French Women Hate Fashion

Stylist Aloïs Guinut is explaining the difference between her French and non-French clients. The latter are always asking her, what’s new? What’s on-trend? ‘My French clients never ask me that. They want to know what suits them.’


‘Trends,’ she bats away dismissively, ‘are just passing. What they want is to develop their own style – one that lasts.’

And if anyone should know about French style, it’s Aloïs. Having graduated from the prestigious French Institute of Fashion in Paris, she worked as a fashion trend forecaster before becoming a leading style coach and personal stylist, with clients from around the globe who seek her out for her quintessentially Parisian take. She has shared her sartorial wisdom in the newspaper Le Figaro and her first book, Dress Like a Parisian, became the manual on acquiring that gallic je ne sais quoi.


To be frank, we need a bit of that over on this side of the Channel. Aloïs knows everything about that insouciantly sexy, artfully dishevelled yet effortlessly pulled-together Parisian look that we see so frequently on fashion blogs and Instagram. And the good news? Aloïs says we Brits can inject some of that into our wardrobes, too. First – brace yourself – you must undertake a ruthless ‘massive decluttering’. Only then will you be ready to transform your closet à la Parisienne into a curetted wardrobe of ‘basics and statements’. Second, never, ever shop on impulse or for the thrill of the buy. Third, buy less, buy better.

Aloïs was grounded in this from an early age. ‘My mother took great care of the way she dressed – and it was the same with my grand-Maman Brigitte. But neither were big shoppers. They would think carefully before buying anything and kept clothes until they died. Every purchase would be thought through. Did I need it? Did I love it? As a result, I never became an impulse shopper,’ she explains.


Another key element of becoming a Parisian style maven is to start shopping sustainably. According to a 2018 study by the French Fashion Institute, the value of the French clothing market has fallen 15 per cent since 2007, while the proportion of French consumers buying second-hand rose from 15 to 30 per cent between 2009 and 2018.

In Britain, we are more susceptible to the dopamine hit of a fast-fashion purchase, spurred on by social media which thrives upon the new. A 2018 Eurostat survey showed that, out of 28 European counties, Britain was the eighth biggest spender when it came to clothing/footwear. France ranked 23rd.


Aloïs delights in our ‘quirkiness’ and bold approach to colour and pattern and likens the more conservative English style – ‘the Burberry and the Barbour’ – as closer to the French look. But she is baffled by the fondness for ‘short, tight clothes and a full face of make-up’ – in Paris, less is most definitely more.


‘Parisians don’t all have innate style – half my clients are French,’ she notes. ‘But, as a general rule, French women put more emphasis on style. And we don’t give that up as we age because all around us are older women who are very elegant. Of course, it is easier if you have a style that can navigate through the years.’

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