C’est chic…?!

Well, hello lovely readers! I do hope there are still some folk reading this blog. It seems to have been an awful long time since I wrote my last post. It’s mainly a question of life getting in the way – especially where family is involved.

Anyway, I’ve been planning this post for some time and it’s mainly thanks to one of my favourite bloggers, Catherine https://atypical60.com/ She is a very funny, feisty and opinionated American blogger who happens to have a French husband. She loves France, too and has some interesting thoughts about French style.

Why chic? ‘Chic’ is a word that is bandied about a lot but what does it actually mean? I decided to do some research via the dictionary.

Here’s what I found: ‘elegantly and stylishly fashionable’.
“she looked every inch the chic Frenchwoman

And there’s the rub. Is this a myth, a stereotype or the truth? Chic is an adjective often applied to French women and you only have to look on Pinterest, for example, to see countless boards telling us ‘How to be Parisian’ or ‘How to dress like a French woman’.

 

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But, as someone who has a home in France, I have to tell you that not every French woman is chic. I love people watching and I am on the look out for some local chic French women so that I can take their photo and put them on this blog, assuming they don’t mind! Unfortunately, I haven’t spotted any yet… I think this is because there is not a lot of money in the area where we live and perhaps all the chic people are at work… If we go to the nearest city, Toulouse, there are lots of chic and stylish people around but there are also lots of people who are less so. Toulouse is a university town and has a feeling of affluence, so perhaps this is the reason.

I believe that ‘chicness’ – is there such a word? – varies considerably from town to town, place to place, country to country. I know of Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Indian (I could go on) women who are incredibly stylish. There are even some in the United Kingdom!! JOKE…

But, I would suggest that there is a classic look that we ascribe to French women; including simple black dress, white tailored shirt, trenchcoat, striped top … Ah, striped tops. We all know of my love of the striped top!

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https://wordpress.com/posts/fancyingfrance.wordpress.com?s=breton+tops

But is this accurate? Anecdotally, when I was working as a primary languages consultant, in the UK, I was observing a French lesson and I heard one of the pupils comment that I must be French because I was wearing a striped top! Vive les stéréotypes!

While looking at the original definition of chic, I decided to look at synonyms for this word. What should appear but ‘stylish’? If you put ‘French style’ into a search engine, page after page are available to tell women how to dress like a French woman. I’m sure this advice is all very helpful should that be your goal but, as far as I am concerned, it is more important to find one’s own style, whatever that may be. I feel I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here…

As a more mature woman, I do get fed up with being told what I can or can’t wear because of my age. Not that I take any notice! A subject for another blog post, perhaps?!

As I’m beginning to ramble and this post risks turning into a dissertation, I’ll finish by saying that there are certain French style ‘icons’ whose style I do admire. These include Coco Chanel, Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Hardy, Juliette Binoche, Ines de la Fressange but there are many other style icons I could name who are not French.

I’d love to know your thoughts about French style and French ‘chicness’ ! Is it a myth, a stereotype, a generalisation or the truth?! Do please share!

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “C’est chic…?!

  1. Hi June!! Thanks so much for linking my post!! I appreciate it a lot!! But isn’t it true? I mean, even in Paris unless you are in one of the more exclusive and affluent arrondissements of Paris, you won’t see many chic women at all–you probably will see more men that are chic during the workweek. I swear that entire “French/Parisienne Chic thing is one of my pet peeves–especially when you have people who have never been to France pontificating about it. I love France so much that you know I would move there tomorrow–but people need to realize that there is more to the French than fashion. They are voracious readers. The love to debate and argue. They have great food. They revere education. I could go on.
    This was a great post!!!!

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    • Hi Catherine! Thanks so much for your very astute comment. I’m going to have start looking out for more chic men now! You’re absolutely right, although I hadn’t really thought about this before, so many of the people who advise us on looking French have never ever been to France! Seriously, what you say about the French is SO true. There is so much more to French people than their fashion; their French cinema, food, wine, political awareness etc.etc… Not that I am generalising or anything!!! I have a feeling that I will return to this subject lol! Happy Blogging! xoxo

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  2. Hi there. Well, yes, here’s my view on French ‘chic’. Funnily enough I’m in France now (and being mightily bitten by mozzies this year) in a lovely rented garden flat in a small town 50 minutes north of Toulouse. Just spent a long weekend in Toulouse.

    And here’s my view. French women are not chic in the overly fashionable idea of what chic might mean. But there is a look that I see, even in a small town, that I do admire. First off, I don’t see any large, wide, black flappy trousers and/or jeans. Whatever their age or size women wear skinny jeans that come in at the ankle. And I have seen bigger women wear this style. Although this is perhaps another blog post for you about French eating habits because you just don’t see the number of overweight people here that you do in the UK. And with these skinny jeans women seem to universally wear a smart, not overly large white trainer or plimsoll. Sometimes with a little sock or more often without a sock. Their top could be the ubiquitous striped top and yes often a light short trench over it. Yes, I saw this look more in Toulouse but it’s here in this little town as well. Quite fascinated by it, because it’s simple and, well, in it’s way, chic!

