There is just something magical about how women in France dress.

Whether it’s Brigitte Bardot in a black turtleneck, black skinny ankle pants, black flats, and a silk scarf, or Vanessa Paradis in a simple white dress and black blazer, these ladies have an effortless chic that exudes a je ne sais quoi.

And women our size can look just as chic.

Yeah, right, Annie. Both Brigitte and Vanessa are thin Frenchwomen. How am I supposed to look as good as a plus-sized woman?

The answer is très simple, my friend. Read below for French style secrets that will help you look great at any size:

  1. Start with a neutral palette. You will not see many Frenchwomen walking around with a canary yellow shirt and royal blue pants. Their closets are teeming with black, navy, gray, and beige, with a few accent colors in there. I’ve blogged about the importance of a capsule wardrobe, and having a neutral color scheme lays the foundation.
  2. Pick quality over quantity. Many more Frenchwomen see their clothing as investment pieces. Stores in France can only have sales legally in the months of January and July, so finding deals there is rather difficult. They will pay extra for a two-ply cashmere sweater that lasts, rather than a single ply that won’t last an entire winter. They will favor durable leather shoes instead of cheap made-in-China synthetic ones that will last a few months. Choose quality pieces that are well made rather than the fast fashion so prevalent today.
  3. Gym clothes are for the gym. Full disclaimer: I am so guilty of breaking this rule. And often. But Frenchwomen usually aren’t wearing yoga pants, running shorts, tennis shoes, and athleisure wear when they are out running errands. They wear work-out clothes only for the work-out, but otherwise they wear street clothes.
  4. Embrace flats. Of course there are Frenchwomen who love their heels, but you are much more likely to see ballet flats, loafers, moccasins, or oxfords than anything else. And if your feet are as jacked up as mine are with bunions and no arches, your tootsies will thank you.
  5. Fear not the horizontal stripe. I remember working on my fashion badge as a Girl Scout in the 1980s. We had a wardrobe consultant come and talk to us, and I can still remember to this day hearing, “Fat women shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes. It only makes them look fatter.”

It’s 2017. Screw that.

There is nothing more quintessentially French than the classic Breton stripes, especially on a shirt. Who cares if we’re plus-sized? Who cares about the traditional fashion advice? Rock the stripes, and know you look good doing it.

  1. Add a touch of whimsy. Whether it is a concert/band t-shirt under a black blazer, Converse sneakers with the classic Breton shirt and skinny jeans, a vintage piece of costume jewelry with your little black dress, or a leather pencil skirt with a crisp button-down shirt, find a way to communicate your sense of fun through fashion.
  2. Think timeless, not trends. Frenchwomen do buy trendy items, but they are the exception to their wardrobe, not the rule. By all means buy a fun piece every now and again. But you won’t find many Uggs, decorative ponchos, jeans with rhinestones on the back pockets, or super low-rise jeans gathering dust in their closet. Classic, basic pieces stand the test of time.

You don’t have to go and start follow all these rules. Start with one and commit to it for a week, whether it is leaving the running shoes for the treadmill or wearing neutrals with just a pop of color. Find what works best for you and incorporate it into your daily life.

 Which of these rules sounds easiest for you to follow? Comment below!