Those travel books that emphasize not dressing like you’re going to the Sunday-afternoon block party if you want to fit in in France offer sound advice. The French just dress much better than we do. So how do they do it? According to the Independent, they look sexy without being vulgar, wear expensive clothes “in a casual way that makes them look cool,” and don’t overdo the hair and makeup if they’ve got a killer designer outfit on. This is why Marion Cotillard looked better than Keira Knightley at the BAFTA Awards, for example: She looked effortlessly hot, while Knightley looked like she tried way too hard in her Dior gown.
Sounds cryptic, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. What the Independent doesn’t explain is the real key to the embodying the French style sensibility is being French. When it comes to judging outfits, being French gives one a license to wear something avant-garde. For example, Marion Cotillard got some flack for her fish-scale Oscar dress, but no one really dwelled on how much they disliked it because at the end of the night she’s the token French girl, she brought her avant-garde style — and sexy accent! — with her, and that’s the end of the story. If, say, Cameron Diaz wore Cotillard’s Oscar or BAFTA dress, the resounding sentiments would probably be “Crazy Cameron thinks she’s a fish tonight!” or “Looks like she’s about to fly away to Planet Cameron!” Avant-garde style just doesn’t fly in the country that created Pabst Blue Ribbon.