So Frenchy So Chic returns in January, bringing with it the best of French music and Gallic fare to both Melbourne and Sydney. For its ninth season, the line-up is as culturally sound as the culinary spread with its fromage, patisserie and champagne. It’s also a chance to kit yourself out in classic French style.
Beyond nautical stripes and couture, the cool, refined style synonymous with France is harder to define. As Australian fashion/street photographer Liz Sunshine puts it, “French style is pervasive because it’s built on an idea rather than a trend”.
With Sunshine’s advice, we break down how the French approach style.
In Paris less is more. What Sunshine calls a balance of “sophisticated restraint.”
“It’s about outfits that feel polished, but also as if they were thrown on running out the door,” says Sunshine. “It’s basic yet unexpected details that somehow feel classic. It’s red lips but natural hair.”
Look to the icons
Behind the widespread admiration for French style are the icons that help perpetuate it. France is home to some of the world’s most famous designers, fashion editors, actors and “it” girls – some androgynous, some pared-back, some overtly feminine, but all style role models.
Sunshine looks to model and How to be Parisian author Caroline de Maigret for inspiration. “She has a very defined masculine-meets-feminine style,” she says.
Then there’s Jeanne Demas, model and founder of label Rouje, who has a knack for pairing vintage styles with bold colours. Sunshine also cites influencer Sabina Socol for her bright, natural makeup and penchant for vintage, as well as the “unknown girls on the street, walking through the Tuileries, wearing oversized trench coats, or spotty Gucci loafers,” she says.
The French wardrobe is all about classic essentials. “Think trench coats, T-shirts and jeans, wrap dresses and Breton stripes, chic loafers and little ballet flats,” Sunshine says. “They’re timeless pieces we can all afford and probably have plenty of in our wardrobe.”
While the turtleneck is most often associated with Parisian flair, Sunshine suggests opting for wrap dresses, boater hats, sandals, lace tops and loose jeans for summer, with a cardigan for cooler nights.
Keep it minimal
Sunshine has some solid advice about braving the sales: when shopping for those key pieces, base your purchase on how well the item fits, “not how much it costs or what the label says.”
Nor should you be paying attention to fast fashion. “Buy less and buy better,” she says. “Splurge on everyday items instead of expensive pieces you’ll only wear once.”
And celebrate your features. “Work with your natural hair instead of over-styling it,” she says. “Wear sunscreen and take care of your skin.” Or as the French do, “age with grace.”