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You can be chic at any age and this post is for the “fifty and fabulous” women that want French fashion inspiration from some of the most stylish women out there! These Parisian women give great inspiration on dressing age appropriately, always looking chic, and never losing style. But really, these tips are good for any age as I myself have gotten some great reminders while writing this post. Here’s how you, whether you’re 50 or not, can dress like a French woman over 50!
How to Dress Like a French Woman Over 50
1. Finish off your outfit with a scarf
In the end, in order to have great style, you’ll find that it comes down to the little things. Not every outfit needs a scarf, but you sure can’t go wrong with adding one to your look!
Whether expertly tied or effortlessly draped, solid color or interesting print, it will add a stylish layer to your outfit and make you look fabulous! Are you an Hermès silk scarf girl? Maybe the classic Burberry print is for you. Or perhaps a leopard print pattern shows off your personality better.
Small items, like a beautiful scarf, can be worn in different ways and can become a part of your personal style and signature look. For an extra dose of style, think of your scarf as one accessory option, not the only thing. See the example below as a way to layer a thin scarf and a necklace. Tres chic! The good news is, however, you can’t go wrong with how you decide to wear this classic piece.
2. Break out your classic trench coat
Whether you go for the never-out-of-style beige or a twist on this classic staple, it’s always a good idea to have at least one of these in your outfit rotation. As cliche as they may seem at times, trench coats are a staple of French style and both French girls and French women wear them.
They’re for all ages and look fantastic with anything, whether that be skinny jeans, slim black pants, a black dress, or a classic white shirt. Belted or draped open, it can add a level of style to your look.
Do you already have the classic beige trench? Then look into an army green coat, statement material, or eye-catching print to add that extra item to your wardrobe that will shake up your looks and make fashion fun!
3. Don’t be afraid of animal print
Don’t think that a fierce print is for the younger generation. Non! It’s for anyone that wants to add a little edge and style to their wardrobe. Carine Roitfeld is currently 66 years and is frequently seen wearing animal print. Sometimes with high heels too!
Though ballet flats are always a great choice, don’t think that being over 50 means you can’t wear heels, animal print, or a daring look every now and then. One French girl secret is having that one item that makes you stand out, whether it’s a bold red lip or a stylish animal print coat.
Yet, it’s all balanced out with neutrals and sophisticated styles so you never look like you’re trying too hard to be young. French women embrace their age but don’t feel stuck by it.
4. Highlight your shape
Getting older doesn’t mean hiding under bulky layers. It’s still a good idea to show off your shape. Especially with a belt!
Knowing your body type is important too because it will help you to know what you should add to your own wardrobe. Meaning, if you have a slim waist then you’re probably going to stock up on fitted dresses and statement belts to highlight your shape. If you have killer legs, then you’ll probably find yourself adding a pencil skirt to your wardrobe.
Getting older doesn’t mean swimming in fabrics or losing your style. It means picking and choosing your best features to highlight, and expertly covering what you’re not so confident about so you can walk out the house confident and in charge.
5. Pair navy & black together
How do French women dress? At the end of the day, they keep the building blocks and timeless pieces of a classic wardrobe in mind, but the important thing to know is that they realize fashion trends and style rules are meant to be broken. Such as, wearing navy and black together.
Pairing the colors navy and black together is chic- not a faux pas. It looks especially great on older women too, as it gives off an effortless look of sophistication and put-togetherness. An older woman of style isn’t going to pay much attention to what’s trending and instead, is going to focus on wearing the items and colors that she loves.
6. Try out tights
You will not see a lot of opaque or skin tone tights on French women like you would see on American women. Instead, go for sheer or an interesting pattern or print to show off your unique personal style. Leave your black leggings at home!
Hosiery styles like the ones pictured below will instantly elevate your evening dress and fancier looks. Tights belong in the unexpected chic basics category and for good reason.
They can take a simple item like a shift dress and give it a whole new look, especially when paired with classic stilettos. Many women over 50 don’t like to wear stilettos and that’s okay. You can look equally chic in kitten heel slingbacks, block heels, and even flats.