    My blog is very much dedicated to getting women (of any age) out of those dull wide black baggy trousers and baggy top. And you know what I’m going to write a blog about this when I get back!!!!! Thanks for inspiring me!!! But yes, in their own way, and not in a magazine journalist way, French women have a simpler and often quite chic style to them – hoorah!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Penny! Thank you so much for your detailed and thoughtful comment. It’s interesting what you say about overweight people in France because although there may be fewer, I have noticed that there are certainly more obese people around than in previous decades. I think this may well be to do with the rise in fast food places. I can remember being really shocked when I first saw a McDonalds in France! As you suggested, this could well be the subject for a future blog post!
      I would also say that, in general, women in France do not follow fashion in quite the same way as people tend to in the U.K. There is more of a classic style as you have described. I do think that in the U.K. many people are more creative in the way they dress. Of course that doesn’t appeal to everyone!
      How lovely to think that I may have inspired you!!! I can’t wait to read the relevant blog post. I think the whole question of French style is one to which I will return on a regular basis.

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  3. In Cannes I saw a woman who was the epitome of what we perceive as ‘French chic’. She was elegant, beautifully made up and coiffed and her clothes looked very, very expensive. The reason that she stood out so much was that she was the only one of her kind. Truly, I saw no-one else who came near. Perhaps this is because she was possibly seventy years old. Many of the other women were extremely tanned, wore huge sunglasses and too few clothes to be described as chic. Maybe our perception of French women is based on those of the 1950s or 60s. I’ve not spent enough time in France to know but I confess to feeling a tad disappointed to read that Parisienne chic does not exist! English women are not known for being chic nor particularly elegant but I was rather thrilled to be described by a colleague as ‘stylish’ until she said “because you always look that little bit unusual”. Then I wasn’t sure!

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    • Hi Eloise and thanks for commenting. The woman you describe is exactly what I imagine as French chic, probably because you have described her so eloquently. It is interesting that you say that she was the only woman you saw who had this style. Don’t feel disappointed! I think that there still is a particular French/Parisian style. I just feel that it is a bit of a stereotype and blown out of all proportion.
      I think the compliment you received from your colleague was fantastic! Stylish and unusual; wow! I have been called ‘glamorous’! Haha! But I’m not sure what that actually means… I think I’ll be writing some more posts on the French chic/style/fashion subject.

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  4. Pingback: French style and two new berets! | Frugal fashion shopper
  5. Hello
    I live in rural South West France and can’t say that I’ve seen many, if any chic French ladies. Money is one problem, the need to actually dress smartly is another. Clothes shops go from Supermarket clothing to very expensive small boutiques with nothing much in between. Many will buy from catalogues La Redoute, etc. You have to go to a larger town to find a range of shops. On the whole we don’t dress up to go to restaurants, jeans, t-shirts whatever you feel comfortable wearing. I’m not saying that clothing is not smart, but I’ve not detected the 3 quality designer pieces that we are led to believe French ladies buy each year. It’s mostly anoraks, quilted coats, jeans. Obesity is now becoming more obvious, mostly amongst the younger women, as the lady above wrote, the introduction of fast food, a fairly recent arrival, with ready made meals, and snack foods filling the shelves. Mind you, there are usually 3 hairdressers in even the smallest village, even possibly a beautician. I love it here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tricia and thanks so much for you insightful comment. It sounds as if you live in the same place as me, except that I haven’t come across any small, expensive boutiques – as yet!
      I’ve also noticed that people don’t tend to dress up for restaurants. I do quite like that informality!
      Yes, what is it about hairdressers? I’m amazed how many there are in our small town and pharmacies, of course!

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  6. Hi June
    I think us Brits are feeling a lot better about ourselves now we have realised that French chic is a myth or certainly a generalisation. I also wrote a blog post on this topic! I have a holiday home in Vendée and this summer I witnessed obese young women in leggings, baggy and badly fitted tops, also sadly I noticed obese children, something I never thought I’d see in France.
    Of course, there are stylish, striking women in France as there are everywhere in the world, but in rural France women dress informally and comfortably I’d say.
    Yes I’ve noticed that going out to eat doesn’t require getting ‘done up’…something I like too.
    So pleased to have found your blog.

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    • Hi Fiona
      Thank you so much for your comment and it is interesting that you also feel that French chic is mainly a generalisation! I must read your post on this topic. Sadly, you are right about obesity, leggings and the rest.
      Must go and have a proper look at your blog!
      June

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