Confession. I am obsessed with the effortless French aesthetic. Notice as I attempt today to be completely conversational in this post and not give two cares in the world about things like punctuation and spelling ha haha hahe aha haaaaaaa
It’s just. So. Effortless.
Everyone has perfectly messy hair!!!!!!
Everyone looks so cool!!!!! Is wearing gorgeous red lipstick!!!!!!
Who needs foundation when you have perfect skin???
And nobody has boobs!
For a kid who had always had very little guidance on clothing (I was 100% that bitch in college that wore maxi skirts and red lipstick, whatever the weather), I saw this aesthetic, clung on and fell headlong in love. I (still) hoard books by Garance Doré, Caroline de Magiret and Ines de La Fressange. I embraced red lipstick and still wear nothing but plains and stripes. My sister purchased YSL’s Touche Eclat (our family’s first super fancy makeup purchase!) because Camilla Morton’s How To Walk In High Heels told her so.
It’s taken a while (a long while, really), but I’m starting to accept that I will never be that French woman.
I can’t subscribe to their philosophy of “buying the best, most long lasting thing and wearing it forever”, because there are no forever options like that for a girl of my size. Even my bras can’t have that forever feeling, because according to the shops in my country, that bra size doesn’t exist (I am a unicorn, apparently). Don’t even get me started on pants.
I can’t be the girl who wears jeans and blazers, not in the heat of this country.
I can’t be the girl who throws on her boyfriend’s discarded button down because…boobs. Arms. Belly.
I can’t be the girl who goes out of the house without a little bit more coverage, because acne is real, and I can’t spend what they do on skincare.
I’m one of the lucky ones—I can afford to have things made for my size, I can buy things that look good on me, even if they don’t last. But that makes me Not A French Girl, because apparently she buys that one pair of jeans from Dries Van Noten and is set for life. She gets a blazer from a vintage store, and gasp! it’s actually a Chanel! Hahaha, oh look, that Ralph Lauren shirt she purloined from an ex boyfriend makes her look so gorgeous.
But despite all of that, I still love their vibe. I’m the completely wrong body type for it, but I try my best. Put me in a plain shirt + gorgeous skirt + loafer shoes and I’m a happy camper.
But even to get to that point took me a very long time, and years of trial and error and several books that tell me that I’m buying and wearing things wrong.
IN CONCLUSION. If you’re still reading. There’s nothing wrong with reading the books, and subscribing to their philosophies. But there’s equally nothing wrong with getting a giggle out of them, and finding what works for you.
I still follow Violette from Estee Lauder on YouTube, because I LOVE HER and her looks. I still drool over Matilda’s simple, but hyper expensive makeup collection, because it’s just so cool. I’m grateful for girls like Geneva Vanderzeil (of A Pair and A Spare!) and Jasmine Dowling who subscribe to the same philosophies, but adapt it to their own style, and taught me to pick and choose the part of things that I like (and that it’s totally fine!). And I’ve also recently fallen in love with Alexa Chung. Go figure.
And not that this matters, but if you’re ever going to buy a book from these French icons, I highly recommend Garance Doré’s Love x Style x Life. Not the how to book you expect, and her writing style is so caszh I feel like i’m reading a cool aunt’s diary, but I love the life lessons you pick up along the way, and for me is the most approachable of the ones I’ve read.
I can’t be a French woman.
But I can still be me. And…that’s just as good.