7. Wear long, classic coats
Though a long camel coat is usually the go-to when you think of classic outerwear, don’t think it only has to be that. As you can see, rich green and navy look ever so chic too.
A long wool coat is one of the top classic pieces I think everyone should have, yet especially when emulating a French wardrobe. A woman over 50 wearing a classic coat will dominate street style and instantly look sophisticated and effortless!
It’s one of those simple pieces that look like you spent much time on your outfit, but the best thing is that all you had to do was throw it on over your white blouse and voila- instant chicness. That’s the power of a coat like this.
Are you in the market for one? This is not a place to skimp. Quality should be your top priority! Look for a wool coat or something that is long and thick. It doesn’t have to keep you warm in a tundra, of course, but we don’t want something flimsy and wrinkly. Pay attention to the buttons as well. They should feel and look sturdy. Keep in mind that a coat may be the first and only thing someone sees of you.
8. Wear a blazer
Do you ever wonder what French women wear? A blazer is a key part of a French woman’s wardrobe and should be a key part of yours too, whether you are French or not!
A blazer in a neutral color such as black, gray, or navy, is best paired with jeans for that put-together but not trying too hard look. Whether you choose to wear boots or heels, you can’t go wrong or mess up this go-to outfit combo! For a cool rock and roll look, you could pair your blazer with an oversized sweater as a mix of styles is always chic.
Once you have the classic colors, look into adding a plaid blazer into your wardrobe for that extra dose of print. Then, look into different fits as an oversized blazer will give you a completely different style and look than a tailored one! And yet, all have a place in your wardrobe.
9. Have a go-to uniform
Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Truly stylish women know what looks good on them and they don’t feel like they have to constantly shop.
Pick a style uniform and add little tweaks to switch it up, whether it’s throwing on sunglasses, adding a belt, or changing out your footwear. Do you love to wear a striped shirt and blazer, for example? Believe it or not, there are endless ways to make this combination feel new. You can belt the blazer, cuff or roll the blazer sleeves, half tuck in your shirt, or throw on a statement coat for starters. Not every change has to be big and drastic. As always, it’s the little things!
French-style icons like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Carla Bruni are a great inspiration for style tips because not only are they a perfect example of the French-girl style but they know what they like to wear and they’ll wear their favorite items again and again. It’s not boring. It’s smart!
10. Build up a collection of tweed blazers
Chanel knows best…Even if you throw on a tweed blazer over a graphic tee, you will be irresistibly chic. A blazer, especially a tweed one, is a must-have for a french woman’s wardrobe.
Though American girls may not wear tweed blazers as much, it is a big part of a perfect Parisienne look. Celebrity French women like Ines de la Fressange have been seen photographed in them looking ever so classic. They can dress up jeans or look sophisticated with tailored pants. Tweed blazers can look chic with heels or street style chic with sneakers. The options are endless!
11. Be mindful of skin
A French woman over 50 isn’t frumpy when it comes to her night-out look. Instead, she’s mindful of the skin she’s showing and would much rather choose to wear something sheer to provide coverage and leave something to the imagination rather than let it all be on display.
Even if you don’t find yourself dressing to the nines on the red carpet as some of these French women below, you can still have a killer age-appropriate look. Wanting to try out a sheer top? Pair it with a tailored black blazer and a red lip. Bold heels are up to you!
Is a totally sheer top not your thing? No worries. You can get the look while staying comfortable in your skin by trying out a top with sheer elements, such as sheer sleeves or a sheer neck instead. No matter what style guide you read, you have to take the fashion tips and make them work for YOU!
12. Rock an all-black outfit
No “goth” days here. Try chic days! Celebrity stylists don’t lie about the power of black. An older French woman knows that all-black is chic at any age and looks polished…not to mention slimming!
For interest, you can mix different textures and patterns to create a stylish monochromatic outfit. Or you can let the color and print come through in your accessories and choice of footwear.
