We talk a great deal about French style, and we talk a great deal about British style, but we talk very little about how the two aesthetics combine. Of course, boundaries of fashion aren't set in stone, but generally speaking, there are some pieces that feel distinctly more French and some that loan themselves more to British dressing. You might think these fall into cliché territory—berets for Parisians, Chelsea boots for Londoners, for example—thinking that only people from the countries where these fashion items originate wear them is silly. Of course, that's not the case. However, it got me thinking about which clothing French girls love to wear that has British heritage, and vice versa. Today, I'm going to explore the former.
Below, you'll find six examples of British fashion items and trends that French women have adopted as their own and embraced in their wardrobes. Not that Brits have ownership over them by any means; it's just interesting to see items that have a certain French sensibility about them actually hail from Great Britain. Scroll on for a fun little fashion history lesson with some French outfit flair thrown in.
Style Notes: The cardigan has undergone something of a metamorphosis over the past few years. Previously an integral element in the grandparent starter kit, fashion as taken in the garment with open arms, preferring to wear it sans top. French women wear their cardigans regularly—they were clearly the cover-up of choice for the locals when I visited Paris this year—but the knit actually hails from Britain, having been modelled off a knitted waistcoat worn by soldiers in the British Army.
Style Notes: Tartan has become synonymous with British style, dominating through the punk era right through to informing classicist Emilia Wickstead's most recent designs. Of course, its heritage lies in Scotland, where kilts made in different tartan weaves honour the country's legion of clans. French women? They wear it regularly by way of casual jackets, trousers and dresses.
3. Trench Coats
Style Notes: Trench coats are deeply rooted in British fashion heritage, with Burberry being the brand most commonly associated with the staple. Still, living in a climate with a regularity of rain that's similar to ours, French women also have found the coat style comes in handy across the Channel and wear it on the daily.
4. Oxford Shirts
Style Notes: To some, it might just look like a blue-and-white shirt. What could be so British about that? Although the name might allude that it was crafted in Oxford, the Oxford shirt actually originates from Scotland and was made as as part of a four-piece shirt collection crafted by artisan weavers. Today, the only shirt still in circulation out of the four is the candy-stripe Oxford and is beloved by Brit and French people alike.
Style Notes: Corduroy is a recurring theme in French style, which we put down to the fact that Gallic women love to embrace retro trends on an unparalleled scale. However, corduroy was actually created in Britain in the 18th century. Hardwearing but versatile, it has been crafted in many ways over the years, but nothing feels quite so classic as a corduroy blazer or flared trousers. Oh, and what's this on Julie Sergent Ferreri? Corduroy and tartan? We rest our case.
6. Three-Piece Suits
Style Notes: Okay, how can we lay claim to tailoring—it's universal, right? It goes without saying that we don't hold precedence over any of the items on this list, but it might interest you to learn that the three-piece suit—the mighty fashion triad—was first designed in Britain in 1666 for British royals in a deliberate shift from the more fanciful regalia that had previously dominated. Now, fashion people wear blazers, waistcoats, and tailored trousers with mules and the latest It bag as a show of style prowess. And French women? They seem to be backing the look more than anyone.
Opening Image: @annelauremais