Packing your bags… 5 tips for staying stylish in the south of France

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.

 Sanary market

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.

Bandol boutique You can pick up anything you’ve missed at Bandol’s sidewalk shops

-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!

1 thought on “Packing your bags… 5 tips for staying stylish in the south of France”

  1. Such a great post, Tuula. 🙂 Funny how we tend to think that all of France dresses like Paris, isn’t it? I was so terrified when I first went to France. And then realized with a huge sense of relief, “Ohhhh, not EVERYONE dresses like a fashion plate.” 🙂 I’m delighted to hear that light dresses and sandals are just the ticket. They are my uniform. 🙂


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