How to Dress Like a French It Girl

Translating that je ne sais quoi once and for all.

Translating that Je ne sais quoi once and for all. Via ELLE.com
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Let’s face it: When it comes to fashion, France has the pick of It Girls. With muses and icons like Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, Inès de la Fressange, and Clémence Poésy, how can we not suffer from Francophilia? And more importantly, what is the secret to that bafflingly effortless, incredibly chic sense of style? We rounded up 11 of our favorite icons and broke down their go-to looks to translate that je ne sais quoi once and for all.
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"Getty Images, Farfetch, Otte, Anthropologie, Barneys, Farfetch"
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Let's be serious: It all begins (and ends, really) with Coco Chanel. But while many remember the icon for her classic suits and penchant for tweed and pearls, they also forget that her taste was revolutionary for women in the 20th century. This getup highlights her sense of daring—mixed prints and textures? How modern! How chic! Just don't forget the pearls—and your Chanel bag.


Tory Burch A-line Skirt, out of stock; farfetch.com

Fine Collection Linen Crop Tee, $91; otteny.com

Anthropologie Rose-Capped Oxfords, $228; anthropologie.com

Lanvin Pearl Gloria Multistrand Necklace, $1,745; barneys.com

Chanel Vintage Quilted Cross Body Bag, $4,987.70; farfetch.com

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"Everett Collection, Topshop, Matches, Yoox, Marissa Collections"
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When we think of Bardot, we think "sex kitten"—but the appeal of this icon was that she was coquettish, not downright raunchy. A tighter top balances a girly, full skirt (in on-trend gingham, no less), but be sure to finish the look off with flirty, full-volume, post-romp hair (and her signature cat-eye, bien sûr.)


Topshop Gingham Calf Midi Skirt, $96; us.topshop.com

Balenciaga Graphic Jacquard Silk Top, $695; matchesfashion.com

MM6 by Maison Martin Margiela Belt, $94; yoox.com

Lanvin Classic Ballet Flat, $495; marissacollections.com

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If you haven't seen Breathless, add it to your Netflix queue immediately—you're in for a world of style inspiration. Seberg was technically American, but in the film (set in Paris), she's all about the French navy stripe—and with that enviable crop, she's positively gamine.


Steven Alan Eloise Dress, $385; stevenalan.com

Stella McCartney Cat-Eye Acetate Sunglasses, $240; luisaviaroma.com

Baggu Drawstring Purse, $140; needsupply.com

Repetto Cendrillon Ballerina Flat, $295; lagarconne.com

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Easy and breezy, Birkin just oozes that bohemian effortlessness of the '60s. (Though she is technically British, her French residence and style prowess has earned her an honorary slot on our list.) Faded and flared jeans are non-negotiable—as is a palpable joie de vivre.


Topshop Frill Hem Suntop, $52; us.topshop.com

MIH Cape Mid-Rise Skinny Flare Jeans, $285; matchesfashion.com

10 Crosby Derek Lam Jasmin Lace-Up Sandals, $325; saksfifthavenue.com

Plein Sud Slim Belt, $225; farfetch.com

Nancy Kraskin Tiny Turquoise Necklace, $276; catbirdnyc.com

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"Getty Images, Matches Fashion, Madewell, Stylebop, Jimmy Choo, Austique"
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There's a reason why Francophiles go gaga for de la Fressange: The Uniqlo designer and Chanel muse (and sometimes-model) has made that very French, classic-meets-quirky look her signature. To channel her style savvy, keep the elements (and palette) neutral and tailored, but throw on an unexpected belt, brightly hued scarf, or colorful bag before walking out the door.


J.Crew Collection Featherwear Cashmere Boyfriend V-Neck Sweater, $228; jcrew.com

Rag & Bone Charles Houndstooth Blazer, $398; matchesfashion.com

Madewell Backcountry Belt $39.50; madewell.com

Mother The Looker High Waist Jeans, $295; stylebop.com

Agnes Patent Pointy Toe Stiletto Pumps, $575; us.jimmychoo.com

Clare Vivier Foldover Clucth in Oxblood, $246.73; austique.com

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"Getty Images, Mytheresa, Scoop, Net-A-Porter, Shoecribe, Bluefly, Cartier"
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When you start out your career playing muse to Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler, and Jean Paul Gaultier, it's pretty safe to say you have some major street cred. The French-Algerian beauty tends to choose simple, very classic pieces—and when she puts it all together, she's the essence of chic.


