13 Jun 2017

French Notes: 3 Easy Pieces

French Notes: 3 Easy Pieces on vickiarcher.com

I made a few French notes last weekend.

They are not new observations merely a reinforcement of what I already know.

French style is not so extraordinary when you break it down. It is beautifully clever in its simplicity. Their women are lauded all over the world as style makers and leaders in elegance and chic. It is a generalisation because of course many are elegant, many are chic and some like every other country are not. The French woman and particularly the Parisian women I admire know their look and stay true to it. Why do I forget that very important #1 in signature style?

What French style teaches us are the basics.

Where French style is clever is in understanding what works and sticking with it. The Parisian woman plays safe with her fashion choices and she leaves the eccentric and exotic to the runway. There are plenty of wild floral and rainbow colours in the store windows but I never see them walking the boulevards.

What I see is a simple uniform of three pieces. A look to be worn by any age and a style to guarantee the sophistication French women feel comfortable in. Many French women in Paris, despite their age, chose to wear simple and straightforward pieces that work towards a refined and classic form. It is not too clever nor fashion forward and yet this look, these three pieces, never fail to draw me in.

When I am in Paris I so often ask myself why I don’t stick to these three pieces. I usually win 2/3 but often deviate with the third, a waste of time. When something works and it looks fabulous don’t try and reinvent. I believe in learning from others, interpreting not copying and with these three pieces we cannot go wrong.

If you want to feel fashion in the French way look no further than these three pieces as a starting point.

French Notes: 3 Easy Pieces on vickiarcher.com3 Easy Pieces
  • 1. The White Shirt
  • It is so obvious I feel silly even writing it down but sometimes we need a reminder; I did.
  • A white button down shirt in crisp cotton, style determined by body proportions and your comfort, never, ever fails.

  • Note to self: I need a new wardrobe of white shirts.

2. The Black Pants

We can never have too many and never underestimate the power of a well fitting black pant.

The white shirt worn over or tucked into the black pants means you can be dressed for anywhere at any time. Add sneakers or espadrilles as we already mentioned or a pair of heels for the evening. This is a no-brainer, tried and tested outfit.

Note to self: Next weekend pack nothing else.

3. The Sunglasses

You are thinking sunglasses are a strange choice for 3/3. I promise, the right sunglasses are game changers.

Parisian women tend to wear the latest sunglasses (and reading glasses) regardless of age. The glasses frame the face and if the right style is worn flatter more than anything else. Why do so many famous French women wear big black specs for photographs? The answer is simple; they take years off their age. Sunglasses elevate the simple black and white pieces to the next level. They give an up to date feel to very basic pieces.

The same applies to reading glasses and solves the problem of dull days.

Note To Self: Update with these.

Sometimes it is staring you right in the face and all it takes is 3 easy pieces. xv

French Style: 3 Easy Pieces on vickiarcher.com

French Notes

 best white shirts

draper james (hem line)  ||  **theory (classic perfection)  ||  mercer and spring (generous form)  ||  ace (chest pockets)  ||   ayr (longer line)

most flattering black pants

halogen stretch  ||  theory thaniel stretch  ||  vince ankle  ||  eileen fisher stretch crepe slim ankle  ||  eileen fisher slouchy silk

cover-up shades

dior so real  ||   karen walker super duper  ||  **quay australia after hours  ||  **le spec air heart  ||  **le spec weekend riot

images juliette binoche

Thank you Nordstrom for Partnering with, “French Notes: 3 Easy Pieces”

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In This Post:



Mimi Gregor

You know, every book or blog on French style lauds the white shirt, yet I find that when I have one — no matter how well-fitting — it just languishes in my closet, unworn. The same is true of my silk shirt. I have come to the conclusion that I am just not a “shirt person”. I think it is because they “blouse up”, making me look bigger on top, and if they are a different color than my bottom, it not only cuts me in half, but makes those halves look squat. I can wear a white knit top or t-shirt, so it isn’t the color. It’s the voluminousness of them — I must stick to clothes that skim over my body, or else my body just gets lost in it. Short women need to watch out for these things.

I agree completely about sunglasses, but I have had the same pair for years (Oversized Ray-Bans). It takes years off, and adds chic and mystique to my look, especially when paired with red lipstick. I find that it does me no good to have a “sunglass wardrobe”. I always have a favorite pair and wear them all the time, neglecting any others. So I just cut out the chaff and have the favorite pair. I’d rather have one good pair than a lot of cheaper ones.


