It should come as a surprise to no one that we have a few Francophiles in the Who What Wear office. And while there’s nothing wrong with appreciating another culture for all its cool, creative, sometimes game-changing contributions to fashion, we’re also not to assume that all French women possess that same outlook on style. Perhaps you’re familiar with more of a Parisian style stereotype—a person who wears vintage dresses and ballet flats, who carries a perfectly worn-in Chanel bag, and whose beauty routine consists of La Mer and good genes—but in order to begin to celebrate what makes each French woman unique, we first asked them to turn some common myths on their heads.
Looking to some of the French women we love to spot in our Instagram feeds today, we asked seven of them a simple question: What's a French fashion myth you’d like to set straight? Most answers varied but quite a few fell into a similar theme that the effortless French-style cliché—the one that says great personal style is more about geographic location than thoughtful choices, creativity, and expression—has got to go.
Scroll down to see what else these unique style leaders have to say about French fashion clichés, and shop a few pieces that have earned their own stamps of approval.
“That French women don’t worry about their diet or go to the gym. They do, like every other woman on the planet—they simply have better things to talk about!” —@camillecharriere
“I see a lot of girls wearing berets and explaining that it’s inspired by France, but to be honest, not every French girl wears a beret. I will speak for myself and for a couple of other girls I know: My hair simply doesn’t fit.” — @claire_most
“I know French women did not come up with the following quote, but they sure as hell did come up with the concept: I woke up like this. Or as the French like to say, je ne sais quoi (insert a sarcastic winky face).
"I think that foreigners appreciate the effortlessness of the French women, and I just want to reassure the readers: Achieving the perfect bangs, glowing skin, and seemingly undone waves is not effortless at all. Et voilà! A French myth." — @sabinasocol
Available in sizes XS to L.
“I’ve heard that French-women style, when it comes to colors or print, is very conservative. They tend to stick to a color palette that is very safe. However, that is not entirely true, because the French woman is cosmopolitan and sometimes multicultural. She may live in France but maybe has origins in other countries, or she’s traveled extensively. Whether she comes from a faraway exotic island like me or just from the Southern part of France, color is part of her everyday life—in the nature she sees, in the food she eats—that’s bound to translate in the way she dresses.
“So no, not all French women wear only black and white or 50 shades of nude. And not all French women are Parisians.” —@slipintostyle
“The ‘French woman’ of the 21st century is plural and embodies all representations of beauties. French fashion has been enriched by these differences, which makes it unique.” — @stephaniezwicky
Available in EU sizes 44 to 62.
“It’s said that French women have a natural beauty, but in reality, she will never tell you how long she has spent working on her nude makeup.” — @linaose
Available in sizes XS to XL.
"'French girls wear ballerina flats most of the time.' Actually not really, even if we probably all own a pair of them—a Chanel one or Repetto one, for example—we don’t really wear them all time. In my opinion, it's so uncomfortable, it's too flat!" — @adenorah
Available in EU sizes 36 to 40.
Shop French Designer Pieces
Available in sizes 2 to 12.
Available in sizes 1 to 3.
Available in EU sizes 38 to 42.
Available in French sizes 34 to 44.
Available in French sizes 40/42 to 48/50.
Available in EU sizes 34 to 40.
Available in French sizes 34 to 44.
Available in sizes S to XL.
Up next, meet our July cover star and actress-to-know, Zoey Deutch.