Whenever we're looking for fresh outfit inspiration, there are a few places that we inevitably turn to get the direction we need. Fashion month always gives us a comprehensive look at the season ahead, and Instagram is perfect for uncovering burgeoning trends, but when it comes to finding style advice that will truly stand the test of time, we always turn to the wardrobes of France's most stylish women.
French girls have mastered understated style in the effortlessly polished way that we still aim to replicate, and if you've got a sartorial dilemma, you can bet there's a well-known French styling hack to answer it. So naturally, as a chilly new season breezes into effect and we all rifle through our wardrobes wondering what to wear next, I took to the feeds of some of France's most stylish women to find solutions to the most common styling mistakes we all too easily encounter.
Even as fashion editors, we're prone to a style mistake or two every now and then (even if we don't admit it), but sometimes all it takes is some new inspiration, a little advice and an exciting new shopping find to help refresh the habits of a lifetime. So whether you're wondering how to dress for a certain season, style or event or just how to give your wardrobe an overdue revamp, we've got you covered. Read on to see which styling mistakes French girls always manage to avoid and how their savvy solutions might help you achieve your most stylish winter yet.
1. COLOUR CLASHING
We've all heard "red and green must never be seen," and that pink and red are the ultimate clashing no-no, but when it comes to mastering the right colour combinations, the solution is easier than you think. While we've come up with three colour pairings that always look expensive together, French girls prefer to keep it simple and stick to one colour palette at a time. So the next time you find yourself asking which coat will go with your dress and whether to go for the black shoes or the bright alternative, take a leaf out of the French-dressing handbook and try head-to-toe colour-blocking.
THE SOLUTION: TONAL DRESSING
Style Notes: Channelling easy elegance is simply a case of layering up shades of the same colour (and bonus points if you can work in shoes too). Minimalists will naturally echo Lou Lou's all-black uniform, but experimental dressers, now is your time to experiment with the bold colours you're naturally drawn to. Just try to avoid mixing prints by keeping it simple.
2. CROPPED CLOTHES
Thanks to that Miu Miu collection, this year saw a return of not only the micro miniskirt but also the cropped jumper. Teeny-tiny proportions aren't the easiest to work with at the best of times, and certainly won't be any help in keeping you warm in winter, so instead figuring out what trousers work with a crop top, there's a more substantial trend taking the streets of Paris.
THE SOLUTION: OVERSIZED TAILORING
3. MASTERING PLATFORM HEELS
Just when we thought razor-sharp stilettos were the fashion girl's shoe of choice, Versace and Valentino stomped onto the scene in sky-high platform shoes with chunky heels in punchy colours. Sure, they looked amazing, and yes, for a while they were all over our feeds, but when it comes to a shoe you can actually comfortably wear and enjoy, platform heels are bottom of the list, and when French women are dressing up and heading out, one shoe reigns supreme.
THE SOLUTION: DRESSY FLATS
Style Notes: From ballet flats to loafers, French women have singlehandedly upped the cool factor of the flat shoe. The quintessential Parisian uniform isn't complete without at least one pair easy-to-wear and even-easier-to-style flats, and with party season in full swing, we're happy to hang up our stilettos in favour of something a little more comfortable.
4. LOYALTY TO SKINNY JEANS
The French have spoken, and skinny jeans? Well, not so chic. While designers are championing ultra-wide, ultra-baggy jeans, the move away from the spray-on skinny is clear, and although we haven't spotted any Parisians in floor-sweeping flares quite yet, there is one fit you will always spot France's best dressed wearing dressed up for evenings or casually in the day.
THE SOLUTION: STRAIGHT-LEG DENIM
Style Notes: Everyone from Notting Hill to Notre Dame is wearing straight-leg jeans, the far more flattering big sister of the skinny. The high waist will nip you in, and unlike the tight legging fit of their predecessor, the looser leg creates a more streamlined silhouette. Did we mention just how good the shape is for every body?
5. RELYING ON THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
There was a time when getting dressed up for an evening event was as simple as three words: little black dress. But according to It girls on the other side of the channel, the new approach to nailing modern occasionwear is "bigger is always better." Nineties minimalism may have taken over our workwear and casualwear, but this year, we're all about maximalist party dresses that are too bold to ignore.
THE SOLUTION: BOLD DRESS ENERGY
Style Notes: As we scoured the streets of Paris looking for fresh outfit inspiration, the last thing we could find was a simple black minidress. Take tips from Ellie Delphine and Sabina Socol, and swap your LBD for bold, bright dresses with strong silhouettes to stand out from the crowd.
6. COVERING UP FOR WINTER
It's bitterly cold out there, and while we're mentally hibernating indoors by a fire and wearing just about as much cashmere as is feasibly possible, we do have to venture outside at some point. While your first choice might be layering up in thermals, chunky knits and perhaps a balaclava, the French are making a case for pairing your favourite winter layers with a wholly unexpected key piece.
THE SOLUTION: MINI HEMLINES
Style Notes: Temperatures may be plummeting towards the minuses, but you just can't keep a fashionable girl away from her miniskirt. Without a doubt, the mini is the biggest trend on and off the runway this year, and to make it cold-weather ready, we suggest a maxi coat, chunky knit, a pair of tights and, of course, some sleek knee-high boots. Et voilà, an instant outfit with maximum impact.
7. DRESSING DOWN WITH A DENIM JACKET
Remember summer? Neither do we. But there was a time when all we wore were light, cotton dresses and fluid co-ords, and the only feasible option was a grabbing a denim jacket for sunset. Now, in the throes of winter, the denim jacket feels like a retro throwback, and in fact, the only denim you'll spot on the streets of Paris are straight-leg jeans. So which jacket do French girls favour to complete their look?
THE SOLUTION: ADD POLISH WITH A BLAZER
Style Notes: It had to be the tailored blazer. (Although, the tweed jacket comes a close second.) The only wardrobe staple that can take a simple outfit like a T-shirt and jeans and make it immediately more commanding, the blazer is a treasured fixture in the wardrobes of everyone from fashion editors to the A-list. The next time you have "nothing to wear," try the French equation for an easy outfit: turtleneck + blazer + jeans + ankle boots = success.