Garance Doré on how to look like a French woman

Those whose hobby is parsing French womens' style, and can read some French, will enjoy Garance Dore's January 10, 2009 post.

She responded to a request from an American reader's request to help her "look French", and asked her many readers to add their instructions.
About 75% replied in French, with a few English entries.

You'll see some echos of familiar responses, and a lot of business about

A comment I especially liked, from Félie:

"La femme française, c’est l’audace de bon ton.
La désinvolture.
La confiance en soi : elle sait ce qui va la mettre en valeur, et c’est là son plus grand atout.
Une grâce particulière qui tient à ce mélange entre classicisme et baroque, entre sobriété et sophistication, entre négligé et recherche.
La femme française n’est jamais TROP.

N’est-ce pas aussi ce qui caractérise l’esprit français, ce sens de la mesure ? Cette manière d’assimiler subtilement les influences pour créer un tout harmonieux, impeccablement dosé, qui est envié partout dans le monde?


I think she makes a really great distinction, "French women are never too." Self-confidence is key to the French look. They seem to comfortable in their skin and so solidly embrace who they are and their differences that would send American women to a plastic surgeon.
Great post, merci!
WendyB said…
Je ne parle pas français.
Anonymous said…
Duchesse, can you translate the gist of this for me? I only speak 'strine!
Julianne said…
I need a striped scarf I guess if I want to be really French. Thanks for the link to the blog also. Oh, thanks so much for telling me about Boden. I always worry about ordering from catalogs if I never have before.
materfamilias said…
I'm rushing over there right now -- thanks for the alert.
Duchesse said…
Cybill: Translation:
The French woman: audacity withing the bounds of good taste. Offhandedness. Self-confidence is her biggest asset: she knows what will make her look good.

The French woman: a particular kind of grace which is a mix of classicism and baroque, of sobriety and sophistication, of the undone and studied; the French woman is never "too much".

But isn't this sense of moderation the very thing that characterizes the French spirit? That way of subtly assimilating influences to create an impeccably balanced, harmonious whole, which is the envy of the whole world?
Anonymous said…
I'm changing my name to "Garance" or "Laurence"--Can't decide which.

Her post makes me wish I'd kept up my French. That's what happens when you marry a Norwegian!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the translation Duchesse.
s. said…
But you see, I don't agree. I see plenty of French women who are too... many things. Too skinny. Too much makeup. Smoking too much. Too little respect for dentistry/ orthodontistry/ Crest White Strips. Many francaises are lovely but many are not.

I don't understand this desire that so many people have to imitate one culture or another while every one has its fair share of elegant, stylish, beautiful women (and men, for that matter)!
Duchesse said…
s.: There is not the obsession with squeaky clean in European cultures. Watch a French movie (of a middle class apartment) and you will see smudges, paint chips. Not everything is so 'fluffed'. Severla years ago I read that the 'majority' of French men brushed their teeth less than once a week (ycch). Wish I had the source for that study- sorry.

When I see the endless parade of sacky coats, scuffed boots, indifferent (or mall-clone) attire here in Toronto, I long for the street scene of Montreal or Paris, where even jeans and a simple tee are worn with style by about 75% more people than here in Toronto.

I especially miss the impeccable older women walking, arm in arm, in their little suits. Here retirees favour track suits and running shoes shoes.

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