13 Mar 2013

French Women Don’t Do Florals

I have a question for you? Do you like florals?

It would seem that come summer if we take our lead from the fashion designers we will be head to toe covered in flowers… I am a great listener and a reasonable follower when it comes to what’s in… and as much as I adore a flower… les fleurs won’t be taking up a lot of space in my wardrobe. ‘Yes’… to a flowery, floaty caftan… and definitely ‘yes’ to a scarf (many scarves)… but that will be all the flora I will be sporting.

French women don’t do florals… not in my observation and that is one of the reasons they look so chic and well groomed… They wear plains with the exception of a nautical stripe… and it works… I suspect I have been drawn over to the French side… It’s not that I don’t try the flowers… there is loads of trying… looking, turning this way and that… wondering if they would work… but the result is always the same… Not for me… Do you know that feeling? You want to… you really, really do… but it’s just not happening.

Flowers, as perfect as they are in nature, aren’t quite so forgiving on the body… well not on mine… and while they may fill us full of joy with the mere suggestion of their fragrance or a glance at their delicate petals… it’s quite the opposite when they graduate from decorative to designer.

Another problem with ‘the florals’… I feel like I am wearing curtains… Have you ever thought… love that dress… but I would really rather have it hanging on the windows in my bedroom?

So I am sorry but this season I will be hunting the plains a la French style and admiring the florals on others… And you? Will you be wearing les fleurs? Tell me…Am I missing out? xv

 

 

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103 Comments

Mary

I feel, and dress, exactly this same way – NO floral patterns on my bod, leave them for the windows or an occasional cushion cover perhaps. They look great on certain people but I’m definitely a plain, mostly neutrals dresser with a few stripes thrown in for Summer beach wear.

Off to ‘pick’ my flowers now – the daffodils are blooming in the garden where I love them. Good post Vicki.

Hugs – Mary

Reply
Vicki

HOw lovely… Pick plenty Mary… we can all imagine them… and that will be fleurs enough… :)

Reply
Maureen

Not a great lover of florals though I have a friend who really suits them. I think more plain although I have some patterns for summer dresses.

Reply
Vicki

Summer is the only time I can bring out a pattern… but you know, the truth is I never feel very good in them… :)

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Katherine

I like floral prints, but I’m very selective with all the prints I buy. I mostly wear separates so putting them with solids helps tone down the look.
I once owned a pair of floral print strap shoes that had a fabric {floral} piece that wrapped around the ankle. I wore them a few times and always felt like a billboard. They looked great in the cupboard as part of my shoe collection!

Reply
Vicki

How many things we buy and then they get left in the cupboard! I am trying not to do that anymore… and as much as I am tempted by a floral… I will be saving my fix for a beach caftan… :)

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Karen in CT

I totally agree. If something is bought because I do like the print, it just hangs in the closet. Curtains 100% are on my mind. So now, florals just arent considered. I do like the look on some, but it just doesn’t translate to me. Good post, thanks …. it’s always nice to know I’m not the only one.

Karen in CT

Reply
Vicki

I think we are nearly all in this together… but I do admire those who can wear it well… :)

Reply
Connie

I soooo agree with you and they are everywhere! I am wondering what I’m going to wear this spring and summer!

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Connie

I can’t wait to see the “plains” you find! I love your style! Thank you for your blog!

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Sally Leonard

I LOVE florals…on other people.
My problem with florals and any other print,
Is that I think you need to be flat chested and
very thin.. Wish I were both!!

Reply
my castle in spain

Vicki, I’ve just given away a floral suit (shorts + blazer) because I felt it was much too much….yes, exactly the curtains effect you’re mentioning :-) and well, now, I start thinking…oh but maybe I could have worn it this summer….i’ll stick to flowery dresses.
that said, yes to flowers in the head !
xo Lala

Reply
Vicki

I love a flower tucked behind in the hair for summer… especially if you are by the sea or on holiday… it feels so liberating for some silly reason… :)

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Vicki

They are everywhere in European stores for the coming summer season… whether they will hit the streets is another matter… :)

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Tara

in my opinion flowers belong, as you said, hanging over windows or draped across a bed, definitely not on this body!

