French Girl Style, The Final Lesson: I Don’t Think I Want To Be French Anymore

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Guys. I have an important announcement:

I don’t think I want to be French anymore.

*pause for audible gasps*

I know.

I’m what the French call “les incompetents.” (I really wanted to say that during this series).

How did we get here? What went wrong? Did anything go wrong? Or did things go right?

Exploring French Girl Style: My Journey To Find That Je Ne Sais Quoi

First, you should know that I truly lived this experiment. This wasn’t just a gimmicky blog series. I really did get rid of a ton of clothes and attempted to style myself in a way that I thought was French. I studied the influencers. I wore the neutrals. I took off the makeup. I messed up the hair. I did THE THINGS. I wanted to come out of this and be able to say to you: “AHA! I GOT IT. This, THIS is the secret.”

But I wasn’t getting it. I just wasn’t feeling it. It felt costumey and like I was trying to be someone else.

And then…

I found it.

I realized that each day, as I wore any given outfit, I either felt great and confident or not so great. What was the difference? I was following all of the rules, but sometimes, it didn’t feel like me. And to be very honest, I think I didn’t really know what “me” was.

To be fair, it was only two months ago that I was CERTAIN that I was meant to be punk rock. I followed Sammi Jeffcoat as my messiah. I did (and still do) worship Laura’s style. I bought an actual harness. I pierced my nose. I added tattoos. Now, here I am eating baguettes and smoking cigs in an alley (JUST KIDDING, DAD).

I definitely did not know who I was or what was really “me.” And I’m 41.

Then I found this angel from heaven. She taught me about finding my style language and taking parts of what I love to create my own personal style language to follow. This was what I was missing. I highly recommend watching her videos for the details. To sum it up, it’s exploring vibes, people, outfits and all of the things that you love to figure out what your personal style language actually is.

But what felt like me? Which four elements did I need to have in every outfit to feel my best?

Looking at some of my favorite looks, they were all a little feminine, a little edgy, as effortless as possible while putting in a ton of effort, and had some sort of unexpected element.

When I had those puzzle pieces together, I felt my best. And I gave off that vibe. You know that vibe?

That MF-ING JE NE SAIS QUOI.

And that was confidence.

How The Journey Evolved: Exploring My Personal Style & Confidence

That’s it, guys — it’s just confidence. It’s not what someone else is wearing; it’s what makes you feel best. And that’s going to be different for me, for you, for Shana, for Laura and for Britney Spears. But if you really find your words and do the work (there is work involved), it is worth it. I’m going to show you.

Here’s an example. I LOVE #balletcore vibes. Like all I want are an actual pair of toe shoes and to wear tulle everyday. So, you’d think that I would feel great in the ballet outfit.

"French girl style" is just about confidence. It’s not what someone else is wearing; it’s what makes you feel best.

left: wrap top (old Reformation or similar) | skirtleg warmers | similar ballet shoes

right: cardigan | boots | similar bag 

You would be wrong. Of course, this is an exaggeration to prove a point. In the first picture, this is that feminine vibe that I love, but it’s costumey and over the top. (It’s also over the top that I even own all of those pieces, but that’s for my therapist to work out.)

The next picture incorporates my style language (and a kitten).

4 Elements Of A Great Outfit — For Me: Edgy, Feminine, Effortless + Unexpected

Going off my new criteria of edgy, feminine, effortless AND unexpected, let’s take a look at what makes these outfits true confidence-makers.

Outfit 2 (Above)

Edgy: Black lug-sole boots

Feminine: Kept the satin wrap skirt

Effortless: Oversized neutral sweater

Unexpected: Maybe just the mix of it all together. I also like when I have feminine things with my tattoos — tends to throw people off.


Outfit Idea 1: Faux-Leather Skirt + Sneakers

Incorporating my style language into my outfits has been the key to finding that French girl confidence.

left: similar jacket | similar graphic tee | similar skirt | shoes

right: white tank | skirt | similar bag | shoes

Outfit 1

Edgy: Ramones tee shirt

Feminine: Leather skirt (also edgy)

Effortless: Big tote and jean jacket

Unexpected: Sneakers with it all

Outfit 2

Edgy: Black nylon messenger bag

Feminine: Wrap skirt

Effortless: White tank top

Unexpected: New Balance sneakers


Outfit Idea 2: Jeans + A Statement Piece

My personal style features edgy, feminine, effortless & unexpected elements.

left: similar button-down| similar necklace (old, vintage) | jeansshoesbag

right: similar blazer | T-shirtsimilar belt (vintage) | jeanssimilar shoes (old J.Crew) | similar bag

Outfit 1

Edgy: Wide-leg jeans (tattoos too)

Feminine: Ballet flats and satin shirt

Effortless: Oversized tote and messy hair

Unexpected: Statement necklace

Outfit 2

Edgy: Rocker belt and glasses

Feminine: Satin ballet flats

Effortless: White tee

Unexpected: Cropped blazer


Outfit Idea 3: Slip Dress + An Everyday Bag

I learned this styling trick from TikTok: Tie a button-down top behind your back, & it gives sort of a bolero vibe.

left: button down | dress | tote | boots

right: dress | boots | similar bag | similar necklace

I learned this styling trick from TikTok: Tie a button-down top behind your back, and it gives sort of a bolero vibe.

