The French Style Formula: Surprisingly Easy Advice For a Chic, Inspired Life

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Sherrie and Oliver)

If you’ve perfected your pout, embraced ennui and bought plenty of Breton but still haven’t quite mastered the effortless French formula then we can help. What’s the secret to that covetable, easy style? It’s simpler than you think.

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Do Less — There’s a reason it all looks so effortless: it is. From their unbrushed hair to their mismatched plates, the French don’t worry about perfection too much; they prefer a little comfortable mess. No one has the energy to do it all and that’s just fine. The French know that quality of life and ample leisure time are some of the most important factors of a chic, well-lived life.

• Outsource often — When you do want it all but don’t want to do it yourself (see: leisure time), then it’s time to turn to the professionals. Why spend all day baking a cake when you could buy a better one from someone who’s an expert. In France, there are no prizes for “most things on your resume.” The French love to specialize — they find one thing they can do and do it really well. So take advantage of people who know how to do what you don’t.

(Image credit: Kathryn Bacalis)

Quality is better than quantity — Having fewer, more beautiful things is the name of the French game. They’d rather wear the same classic, pricy boots every day than own several pairs of cheaper shoes. They know that taking care of your investments will pay off in style savvy and monetarily over time, and chic basics will always look good (especially with a good mix of accessories).

Don’t fight what you have — Whether it’s your curly hair or your tiny kitchen, the real style secret is turning what you have into what you want. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole will never work — and will make everyone miserable. Finding beauty in what you have and making it into the best it can be is a skill that will pay off time and time again.

What have we learned? Take effortless style literally and stop trying so hard. Embrace imperfection, enjoy leisure and live your life the cool, French way.

Re-edited from a post originally published 10.21.14-NT