29 June 2012

How to look French

You might not think you want to look French, but you do.

How to look French

We’ve just got back from a trip to France we can report that our sisters on the other side of the Eurostar know a few things about looking put together. Whilst we are in constant danger of turning into hot, frizzy, loudly spoken English ros beefs, they seem effortlessly poised and waiting with a casual flick of their eyes that disdains your very uncool English soul with a mere Gallic shrug of the shoulders.

But we are on to them! Here’s how to fake the French look and work effortless cool into your life:

French girls: Charlotte Gainsborg, Eva Green , Fleur Delacour

Girls who look French, but are infact “working the French look”: Alexa Chung, Miranda Kerr, Zooey Deschanel, Jane Birkin circa 1960


Fuss free and perfectly conditioned, French women keep it simple and chic. Wear your hair as naturally as looks good for you.

Avoid any excessive styling, get your hair cut as regularly as possible, invest in a shine enhancing shampoo such as Pantene Pure.

Rub your hair brush over a suitably sophisticated perfume sample in your magazine, then brush to distribute just a hint of scent through your hair.

Use simple neutral coloured hair clips, or barrettes to pin hair into shape, but save that pink nylon scrucnhy for PT.


Breton Stripes: Despite being somewhat clichéd, these still look uber chic and tres French. Look to Alexa Chung for your inspirataion here, no one does la stripe quite like her. Pair with faded denim and light accessories.

Shoes and jeans: Apparently, French women wear jeans, and they wear trainers, but they DO NOT WEAR THEM TOGETHER. Pair your ballet flats with jeans or your converse with a chic black skirt.

Brown: We noticed a lot of French girls wearing either simple brown jackets (sometimes leather) or beige trenches, we felt it worth noting this here.

Overall, French women of all ages tend to wear quite grown up clothes. We saw blazers everywhere. If you don't want to go really formal, think "neat". Don't have your bag overflowing, or your clothes all aray. Think casual, but with everything in its place.


Basically, don't panic, but the French look doesn't just require good skin, you need skin that trumpets health and radiance from every pore. French women take their skin care very seriously, and have pharmacies on every corner to aid them in their quest. Make sure you cleanse thoroughly every night and don't go to heavy on make-up, it'll make you break out.

French women allegedly spritz their face with cold water every morning to close pores and get them glowing. Boots sell the French Avene line which, although not cheap, will get you in the French mood. We keep their mineral spray in the fridge and use it for a bit of je ne sais froid, but (we suspect) cold tap water in a plant spray might work just as well...

Use highlighter to give your skin a Gallic sheen, then either slick on a classic red lipstick, or a dark eye, never both.

Use Vaseline to keep lips in top condition, and if you’re opting for red lippy, put a slick above each eyelid rather than eye make up. If you want a hint of colour, their rose tinted balm gives just the right amount.


Your nails should be in great condition, but you don't necessarily need to wear polish. All the French girls we saw on our recent travels were rocking a nude nail.

If the pic above is anything to go by, French girls do do colour, but overall we saw more nude nails day to day than coloured ones.

Keep handcream in your bag to keep cuticles under control.


At risk of making some sweeping cultural generalisations here, there is a certain air that many French women have that makes them terrifyingly cool. You need to basically look like you've read everything Simone de Beauvoir ever wrote, and haven’t really got time for banal things such as talking to boys, but if they insist on talking to you then you will be charming until they go away. Basically, it’s a recipe to make people fall head over heels in love with you, so get it right and you're laughing.

Read books: Read them in cafes, on the bus, in the park, but don’t just do it to look cool, think about what you're reading and you know formulate opinions and stuff. Even if no one ever asks you what your take on De Beauvoir's feminist theory is, the power that comes from knowing you have a take will aid your icy French cool no end.

If in doubt, don't speak. You are cultivating an air of mystery here, and people will fill in the gaps for you. It’s amazing how often people misread shyness for self-confidence, so use that to your advantage. If you feel nervous just sink behind your...

Dark glasses:

Yup, they make you look cool, and teamed with a classic striped top, glossy hair and nails and an air that says "N'importe quoi" they will be the final touch that takes you from Dawn French, to er French. Not sure if that makes any sense...

Wayfarer shapes and manly styles seem to work best, they should be very dark, fairly large so as to bob up and down pleasingly when you are giving an animated reply to questions about the coming French elections.


If you know anyone going to France get them to buy you some French notebooks, they’re the ones with those little stripy boxes rather than plain old lines. If nothing else it'll make jotting down your homework notes slightly more glamourous.

And finally why not actually speak some French? If you're taking it as a subject at school, look for an opportunity to practice and get fluent. France is a country where they really appreciate it if you make an effort to speak their language.

If you can't be bothered to learn French, just drop a few "bons" into the conversation... bon!

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