French Girl Style, Lesson 3: Shoes & Accessories

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Guys, I’m going to be honest. I’ve been putting this post off. It feels hard.

The first leg of my French-style journey came a bit more naturally. After some trial and error, I found Frenchiest pair of jeans (spoiler: It’s the OG Levi’s 501s), and I’ve learned that neutrals don’t have to be boring. French women have interesting cuts and clean lines down to a science.

But shoes and accessories? Feels out of my comfort zone. But, as we will explore, my comfort zone is the equivalent of Doritos — good in the moment but full of regret.

Exploring French Girl Style: Walkable Shoes, Chic Accessories + (More) Neutrals

You know the drill by now: French women…neutrals…blah, blah, blah. And I was all ready to talk neutral shoes, but this is what I’m working with guys:

French girl style is all about neutral tones + colors, & my shoe collection is decidedly...not neutral.

I think we especially need to take a closer look at these bad boys.

These multicolor platform heels are not exactly what I'm going for with French girl style. I've never even worn them...

See that little plastic ring of shame? That means I’ve never even worn these. I can’t understand why. In fact, that picture of my shoe collection houses maybe 20 wears altogether. And I’m mostly talking about gym shoes.

So. We really are starting from zero here.

Why, you ask, shouldn’t I just embrace this wild shoe habit? Meet my closet.

I have a small closet. So before I set out to find the perfect French girl (practical, comfy, minimal) shoes, I have to do some *fall* cleaning.

I’d like to remind everyone that this is totally fine if you 1. have the space for an unlimited shoe collection and 2. feel like this is YOU. Neither is working for me right now. As you can see, I STILL SHARE A CLOSET WITH MY HUSBAND. And it’s teeny. The closet, not the husband.

Sorry, blue-glitter stripper shoes. You can’t live here.

So, let’s get to work.


Comfortable, Practical Shoes: Achieving Effortless European Style

French women have places to be. And how do they get there? They walk or ride a bike. *Sames, French women, sames* (as I drive to my neighbor’s house because I can’t carry the margarita pitcher). French shoes = comfortable, practical, minimal.

So, what becomes a sustainable shoe?

In my mind, a French girl will have four pairs of shoes that all work with everything. They’re high quality and always look good. However, in my mind, I can also have croissants and wine for breakfast every day.

You won’t find any pizazz or trends AGAIN. You will, however, find classic colors, materials and walkability. Zzzzzzzzzz…

What? Oh, I’m sorry, I fell asleep again from sheer boredom. Let’s see how we can make this type of shoe work for the long haul.

These are the shoes I see over and over in that effortless Euro look:

With French girl style shoes, you'll find classic colors, materials & walkability. These are the 1's I see in that effortless Euro look.
Image Credit: @basictouch, @leiasfez @jen_wonders, Emmanuel Alt

Guys, I’m not bored with this. I’m very much not bored. Let’s talk about why.

Dr. Martens with a dress? Yes, we did it in the ’90s, and yes, it’s still interesting because CONTRAST.

Manolos with cropped, ripped jeans? CONTRAST. (I just got very classic Manolo’s on The RealReal, and I’m obsessed.)

Chucks with trousers? Sorry, I can’t keep up the caps. It feels aggressive. Contrast.

Loafers with socks? More contrast.

There is always a way to make it more interesting. We’ve learned that we can do it with cut, but we can also put things together in unexpected ways, even the boring things we already have. When these are thrown together (think: a satin skirt, sweatshirt and white sneakers), and suddenly we’re interested.


My Top French Girl Shoe Picks

Here are some links to some of my favorite classic/cool French girl shoes:

I would pair the Jeffrey Campbell Maximal Booties with an all-black outfit. That’s a sneaky French girl thing. Brown accessories with black.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

  1. Reiss Kali Wedge: These get bad reviews for comfort, but I have them and love them.
  2. Converse High-Top Sneakers: also available at Converse.
  3. Loeffler Randall Heels: There are a couple of sizes available at Zappos. Or try this similar option from Revolve.
  4. TKEES Mia Napa Sandals: These are from my fave brand for minimal-chic sandals.
  5. Veja V10 Sneakers: also available at Shopbop.
  6. Jeffrey Campbell Maximal Booties: So gorg. I would pair these with an all-black outfit. That’s a sneaky French girl thing — brown accessories with black. They’re like, “I can do what I want.” And I’m like, “Yes, you can.”
  7. Steve Madden Carrine Bit Loafers: This is the FW take on the loafer. I know we’re all in on lug soles right now, but I’m just the messenger. The French girl will go for this because it’s not a trend. However, I will say this is a Gucci dupe. Take that for what you will. I won’t tell.
  8. Alohas Sway Flats: love this take on ballet flats.