I know what you mean about the white shirt… I have finally figured out the style that suits me.. slim fitting and worn out over the top of my pants with or without jacket. Because I am not that tall, a simple tailored or tuxedo style is best on me… and YES so true, everything you say about sunglasses..


I agree Mimi. My short frame makes it impossible for a shirt to sit effortlessly on me. I do improvise those with a simple well made T shirt. Equally as classic worn with black cigarette 7/8 trousers or wide legged pants!

Anita Rivera

Brilliant. I always knew by instinct and practice that SIMPLICITY is my best friend in everything. Simplicity however, is the encapsulation of larger and more complex ideas. When we can simplify that which is a mystery and animate it so that it becomes more clear, then that’s brilliance. It doesn’t take MORE to make something great. It takes wit and just the right combination of winning pieces to show off the real work of art: YOU.

I have 2/3 with only the black pant missing. This is so great, Vicki, because I know now what staple I’ll have in my closet for next school year!

You are amazing. Thank you!


It’s so easy I wonder why we worry about the rest!
Wit and winning pieces… a great formula, Anita :)


Sunglasses. The ultimate fashion accessory. I still gravitate to the Jackie O version of large lenses.
And yes, classic (at least for me) is best and most flattering for every age.

Beth Anderson

I have been wearing Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses for two years now. They are re-issuing all the famous designs he did in the 50s and 60s – I have the Manhattan (Audrey Hepburn), and Sophia Loren’s from 1958. I’m soon to buy Audrey’s frames from Charade. And they actually aren’t excessive in price – around 400-450 in the USA. No it’s not Raybans cheap, but it’s not crazy cher either.


I am ready to go out to do some errands and then go to lunch with my husband – my “uniform” – light denim boyfriend jeans, a white long-sleeve tee, espadrilles with a bit of a heel and wrap around ankle. My closet has a large number of white items consisting of sleeveless, elbow length, or long sleeve tees, several white shirts – I too am petite and finding a shirt that fits well is a problem, but they look great partially tucked. For the pants I have several pairs of black – one a side zip ankle pant that is very trim. My other favorite is a beautiful draping fabric, straight legs – can dress it up or down. Simple is the best!

Ruth BT

For all the women who are short like me bemoaning the fact that white shirts don’t work, my life changer was getting then tailor made to my exact measurements. With big breasts but a small frame it has made everything better and they cost me less than a $100 each! Best solution ever!


Thank you for the reminder and great item ideas for helping us keep it simple and classic. I needed to read this today after looking at my closet which happens to be a disaster. Less is more!


I have light eyes and I have to wear sunglasses, otherwise I get headaches.
I have a few pair but I still wear my all time favorites, a pair of black framed , black glass with mirroring, sunglasses from Giorgio Armani.


Have been seeing some lovely pinks (pales right through to deep pinks, salmons and corals) on the streets in the last few days. Also some pretty sundresses in pink florals. The weather is really quite warm in Paris right now. But of course there are the usual jeans in all shades of blue – and the ubiquitous black pants. We were at the Opera Garnier last night to watch four new ballets by young French choreographers and composers, several quite experimental. But I think you’d have loved the first best, the dancers were dressed by Olivier Rousteing of Balmain and the costumes were exquisite – nude pinks with white and silver and lots of sparkling silver against a mostly black stage with a large cut-out on the back wall through which could be seen a vignette of part of the Opera Garnier – the columns, sculpture and the chandeliers. So beautiful.
Just a thought about the white shirts – many French women are petite too – yet they wear them superbly. Think the French cut must be very body fitted. Also, on sunglasses – the pair I wear the most belonged to my mother, CD, and years old. Probably haven’t got much life left – but luckily have plenty of other pairs that I don’t wear so often. I did see some in Ralph Lauren store in St Germain the other day that I rather liked – it was the only RL thing I actually liked (the other two items were not RL – vintage scarves at astronomical prices). My eye specialist warned me though that Aussies need to be very careful with designer sunglasses as often they’re made for European conditions and don’t have the level of sun protection we need in Oz. Best wishes, Pammie


I have also found that by adding a scarf to most outfits elevates it to the next level and I ALWAYS get complements when wearing them. It’s not a too common practice in everyday life in the south so they tend to attract attention.


The white shirt, black trousers look really only suits a minority of women, model types who appear in magazines. The rest of us look as though we are wearing a boring uniform. How about suggesting some elegant French looks which are less well known, such as sun dresses, floaty skirt and long cardigan sets, knit skirt and top sets, and trousers with shell tops and jackets.


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Style Notes: The Espadrille on vickiarcher.com
Style Notes: The Espadrille