Outfit 1

Edgy: Lug-sole boots and glasses

Feminine: Midi dress

Effortless: Oversize tote/messy hair

Unexpected: Blue button-down shirt

Outfit 2

Edgy: Lug-sole boots and bag

Feminine: Midi dress and necklace

Effortless: Messy hair

Unexpected: Belt bag


Outfit Idea 4: Jeans + A Tee

CONTEXT MATTERS. We can have all the language we want, but if I’m wearing a satin gown to the gas station, we have a problem.

left: similar blazer (old J.Crew)| T-shirtjeanssimilar shoes (vintage) | similar belt (vintage)

right: T-shirt | gray jeans

Outfit 1

Edgy: Black blazer and tattoos (when in doubt)

Feminine: Gold necklaces

Effortless: Levi 501 jeans

Unexpected: Vintage New Balance sneakers

The second image I’m showing you is specifically for the gas station. Why, you ask? Because CONTEXT MATTERS. We can have all the language we want, but if I’m wearing a satin gown with the right words to the gas station, we have a problem.

But Do These Great Outfits Work For My Everyday Life?

Let’s explore this.

top | skirt | bag 

Here I am FEELING myself in a fancy hotel on vacation. All of my style words are existing here, and everything was fire. Before I show you this next image, I want you to think about all of the French women we’ve looked at on cobblestone streets, running in cool cities to an appointment, eating outside at a cafe, and living a very French life.

Even though this outfit has my style language, my life doesn’t support this version of it.

Here is my life.

Even though this outfit has my style language, my life doesn’t support this version of it.

And if you’re thinking, “Well, Amanda, you have a dumb face on, and this is an extreme example.” Meet this lady:

Another showing of how context matters: Take this French woman. She's so cool + chic, but is her environment adding too her effortless aesthetic?
photo credit: Pinterest

She’s so cool and chic.

See? This French cool girl's effortless style has a different effect when she's standing in a parking lot. Context.

Not as much in an Acme parking lot.

OK, fine, she still is. Whatever. You get it.


Despite The “Not Wanting To Be French” Thing…

I did learn some Frenchery that I will use moving forward:

  1. I actually do like neutrals, and I don’t need the neon-pink floral dress. Put it back, Amanda.
  2. Quality over quantity every single time. When I see something that I think my closet needs, I ask, “Do I want this because I’m lacking it, or do I want this because it exists?” Game-changer.
  3. Fit matters. I’m petite. I either need petite things, or I need to set up a payment plan at my tailor.
  4. Trends are OK but be picky about them. I do love myself a good trend. But maybe instead of the harness and piercings, I could just smudge my eyeliner. Just spitballing here.
  5. Check used-clothing sites first, every time. The RealReal and Poshmark are my go-to secondhand retailers for everything. I will only buy brand new if I really can’t find it and it meets all of my criteria for purchase.
  6. One item in, one item out. This isn’t for everyone, but for a small-closet girl like me, it’s a must. If a sweater comes in, something on B’s side comes out.
  7. I don’t need to have perfect hair and makeup to cover up my actual self. The imperfections are sometimes the best part.

Cue the PBS-special music as you read the next paragraph:

Friends and Americans, we began with a goal — a goal to be something more, something bigger than ourselves. Something French. But what we didn’t realize was that we were becoming a bigger version of ourselves. Not like bigger, bigger…like bigger, better. New and improved.

Like Dorothy, we had the power within us the whole time. The power to be French is great, but the power to be the best version of yourself is SUPER.

We had the power within us the whole time. The power to have French girl style is great, but the power to be the best version of yourself is SUPER.

I’ve loved my time with you.

And I will be back.

Until then, to France and beyond.

Xo,
Amanda

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After multiple existential crises, I've been an interior designer, a store window designer, a personal stylist (when I want to say something fancier than friend who went to the mall with another friend to "help"), a teacher, an author and illustrator, a graphic designer, NFT creator, a t-shirt designer and cat and Broadway enthusiast. But NOT Cats on Broadway. Just cats, the animals. What have I learned through all of my careers? You can really do a thing and then call yourself whatever you want. No one will check. But before all of this, in the year 2008, I was a blogger. And now I'm back with my favorite blog of all time. Let's go.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and am sad that it has to end.I really hope you don’t wait too long to write another post or posts for The Mom Edit.You are truly funny and if you ever decide to come to Alaska look me up.And if you say “Why would I ever want to go to Alaska and meet this complete stranger?” just trust that I’m pretty cool.

  2. I dunno, in my mind a French girl with basic French style is like an American girl wearing athletic capris, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap. Sure they look fabulous in the model type photos, but not everyone there is that fancy. I had a friend from that area and she was always wearing black or neutral, hair never done, no makeup. Yea she was a confident person, but not once did I think of dressing like her. I think the point is effort, but not too much. I love that tan dress on you, the look without the shirt over it and the long necklace. total goddess vibes. color motivates me to get dressed. i just keep pants neutral.

  3. I loved this series. I always crack up at “French girl style” because I worked at a French company, I studied in France, I have French friends… and none of them look as cool as you and the influencers. They wore jeans, basic shoes/flats, a scarf around the neck (bien sur!) and maybe a button down shirt under a sweater. Always put together, but if I’m honest, nothing crazy special.

    You blow them all out of the water. Love everything about this. All of this and please come back with more. Your style with words is just as important as your style with clothes 🙂

  4. Love love love your writing style! Fashion comment- as a fellow petite, your whole put together but effortless vibe would always click if you did some hemming- the skirts and pants are too long for you- show the ankle!

  5. I absolutely loved this series! Thanks for keeping it real and highlighting the importance of honoring personal style over following trends

  6. “Do we need to be French? YES. I mean no.” That pops into my head randomly and I laugh out loud like I’m reading it for the first time. You are FAB!

  7. I started giggling at the cat litter comment, knowing that I struggle with all sizes of Arm & Hammer Clump and Seal! That stuff weighs a ton! And is your cell phone case from Flaunt? I keep telling myself, NO MORE and then they drop a new color or design.

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