Start With A Great Base Outfit + Neutral Shoes, Then Add The *Accessories*

Other accessories?

OK, I think this is where we can shine. You have on your boring but cute white outfit. It’s fine. It’s nice. It’s well-made. Now, it’s time for the jewelry, belts and bags. This is the stuff we can easily switch in and out.

Let’s play around and see what we can come up with.

This is where we are starting. The only rule is that we’re staying neutral and staying with this base.

It's time to add accessories to ace that French girl style. The only rule is that we're staying with neutral tones & this base outfit of a tee & wide-leg pants.

tee | wide-leg pants (size 4 short)

With your boring but cute base outfit. it's time for jewelry, belts & bags — the stuff we can easily switch in + out.

similar button-up (thrifted, men’s) | tee | wide-leg pants | scarfbeltbag | glasses | similar shoes

I call this look “the French cowgirl.” OK, no, I don’t. But I’m still learning about scarves. I pulled out my first trick, which is pairing black and brown. It’s easy, and it always reads, “I’m so cool, and I don’t care,” i.e., French. Glasses to me always add something extra, and the oversized bag makes it more casual.

Pairing black + brown is easy, & it reads as cool + carefree. i.e., French.

Close-up of the cowgirl, and I refuse to neutralize my phone case. Thank you.

I like an oversized blazer with Vans. It’s saying, "I’m here to do business, & I brought my skateboard." If that’s not French girl style, I don’t know what is.

blazer | similar bag | shoes | beltglassestee | pants

I really like the oversized blazer with the Vans in this one. I like that it’s saying, “I’m here to do business, and I brought my skateboard.” If that’s not French, I don’t know what is.

Now that I look at this outfit w/ a long coat + wide-leg pants, it seems boring. I don’t want to be a stereotypical French girl; I need something that feels more like me.

trench | tee | pants | similar shoes (mine are from TRR) | scarfbag | glasses

OK, this one — now that I look at it — seems boring. This is what I’m trying to avoid. I don’t want to be a stereotypical French girl. Actually, as I’m typing this, I think I’m just realizing this. I’M HAVING A MOMENT. I need something that feels more like me. Where is the contrast we talked about?

The outfit below seems like I’m going to work at an office that sells birds or claw machines or something. (Clearly, I don’t know about offices.) But I think I really prefer something in a look that says irony or a bit of fun and creativity, and this isn’t giving it to me.

I think I prefer something that has a bit of fun + creativity in a look, & this isn’t giving it to me. Looks too much like office attire.

blazer | similar button-up (mine is thrifted) | tee | pants | similar sneaks (also thrifted) | similar bag | glassesbelt

But this IS. See my face? Even picture Amanda knows. And I think it’s literally just because of the sneakers. It brings down the business-casual look into a creative-person look. ALL FRENCH, HOWEVER. You can’t really tell, but those are vintage New Balances that I got for $10 on Poshmark, and they PERFORM.

I think this cardigan-as-a-shirt outfit works because of the New Balance sneakers. It brings the business casual into a creative-person look. FRENCH.

sweatertee | pants | similar sneaks (mine are thrifted) | glasses | belt

I cheated a little in this one — I took off the T-shirt. French girls on TikTok have been telling me to use my cardigan as a shirt. So, here we are. I like it. It’s different; it’s slouchy and cool.

So, what have we learned? Well, I’m learning things about myself. I’m learning that I may need to adjust those three words we talked about in lesson one.

My goal was: chic, effortless and something… What was it? Well, now it’s going to be chic, effortless and…and what? I need help. What is my third word? Contrast. That’s it.

Again, do we have to follow these rules? No! Wear what you like. Do you. These are my goals in creating a wardrobe that I want to wear, is sustainable and I feel good in. And I’m determined to make it not boring.

Xo,

Amanda

PS. My blogger face is getting better, right?!

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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.

13 COMMENTS

  1. +1. I LOVE this series so much and this post was amazing. 🙂

    “The outfit below seems like I’m going to work at an office that sells birds or claw machines or something.”

    DYING.

  2. I lol’d (in French, obvs) at, “I’m here to do business, and I brought my skateboard.” This is the energy I’m bringing to the PTA this fall! Loving this series so much!

  3. I also have a closet full of statement shoes. I’m so curious about those pants. The reviews mention quality issues (washing poorly, hems coming out). Have your pants held up to frequent wear?

  4. It’s funny you say this. Literally the hem came out yesterday. But I wear them long and step on them so I thought it was me. I’m willing to get them repaired because the fit is so good. They are my faves and I have them in khaki too

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