How to look like a French woman

HOW TO LOOK LIKE A FRENCH WOMAN

How to dress like a French woman? Despite countless articles and a fair share of books on the subject (of various caliber), we still want to know how they do it.  Is there a magic formula?

I think that the coveted French women style is really down to more than one factor and that it’s not all about clothes. In fact, I think clothes are really just one ingredient of the delicious cake called style. The others? Philosophy (whether conscious nor not) and attitude.

I’m always incredulous when I come across blogs and online articles advising that to look like a Parisian you need to be buying ballet pumps and pairing them with tulle skirt (I swear) or another culprit- a beret and a Breton top.  Do you want a baguette to go with it, Mme? I will never forget a girl who I saw on a cold, rainy July afternoon near Trocadero.  She wore a 50-ties style skirt, a Breton top, trench coat, a pair of red ballet pumps and a red beret. I think I know the effect she was after but she missed it by a mile.

In my mini series How to look like a French woman I will explore all the ingredients that make French style so covetable. So visit me next Sunday for part 1- style philosophy. See you soon!

effortless style secrets

EFFORTLESS STYLE – THE SECRETS

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of effortlessness. What is this elusive effortless style and why it draws so many internet searches? Why some people wake up, pick up the first thing from the top of the pile and look amazing, and others’ style look laboured and contrived?

In exploring the idea of effortlessness I wanted to go behoyd strict fashion guides of “wear this, don’t wear that” (these are super useful, too and they are coming, too 😉 ) and to explore the very root of the concept so it doesn’t matter what you have in your wardrobe and create your own effortless style.  You do not have to be dependant on whether or not you have the ‘right’ items in your closet.
For me, the first ingredient of effortless style is contrast. It’s actually very easy to do and the French have been at it forever. You need one element “off” or something almost unfinished or unexpected like  glossy hair and no make up make up, or exactly the opposite, messy hair and intricately made up face. Trousers suit and trainers, mini ruffled skirt and men’s jacket or elegant coat and joggers.  Jean-Michel Basquiat did contrast perfectly, wearing Armani suit and no shoes.
Second ingredient is simplicity.  Gucci fans would disagree with me and they would be right- you can be as far from simplicity as possible and still look effortless, but here we are talking about unfussy, understated and sophisticated style. A simple white shirt, a pair of jeans and messy hair will look effortless. Pile it up with pearl earrings, high heels and a matching handbag, watch, belt, blazer and a scarf and the effect will be completely different. Famous Coco Chanel quote about removing one thing before you eave the house works every time.
Third one is all about a statement piece. It can be a cuff, a bag or a pair of shoes. The effect should be as if the statement accesory was an afterthought, something you grabbed on the way out without much thinking about it. For me is almost always the shoe. I often wear a pair of black leather trousers, a white t-shirt and a black men’s jumper and it’s the pair of crazy shoes that provide that unexpected contrasting element and spice up a simple outfit.
What’s your style secrets?

ON LOOKING GOOD AND FINDING YOUR STYLE

 

When a judge rose from his bench to allow the prosecutor to make some enquiries, I pulled a copy of Vogue which I bought at the station that morning and began flicking through the fashion pages. There were a few us left in the courtroom.

Vogue? – sneered another lawyer- How about a copy of Archbold? Someone laughed, a short, ill conceived laugh that died as soon as it started.

Oh John- I said, voice like a sugar syrup-you don’t have to feel sorry for me. I have two law degrees, one of them masters. 

Others laughed. Joke was on him and I went back to reading Vogue.

This was a few years back when I was a trainee solicitor in London.  I was lucky to get a job in a practice based in the City and I was training in criminal law. I loved it. I would rock up to the office every day in a perfectly ironed shirt and in a sharp suit (often made to measure), hair and make up done.  Looking good, groomed and perfectly put together was non negotiable for me. Whilst my bosses appreciated my efforts, I was shocked to discover that other practitioners I often met at court had a different attitude.

