French Girl Style: The Outfit that early 1970s Jane Birkin Would Say 'Oui' To

French Girl Style: The Outfit that early 1970s Jane Birkin Would Say 'Oui' To

I am a hopeless Francophile. It started at the young age of five, taking ballet classes from a real ballerina in the little country town where I grew up. The words were beautiful, so I started learning French in elementary school. And then I had a junior high school teacher who blew my mind with French history, art, Napoleon and Serge Gainsbourg and verb conjugations. She took me on my first great travels abroad and it's been true love with France ever since. (Special shout out to Madame George Ann Parker who forever changed my life with knowledge and adventure!) 

(That's me c.1989 in my favorite ballet costume on the sewing floor of our family's factory. It made one heck of a stage to spin pirouettes and jeté across the floors.)

I went on to have a minor in French in college, lived abroad for a season in the South of France. The photo above is an area in The Var where you park on the side of a cliffy road and climb down into these little private beaches. You lay out on the rocks by the water and little boats pull up selling ice cream and baguette.

I had an art exhibition in a medieval cave du chateau (that's the dungeon, FYI!) and did some styling work for the Princess Grace Foundation of Monaco. That was before we relief so heavily on our phones to document all of life, so there aren't many photos other than these terrible quality, heavily filtered random shots:


Above: preparing for the fashion show for the Royal family of Monaco in the Hotel de Paris, Monaco. 

Above: The most glamorous evening of my life thus far. Hotel de Paris, Monaco. 2014. 

I certainly wasn't the first to fall head over heels for France. It's a thing that touches people at some point in their life and sticks around. Maybe it was the first time you saw Amélie or the first time you visited a real boulangerie and had the most delicious croissant of your life.  And now it seems the whole world is obsessed with "French Girl Style," and I am here for that. The blue jeans and the perfect basic top, the effortless hair and a quick swipe of lipstick.

Above: a screenshot of my Pinterest

In several ways, the Club Duquette experience is very French. We love giving you essentially a capsule collection of real wardrobe staples that are so luxurious in their quality and the economy of mind and time that it affords you. 

You don't need 15 pairs of jeans. You need 2-3 that suit every aspect of your life and personality. Find the one perfect fitting and perfect feeling t-shirt and get one in your two favorite colors. You get the gist. It's the notion of a capsule wardrobe that we are all so obsessed with these days. I think it originated in POST-Revolution France. (Because you KNOW Marie Antoinette did not care about how six dresses and bloomers could be turned into 30 outfits with three different wigs.)

Anyway, you take those little luxurious staples and then you accessorize in fun ways. You breathe fresh air with the jewelry or the scarf or scent (the OLO! The Saint Rita!) that follows you as you walk on by. Goodness it's not even so much about how you present "a look" or "your style," you simply equip yourself with the things that give you deep pleasure and you feel more vibrantly you

I will forever think of early 70s Jane Birkin with her blue jeans and t-shirt and basket bag as the epitome of French style. The insouciance, the sensuality of simplicity, how easy and perfect it is. And how every woman I know in 2019 is going for this vibe. 

Here you go, the 3 things you need to make. it. happen. 

1. The Jeans. The Levi's Premium 501 Crop in the Call Me Crazy wash has immediately become the jeans I reach for every single day-- these will be arriving in the shop in the next few days! They're 100% cotton so you want to get them as tight as you can fit in (I did not size down, rather my true size was the best fit for me and has not disappointed!). The blue is so perfect. They weigh less than you'd think of 100% cotton. And that high/low raw hem is my favorite! It shows an inch or two of ankle and it's really lovely to see that delicate contrast there. Oh, and they're button fly! I imagine Jane B. would be like, "Yes B" to these.

 My other favorite pair we have in stock right now is the Levi's Premium Wedgie Straight. With a 26" inseam and a raw hem, these button fly blues are cheeky and flattering and fun. Runs true to size and will stretch out just a touch (it's 99% cotton, so you want to buy them as tight as you can button!). The rich indigo color is going to develop patina pretty quickly, giving dimension that is perfectly unique to you. (My Wedgies are my most worn pair of jeans EVER and I've literally had them redarned twice because I will simply never let them go!)

