Katie Trotter boils down French fashion and explains how to make an impact with basic staples for effortless, understated look.
Make a big impact, Parisian style
Parisian women look great. That's a done deal. They never seem to dye their hair or try to look younger than their age. Their make-up is scarce (although immaculate), making those around them appear rather small town and overdone.
But my biggest observation: French women match. They seriously match. Scarves pick up tones in shirts, which bounce off a hint of belt, which sets off the shirt. And they never mix bags and shoes. It makes for the uniform of modern success.
The eternal bag and shoe question boils down to the delicate balance of good and bad taste - and often the making or breaking of an outfit.
The French stay clear of "die for it" bags that we in the UAE seem to love, instead opting for luxury bags made by highly skilled craftsmen with precious materials and with not a label (at least on the outside) to be seen.
Matching the colour of your shoes with that of your handbag used to be a rule rather than a choice, like matching your lipstick with your nail polish. And while there is no doubt the French look wonderful in their polished get-up, it can tend to appear a teeny bit boring.
Yet of course, if you dare to break away from the centre, there are rules. If you play with clashing colours, make sure to keep one of them neutral. With neutral colours your shoes might be black, brown, beige, navy, gold, silver, bronze - or another colour that picks up on something in your coat, scarf or dress. If you have a statement shoe, try building your look around it rather than the other way around.
You can also carry a coloured bag with neutral outfits. You don't have to have a black bag and shoes with a black gown - try leopard or soft grey or pink.
Lastly, think of the colour spectrum: shoes and bags can co-ordinate completely, or belong to the same family, or be in direct contrast.
However, if you still really want to dress like a Parisian, here are my tricks for you. The bones of a good capsule wardrobe are:
A pair of beautifully tailored trousers; a crisp white shirt; a good-quality cashmere jumper (make sure to roll the sleeves up); well-fitting jeans that look good with both heels and flats; plain T-shirts for layering; a classic trench coat; a wool coat; a well-cut blazer; a little black dress; practical boots; and high heels. And accessories.
Dressing simply revolves around mixing and matching these key pieces. Bag and shoes or not.
This week's highs and lows
COOL KIDS Marni just launched a range of children's clothing - enter deconstructed Babygros.
PATENT FAUX PAS Real men in shiny blue PVC? No thanks, Mugler.
GRANNY CHIC We love Jean Paul Gaultier's fresh spin on vintage style.
ROLE REVERSAL Why did they cast Anne Hathaway as the awkward Brit Emma in the screen adaptation of the novel One Day?
THE BIG MOVE The shoe designer of the moment Camilla Skovgaard recently relocated back to Dubai.