Why "French-Girl" Style Isn't What It Used to Be

When I visited our L.A. offices earlier this year, one of the editors, who lives 5437 miles away from me, was wearing a Rixo dress, a Staud bucket bag, and a pair of boots that I had in my suitcase back at the hotel. Instagram cult items, it seems, are like Happy Meals and Starbucks Frappuccinos—they are just as alluring whether you're in Paris or Philadelphia, London or Los Angeles. Globalization in fashion is nothing new—the likes of Zara, Topshop, and ASOS have all shipped internationally for some time, and red carpet pictures are circulated within minutes. What has changed, however, is the speed at which trends translate internationally. Small labels that are just finding their feet can become global sensations overnight, and outfit ideas cross continents in the time it takes to publish one Instagram picture.


(Image credit: Emili Sindlev)


(Image credit: Lucy Williams)


(Image credit: Sabina Socol)

This summer, you'll see Susan Alexandra's colorful beaded bags, Realisation's leopard-print slip skirt, and Veja sneakers on the fashion crowd in Paris, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Scrolling through Instagram, it seems like our once fixed idea of what separates French, Scandi, or British style has become more and more of a myth. French It girl Jeanne Damas will wear Danish brand Ganni's print of the moment and buzzed-about new contemporary bag alongside her Breton stripes and basket bags. Conversely, you will spot a Jane Birkin–style straw bag every time you get on the subway in New York.

"Trends are becoming more global because Instagram has given millions of people across the globe access to these trends," says Paris-based influencer Ellie of Slip Into Style. "Thanks to it, you can see the way women from another part of the world dress, so much so that it's becoming trickier and trickier to tell specific styles from one another. French style is no longer as well defined as it used to be. In my opinion, it is slowly being assimilated into a more minimalist style with neutral color palettes, clean and sleek tailoring, and staple pieces like a trusted pair of jeans and a white T-shirt."


(Image credit: Slip Into Style)


(Image credit: Venswifestyle)

The fashion community on Instagram breaks down borders. By a couple of taps on our phones, you can see in real time how women are dressing all over the world. Then with the help of next-day delivery, you can re-create the exact looks for yourself within days. You can buy Balinese basket bags or tourist T-shirts without stepping on a plane thanks to sites like Depop and Etsy, which means it's not just the ASOSes of this world that reach an international shopper. An It outfit—like the leopard-print Realisation skirt, Veja trainers, and T-shirt that has dominated this summer—can now come from nowhere in just one or two weeks.

Despite the rapid speed that trends travel, geography does still play a part in style, and there are things that will always be considered distinctly French or Scandinavian. In Copenhagen, it's all about colorful prints; Stockholm is more classic and minimal; Londoners are all about being playful (and practical at the same time). However, the key difference now is you don't actually have to be from somewhere to dress like you live there—thanks to Instagram, you can replicate the London look from anywhere in the world. "I believe that French women do still have French style, that je ne sais quoi or flair that makes them stand out," says Ellie. "But when I turn to my Instagram, I see a lot of women from Poland or the U.S. who master French style just as convincingly as a French woman would. French style is no longer just for French women."

This Year's Cult Pieces (Whatever the City)

Next up, see what stylish girls around the world are buying this summer.

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK.

Emma Spedding