Guys. I have an important announcement:
I don’t think I want to be French anymore.
*pause for audible gasps*
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.
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.
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
Edgy: Ramones tee shirt
Feminine: Leather skirt (also edgy)
Effortless: Big tote and jean jacket
Unexpected: Sneakers with it all
Edgy: Black nylon messenger bag
Feminine: Wrap skirt
Effortless: White tank top
Unexpected: New Balance sneakers
Outfit Idea 2: Jeans + A Statement Piece
Edgy: Wide-leg jeans (tattoos too)
Feminine: Ballet flats and satin shirt
Effortless: Oversized tote and messy hair
Unexpected: Statement necklace
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, and it gives sort of a bolero vibe.
Edgy: Lug-sole boots and glasses
Feminine: Midi dress
Effortless: Oversize tote/messy hair
Unexpected: Blue button-down shirt
Edgy: Lug-sole boots and bag
Feminine: Midi dress and necklace
Effortless: Messy hair
Unexpected: Belt bag
Outfit Idea 4: Jeans + A Tee
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.
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.
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:
She’s so cool and chic.
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:
- I actually do like neutrals, and I don’t need the neon-pink floral dress. Put it back, Amanda.
- 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.
- Fit matters. I’m petite. I either need petite things, or I need to set up a payment plan at my tailor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I’ve loved my time with you.
And I will be back.
Until then, to France and beyond.