(me, my sis, bro, and Father, waiting for a train in Calais, France, 1998. My mother always tried to dress us well, especially when we were living in Europe. As an adult it is more difficult to blend in with the locals then when you were a child!)
(me, D, somewhere near Flanders, 1998)
(me, Nic, Jacq, near Notre Dame in Paris, 2008. On our way to get breakfast croissants from a bakery in the Left Bank.)
(in the Louvre, after wandering Paris by myself. I would spend hours in the statue garden or find some niche and just sit and write.)
I knew it. I just KNEW it. For years I've been trying to emulate that certain "Frenchness", that I-don't-know-what it is style of dressing. Where you look incredibly put together yet undone, careless and carefree, but it's impossible to look bad because every single item of clothing you own is beautiful, tailored, unique, no matter what the combination is.
My favourite French blogger, Garance Dore, tried to explain it once.
Maybe it's stripes.
I own 10+ striped shirts of various styles. It's gotten ridiculous.
Maybe it's scarves.
I wear a scarf, or two in the winter, almost every day. In the Arctic it's not so much a fashion statement as a necessity for survival.
Maybe it's layers.
Yep, I layer. Again, with the whole trying to stay warm to not freeze off your limbs thing.
But now I know what it is, at least, I think so. IT IS A MINDSET. It is a sexiness that comes from not caring too much what you wear because you know you look beautiful no matter what. It is a "I have a life, and places to go, and people to love, so I don't have hours to spend on dressing in the morning". No wonder every piece a Frenchwoman owns is perfect: they would have to be when you just throw on clothes and run. It's a desire to look stylish, but not an all consuming desire: the most important things in life are not clothes and fashion, but rather your family, your friends, books, world news, having fun, working hard, eating well, admiring art, and hot yoga. And of course you need to look amazing while doing so, because a Frenchwoman knows that appearance is important.
Such a balance. To care enough not to care.