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Vicki

Yes… and even though the French don’t really wear them… they certainly decorate with them…

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24/7 in France

I usually stick with basics too, as you can always add florals with scarves and accessories. I do like the dress in the photo, but wouldn’t wear it, and yes, rich fabric-type dresses make me think of the movie “Gone With The Wind” :)

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déjà pseu

I did notice a lot of floral scarves on women in Paris last spring, which surprised me as my observations are the same as yours. I’m not a florals girl; I admire them on others but they aren’t “me,” except for the occasional scarf.

Reply
Vicki

I suppose with the scarves… it’s just a touch of floral and that what makes all the difference… WHen I try on florals I feel as if they are wearing me… not the other way around… :)

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cecile

Well… I must agree with you. Florals are not going to take up room in my closet.
I consider florals cool as a skirt on a teen… Yet, not so much as a frumpy dress (Ralph Lauren) for a preteen.. looks just like, yes, a curtain or a chair in an English parlor. That chintz quality… I will stick with solids and my marienere and leave it at that..

Cécile

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Jill Sangster

Hi Vickie,

Regarding Les Fleurs: I could not have said it better myself.

Cheers,

Jill

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Peggy Braswell

I am with you VA. I always tell my clients, “One can not live with what One can not wear.”…look around your home, I bet it is all solids + stripes + a little floral here and there. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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Nancie B

I’m with you. Solids, stripes, even polka dots but flowers-no. They are ever so pretty but can so easily slip into “Wal Mart Fashion”- an oxymoron if I ever heard one. They just don’t hold up well. Maybe a scarf. Maybe one blouse. Maybe.
Just not me.

Reply
Vicki

I understand the ‘maybe’… my ‘maybe’ ends up being never… Scarves on the other hand, Nancie… love florals… :)

Reply
MCJ

Hello Vicky,
Thank you for the thought and the great photo, which, to me, looks very French… however more so, because of the lace.
I am French and I actually do florals ~ a little bit and sometimes, that is. I feel flowers should have more to do with implied patterns, or in the fabric, or as a border ~ as in lace, which is very French!! In other words, it is less literal than a bold, colorful, flowery pattern.
You bring up a good point about figures, as every French woman knows that anything loud and large in design, i.e.: big flowers, is not flattering to any woman’s figure.
A few years ago, I went to an outdoor function in the South, during the summer. I was the only woman there, not wearing a flowery dress. Mine was of a solid coral color!
Colorful flowers are lovely on an embroidered handkerchief (as my grandmother used to do!), a silk scarf or as summer earrings. And I love my lace, flower cutout bolero! Yet now that I think about it (or scan through my closet), that’s about it.
Thank you for reminded me of something that I suppose the French in me never really thought about, but simply instinctively (or almost!) always knew! Now living in the US, I often miss anything French, and obviously I have forgotten some of the little things, that are ingrained in me.
Finally, may I mention that I like to feature flowers in my artwork, or at least to ‘imply’ them, as seen on my website: MCJArt.net

Reply
Vicki

Thank you for a ‘true’ insight into French style and it’s interesting that what I ‘study’ is so intuitive to you… :)
Floral art is another matter… I adore flower paintings… and could have my home full of florals…

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Mary

We certainly are seeing loads of florals this year but my opinion is that they look best on girls and really young adults. Florals on most adult women just look awkward to me, as though one is a step away from looking like dear ole granny. I’m with you on saving the florals for scarves…a touch goes a long way.

