One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is overseeing our monthly street style photo shoots. For over a year, we've closely documented the stylish goings-on of people around the country. From the inherently cool ensembles styled out on the cobbles of Brick Lane in London to the layered-up looks captured in the narrow, winding streets of Edinburgh's Old Town, spotlighting what people are really wearing in real time has become a passion of mine, one that gives me significantly more satisfaction than scrolling on social media. That might come with its fair share of entertainment value, but there's only so much that I can take away from the outfits snapped through a filtered lens. If I want to adopt a look for myself or add something similar to my wardrobe, I like to take those cues from people who have dressed just for the sheer love of it, not solely for their feeds. This brings me to our next street style shoot, perhaps our most exciting yet.
Those familiar with my name in the byline (because—let's face it—it's pretty memorable) will probably be able to connect it with the majority of our French style stories. For the entirety of my career, I've relished analysing the outfits of our sartorially blessed Gallic cousins, coming up with myriad ways to mirror their formerly imitable style. When I think about it, I've probably written enough words on French fashion to fill a whole book. (That's a project for another day, perhaps.) So you can imagine my sheer delight when the Who What Wear team asked me if I'd want to take a more acute look at the summer style of French women in the South of France by way of our very own street style shoot. As a self-confessed Francophile, I was excited to see the summer style of the South of France's inhabitants.
I connected with a photographer in Cannes, a date was set, and I waited with anticipation to see the outfits they'd capture on their Canon. As for the ensembles we would end up finding? Even I, who has developed a discernible eye for this sort of thing, was seriously impressed. A glittering jewel in the French Riviera, Cannes attracts different people from around the globe who want to soak up the glamour and splendour of the city, making it an incredibly unique place to outfit scout, with inspiration at every turn. The looks we found were more diverse than I'd predicted they'd be, which, again, is precisely why I love street style so. You never know what you'll see. From relaxed tailoring in incredibly pleasing neutral palettes to dresses with shoulder pads so sharp worn with earrings so large, a common thread is difficult to discern from one look to the next. If, however, there's one thing they all share, it's a celebration of French style in its purest form.
Instead of describing what the stylish people of the South of France are wearing this summer, perhaps I ought to show you. Scroll on to see what women in Cannes are dressing in right now.
The Chicest Street Style Outfits Direct From Cannes
Style Notes: Gingham checks are an integral part of the French wardrobe. Though, we ordinarily see them in blue, black or brown tones. For a fresh, of-the-moment take on the Vichy motif, Ashanti opts for a striking red trouser-and-shirt co-ord, which she perfectly matched with her sandals, sunglasses and scrunchie. It's this attention to detail that truly sets the French apart.
Style Notes: It wouldn't be the French Riviera without a generous dollop of glamour, and that's precisely what Assiya brought with this ensemble. Although her monochromatic colour palette grounds the look, accents such as her dramatically sharp shoulders, sexy wrap-around sandals and statement gold jewellery ensure she stands out from the crowd. Not to mention her glossy hair and flawless makeup.
Monochrome polka dots will never go out of style.
Style Notes: Trousers have been atop the style agenda for the duration of 2022, particularly wide-leg iterations which the style set have been wearing on repeat for the past six months. Now, instead of the neutral tones that dominated spring tailoring, we're starting to see brightly hued trousers pull through, and Azade is essentially giving us a masterclass on how to style them—with fresh white accessories.
Style Notes: One of the biggest French style clichés is that it centres around muted hues, but that's not the case. In fact, I'm seeing more and more Gallic girls embracing the saturated shades that were so prevalent on the spring/summer 2022 runways. Case in point: Caroline's tangerine tailoring, which she has paired with classic black and white separates and accessories to ensure her two-piece looks polished.
Style Notes: Observation: French women love to wear crop tops. Be it with jeans, a midi skirt or, in this instance, trending wide-leg trousers, crop tops keep cropping up in French outfits, from Paris to the Amalfi. Though they're usually associated with after-dark dressing, Douvina gives hers a downtime spin with a pair of canvas trainers (even if they are Dior).
Style Notes: With another standout look from Cannes involving a crop top, white trousers and trainers, suffice to say that Esha and Douvina have crafted their very own Cannes uniform. The best part? It is so easy to copy and paste into your own outfit repertoire.
Style Notes: Honing her outfit with expensive-looking colours, Kun's get-up is what I expected from Cannes—elevated and chic—but with a twist. From her cropped shirt to her pleated skirt and kicks, she masterfully ticks off three major Y2K trends in one, all while making her outfit feel premium with the addition of a timeless handbag and a Vivienne Westwood Orb Necklace. Magnifique!
Style Notes: All-white outfits are coming in hard on social media right now. Let's face it. They're not exactly the most practical thing to wear, but who cares when they look this fabulous. For everyday wear, try adding a white vest top to a pair of ecru jeans, just as Maria has done for a day of sightseeing in the French Riviera.
Style Notes: One of the things I love most about how French women get dressed is the attention they pay to their accessories. Take Marwa. Her combination of a floral skirt and crop top already works, but by adding a printed silk scarf to her hair and finishing with white Birkenstocks (which pull the print in her skirt back into focus), she perfectly demonstrates the positive impact well-chosen and in-keeping accessories can have on your overall look.
Style Notes: From swimwear to jeans, bags to dresses, zebra print is a recurring theme in French outfits, and I have a hunch as to why. Made up of black and white, the motif feels instantly classic and elevated. Make like Mimi and give your zebra pieces even more personality by adding a bright bag or bold-hued shoes into the equation.
Style Notes: The baggy-jeans trend might have started last year, but it's reaching its popularity peak in France right now, with even my favourite French Instagram follows opting for them over their usual straight-leg styles. Take a leaf out of Nature's book by styling yours with another key 2022 trend—a top in Kelly green. I also love how she's matched her top to the shade of her Zara bag.
Style Notes: Thanks to Carrie Bradshaw's Norma Kamali moment in the first season of And Just Like That.., form-fitting dresses in bright colours are all the rage and so in-demand for wedding season. Not only do I love the juicy shade of Romi's jersey midi, but I'm also impressed at how she's made it work for daytime with the simple switch of flat sandals. Bravo, Romi.
Style Notes: A palate cleanser to all of the loud and bold styles happening elsewhere this season, a beautiful offering of white dresses can be found on both the high-end and high-street shopping circuits. They might have been big on the runway, but this is a dress staple French women have long since worn in some pretty unexpected ways. In lieu of sandals, Salome gives her ethereal white maxi dress a cool spin with a pair of Louis Vuitton trainers and an oversized Dior canvas tote. If you want to dress like you belong in the South of France, this is how to do it.
Style Notes: If you haven't heard about the coastal-grandmother aesthetic that's currently sweeping TikTok, let me enlighten you. Many are subscribing to the look laid out in Nancy Meyers films—which are predominantly based by the sea—where the main character's wardrobe revolves around easy linen separates, natural Breton stripes, raffia accessories and a soothing colour palette. Refer to Sema's outfit above for the visual representation of the trend.
Style Notes: Zingy orange shades are one of the biggest trends of the season, but admittedly, they can be daunting to style. If you're tentative about trying it for yourself, follow Shaimaa's lead by pairing an orange top with white trousers. A pair of classic jeans would also do the trick.
Style Notes: Like dresses, co-ords make for an easy solution when you just can't think about assembling an outfit from scratch. All you need to worry about is your shoes and bag. Still, that doesn't mean you can't have fun styling yours out. Take Tessa, for example. She styled her printed cardigan-and-skirt set with a pair of polished loafers and white socks, rounding off her look with timely rectangle sunglasses and a glossy YSL bag.