It was somehow not done, to look good, to have clean shirt and polished shoes. It meant one was a bimbo. A “real” lawyer had other thinks to think about, like law for example. It was ok to turn up to court with dirty cuffs or crumpled suit. Or just to look a little bit dishevelled- and not in a sexy, French way.

I could hardly believe it. How did they arrive at a conclusion that  person who looks put together could  not be a worthy custodian of a tough criminal case? This was a ridiculous notion!

I have always believed that how we chose to present ourselves to the world determines our reality. It sends so many signals about us to the world.  About our our attitude, values, often social standing. It tells the world who you are. I’ve always felt that looking my best is a sign of respect for myself, and when you respect yourself you send a clear message that you a person to be reckoned with.

I think each one of us must find our own distinctive style. Especially now, when Instagram sameness took over the world, when nearly every you girl wants to look like a famous blogger, finding our own, true style is increasingly important. The style that will makes look great and feel great too, in that genuine way that comes from truly knowing yourself.

So what is your style? What items of clothing make you feel strong and powerful when you put them on? What brings on your best features?  For me, it has always been a well cut jacket and a white shirt. Over time my style has evolved but the main components are still the same-  well cut, good quality, slightly masculine clothes which make me feel like I can take on the world. And really, it doesn’t matter how many women I’ll see this summer wearing those beautiful Zimmerman, flowery dresses. I can admire them from afar but they are completely not my style. And that’s ok with me.

How about you- what makes you feel and look amazing?

How to be confident

SASCHA & THE BOYS- EFFORTLESS, IMPERFECT STYLE

I love your style– sighed a secretary at a law firm I used to work- everything you wear looks so expensive.  Little did she know that everything I was wearing at the time came directly from second hand shops (as a trainee lawyer I wasn’t exactly rolling in cash).

At the time I wanted to look polished, sophisticated and most importantly, perfect. I guess I was on the right track. My ex used to say I looked as if I had a butler.

I remembered what she said when a few years ago I was thinking about how my style has evolved overtime, from super polished, not a hair out of place to more relaxed, imperfect chic.

Today, I love the idea of imperfect glamour, of an element or two being left undone.  Of  “just out of bed” hair and a masculine suit or glossy, groomed hair and no make up, underage bags and freckles left untouched. It feels incredibly effortless and chic.

I want to capture this attitude in the clothes I create. My vision is  to translate austere masculinity into shapes, and feminine sophistication into fabric shades of cream, blush and nude.

And so, Sascha & The Boys was born.  I hope you follow along on a journey with me- my first collection will launch in Spring 2019.

How to be confident

THE ORIGINS OF CONFIDENCE

As the plane touched down, I was surprised my heart wasn’t pounding with fear. I was in the middle of doing something crazy yet all I felt was a surge of excitement. I was wearing a caramel, suede flying jacket, cream silk shirt and cream, wide legged trousers. I felt so powerful in those clothes, so confident. I was going to see someone I had met briefly when on assignment a few months before. I wanted him all to myself- and that was exactly what I got.

Even though this is now a distant memory, I still remember how strong and powerful I felt then. like it was impossible to fail.

I can pinpoint a few of factors that helped me to get where I am today- persistence (a lot of it), confidence (faked for many years until I didn’t have to pretend any more), belief in the goal and looking my best. The way I made myself look opened a lot of doors. It helped me to win jobs when I had no experience and no qualifications. It helped me to win clients. Employers and clients trusted me- I was pulled together, groomed and dressed in such a sophisticated fashion. As for the boys… confidence was the only thing that allowed to pick whoever I set my heart on, even though I was never the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood.

For me confidence often came from my clothes. Not from designer labels or expensive shoes but from the way the clothes I picked made me feel amazing. They are such a powerful tool, conveying the message one wants to send in such an easy, effortless way. Before I can utter a word, my clothes speak for me. Sometimes I’m all about power jackets, their sharpness conveying that don’t mess with me attitude. Other days, cream silk of a dress conjures images of a balmy evening on the Riviera. Leather trousers and men’s cashmere jumper give me a Parisian attitude.

Whatever you put on- it should make you feel amazing, strong, confident because this is what your clothes will say to the world.