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emily@TownAndCountryShuffle.com

Ha ha, same here. The only flowers I like are the fresh cut ones… in a vase on my table. Just like you Vicki, I tried them on time and again, and I always opt for solids or strips (I can’t even wear floral pajamas – lol)

Emily @ TownAndCountry.com

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Marsha @ Splenderosa

Non, I will not be wearing florals although I used to a waaay long time ago. Mary Kate and Ashley looked beautiful in this Dolce & Gabbana collection in some editorial, but they didn’t do jewelry or hats. They looked young and gorgeous. Well, maybe I would wear tiny floral print pants. I do love this image though, Vicki…it looks like Carmen Miranda .

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Vicki

I am sure there are exceptions Marsha… and I do love this image too… I always adore the D&G way of doing florals… and as I said I even try it… I can still see a chiffon blouse that was heavenly… but on me… not so… ;)

Reply
Jessie

i never do florals. i hardly do prints. strips, animal and geometric prints are my bottom line. people here in the uk love floral for all seasons. but it’s just not my style. i prefer something more minimalistic. =)

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Vicki

I am a fan of the leopard print as I see that as a neutral too… and I admire others in geometrics… but I invariably end up plain… :)

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Patricia

I remember in the 1980’s when beautiful yards of floral chintz abounded, I often thought that I would like to adorned in them. But, no, I always instead realized that one color yardage looked better on me. It didn’t shout, “HERE I AM”! Instead a single color draws the eye in without tiring it. Or at least my eye feels that way when I look in a mirror! So, instead, I bought the chintz and made a vest that barely peeked through my wool blazer. In retrospect, the inner wisdom I relied on then didn’t lead me astray. So, why would I ignore it now? I had to laugh about the feeling of wearing curtains. Not unlike Scarlett O’Hara?
Be well.
Patricia

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chicatanyage

Just had a wander round the London shops today despite the freezing weather and they all seem to be full of florals. Not my look I feel like a chinz sofa in florals. I shall be sticking to the block plains, probably neutrals

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Brittney

French women do look chic with solid colors and nautical details, but I just can’t give up florals in an effort to be like them. I think flower prints can look good on anyone, as long as you choose the size and colors appropriately.

Brittney

anotherbeautifulthing.blogspot.com

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Vicki

Perhaps it is a climate difference as well… Florals seem to lend themselves to bright, sunny places… :)

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Just Verte Style

I have two problems with florals: I’m petite and all the prints that are being shown this season are strong ones and would swallow me whole.

Secondly, florals are memorable, which means you can’t wear them too often. Being practical(read thrifty), I like being able to get some mileage out of my purchases. Neutrals in clothing, like in interior design, gives you lots of lee way to play with secondary colors.

That being said, the model in the photograph looks adorable!

April

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Vicki

That’s a great point, April… they are too distinctive… and I agree… mixing and matching what we buy works best… Everything is too costly now not to be able to wear it often and for multiple occasions..

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Elizabeth

I wear my florals in the form of lace or eyelet. Both are quite stylish this year…and in my opinion, they’re stylish forever!

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Lindsay

Loved this post. I love wearing florals but in small doses. Head to toe works on the runway but not always in real life!

thestylechildblog.com

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Vicki

If only in life we looked like the models on the runway… that would be an entirely different story… :)

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pve

I do love them. There are some exquisite florals in design but wearing them is so personal. I do admire them. I think I tend to go more solid, simple shapes, clean lines and uniforms appeal to me. Perhaps in a scarf or on the table~
pve

Reply
Vicki

I agree Patricia… I love them, admire them…. but just not on me… Having said that I can’t wait to get all the florals on my table for springtime… :)

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Robyn

I agree. I see them in Vogue and think “Maybe”…but then I don’t. I have a navy pencil skirt from jcrew a few seasons ago, a navy with muted Monet-like floral…and I love it. But that is the only one I have.
I saw a very cool pair of floral jeans (on white) at Michael Kors…but I don’t think so :)

