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timelessness of french fashion

The Timelessness of French Fashion

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I’m a great lover of films. You could say I watch at least one film a day. As George Costanza of Seinfeld once asked, in the scene where he lost his job and is looking for a new job, “I like movies, do they pay someone to watch movies?” That’d be an ideal job for me. I’ve seen many different movies and shows of many different genres, all set in different periods of human existence and made in different countries. When watching most films, especially American films, you can always guess the period setting from the costumes. However, I’ve noticed that French film costumes are just as fashionable today as they were 60 or 70 years ago. This is because there’s a timelessness of French fashion. I write about the costumes, but that doesn’t mean the decor isn’t fashionable either. Let’s give you an example.

These are from Jean-Luc Goddard’s Breathless (1960). The leading lady in this film, bucks the trends of that period, which stipulates that women should either be hippies or dress like Jackie Kennedy. She wears the typical French style, meaning a few men’s pieces, for example a man’s shirt with some especially feminine sandals. Adding to the boyishly short hair combined with her ultra feminine face and such a mode of dress accentuates her femininity. This style of clothing and hairdressing, with minimum or zero makeup is typical of French women even today. The actress could easily leap from the screen and fit in perfectly on the streets of Paris today. 

timelessness of French fashion

Here we see Alain Delon in The Red Circle (1970), wearing a trenchoat, classic wool trousers, a white shirt and a suit jacket and he could very easily look fashionable today. 

In La femme d’ à côté (1981), you’ll notice that the main characters played by a young and slim Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant wear similar clothes as the characters in the previous films, which were made in the 60s and 70s. A trenchcoat, classic cuts of trousers, classic shirts, neutral tones, nothing too trendy, but everything is timeless and classic. 

timelessness of French fashion
timelessness of French fashion

As our final example, we use The Double Life of Véronique (1991), with its minimalist, classic style which is in to this very day. 

We observe that the style in French films remains broadly the same over a 30 year period. However, fashion has changed drastically in this same period. There were hippies in the 60s, disco and punk in the 70s, glam rock in the 80s and minimalism in the 90s. However, none of these films, even the ones made 60 years ago have lost none of their aesthetic values and still function as excellent style guide. In other words, they’ve passed the test of time. If you wonder why, you might want to watch this video, where a French and Swedish girl compare and contrast the French and Scandinavian styles of clothing. As you can see, the French girl explains how French women select their wardrobe. Unlike Scandinavian women who are strongly trend-oriented and renew their wardrobe every year, French women insist on buying classic pieces that’ll keep on being fashionable 20-30 years on because classics never leave fashion.
I agree with the French way of doing things and this means that we should resist trend-chasing, especially since trends change much faster these days than they used to in the past. If you are drawn to following some trend, before buying things on impulse, stop and think whether it’ll fit in your present capsule and will these things be exciting to wear in the future.

We can conclude that the French, who are famous for their style and fashion have found the formula for the timeless look. The old money style and the quiet luxury style also draw on the French style. If you analyse these three styles, you’ll notice that they look very much like one another, do not change over the years, they retain consistency and are always luxuriant and attractive. 

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