Happy Bastille Day, my French friends! In honor of your Fête Nationale, today we’re highlighting some of France’s most fashionable citizens.
Simultaneously effortless and polished, bohemian yet feminine, avant garde yet classic, the French aesthetic is one coveted by women all around the world. What better day to explore the progression and evolution of French style over the ages than on a day that marks the beginning of a revolution that forever shaped France’s history?
Audrey Tautou: French actress and model
You may know her for her sweet heart-shaped face, perennial pixie cut, and whimsical and endearing performance as the dreamer Amélie Poulain in 2001’s Amélie. Tautou embodies all that is playful and seemingly contradictory in French fashion.
She favors dresses, which complement her signature soft curls and the staple Parisian red lipstick. She is definitely a breath of old France, bringing to mind demure mademoiselles in A-line skirts, Chanel flats, red lips, and white blouses, but with a modern edge apparent in the asymmetry of her black and white dress, the unique shape of her pink gown, and the bold print mixing in her shirt and skirt pairing.
Steal her style: Keep your overall look classic, but go with just one unexpected aspect per outfit to spice up the otherwise traditional look. For example: add a cut-out, a vibrant pattern, or a bejeweled belt.
Betty Autier: Blogger at leblogdebetty.com
Known as one of France’s foremost “blogueses,” a group of the fashionable and social media-savvy working to make a living in fashion based on their considerable web following, Autier’s personal mission is to shatter what some of the younger French generations see as a rigid and classically perceived definition of style.
Autier’s angle is that she embraces street style and flash-in-the-pan trends (her face has been screened on Zara t-shirts) as well as France’s most beautiful and longstanding relationship with haute couture (she was selected by Chanel to be a brand ambassador in 2009). If Tautou leans more toward old France, Autier is new France all the way.
Steal her style: Experiment with textures and unusual silhouettes. Mix a casual t-shirt with a more formal skirt to make it something all your own. Blend trendy, of-the-moment pieces with a timeless handbag for an interesting look that pays homage to both old and new.
Clémence Poésy: French actress and model
The stereotypically flawless French gamine, Poésy’s pout is perfect and her hair is always an artfully done but undone blonde cascade. Poésy epitomizes the playful French tomboy, still managing to be eternally soft and feminine while dressed in traditionally masculine silhouettes and footwear.
Poésy represents true French style: approaching whatever ensemble you decide on with self-assurance and a sense of ease, trusting that you will own your outfit no matter the opinion of others. Confidence should be the best accessory of not just every Frenchwoman, but every woman.
Steal her style: Play the field. Just because you wear sequins or tulle one day doesn’t mean you can’t rock suit vests and oxfords another day. Don’t be afraid to be a chameleon. As your mood changes, so should your look.
Julia Restoin Roitfeld: Art director, model, and daughter of Carine Roitfeild, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris
Style is in Restoin Roitfeld’s genes, and she definitely is an excellent example of the appreciation the French have for the finer things in life. Art, music, food, fashion—all of these taken in with the eye of an artist and sophisticate show that style is just an extension of art.
Restoin Roitfeld dresses herself with an eye for shape, form, movement, and an overarching story. Choosing an outfit depends on the event, personality, and even mood of the day, and this is something she recognizes. Approaching dressing herself as an art instead of just a necessity brings joy and beauty to her wardrobe.
Steal her style: Dress with your body in mind. Don’t force yourself to like something just because it’s trendy. Keep in mind the drape and weight of the fabric. If you dread dressing yourself, remember that choosing an outfit is like art, and take a moment to appreciate the beauty, thought, and craftsmanship that went into making each piece. Lucky you, you get to wear them!
Carla Bruni: Itailian-French model, singer-songwriter, and former first lady of France
Last but certainly not least, Bruni is a perfect example of how it’s truly their joie de vivre that sets French women apart. Breezy, effortless, and naturally beautiful, Bruni has been a style icon since she was a model in her younger years. She carries herself with grace, and for that reason she has been a muse for major fashion houses such as Bulgari all the way until now.
Demonstrating you’re as young as you feel, Bruni looks the part of stylish French icon, whether it’s in the pages of a Vogue, in Bulgari’s latest campaign, or as the polished first lady of France on the media circuit. In her modeling days she was more of a barefoot boheme, but looks stunning in anything from a suit set to a ballgown because of her composure and avoidance of heavy makeup that would cover up her naturally striking features.
Steal her style: Don’t compromise on what you feel the most “you” in. Just because you might have to dress for different occasions with different degrees of formality, don’t sacrifice your personality for the sake of looking put together. Remember that how your carry yourself is the best finishing touch to any outfit.
Most of us aren’t models or actresses living a life of international glamour, but much of what makes French women some of the most lovely, intriguing, and glamorous on the planet is their attitude. Confidence, appreciation of style as a form of art, presence, and being comfortable with what YOU like and what YOU find beautiful are the most important things French women can teach us about style—and life.