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The Enchanted Home

I do admire them from afar but don’t think I have actually ever worn florals come to think of it! I do agree they are not so forgiving but look fabulous on size 0 models strutting down the runway. I think its a trend that will have a short shelf life because of how few can wear it and wear it well. I am most comfortable in solids and dressing and jazzing things up with a fabulous statement necklace or a scarf of something interesting to add color or pattern.
The older I get the more I am set in my ways but it doesn’t mean I do not admire them from the safety of my neutrals:)

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Vicki

Yes I fear I am finding my ‘signature’ look too… and like you, Tina… I do admire florals from afar… and on the runway… and I am always adding a scarf with flowers… but the rest stays in the dressing room… :)

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Mikky

I am liking the florals that are out now. Before I didn’t really like the designs that were out, they always looked so matronly, I like that the new styles and fresh, lively and a bit edgy.

:)
mikky

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Pamela

Dear Vicki
I’m sure you’d always look chic and fabulous whatever you wore!

But it’s been interesting to read the comments. So fascinating to have such freedom of choice and yet to know that so many people limit themselve to plain neutrals. But there are those, probably mostly younger women, who look fabulous in florals and who undoubtedly will make the most of the selections this season. I’m thinking of Faux Fuschia and her blog and friends. She, and they, always look amazing.

While so many of us adore France and French things, we don’t all necessarily want to LOOK French or make French choices all the time. I’m very happy to be Australian and don’t seek to look French. Impossible with my colouring anyway.

I loved florals when younger and thinner – and still do, but no longer wear them. I mostly wear plains too (though also colour) largely because I love to accessorise with statement jewellery, or great scarves and handbags.

But as a free spirit, the suggestion of fashion “rules” is a turn-off for me. We celebrate women’s right to choose according to their own tastes, and that may be the safer plains and neutrals or it may be the more risk-taking florals or other patterns and colour. Perhaps the preference for plain neutrals is also an American as well as a French thing. I’ve noticed from other blogs that Americans seem to have rules about when you can wear certain colours and at what age a woman should cut her hair short and that flowers should stay in the garden and not on fabric. In Oz I think women tend to me more adventurous and not rule bound. Best wishes, Pamela

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Vicki

We Aussies have always been adventurous Pamela… that is for sure…
Women must do what makes them feel good about themselves and what they enjoy… fashion is as much about climate and culture as the ‘rules’… and as I said the other day… in my mind, these days we are so fortunate as women… for there are no rules… :)

Reply
Ivy Clad

Wearing florals? Count me in! I won’t be wearing them everyday or everywhere, but on the right occasion and the right piece– definitely. Yesterday I bought a gauzy floral scarf. I will be using it to wake up an otherwise sedate outfit– a white tailored button-up blouse and camel-color pencil skirt.

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Carolyn Bradford

If I could only explain my delima to you when I attended a ball in our hometown…the Krewe Ball mind you…the elite of the elite…and my gown was made to resemble a flower! I was only 18 and yet I knew people were laughing and staring! I was so self conscious! I could really do an entire, quite funny post on the whole affair! Maybe I need to start reaching into the recesses of my brain for the real things to write about! Oh my! That dress! And to think I had it designed just for me!!!!! HORRORS!! It’s very funny now to think back on it but no….NOOOO, I do not wear florals unless they are accessories! Also, the one time I was in France…my first observation was the chic, NO FRILLS outfits the french women wore. and I loved it!!! Loved this post, Vicki! Hope you are doing well!

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Suzanne de Cornelia

I never have any print/floral on anything except perhaps the rare scarf…and could wear all black, all the time quite happily. I’m a born minimalist–or perhaps a reincarnated French nun ;)

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FL-Rose

We have lots of flowered clothing here in Florida, but I’m with you – They are not for me…I like to wear what makes me feel good – Plain, but elegant, dresses and my white shirts with dark colored pants and matching jacket, if needed.

