Want to look as chic as the French?

Forget about berets and baguettes, discover the secrets to the perfect French wardrobe

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Words by Síomha Connolly
March 23rd, 2016

There is no city that holds the attention of fashion spectators worldwide quite like Paris does. The fashion capital leads, and the rest of the world follows. When some of its most renowned homegrown brands make announcements, the fashion pack listens eagerly with open ears. And when Paris based company, SMCP, announced that it has filed to open its stock to the public it was no different. What this means is that if the IPO (initial public offering) goes ahead shares will be available to purchase stock in what is estimated to be valued at a 1 billion euro company. Over the past three years the company has doubled its profits, but SMCP has declared that it is still in debt.  The company has been forced to either offer its stock on the public stock exchange, or to sell the shares privately to a single investor in order to help reduce its debts. While the company is considering both options, the IPO seems more likely, as an initial deal with a private investor fell through. Given the company’s sales growth over the past three years, this deal is more attractive than ever to potential shareholders. Private equity firm KKR & co. acquired roughly 65 percent of the company in 2013, with management retaining 35 percent at present.

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Sandro ss16
Sandro ss16

SMCP is the brand which houses Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, AKA your fast-track to French chic. These three accessible luxury brands, which can be found in Brown Thomas and BT2, are designed in Paris and offer on-trend, high quality, affordable pieces. Sandro, which is perhaps the most sophisticated of the three, is known for its sleek wearable classics. Maje offers up more of a bohemian feel with off-the-shoulder detailing, floaty dresses and folk prints while Claudie Pierlot provides slightly preppy vibes with lots of tailoring, shirting and co-ords. These middle-market brands are your ticket to Parisian cool, read on to find out how to work them into your wardrobe.

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Maje ss16
Maje ss16

It’s the subject of endless internet articles, countless discussions among women, and multiple published books; ‘How to be Parisian Wherever You Are’ by Caroline de Maigret et al., ‘Love Style Life’ by Garance Doré, ‘La Parisienne’ by Sophie Gachet… the list seems endless, but no matter how many books you read, the insouciant glamour that French women embody still seems out of reach.

So, we ask once again, what exactly is it that epitomises French chic? For the millionth time we are told it’s simply a certain “je ne sais quoi” that French women possess. When French women are asked about the subject, often their response is something along the lines of “don’t try too hard” or “just be comfortable”. Is it as matter of fact as this? Or can this look or mood be replicated? Ines de las Fressange describes Parisian style as more of a “state of mind” which leads us to believe that it is difficult to replicate. We have decided to look towards some of our favourite French brands for inspiration so that we too can have that effortless elegance and even if we can’t master the “state of mind” we can certainly get the look.

Claudie Pierlot ss16
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Claudie Pierlot ss16
Claudie Pierlot ss16

When putting your wardrobe together the most important factor is to construct a classic collection of pieces. Brilliant basics are the key to a good look and an eclectic mix of high street and designer, mixed together to fit your style and personality is what you should aim for. French women often appear to rely on uniform dressing. That is, finding a look that works for them, sticking to a few key, quality pieces and wearing them over and over again, but most importantly, wearing them with confidence. When picking your key pieces think of items that won’t go out of style. Don’t go for items with logos or brands that plaster their name all over the clothes, stick to simplistic, pared-back pieces. Some key elements of the perfect French wardrobe are a good trench coat, a breton striped tee, a strong pair of denim jeans, and an oversized blazer. These basics, along with others which you will see in our shoppable section below, are some of the pieces that make up the basis of a capsule French wardrobe.

The French woman often appears as if she’s not even trying, as if style is something that is innate. Look no further than these style stars below, from  Author Ines de las Fressange, to Model/Writer Caroline de Maigret and Paris Vogue Editor Emmanuelle Alt. With the help of these French brands you too can master that nonchalant way of wearing casual clothes. And while you may not have the equable air of the Parisian’s, you can at least fake it with your wardrobe, or armoire, should we say.

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maven46-french brands-parisian style-ss16

We’ve compiled the perfect French wardrobe, including items from Sandro, Maje, and Claude Pierlot’s spring/summer 2016 collections, so that you too can achieve that effortless Parisian style. Shop the looks below and you can also look to our Paris Fashion Week trend report for some more inspiration.