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’m not opposed to wearing tennis shoes to the supermarket. 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-enough.
And while I did find quite a few Audrey Tautou-worthy tops & skirts, I could have saved my 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 (think Riviera meets rock n’ roll), 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 staying stylish 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.
-Slip 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.
-Pack plenty of light t-shirts & tank tops. 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 village. Somehow the French look great without really trying & in the end, it seems everybody’s too busy enjoying the fabulous weather to take too much notice.
bon weekend et bon voyage!