your favorite things and choose wisely but never look like you’re trying too hard.

    Happy New Years & have a great 2009!

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. love love love. I’ve always adored jean seberg. Even though she was American, I’ve always considered her to be parisian! she’s been my muse since I was 18 and that was 12 years ago! eek.

  68. I’ve always associated French style, or should I say Parisian style, with scarves – scarves of any kind: wool, silk, printed, plain. You should see how many different ways my aunt wears a scarf!

  69. I have also been captivated with French style lately. I think a great American version of this is the late Carolyn Kennedy. Her clothes were timeless.

  70. I think dark colors and a scarf are the key. But that’s just me…I’m pretty American

  71. i’m thinking that this is the best new year’s resolution i have heard. i might join in the fun.

  72. maybe I should not get all my hair cut off again- love that long hair look, and so hard to get there…but oh so french! love it all.

  73. I love these — i’ve always thought the french ladies did it with tailoring and owning a few FABULOUS pieces they wore all the time.

  74. i’m so glad you posted this because after reading your resolution I just had to know how they dressed…

  75. Anonymous says...

    I’ve heard that the french women pick a signature in terms of clothing and make-up that works well with their body, and keep doing it. Like red lipstick, if they find one that flatters them they will keep wearing it for a long time.

  76. I made the same resolution. Those French look so fantastic yet it seems so difficult to pin point why. Maybe we should just move to Paris.

  77. très chic….

  78. I can so see the French look on you.
    There is something about this style that not onlys says comfort but sings confident.

  79. Anonymous says...

    Oooh, I love how French women dress….I was recently in Paris and noticed how different they are from North American women. I think it’s mainly about classic, chic and effortless style.

  80. when i lived in rome for a semester, i thought the women looked quite fantastic with their unwashed mane of tangled long hair, black everything, and scarves.

    the polished look seems to be very east coast/nyc, right? aside from the entertainment crowd, west coast girls tend to be more minimalist with the hair and makeup, too. the weather, of course, makes it harder to wear those fantastic scarves and coats, though!

  81. OH NO! So I posted this big long comment, and I think it is gone! I think it was about essay length. I should have saved it.

    Maybe I’ll work up the energy to comment later.

    Oh well.

  82. Anonymous says...

    I think what makes the French female so fab (no matter what she’s wearing), is the way they carry themselves with an air of total self-assuredness. All the ladies in these pics (whether they’re french or not) give the sense that they know who they are and where they are going. If you can successfully project that vibe, you’re well on your way ;-)

  83. Amanda B says...

    I’ve always thought french style was a myth but I’m seeing something in it here. I like how everything looks comfortable, natural, and feminine without being too sexy. I’m also wondering how the hair works. When mine is that long, I look like a homeless person.

  84. Oh goody, your back, I was starting to panic!
    And yes, me too, I’m going to write down your notes (and print out the pictures) and pin them to the inside of my closet!

  85. What makes a French style is Confidence! Putting on what makes you feel great (in layers) and being confident that you look fabulous. They don’t use a lot of makeup and hair products. But what they do use is always quality. ;)

  86. as someone who lived in paris and whose best friend there was french (and a model!), 3 things come to mind–don’t wear eyeliner, don’t wear deodorant, drink glass of un jus de tomate daily.

  87. Amazing retro glasses seem to help too! I’m wondering if I could pull off glasses like that without looking like I actually belong in 7th grade science club.

  88. yes, you have to have a scarf with every outfit!

  89. I just like the ‘euro’ style as a whole. America is such a climate of loud and overdone clothing and accessories. I love the earthy muted colors, the simplicity and the use of sweaters, scarves and layers!


  90. agreed with anon–i let my hair do (almost) whatever it wants. and minimal makeup, too (or, at least the natural look). :)

  91. gorgie!! I like your americanized french

  92. Anonymous says...

    Don’t do your hair! I think most European women look beautiful because they leave their hair natural and undone. A lot of American women strive for sleek, “finished” looks which can seem a bit contrived and actually make them appear older. Keep it healthy and be carefree!

  93. i do love the last girls look though. all black is so blah sometimes.. i really prefer rich colors and definitely layering! happy 2009 joanna, engagement photos are so lovely!

  94. always a scarf the bigger the better :)

  95. The red head sure looks pretty, but I can’t help but think, “Eek! Where are her pants?” Leggings worn like that are best left in ballet class, if you ask me.

    The first two photos are my fav; the ladies look so cool.

  96. ooh julie delpy is amazing. also charlotte gainsbourg.

  97. Only the French can make smoking seem so damn cool. I’d stick with long hair and scarves. You look French in your engagement photos. -Kathleen

  98. nice big glasses. tight pants, loose tops and a nice curled over posture. or anything on Julie Delpy works. :)

  99. I see you in all these looks. Yes I think layering is a big thing!

  100. I love the black leggings with the boots, especially with outerwear that goes just past the hips. :)

  101. a cigarette.

  102. yes, i LOVE her glasses, too. sooooo pretty.

  103. i think i’m going to write down your notes here on how to dress french and tack it onto the inside of my closet! xo

  104. so lovely. :) you could definitely pull it off, girl!

  105. I think that it’s more about one’s attitude rather than a particular clothing style that makes someone seemingly “French.” French women seem to have a care-free attitude about life that radiates ease and confidence. I think that’s something for which we all strive. However, sartorially these women are great choices of whom to emulate – I swoon for the first woman’s glasses!


  106. easy, sexy, effortless… yes?
    love the birkin girls’ style (charlotte gainsbourg & lou doillon), and of course all the godard women…

  107. oh she is so beautiful, gentle graffiti!!!