I will admit, I’m a little bit obsessed with the French way of life. There are so many beautiful things about France, from the language to the city, the food, and even the people. They have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them seem so stylish, so of course I wanted to learn more about French beauty principles.
Well, French people are don’t look so stylish because they are born better looking. They simply know how to work what they have. Here are some things I have learned from studying the French view of beauty that anyone can benefit from employing.
1. Keep it simple.
Simple outfit, simple jewelry, simple makeup, etc. To quote Dwight Schrute, “Michael always says, ‘K. I. S. S. Keep it simple, stupid.’ Great advice; hurts my feelings every time.” Well, Michael is on to something there.
The more you pile on the accessories, the more you look like you’re trying too hard, which is definitely not chic.
2. Classic over trendy.
Classic is timeless, but trends get dated fast. The French are much less preoccupied with chasing fashion fads. If you focus on getting clothes simply because they’re popular at the moment then you will forever be spending money, likely getting clothes that you don’t even necessarily like or don’t look good on you.
Now, that isn’t to say that you can’t get any trendy pieces. But the best way to go about setting up your wardrobe is to start a capsule wardrobe and make the trendy pieces accents to the rest of your timeless clothing.
Basically, put your main focus on finding your true style and pieces that will make you look good in the long run. (To read more about why building up a capsule wardrobe is such a great idea, check out my post “4 Reasons to Start a Capsule Wardrobe.”)
3. Quality Over Quantity
This is probably one of the most important principles in French beauty because it bleeds over into everything else.
Part of the reason that the French are less concerned with changing fads is that they put a lot of value in having extremely good quality clothes. They spend much more on individual pieces than the average American because they stock their wardrobes with the intention of making them last a lifetime.
Buying cheap clothing, while perhaps convenient in the moment, often means that they look their price or don’t last. If you put more thought into what you buy and spend more money per item rather than impulse buying then you’re likely to find clothes that fit you better, still look good with time, and that you enjoy wearing more.
4. Skincare over makeup.
France is actually a global leader in the skincare industry, and this is not surprising when you see how the French treat their skin. In France, getting facials is considered a part of regular upkeep, similar to getting a haircut.
You’re also not likely to find French women slathering on foundation. If you have beautiful skin then why hide it under a bunch of makeup?
I get, though, that if your skin is broken out it can be difficult to get out of the cycle of wearing foundation so that your skin has the opportunity to breathe. If you need some product recommendations then take a look at the combination of products that made my skin clear enough that I was finally able to break the cycle and stop wearing foundation completely.
Now on most days, all I wear is mascara and blush with an occasional dab or two of concealer.
5. Natural is best.
Along the lines of choosing skincare over makeup comes the idea of working with nature instead of against it. Do you have a bunch of freckles on your cheeks? Don’t cover them up with a bunch of makeup.
Do you have curly hair? Then don’t spend every day straightening it! I could go on and on, but the point is don’t cover up your real features.
Learn a way to work with them instead. French women embrace their features and even dislike looking too perfect.
6. Wear your nice clothes.
Sometimes we put such an emphasis on being comfortable that we let our appearance suffer. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, though.
I say (and the French would as well) to find nice clothing that is comfortable enough to wear on a regular basis. Then don’t be afraid to wear those nice clothes.
If something feels too annoying to keep on for a full day then it’s probably not something you should include in your wardrobe. I’ll bet if you make an effort to wear nicer clothing you’ll feel a bit more confident as well.
Looking good does not have to be complicated. Just take a few lessons from the effortless look of the French. Try to find ways of simplifying your look while focusing your efforts on things like skincare and building a beautiful wardrobe, and you will feel much more confident in the long run.
If you’re interested in reading more on the French way of life and French beauty principles I highly recommend the book Lessons From Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott, who spent a year as a student living with a French family learning from their view on life.
What do you think about the French ideas of beauty?
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