I, A Tacky American, Dressed Like A French Woman For A Week
After years of admiring French women, I decided to try and become one.
Bonjour! My name is Sheridan and I'm pretty much the opposite of a chic French woman. What do I mean by this?
So for one week, I decided to transform my style as much as possible, hoping to somehow soak up whatever fashion magic that French women have. Oh, and I'd have to use things from my own closet.
Would my wardrobe transform me into the double-kissing Parisian woman of everyone's dreams? Découvrons-le!*
*I had to Google Translate "let's find out" so I'm already doing great.
After turning my bedroom into a set piece for Twister, I decided on a striped pencil skirt and a ’50s-style denim button-down that I've never worn. In Parisian Chic, author Ines de la Fressange is very adamant about which shoes go with which outfits. I went with some simple sandals because Ines says every Parisian woman must have a pair of open-toed sandals.
Here's what I wore:
While the French always look like they just "threw" something on, everything that they throw on happens to be magically chic. But there's a fine line between looking casually put-together à la The Row Olsen twins and like your out-there aunt who doesn't believe in showering à la the NYU Olsen twins. My office gets cold so I tend to wear sweaters and jackets a lot, so I thought, Why don't I put a belt over my sweater?
Here's what I wore:
I originally walked out of my apartment with some yellow Oxfords on so I could pretend that I can actually pull off menswear. But you know when you're at work and you're like, "I definitely left the window open," and your co-worker is like, "No you didn't, you just think you did," and you spend the rest of the day thinking you'll get home and a thousand pigeons plus an ax murderer are waiting for you? Then you actually get home and there are no pigeons and no murderers but the window IS open so you know you should have just trusted your gut because next time there will most definitely be a murderer there? Wait, I've lost my train of thought.
Oh, right — so my point is, you've might have a moment where you've remembered something you should/shouldn't have done. That's what happened to me. I was walking out of my apartment and realized that in Ines' book, she says, "Navy blue is risk free, unless you wear it with yellow (in which case you are sailing dangerously close to the brand colors of a certain Swedish furniture store)." Considering the fact that my husband is Norwegian, I could not risk looking like the Swedish flag. Luckily, I had a pair of black ballet flats in the car that I changed into.
Here's what I wore:
Later that night, I dragged my friends to a French restaurant so that I could really get into my element. I even tried some red wine, which I hated! But at least I tried it.
One thing I gathered from my extensive dive into my French guides (aka reading those two books while eating a piece of cheese like a pizza slice) is that French women never want to look like they've tried too hard. Not too formal, not too casual, not too girly, not too edgy. There's a balance there. Taking notes from Adèle and Àstrid, I went for a dress–moto jacket combo.
Here's my attempt at the look:
High-neck tops tend to freak me out. Growing up, my sister and I used to tickle each other's necks to torture each other so really anything that grazes that area causes me to launch into a thousand giggles. But hey, this week was about getting outside my workout leggings and sports bras comfort zone, so I made a button-down shirt my bitch.
OH, and one more thing...
I GOT BANGS!!!
BTW, here's a photo of me circa fifth grade with bangs to assure you that the sun will, in fact, come out tomorrow:
Dressing for work is one thing, but dressing for a wedding is a whole 'nother. When I was looking through my closet for a dress to wear to my cousin's wedding, I took a much longer time than usual. What would say "Wow, she looks so effortlessly glamorous, I would like to befriend her and take her to brunch"? I had bought this dress on sale and never had the chance to wear it so I paired it with some open-toed sandals, my new bangs, and a clutch.
Here's me trying to glam it up:
I had to fly back from my cousin's wedding so I needed something comfortable. I also needed to find a way to wear a trench because Ines lists the trench as a basic that every woman should own. I settled on some comfy dark jeans, a striped top, and a trench coat that makes me wish it rained in LA more. In her book, Ines says she'll wear Converse on flights but since she could make a garbage bag look like couture, I wanted to wear something that would add a little more oomph so I settled on some simple ankle boots.
This is what I wore:
After a week of pretending to be the coolest version of myself, I realized that pretending is the very antithesis of being French.
Why are French women so cool? Because they are, for the most part, authentically themselves. They don't give a shit about what other people think, and that confidence is what's so attractive. While French women may appear to be an otherworldly species, it just seems like they're comfortable in their own skin.
So even though the only French I know is the chorus to Luann de Lesseps' jam, "Chic, C'est la Vie," I can still be the three C's: chic, classy, and confident.
I also learned some other less-profound things:
1. When in doubt, wear ballet flats.
2. Bangs are so hot — they really make your outfit. But also, they might cause you to die of heatstroke.
3. Raid your little brother's/father's/husband's closet and you'll find some gems. If they ask for them back, threaten to cut them out of their life. When they say you're being dramatic, blame it on me.
4. Paring down your makeup routine really lets your style shine.
5. Eat lots of bread and cheese. It's good for your soul.
But honestly, what do I know? When I was 8, I once hid in a closet at my school because a kid named Chad said he was going to tell my crush that I liked him and the school ended up calling the cops and telling my parents that I'd disappeared so I've obviously made some ~questionable~ decisions in the past.
P.S. If there are any Frenchwomen who are out there laughing at me, I understand.
I've been laughing at myself since the age of 14, when I finally stopped peeing the bed regularly AND got tired of begging people to play Barbies with me. And yes, I was the coolest kid.