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French Fashion: Lipstick and a Lover

April 15, 2014
There's often an image that comes to mind when we think of the typical French woman: chic, elegant, effortlessly stylish. She always has a handbag casually resting on her wrist, high heels and skinny jeans paired with a leather jacket, and a bold lipstick. I've heard it said that all you really need to be a French woman are "two lipsticks and a lover." So, is it true? What is really the secret to adopting the French's flawless sense of fashion and chicness?

I'm sorry to say, gentlemen, but I'm afraid my thoughts, observations, and advice on this topic may be mostly geared towards the ladies. Of the advice I can offer, though, the most important is this: shoes matter, and French men know how to sport the most stylish, that's for sure. They typically smell pretty good, too (the men, not their shoes). So go out and get yourself some not-too-overpowering but still noticeable cologne and a pair of sleek leather loafers, and you'll be golden. Rather than stick out like a sore thumb like some of my American male counterparts who not-so-subtley wear their Nike's with bluejeans, you'll surely blend in just fine.
 I guess you could say I'm getting better at the whole high-heel thing...?

As for the ladies, I've noticed a few fashion staples in France (and Europe as a whole) that seem fairly easy to incorporate into the wardrobe. First,  jackets are key. Jean, leather, suede, form-fitted, short or long, light or heavy. Whatever the style, they are a necessity, and always paired with a big, fluffy scarf. Like the men, the women certainly know how to top off a look with the perfect pair of shoes. I've never seen so many women effortlessly--and seemingly painlessly, I might add--strut in high heels at quite such a rapid pace, and down a cobble-stone street. Every occasion is an occasion to wear heels here, no matter what. I must say, I rather like the unspoken expectation to look pulled together at all times, even though I often wake up in the morning wanting nothing more than to go to class in my sweats and oversized hoodie. I think the French level of fashion has beaten out some of my laziness, so aside from sometimes resenting it, I am indeed quite grateful.

Along with the jacket, scarf, skinny jeans and heels ensemble, the French ladies somehow always have perfect hair. But it's not perfect in the sense that it looks like a fake sculpture on top of someone's head that has been practically glued on-- it's perfectly just a bit messy, and simply adds to the effortless effect. I'm not quite sure how they do it, but if they let me in on their secret one of these days, you'll be the first to know.

 Lipstick: Check (warning: they don't actually wear berets!)

All in all, I think I've come to the conclusion that the French style doesn't come from the amount of clothes they own, or the quantity of shoes in their closets. More than anything, it's their general air and confidence that is the most noticeable, and their biggest source of beauty. And while some might see this "air" merely as arrogance, I'd beg to differ--arrogance, no, but elegance, most definitely.
 More balancing in heels, this time in the City of Light

Emily Blume is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a Sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh.

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