31 Jul 2014

French Women: An Ageless Look

juliette binoche, french actress, french essence, vicki archer

French women, whatever their age, apply a few rules to their fashion routine that ensures an ageless look.

Rules of their own making, not compulsory, but from my observations there are certain key elements of their appearance that remain constant.

They apply whether 80 or 18 years of age.

French women on the whole, dress classically and age appropriate when it comes to their garments.

They wear mostly monochrome with a splash of accessory.

Four keys elements are generally up to date and drive their appearance.

French women, especially in Paris will not only have well groomed hair but also their hair will be cut in the latest style… this has nothing to do with age.

Older women wear their hair very long, younger women wear it very short and vice-versa.

Hair is about the individual.

Hair is important, it frames and flatters the face.

French women wear the latest in sunglasses.

I rarely see a French women wearing glasses that look outdated and the same goes for reading glasses.

It may explain why there are so many optometry shops in France.

Looking chic in glasses is an easy one to get right; a pair of good sunglasses or reading glasses will make all the difference to the appearance.

Shoes, flat soled or high heeled.

French women wear fashionable footwear.

I love seeing an elderly woman sporting her New Balance with her tailored suit or her jeans.

Age appropriate doesn’t enter their lingo, shoes are a fashion statement and age just does not come into it.

The Handbag, whether designer or not, a handbag will be chosen for the elegance of design, the beauty of the material and it’s chic value.

Invariably a shoulder bag or a tote; the handbag will be modern.

Classic but not old fashioned.

Practical, but that won’t drive the overall decision.

Four key elements that are non dependant, on our age and yet can make us feel up to the moment.

French women, they understand a lot about fashion… xv

image, french actress juliette binoche

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Anita Rivera


I adore Juliette’s look in her younger years (bleu, Chocolat) but wow, does she look dynamic NOW.

I believe in all the elements you state here because they work for me. The French always knew and still know what to leave out, what to leave in, whether it’s home décor or fashion. Just enough accessory with the understated chic – that’s for MOI!

Hata Trbonja

That does explain why there are so many optometry shops!
Being limited by age is not part of the French woman’s vocabulary. I love that about them.
Thank you for highlighting this.


When it comes to sunglasses, I have seen French women as well as American and British etc wearing classic sunglasses from years ago. Some styles never go out of style.
I think adding a dash of something retro is much more stylish, shows that the wearer is not just able to buy nice clothes but knows how to put the “outfit” together.


A gorgeous photo of Juliette…happy in her skin…I love her view on ageing; inspiring.
Great post, as always Vicki ;)


Ageless, classy, means also a certain social status and you can find it everywhere in the world.

cindy hattersley

Such sage advice for women of any age, but especially ours! You won’t see any french women wearing fanny packs and croc’s either thankfully!!!


SO hearting Juliette, and yes I agree effortless timeless beauty of French women with their inner confidence radiating their beauty. Shell – A Darlings Nest

Deborah McKenzie

I really enjoyed reading this beautifully written post. So much wonderful information edited simply just like the content you describe.


so very true Vicki. I love the way you put it in a line-up format!! We should all be as chic as the French women.


Good morning Vicki

Love this post, so very true.

One of the chicest ladies Ive seen was in Laduree in the 6th earlier this year. She was whip-snap thin, short grey bob, camel cashmere polo neck, well cut beautifully fitted black leather trousers, black Chanel ballet flats and what looked like a simple black vintage Hermes clutch. Burgundy lips were complimented by tortoiseshell round specs balanced on the end of her nose.

Tiny as a bird with such grace and poise; the zinger – she was (and I’m been generous here) 75 years young+.

Everything she wore could quite easily have been worn by my mid 20’s daughter or by me (express train to 50). So classic.

Oh, and she turned heads!

(typed in my lavender crazy garden (Harrogate) with the sun just poking through – mood elevator!)

Have a great day.

R x

The Enchanted Home

There is no doubt French women have high style down pat…..true style icons, I marvel every time I visit France at the basic fashion sense that every French women seems to be born with…..seems innate to me and it is wonderful!


Think there’s a risk with choosing monotone of being a bit monotonous. Saw many fabulous French women in Paris this summer who were often far from monochrome. We had lunch in quite a few places where the other diners were almost all French. They looked fabulous but were far from conservative or monochrome. At the Flore specially admired one woman of a certain age who wore fabulous red accessories, including drop ear rings and bangles. At Le Grand Vefour the older French woman at the next table (probably over 80) was gorgeous and wore a jacket in stripes of several colours with snappy (though obviously v expensive) jewellery. The waiters all loved her, she was clearly a regular and a favourite – she was having a ball with her cavalier, a slightly younger man who was not her husband (they paid separately and left separately). Great to see!
Juliette was brilliant in Three Colours Blue – one of the most powerful and best films ever. She was luminous in The English Patient too. Best wishes, Pamela


I love the list – thank you! But would add #6: The under garments – always beautiful, silky, luxurious and fitting perfectly. Chosen in a discreet shop in the left bank. This is the foundation that establishes the confidence and mood — non?!

Celia Becker From After Orange County

Vicki, so interesting to have this all spelled out. I have seen it for myself but never analyzed it the way you have here. I love that style in France can be ageless as well as timeless. I wish the same rules could apply in America. It seems our value system dictates that we must be “age appropriate”. I like the idea of “chic appropriate” instead.


Loving this, Ivy league shirt with tulle skirt, tried to go to a skirt you featured, sold out. Forever 21 and Old Navy has some for the budget oriented of us….many things are not all for the 19 year olds on these sites for basics, great shares again Vicki, can’t wait to visit Le Petit Bijou one day, :-))) my dream Vicki, hugs XOXO


I stumbled across your blog and I am so happy I did! I am hoping to win the trip to France!


I used to follow this blog and loved it, but somehow it disappeared. I am SO pleased to have found it again. I have tried to re-subsribe but met with refusal. I absolutely want to get posts again, so I hope this was a glitch and that I will be able to do so. I am not a robot!

Helen Meo

Now I have more time in my life I wish to renew my daily subscription but I have been told I cannot re-subscribe. PLEASE reconnect me to your daily emails.
Helen Meo


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