Before arriving in France, there were two things I obsessed about: learning the language and finding French-friendly clothing. In short, how could I find an impossibly chic outfit which said anything but I'm new here, struggling with your language & culture, and maybe, just maybe, I like to wear sweatpants when I'm at home. For many the idea of coming to France, at once thrilling & oh-so-sophistique, sends us into a bit of fashion-induced panic.
I've watched enough Dior & Chanel commercials to understand that I'm haute-couture leagues away from a lifestyle which would require me to ever wear a bustier (ever) or many of the other fabulous items these size nil French fashionistas sport. Nonetheless, we all like to look our best, moi included, so I did spend an inordinate amount of time combing the discount racks at Macy's searching for clothing that I thought looked French.
And while I did find quite a few Audrey Tautou-worthy tops & skirts, I could have saved my depreciating dollars because the South of France style is much closer to California relaxed-casual than anything I've seen in Paris Vogue.
Apart from the fashions I've seen in Nice (where the above photo was taken & which merits a fashion category all its own: Riviera Rocker), dressing in the South seems to follow a few simple rules: keep it casual, less is more, and you can accessorize almost anything with an over-sized beach tote. That being said, here are the five essential tips for making a fashion splash in the South of France:
- Wear some white (trousers, dresses, those flowing blouses that manage to look amazing with a belt wrapped around them). It may be cliché, but relaxed cotton is all the rage from the Riviera on down.
- Pull on a dress (shorts & bermuda shorts for men). Light, cotton dresses are quite popular. Throw on a pair of comfy sandals & you're set for the day.
- T-shirts & tank tops c'est bon. Again, think casual...& hot. As the temperature rises, you'll be thankful that you stuffed a few stringy tanks in your suitcase.
- Don't forget your grab-bag of accessories. It is casual, but people do like to spice it up a bit as well. And, if you're going to anywhere near Aix-en-Provence, be prepared to turn up your fashion meter a few notches.
- Keep it simple. There's no need to stress about what to wear in the South. Throw on what's comfortable & can keep you cool whether lounging near the sea or cruising through a hill town. Somehow the French look great without really trying & it seems everybody's too busy enjoying themselves to take too much notice.
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