Meteo by Yves Salomon Mink Jacket, $4,227; mytheresa.com

3.1 Phillip Lim Pullover V-Neck Sweater, $525; scoopnyc.com

Toga Pleated Wool and Mohair-Blend Culottes, $570; net-a-porter.com

Salvatore Ferragamo Closed Toe Pumps, $570; shoescribe.com

Saint Laurent Red Leather Foldover Clutch, $648; bluefly.com

Cartier Diamants Legers de Cartier Bracelet, $6,350; cartier.us

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"Getty Images, Net-A-Porter, Rag & Bone, The Outnet, Barneys, ASOS"
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If you need proof that muse-dom is genetic, look no further than Jane Birkin and her children. Exhibit A: Charlotte Gainsbourg, the second daughter of the clan. But where her mother favors bohemian spirit, the singer and actress (and Balenciaga muse) is all about rock-and-roll. Here, she proves that faded black skinnies and a white tee might be simple, but are still stylish as hell—and no, you don't have to be French to pull that off.


Helmut Lang Washed-Satin Bomber Jacket, $345; net-a-porter.com

Rag & Bone Aberdeen Long Sleeve Tee, $150; rag-bone.com

R13 Boy Skinny Distressed Mid-Rise Jeans, $158; theoutnet.com

Isabel Marant Dicker Western Ankle Boot, $650; barneys.com

ASOS Skinny Embroidery Western Buckle Waist Belt, $15.05; us.asos.com

Irene Neuwirth Rose Cut Labradorite Ring, $3,560; barneys.com

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"Getty Images, Farfetch, Shopbop, Mytheresa, Barneys, Neiman Marcus"
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Johnny Depp's former flame has been turning heads all on her own for years with her vampy, slightly goth, very sexy fashion sense—there's a reason why she's a Chanel front-row favorite. Favor lace and lingerie-leaning details, add in a sexy heel, and make these three words your beauty mantra: dark red lipstick.


Thakoon Lace Bodice Jumpsuit, $1,150; farfetch.com

Schutz Slate Lace Up Booties, $220; shopbop.com

Stella McCartney Falabella Faux-Leather Clutch, $607; mytheresa.com

Maison Martin Margiela Arm Cuff, $1,095; barneys.com

Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Color, $35; neimanmarcus.com

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"Getty Images, Mytheresa, Nordstrom, Catbird, Sephora"
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Tautou's style is as sweet as her Amélie character, and this look at Cannes exudes it to a T. Step out in romantic florals and add some girly jewelry—and a swipe of red lipstick.


Dolce & Gabbana Floral Print Cotton Midi Dress, $2,195; mytheresa.com

Kurt Geiger London Catherine Pointy Toe Patent Leather Pump, $370; shop.nordstrom.com

Catbird Dollhouse Locket, $168; catbirdnyc.com

Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick in Rose Dentelle, $36; sephora.com

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"Getty Images, Matches Fashion, Zara, Mytheresa, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Barneys, Campbell"
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The youngest of the Birkin clan, the actress/model/songstress is basically the ultimate cool girl muse. Her preference for menswear-inspired silhouettes, bohemian-rock accessories, and that hair all but scream "effortless." Think Hedi Slimane's reimagining of Saint Laurent, add in a touch of free spirit and je ne sais quoi, and you're there.


Burberry Prorsum Double-Faced Cashmere Coat, $3,330; matchesfashion.com

Zara Two-Ply Trousers, $59.90; zara.com

Chloé Silk Shirt, $1,050; mytheresa.com

Pour La Victoire Bonne Tonne Duffel Bag, $379.99; urbanoutfitters.com

Topshop Ghost T-Strap Pump, $59.99; shop.nordstrom.com

Janessa Leone Vera Fedora, $215; barneys.com

Campbell Geometric Ring, $365; campbelljewelry.com

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"Getty Images, La Garconne, Moda Operandi, Church\'s, Stylebop, ASOS, Revolve"
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The Harry Potter actress and Chloé model balances her ethereal beauty with a casual, comfortable sense of style. Choose menswear-inspired details, oversized sweaters, and throw in some chic accessorieslike a wide-brimmed fedora or leather clutchto finish off the easy look.


Rag & Bone Krista Pullover, $275; lagarconne.com

Frame Denim Le Color Ripped Skinny Jeans, $200; modaoperandi.com

Church’s Burwood Leather Oxfords, $447.83; church-footwear.com

Faliero Sarti Silk Blend Scarf, $215; stylebop.com

ASOS Plain Felt Fedora Hat, $37.63; asos.com

Clare Vivier Flat Clutch, $165; revolveclothing.com

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