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Pauline from Phillip Island

As another Aussie I also love florals, especially in summer. On a hot, sunny day I love to wear a floral sundress with beautiful sandals. They make me feel romantic and feminine and seem to suit our free and easy lifestyle. Living on an island by the sea also makes a difference as everyone dresses for the beach and holidays.
So, I’ll remember not to take my dresses to Paris but I will still float through the summer days here wearing beautiful flowers and colours.

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Carla Coulson

Adore the pic V very Frida Kahlo a big yes from me for flowers in the hair and I ma with you on a floaty caftan but I would prefer to have my flowers from the garden rather than my wardrobe xxx Carla

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Rosalie Carmichael

I just looked in the wardrobe and 12 shirts/kaftans, 3 summer dresses, 3 summer skirts and an absolutely gorgeous Coat Dress by Artisan. I didn’t even dare look through the scarves. Some subtle, other as bold as brass! I know they are there just waiting to be released. The only definite plains will always be the pants; I’m not brave enough for them.

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miss b

The only florals in my wardrobe tend to be scarves. I prefer plain dresses and tops (and a few stripes!) However, last year I did buy some subtle, muted floral cropped trousers to wear on holiday and this year there are some very pretty florals around so who knows….maybe when the weather improves I may buy something but no doubt it will be another scarf!!

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Gemma

I adore florals but, like you, prefer them on scarves or curtains. Occasionally I can get behind a more subtle floral, but then only on a blouse or skirt. The bright, floral trousers which seem to be fashionable at the moment are just so inelegant and unflattering.

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Anita Rivera

HOW did I get here so late?

I am with you Vicki; I enjoy wearing a monochromatic outfit with just a hint of pattern as an accessory as well. I am one for NOT TOO BUSY of clothing. I am too small and I just can’t carry it off. Black, gray and in the spring and summer, cool colors, but never patterns on my entire frame. I do wear a lot of striped shirts but never loud. My personality is FAR TOO LOUD! Instinctively, I have followed the French style of dressing for years and I love it that way! Anita

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Glamour Drops

Oh dear, but I have to say I thoroughly disagree. Although, there is a caveat, which is it depends on the actual graphic design of the fabric and the cut of the clothes. But an over-scaled floral pattern, one which is more inspired by flowers rather than trying to look country cottage, and which has a boldness which gives it an edgey feel, can be incredibly stunning when used in a dress with accessories which match the boldness. I wear a lot of vintage floral dresses in summer – and without fail people will comment on how elegant the dresses look. x

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Esther

I don’t mind florals but there are certain prints that I look at definitely do think… curtains!

Xx
Esther

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Pam@over50feeling40

I recently wrote on my blog that florals and lace (even modern designs) make me feel older…and I do not need anything to make me feel older. So somehow, your post has validated me…now I can say that French women don’t wear florals!! I love prints, but when I put on flowers and look in the mirror…it is just not working for me!

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Julie from West Wales

No florals for me, thank you. They remind me of my Granny – I loved her but I wouldn’t want to look like her! I do love our Welsh National Flower though, the Daffodil. I have vases of them everywhere at the moment.

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Coco

Florals look lovely on young women but I think they make older women look frumpy. When I was younger I would wear a floral now and again but mostly I’ve stuck to plains or stripes. I know what suits me now and my wardrobe is well edited.

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Julie from Montréeal

Well, give me a floral “à la Erdem” anytime!
Some floral designs are so well done…

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Donna A.

Love this image! A prettier, sexier, younger version of Frida Kahlo maybe? Makes me want to put lots of spring flowers on my head and take a picture. Ha! For public consumption, I’ll just stick with my floral earrings.

Reply
Erica

I think Professor Higgins said it best in My Fair Lady,
“I despise thoes gowns with weeds here, and weeds there.”
I haven’t been able to look at fashion florals the same way since.

