French Dressing: A Farewell To The City of Style

January 31, 2009 • Magazine

French Dressing: A Farewell To The City of Style

French Dressing: A Farewell To The City of Style

Sat, 2009-01-31 16:00

Gabbie Perez

I owe a lot to the city of Paris: my love of art, my fascination with aesthetics, my proficiency in a second language, my empty bank account. But most of all, the city transformed me from a designer label loverinto a confident shopper who knows what she wants.

European style, particularly that of the French, is not easily emulated. Somehow French women always look sophisticated and so effortlessly put together. But after having lived in Paris for over 3 years, I am finally able to make a cheat sheet for copycat Parisian style.

1. Don’t Follow Trends
This is the most valuable fashion lesson I learned while living in Paris. American fashion is overwhelmingly obsessed with trends — every major magazine now includes some sort of ‘fashion watch’ and we cannot escape the ‘trend alerts’ made available after every major fashion show. While these are important as they reveal the latest in fashion design, we should not allow our closets to become slaves to trends and what others label as cool. Remember to listen to yourself: wear what you like, what you feel comfortable in, what reveals your personality, even if it is deemed ‘out’ this season.

2. Keep It Simple And Clean
Minimalism is an essential to French dressing, a quality seemingly inherent in French women of all ages, and which remains the biggest difference between American and French style. French style doesn’t depend on the latest trend or the newest designer prodigy, but rather on understated and timeless pieces. They choose pieces that are classic in color, shape, and quality. French women balance their outfits with equal proportions of cloth to skin (ie plunging necklines paired with a super short mini is a big no-no!).

3. One Statement Piece Carries An Outfit
The French can transform an outfit using a single accessory. Over-accessorizing is not in their vocabulary. 5 inch heels, an armful of bangles, a playful pin, a simple scarf — each is worn separately, never together, and used to define a look. My only regret is that I never figured out how to perfectly tie a scarf just like the French…

4. When In Doubt, Wear Black
Although this has become most women’s fashion adage, no one can wear black quite like the French. Forget the other colors of the spectrum, black is the only shade you’ll need in Paris. I can’t tell you how many times I tore through my closet looking for an outfit only to come out wearing all black (and it works every time!). So if you’re wondering what to bring on your next vacation to Paris, pack black! It’s slimming, it’s classic, it’s sophisticated, it’s easy!

Paris is a place I will always hold dear to my heart. Deciding to attend college in Paris will forever remain the best decision of my life. I learned more about myself and about the world than I could have ever imagined. It is a chapter of my life that is hard to close, but it is now time to move on to other things and other places (like Chicago!). Merci beaucoup, Paname, pour tout vous m’avez donné.

Some personal French style icons:
1. Charlotte Gainsbourg
2. Bridgette Bardot
3. Audrey Tautou in the movie Amelie

Some of my favorite sites:
4. The Louvre
5. Eiffel Tower by Night
6. Notre Dame Cathedral
7. View Out of My Apartment window
Photos: Gabbie Perez

Image Layout: Allison Merzel

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