How to Frenchify Your Wardrobe

by Alice White Walker
french jacket

At MFCH HQ, our readers regularly ask us: How can I make my wardrobe more French?

So we tasked our “Just Between Us” columnist and devout Francophile Tish Jett to decipher the careful code! In our current Sept/Oct 21 issue, she rounds up her best contacts — from Dior’s Public Relations Manager to French style icon Inès de la Fressange — to find out how to Frenchify our wardrobes.

Let’s see what she discovered…

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Ask a French woman to describe French style, and she invariably replies: “It’s all about attitude.”

Press her to elaborate and she might add one of the following: quietly elegant, classic, cool, easygoing, discrete, effortless.

“Never think it’s all about the clothes,” Mathilde Favier, the Public Relations Manager for Dior, told me. “It’s how we wear them.”

“A woman needs to figure out who she is, stay true to herself and take advantage of all her attributes,” Mathilde explained, adding that French women “do not want to be anyone other than themselves.”

The 85:15 rule

The good news is that French style is neither complicated nor difficult to pull off when applying a foolproof formula: the “85:15 rule,” which guarantees you’ll have something perfect to wear for both daytime and evening, each season and all occasions.

The rule prescribes that 85 percent of a French woman’s wardrobe is composed of staple pieces — the foundation, or “uniform” — while the remaining 15 percent may include carefully chosen add-ins from current trends or irresistible one-off items that would cause major regret if not added to the mix.

Creating the French wardrobe

So, precisely what should we buy to Frenchify our closets? These are a few of the items French women told me are essential:

Clothing

  • A drawer-full of white and gray T-shirts in various styles
  • Oversized white shirts, preferably loosely tucked in.
  • Marinières
  • A collection of silk camisoles in neutral colors, to wear under jackets.
  • Blazers in different materials
  • Cardigans, lots of cardigans!
  • A long or mid-length silk skirt to wear throughout the year – with sweaters in the fall and winter and tops in the summer.

Accessories

  • White sneakers, ballerinas, summer sandals, loafers and bottines (boots).
  • Canvas market bag for summer.
  • Leather cross-body bag

Some styles we love

Who to turn to? Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Hupert… here are French women with inimitable style.

To see the full article on how to Frenchify your wardrobe, shop the Sept/Oct issue here.

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