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Pamela

Professor Higgins was though a crusty old curmudgeon and the despair of his mother. He knew almost nothing about women which was part of the comedy. So don’t let his words put you off! Best wishes, Pamela

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Vicki

LOL Pamela… exactly!! Remember ‘the rain in Spain’ etc…
I do admit to loving that movie… :) I might have to do a re-watch soon…

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Pamela

Yes absolutely agree, loved that movie! And Rex Harrison was wonderful as Higgins!
And yes also to Marsha, some of us do know who Carmen Miranda was! I am unfortunately ancient enough to have seen her in old movies on black and white television in Australia in the late fifties/early sixties (when I was a mere child of course!). But the effect was memorable. Though I guess the b and w medium rather impaired the full glory of her signature hats and outfits. Cheers, Pamela

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Sophia Home

I was rather alarmed when I started seeing many florals in our London shop windows recently….definitely not for me either! Maybe a touch as you suggest, in the form of a scalf or a bag but it is chic neutrals for me!

Sophia

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Tish Jett

You are so right, French women do not do florals although I have seen the occasional — though rare — floaty summer dress, sort of sun dress really, in tiny floral prints a la Liberty.

Personally? Never ever, ever, ever. . .

xox,
Tish

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Debbie

I laughed at your post remembering Bridget Jones feeling dressed “like a carpet” when she put on an outfit her mother picked out—which was floral. My daughters adamantly oppose florals in my clothes. And I listen to them. Geometrics (but not plaids) are my choice.

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Jen Till

I wear my one and only vintage shift dress which I found in a Vermont thrift store, on occasion. It is a soft green and cream small floral print, subtle and the cut of the dress is a simple shift with a high neckline and hits below the knee.
I always feel a bit self conscious in it though. Because it is vintage I like it with a pair of ballet flats.
I think I would rather just hang it on a wall for decoration!

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Dianne

I agree Vicki …. Flowers are too busy to be worn ….. like it’s wearing you instead of you wearing it!
Just a little brush of floral in a scarfe is pretty but that’s enough.

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Cathy Wong

I am in agreement here…I am always drawn to this look in the fashion photos but can NEVER find anything that looks good on me….too overwhelming. I do love floral scarves and enjoy my liberty print floral flats rom JCrew, but guess I’ll stay with florals in smaller doses.
Cathy

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Irina

I think it can be a beautiful look, but has to be done right…
I don’t have the knack for it, though, so I do not wear florals anymore…
Love flowers on furniture and accessories!
Bises,
– Irina

Reply
Valorie Hart = The Visual Vamp

Hi Vicki,
I thought I left a comment yesterday…
I am smiling to laughter because I just bought a floral pantsuit with a shrunken fitted jacket and cigarette pants. I wear it with killer red pumps.
xo xo

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Vicki

And only you could Valorie… I am sure you look wonderful… :)
You are braver than I… and that is a good thing… ;)

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Reeve

Oh, I usually love all things Vicki writes, but this I highly disagree with. I adore florals on clothing, as well as in the garden. While I love all things French, as a free thinking American, I don’t care for the idea of something being considered unattractive simply because it may not be the “French” way of dressing. A floral pattern that is breezy and beautiful can make one feel so feminine and can exude that joie de vivre that we all crave in any country! I’ll keep my well done florals, whether on a Limoges plate, in a vase, or on my body.

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Vicki

I don’t think for a minute that we must as women do all things that French women do… or that they get everything right… no one can… :) I was simply making an observation that they don’t wear many florals as a rule… :)

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Shelley Evans

Vicki, you echo my thoughts… particularly the comment about the curtains! I love florals, adore them in fact, but as a short-waisted, short person, they just don’t work for me.
I am always drawn to them, especially when they are vintage style garments, but alas I always end up looking pretty tragic.
I note your comment that French women tend to avoid florals, as it is something I noticed myself when in France last year.
I will always be tempted by floral garments but have learned that it is flowers in the garden that work for me…

Reply

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