2. The T-Shirt. I am so excited we have Jungmaven hemp shirts in the shop in women's, men's and unisex styles! The women's Ojai t-shirt is tissue soft without being too thin. It's 30% hemp and has the most flattering neckline and arm length. it's those subtle details in a t-shirt that can achieve the look. These are the item that keeps selling out in the shop. (Don't worry, we keep reordering)<-- PS: never hesitate to message about anything you want that you may not see. We are always happy to do special orders and also to keep a little wishlist for you on file. Simply email us! 

3. The Bucket Bag. We met and fell in love with the Nipomo family out in the middle of the California desert a few years ago. This small family business designs in California and has impeccable fair manufacturing in Mexico. The bags are so beautifully designed and so durable. The Bucket Canasta is so perfect year round. It carries the essentials-- you know, a sketchbook, some pencils, too many lipsticks and magic potions, etc. 

These three things would be the bones of any great Parisienne outfit. And then you can jeuje it up with this Balm used as an eye and lip gloss, this fragrance that subtly lingers after you've left, one of these rings because you say so much more with your hands and one of these scarves to tie on the handle of your basket or around your neck or through your beltloops or around your ponytail.

...See, a few things can be combined in so many beautiful and distinct ways. C'est très français. 




+ In Birmingham: Have a thoroughly French moment at my favorite restaurant in the whole world, Chez Fon Fon. Sit on the patio (pictured above) if it's nice weather and play pétanque. Everything is delicious and magical and you'll just love it. For Parisian brunch with girlfriends, Chez Lulu. For croissants et brioche, Continental Bakery. Sit inside and inhale all the aromas of fresh baking breads. It's also all magical in the rain. Digging through the old jazz record bins at Charlemagne Records reminds me of Paris, too. And there is a little nook of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens that feels like the South of France to me during warmer months. It's a long alley of tiny rocked pathways and crepe myrtle trees. There are places to sit and write and it's lovely. Find it between the rose garden and the green house. 

Above: Chez Fon Fon, Birmingham Alabama

+ Other places I love so much: L'Appartement in NYC, it's French brand Sezane's little store that feels just like a French apartment. They even have a little cafe inside to rest a moment. Café des Chineurs in the Southern French city of old Antibes is among my favorite places to eat in the world. Have the steak tartare césare with frites au jus de thyme. 

 + My favorite French blogs: Messy Messy Chic, Atelier Dore, and French Girl Daily is a new one I like. 

+ My favorite French Instagrammers: @Waynepate, an American artist living in Paris and making beautiful work. He is also married to Rebecca Taylor. @jeannedamas, French designer of the brand Rouje and author of In Paris (love this book of essays!). @clarevivier, designer of Clare V. I am obsessed with her French meets LA sensibility. It's honestly my dream world. 

+ I have an entire section on my bookshelves in my studio for French language and French lifestyle books. It just fulfills this little part of me that feels so young and full of wanderlust. These are the books I would pour over in dreams and hopes of going to France. Heck, that's what I do with them now!

1. In Paris, mentioned above. It's 20 essays depicting the lives of 20 Parisiennes and their various lives. Very intimate and dreamy. 

2. The Red Notebook, a quick read to carry along in your purse, reading while you sit at a little cafe table with a café crème. 

3. How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are, written by several women including Caroline de Maigret. Beautifully designed, part style guide, part life guide, lighthearted and easy to read in bits. Very pretty on the shelf. 

4. Love Style Life, by Garance Dore. It's an illustrated and well written journey through life as a French woman, as artist, as lover of life and more. I couldn't put this one down until I finished it. I wish she would write another!

5. Don't Be a Tourist in Paris, written by the woman behind Messy Messy Chic blog (mentioned above). I LOVE this book! The ultimate insider's guide to the city. 


***Note: While The book links above are Amazon, I encourage you to reach out to your local book store to find these titles or ask them to order it for you! Support small businesses! 


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