However you decide to rock an all-black ensemble, try to remember to layer. That will keep your outfit stylish and interesting! A good combo to start with would be pants + tee + blazer. That hits all the French wardrobe nails on the head, so to speak!
13. Embrace different styles of jeans
Skinny jeans are always a classic, but don’t get stuck in a rut or think you can only wear one type of jeans!
Whether you go for straight, slim, bootcut, or flare, it’s always good to have a couple of different styles in your wardrobe. Embrace tailored pants as well. A crisp pair of black pants worn with flat shoes (like ballet flats or loafers) is oh so chic and a perfect way to nail Parisian style. Finish your jean outfit off with a stylish jacket or blazer and you will look (and feel) ultra-sophisticated.
14. Rock big sunglasses
It doesn’t matter if you’re over 50, you can totally rock some big sunglasses. In fact, it can set you apart as a fabulous woman of style.
Experiment with different shapes too! Perhaps you’ll come back to classic aviators or round lenses, but you may just find that a cat eye shape is cute, quirky, and totally you. Something small like sunglasses can play a big part in developing your unique style and signature look!
15. Wear a knee-length dress
Younger French women (like Jeanne Damas and Clémence Poésy) have been known to rock a cropped cardigan and mini skirt in the spring and summer. And though a French woman over 50 isn’t dowdy, she knows that a mini skirt is probably not the right piece for her.
So what does she wear instead? Maxi skirts for the rest of her life? No! Though a maxi skirt can certainly be a chic piece, an older French woman is mindful of how much skin is appropriate to show at her age. A great go-to length? Knee or midi!
Let this length guide you in your spring and summer shopping. And when paired with the tights we mentioned earlier, you can bring these pieces into the fall and winter too! You’ll find that a little bit of structure (in material or style), is best suited for a woman over 50 as well.
16. Invest in boots
Boots, especially ankle boots, are a french woman’s wardrobe staple and a shoe that you’ll wear the most! They’re especially useful to older women who aren’t interested in wearing heels, strappy sandals, or espadrilles (like the younger Parisian girls wear).
Ankle boots can be worn with pretty much anything such as slim/straight jeans, cropped flared jeans, and even skirts and dresses. Tall boots would look best worn over bottoms with a slim leg so they don’t make your pants bunch up awkwardly.
Boots should be an investment for how much you’ll wear them. When in doubt, go with a neutral color in leather material. Real leather will look great with time and even when it ages, it will just look cooler. Of course, make sure the fit and comfort are there. Once you have these classic black or brown leather boots in your wardrobe, you can look into getting bolder statement styles like a leopard print or reptile print.
When boot shopping, look for ones with a heel. A heel will take your boots from equestrian to chic and add just the right amount of elevation. Of course, make sure it’s a heel you can actually walk in! You may be wondering, when it comes to boots, should you buy short boots or tall boots? My answer? Both. As your budget allows. I think you’ll find that both styles will find a place in your wardrobe and together, you’ll have shoes that will work for all seasons.
all photos via Getty Images
French women in this post:
Carine Roitfeld, 65
Catherine Deneuve, 76
Françoise Hardy, 76
Caroline Paulus, 61
Emmanuelle Alt, 52
Carla Bruni, 52
Isabelle Huppert, 67
Juliette Binoche, 56
Inès de la Fressange, 62
These older French ladies are trailblazing women when it comes to dressing chic while also being age-appropriate. As you can see, these fashion tips are all something you can copy in your own wardrobe as well! Even if you don’t have that Breton striped shirt or a pair of new ballet flats (though you should!), you can easily take these tips and create them into your own personalized outfits.
Are you looking for a French place to shop to get chic clothes to add to your wardrobe? Try Sezane or Balzac Paris for authentic French clothing. H&M is a great choice for budget-friendly options too.
Craving more French fashion? Then be sure to keep reading if you want more style tips!
Up Next: The Ultimate Guide to French Fashion
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