Wednesday, March 24, 2010

French Fashion

France- the land of top name designers and haute couture.

People do dress here. At home, it’s a good day if I’m not wearing stretchy black pants and a hoodie.

I always dress here. Even just for dinner with the family. I do only go so far as to wear jeans, but I always wear blouses, cute sweaters, and flats instead of Ugg boots or flip-flops.

I may put on actual clothes here, but I don’t fit in. French women (with the exception of Caroline) only dress in black. Not even brown. Just black. Gray if they’re feeling feisty.

French women wear boots. They love boots. Any type of boot: leather, suede, ankle bootie, Julia Roberts “Pretty Woman” thigh high, plain boots, studded boots. They wear all types of boots, but typically with a heel. They currently sport a boot that I refer to as a “demi-cowboy boot”. It is a slouched, western style boot that comes just above the ankle. I really like ‘em and need to get a pair. The boots come in the basic shades of gray, black, tan, and browns. Yes, they do wear brown boots with their black outfits. It looks cute.

French girlies don’t have a tendency to go bare-legged. Even though the weather has just warmed up enough to do so, I don’t think they will because I get the sense that shorts and skirts without tights is a bit to caj. Yes, I did say shorts. The girlies here wear black tights all the time and with everything. The tights look darling with the boots, but then you realize they are wearing shorts. That’s a little odd. I love black tights with a skirt and the boots. I’ll leave the tights with shorts for the French women.

Also part of the French uniform for both men and women is the scarf. Everyone wears one for any pursuit outside of the house. If a French woman were to try and add some color to her wardrobe, this would be the only acceptable way to do so. That or jewelry.

I exaggerate when I say French women don’t wear any color. There is this wool coat that many women wear here, but it is this truly revolting Dr. Seuss inspired thing. The French have just repressed themselves by wearing black for so long that many are reacting in this ridiculous manner. If you all of a sudden gave an Amish child the opportunity to wear any color she wanted, it would result in this whimsical scribbly thing. The back of the coat really does have embroidered scribbles on it. The designer patchworked some fabric scraps together for the front and then didn’t bother to root all the way through the button box for matching buttons. I don’t know who designs it, but I’m pretty sure that designer also works on costuming in Tim Burton movies. Many women of all ages wear this coat. I just want to yell one of them - any one of them, “Girl, you look a mess!”

To top it all off, many lady frenchies wear a knitted hobo hat.

One thing that has surprised me about French fashion is how jerzed out it is. A lot of the girls here could walk the streets of the Garden State without anyone noticing anything different about them. The 2 things that make France jersey-like are: Longchamp bags and sectioning clips. Longchamp bags ARE French. It started out as a leather company in France. BUT pretty much every Jersey-girl who walks around PSU campus carries one, which is why I make the association. I like them though and probs will buy one. Longchamps are practical. They are made out of durable vinyl and they both zip shut and have a small flap closure. Très important in this land of petty theft.

The sectioning clips however are just straight up tacky jerz. For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, a sectioning clip is what you use to separate pieces of your hair when you are styling/blow drying it. Sally Hansen is the most popular brand, I believe. Maybe Vidal Sassoon. They are not intended to be worn as fashion clips and to do so is tacky and pins you as being from the Tri-State area. A good example of a woman who wears the sectioning clip is Snooki from the MTV show Jersey Shore. It’s the perfect accessory to her poof. Many lady frenchies rock the sectioning clip. While carrying a Longchamp. It’s like I never left Penn State.

We may jokingly refer to New Jersey as the Dirty Jerz, but I do believe people shower there. I’ve noticed a dip in my personal hygiene and grooming habits here. I do brush my teeth and wash my face, but I let my hair go a little bit. At home, I wash my hair every other day to avoid drying it out. Third day hair is unacceptable. The girls here have perpetual third day hair. I’ve been slipping a bit into the third day hair habit. Ok here, gross at home. It’s just harder to shower here in general. It’s not a hop in-hop out sort of set up. I have to hold the shower head; it’s not attached to the wall. There is no shower curtain so I have to clean up after my shower. It’s quite the ordeal, but c’est pas grave.

Another thing that I find gross that people do here is roll their own cigarettes. I only know one person who does this at home. It’s a common site here: People on the tram with their bag of tabacky rolling up a cig on their knee. This makes it hard to differentiate between a cig and a lil spliffy. I may not be a cannabis connoisseur, but sometimes I catch a whiff of something as someone passes me by that makes me think “hmmmm…” It may seem odd that I’d include cigarette trends in a fashion entry, but cigarettes are of course, the most common way to accessorize an outfit.

Men here don’t dress like men at home. Well, not like straight men anyways. The men here are well-coiffed and cologned. They have awful BO, but the cologne they try to mask it with is more varied than Axe and Abercrombie Fierce. They sort of spike their hair, and some of them even have short bangs along with the spike. Men wear scarves and carry satchels here without anyone thinking anything of them. The most popular brands for the boys here are DeeLuxe and G Star Raw. Obviously this makes it a little more difficult to determine which side their bread is buttered.

There is another population of frenchies that are hippie like. Lots of dreads and loose linen pants. Also popular are facial piercings. The stud in the center of the bottom lip is common, but so are nose piercings and eyebrow piercings. I don’t really like either.

French women can really pull themselves together. They are usually well-made up. They can also pull things off that would just look off on me, like fluffy scarves and very pointy boots.

Fashion here makes people watching even more fun.


  1. P.S. I actually have a secret love for NJ and an appreciation for their tackiness.

  2. Also, I forgot to mention that a lot of frenchies wear very 'murican style things. Converse are all the rage. Specifically black converse.
    When I first arrived in Montpellier, I saw a lot of kids strutting around in "Franklin and Marshall" sweatshirts and t-shirts. I was wondering what all of them were doing there. It's actually a French brand of t-shirts designed to look American. They are really expensive too. Huh.. Maybe I could get a job here selling 'murican style clothing....

  3. F&M is a college in PA. It's in Lancaster. Nice campus. I know a few people who went there.

    Great post!

  4. I know that... which is why I was so confused!!