Move Over Emily Cooper, This Is The Real French Girl Fashion

Emily in Paris French Fashion

By Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse

Season two of Emily in Paris was anticipated by many, either because of a love for the show or a love for hating on the dreadful fashion choices of its main character.

No matter what Emily Cooper, played by Lily Collins, is doing, she’s sure to be seen doing it. The midwestern American sticks out like a sore thumb in her mismatched outfits and literal take on ‘french girl fashion’ amongst the elegant Parisian architecture and chic fashion choices of her friends. 

Cooper’s outfits in the show are less Parisian chic and more of a cross between Sex in the City and Gossip Girl. This fact comes as no surprise as the show’s costume designer, Patricia Fields legendary repertoire boasts cult classics like Sex And The City, The Devil Wears Prada, Ugly Betty and Confessions Of A Shopaholic – which are perhaps not the first TV shows or movies that come to mind when someone says ‘French’.

Cooper looks far from French, but it is not necessarily true that her outfits are bad. The looks she leans towards could be better described as delightfully tacky over plain awful. The issue of her ‘bad’ fashion choices is highlighted as the style she adorns juxtaposes those of people around her so intensely it’s hard not to notice how odd she looks. She never appears as refined as her French counterparts – but isn’t that the point? She is an American in Paris, she’s not going to fit seamlessly into the culture and her choice of clothing is a great way to visually represent this. Styling Emily in Paris, Fields plays into cliché American stereotypes to portray a caricature of the American perception of French girl fashion. On her first day in her fancy French office, Cooper opts for a blouse covered in mini cartoons of the Eiffel Tower – as we said, a literal stance on French fashion. 

If you’re looking for a show highlighting cool, French girl style, look elsewhere. Cooper’s French counterparts are infinitely better dressed to fit the Parisian style, but still, there is a much wider berth to French girl fashion than seen in the Netflix show.  

Emily in Paris French Fashion

While Emily Cooper favours Instagram to show off her French lifestyle, Pinterest is the site dominated by the Parisian aesthetic. The site is brimming with snaps of Parisian architecture, croissants, the sun setting behind Eiffel tower, tiny espressos drank in adorable outdoor cafes and of course, gorgeous women dressed in the most effortlessly cool outfits you’ve ever seen. 

There’s something about French girl style that is insurmountably intriguing to anyone who is not from France. There lives an idealised vision of the Parisian streets flooded with chic women dressed in black and tan with a basket of flowers balancing in the crook of their arm as they stroll to meet their equally cool friend for lunch by the river. When it comes down to it, the reality is French women are like anyone else. They’re not walking around all dressed the same, they each have their own unique sense of style just as is the case across the globe.

While many ‘how to dress like a French girl’ articles encourage minimalism and opting for neutral colours, that’s not so true to French chic as you may first think. If your only source of the Parisian aesthetic is Pinterest, then you’re going to fall into the trap of believing only a minimalist, toned down interpretation of French girl fashion exists. But a quick look on Instagram will show the young women of France boasting tons of colour, over the top silhouettes and crazy makeup across their timelines. While these influencers are donning a lot of the same designers, colour palettes, and makeup trends as their western counterparts, the French interpretation is far more refined. 

Emily in Paris French Fashion

Each piece in the French girl’s wardrobe is carefully chosen to fit the personality of the person wearing it, to ensure their comfort and enhance their look. The pieces they utilise are timeless classics, always perfectly pressed and tailored to flatter their bodies, vastly elevating each outfit they wear. These french girls invest in high quality, versatile pieces that can be kept forever and worn over and over again to make the high price tag worth it. Once you’ve figured out what suits you, what you feel good in, then that style sticks and each item you buy will be well loved and well worn. This mindset is not only financially and environmentally responsible, but it gives these French girls a distinct signature that makes their outfits uniquely theirs. 

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While clothes are an investment, with high quality designer pieces being vastly favoured to following trends, these young women don’t like to flaunt their pricey fits. You’ll notice they don less logoed designers, giving a quiet luxury instead of in your face ‘look how expensive this jacket was!’. Rather than chucking loads of designer on to look expensive, French girl fashion encourages luxury through the way you wear your clothes, not the way your clothes wear you.

The attitude exuded from French girls is what really sets their fashion apart from others. Sometimes statement fashion can overwhelm a person and the overall effect of a look can appear odd rather than having the desired wow effect. While French fashion still plays with beautiful, statement pieces and over the top silhouettes, patterns and prints, all design is focused on highlighting the beauty of the wearer. Much of this relies on the way someone carries themselves, the way they move, the way they smile! There’s an effortless glamour that comes from the tremendous respect the wearer has for themselves and the clothes they wear. When you wear what you want to wear, there’s a noticeable confidence that comes with that.

In the book “How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are,” author Caroline de Maigret wrote, “The idea is to find the real you, and to not be a product of what society wants you to be ”. In this way, the only way for Emily Cooper to embrace French fashion is to stop trying to emulate French fashion and truly be herself. The point of French girl fashion is to complement who you are. It’s not about a certain colour palette, silhouette or choice of accessories, it’s about finding what you love and loving how you feel in it. It’s certainly not about throwing on a beret and some fingerless gloves to go for a walk by the Seine. 

Emily in Paris French Fashion

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