What Je Ne Sais Quoi Really Means, by 3 Chic French Women

Smug sentence alert: I speak French. I've lived and studied in France. So I should be able to translate the notion of "je ne sais quoi," non? Directly, yes. It means "I don't know what." But it actually has a much more abstract meaning, one which is actually hard to interpret if you're not French. And it's even harder to describe when you're talking about fashion.

If you're an avid reader of Who What Wear, you'll know that we're big fans (read: obsessives) when it comes to French fashion and the way Gallic women get dressed. Their ability to assemble an outfit in the most put-together-but-doesn't-look-like-you've-tried-too-hard way is a source of constant inspiration. It's precisely when I'd use the term "je ne sais quoi" to explain a look.

Of course, not being a native speaker, I thought it would be a much better idea to speak to a selection of French women on what they think it means and to find out how the idea is represented by a piece in their wardrobes. Ready to discover the secret? Keep scrolling, mes chères.

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