Published on July 7th, 2017 | by Isabelle Karamooz, Founder of FQM


How to Dress Like a Frenchman

After Paris Men’s Fashion week on June 21st to 25th, 2017, I would like to be the female voice for menswear for one day. My mission is to see what men are really wearing in Paris. The ‘French look’ has been popular since Coco Chanel opened her first boutique over a century ago. French women tend to get a lot of the credit when it comes to style, but we have to hand it to the men as well: they know how to put together an outfit. If you’re trying to appear a bit more French, here are a few easy tips to keep in mind.

The original French look, a Breton top or marinière. Photo by Pinterest.

The original French look, a Breton top or marinière is still as fashionable as ever. Born in 1858 as part of the Act of France, a navy and white striped knitted shirt was the uniform of the French Navy in Brittany. In 1889, Tricots Saint James (a brand you can still purchase today) began commercialising the shirt in wool and cotton, and it was soon adopted by local workers due to its practicality.

The Pea Coat is also a global classic. Photo by Pinterest.

Iconic male ambassadors of the Breton top were Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol to name a few and of course French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, who has continued to masterfully reinvent the piece in his collections since the 1980s.

The Pea Coat is also a global classic. Worn by the European and American Navy since the early 1700s. The navy wool coat has been a staple on the streets of Paris since it was elevated to haute couture by French designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s. These days, you can find good pea coats at GAP, for example, which does some worthwhile versions or from high end boutiques like Sandro, Balmain or Saint Laurent, which are beautifully created.

Large diamond-shaped foulard. Photo by Pinterest.

If you look for something truly authentic, the brands Saint James and Armor-Lux both produce some superb takes on the French Navy original.

I think the biggest difference between the way that French men and American men dress is in accessorizing. Scarves (foulards) and ties are key to a classic look that Frenchmen pull off just as well as Englishmen, albeit more casually. You’ll want to take your cues from Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s French Riviera romantic thriller To Catch a Thief (1955), in which John Robie dresses smartly accessorised with scarves tied closely around the neck. Alternatively, you could wear a long lightweight scarf draped across your shoulders or a large diamond-shaped foulard. To ensure you pull it off like the French, stick to patterns and colours that don’t match the rest of your look.

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s French Riviera romantic thriller To Catch a Thief (1955). Photo by Cinemas Online.

Wearing black-on-black is definitely a classic look which dates back to the 1930s and 1940s and it is still very chic, but you could try matching Navy and black too, subtly mixing them it was another one of designer Yves Saint Laurent’s discoveries. The key is to alter the texture of each piece to create a definitive contrast between these two dark hues.

Voilà ! A few brief overview of French style elements that anyone can benefit from. Whether you see yourself trying them or not, we want to hear your thoughts – chic or not chic?


Headed photo : French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Photo by Pinterest.

About the Author

was born in the royal city of Versailles, France and have lived in the United States since 1996. After earning a Bachelor's degree in History from the University of California Berkeley and studying for a Master program in education at the University of Southern California, she went on to teach French to aspiring UNLV and CSN students in Nevada. When she is not teaching, she is writing, interviewing people in a wide range of circumstances, pitching story ideas to writers and editors, taking pictures, traveling, painting or trying delicious foods.

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