I couldn’t think of a clever way to say that this was another Keep It Simple post. But that’s precisely what it is: another post in our Dress Like a French Woman mini-series where I show you how to keep things simple and look fabulous.
Last time, I featured a basic outfit that’s great for the summer. Today, I figured I’d go for one that will serve you well through the winter months. Last time was jeans-and-a-tee; this time is jeans-and-a-sweater. See what I mean about keeping it simple?
Because that’s the thing about French women: they love their clean lines and sleek silhouettes. So who am I to disappoint?
I love Yoox. It’s a great place to buy designer pieces, like these sleek pants. They’re not exactly cigarette pants, but they remind me of them. I feel like they’re just a little too long to be true cigarette pants, since all the ciggie pants I’ve seen come up like an inch or two above the ankle, depending on where they’re from. But they’re certainly slim enough, and for me, that’s the key to this outfit.
After all, what we’re trying to do is keep it simple with a small number of pieces, and use clean lines that create a sleek silhouette. I’m not advising that you buy the slimmest (ie, tightest) pants you can find and somehow stuff yourself in them. But the point is to buy pants that fit, and create a streamlined look. No bulk, no bagginess. Just clean, straight lines throughout. I did that with the jeans last time, and went for the same thing with these dress pants this time.
Since this is a winter outfit, depending on where you are in the country, you’re either dealing with mountains of snow, or horrible sleet. Or, if you’re super lucky and in the warmer areas, you’ve at least got some rain and general unpleasantness with which to deal. Although, keep in mind, that if you think fifty degrees Fahrenheit is cold and horrible, that’s when we Chicagoans bust out the tank tops and shorts. And that’s when Canadians go sunbathing.
These boots will protect you against snow and rain and wet socks, which is a plus, and can be easily cleaned off when that gross snow-and-salt mixture stains them. Plus, wedge boots are adorable, and add some height. You could, of course, go with normal boots with the rubber sole and slight (separated/stacked) heel, but I saw these and liked them and tossed them in.
For the sweater, I went with this pretty cotton cabled one from the Ralph Lauren site. It’s warm and thick without being bulky, and that’s basically what I was looking for. I know that from this outfit, it seems like I’m only going with black or neutrals, in keeping with the ‘French women only wear black’ misconception. That’s not intentional. The sweater I had originally chosen was this great green cashmere one from BlueFly, but it was already sold out.
This particular sweater here is available in a ton of different colors, including red and purple. I saw this sandy color and just loved it, so I went with it. Sandy colors look great with my skin tone, so I admit to being slightly partial to them. I’m certainly not saying that if you want to dress like a French woman, you have to eschew all your bright colors. Our favorite colors are a great way of showing off our personality, and there’s no sense in removing that from our style.
Funny story: my dad grew up in Pakistan in the fifties and sixties. He went to an English-medium (ie, British-style, where English was spoken instead of Urdu) school, and that’s why he sometimes uses British words and has a bit of a British accent when he says certain words. Apparently, at that time, it was a very British thing for men to wear only certain colors: black, brown, navy, white, grey. Those were the acceptable masculine colors, and only those. (Remember, this is the fifties and sixties, in Pakistan.)
The only other place other than Pakistan and America that he’d ever been was Paris – he and my mother went there on their honeymoon. There, the men and many of the women, at least at that time, observed the same color ‘rules.’ When my dad first came to America (he lived here for most of the seventies, then went back to Pakistan briefly to get married and then within a year or two both of my parents had moved back because my mom got a full ride to Boston University for her doctorate, provided she taught a couple courses there as well), he noticed that the men here (it’s now the seventies and eighties) wore ALL sorts of colors.
Men wore electric colors, and bright green, and yellow – and there were even pink dress shirts! It was such a strange sight for him to see an American man walking down the street in a pale purple dress shirt, or a bright red polo. It was just the biggest culture shock for him for a while. Sure, now he owns polos in every color, and has at least two green dress shirts, but he’s had about forty, almost fifty years to acclimate to this wacky American culture.
Anyway, again, there is no reason to remove all the color from your wardrobe. Colors are fun and friendly, and there’s no reason to only go for the darker ones unless that’s already your style and how you feel most comfortable dressing.
And there we have another keeping-it-simple outfit, with clean lines, a minimalist feel, and a sleek silhouette, for just a little under $250. I’ll be back next time with yet another French-KISS ensemble for those days when we just don’t want to wear pants.
C’est la mode!